Contrary to what you may have heard, Tibbies are not a “no-groom” breed. Yes, they require less care and maintenance than some breeds, but as with any dog, your Tibetan Spaniel requires care and grooming to look and feel his best. Grooming is also a time for owner and dog to bond and an opportunity to assess the health of your pet. Begin the process early and your dog will look forward to the time you spend together.
Tibbies are a double coated breed and shed seasonally. At these times, it is important to brush them often to remove the dead undercoat and stimulate new growth. A small slicker brush or pin brush will remove most of this dead coat. An undercoat rake or “Furminator” is also a good tool to use. The outer guard hairs of a Tibetan Spaniel should be silky and lay flat against the body. After removing dead coat, finish your Tibbie by brushing with a soft boar bristle brush to bring a sheen to the coat. Small mats in the coat (usually behind the ears or in the furnishings) may be dealt with by using a mat rake or comb. Be gentle when working on mats as they can be painful to remove. Don’t use shears to cut out a mat. Skin can tent up into the matted hair and you could seriously injure your pet by cutting it. Instead, use a small hand-held clipper to shave out the mat. This same clipper may be used to clean the hair from the bottom of the feet and between the paw pads. Alternatively, a pair of blunt tip shears may be used to clean the bottom of the feet. Trimming toenails is often the biggest grooming challenge … the secret is to start early on puppies and to do it frequently until they understand that it is not threatening or painful. Some prefer to use a small grinder to grind down the nails vs. a nail trimmer. Whichever you prefer, be careful not to cut into the blood vessel that extends into the nail – the quick — as this is painful and will bleed. Keep a commercial styptic powder on hand for such events. It has antibiotic and anesthetic properties to stop the pain/bleeding and to prevent infection.
Frequent bathing is not generally necessary — as a rule, Tibbies do not have a “doggie” odor. A quick brush through every other day will generally keep your pet clean and free of mats, but dogs will be dogs and baths are needed from time to time. Tibbies are small enough to be bathed in a laundry sink if you have one… a small utility tub placed in the bathtub or shower and used with a hand-held shower head is a great alternative and can save your back and knees from bending over the tub. Brush your dog and remove all mats before bathing — wet tangled hair is harder to deal with than dry tangled hair! Choose a good quality shampoo and conditioner and thoroughly rinse to remove all the product from the coat — this will prevent irritation to the skin. A bath is a great time to look closely at your Tibbie for skin lesions, lumps, and other skin conditions. It is also a good time to examine ears for redness or irritation. Tibbies, as with any drop ear breed, are pre-disposed to bacterial and fungal ear infections if not properly cared for. Take care not to let excessive water into the ear canal and gently clean the ear with a commercial ear cleaner to keep them clean and dry. Pay special attention to any areas that seem to accumulate dirt or moisture such as under the eye and the top of the muzzle. These areas need to be cleaned frequently — depending on the amount of tearing or if there is a wrinkle that could collect moisture, daily attention may be needed.
Tooth brushing is also recommended, You can choose from a finger toothbrush or a more conventional brush, with liver flavored paste that your dog will tolerate. There are also rinses available that reduce plaque build up and if you are among the more skilled, and have a very cooperative dog, dental tools to scale and remove plaque are available.
If you choose to blow dry the coat, towel dry first, then use a dryer that does not have a heating element, Hot air will dry and break the coat. If your dog is not used to standing on a grooming table, try sitting with him in your lap until he is used to the dryer. Teach your dog that the grooming table is fun by feeding treats while he stands on it — make the sessions short and playful and introduce him to the grooming noose before you attempt using a dryer on the table. Never leave a dog unattended or even more than an arm’s length away on a grooming table. A spray conditioner or finishing spray will help protect the coat from drying and can give it a nice sheen. Avoid finishing sprays that have silicon as an ingredient if you live in sunny climes. While it does repel dirt and water from the coat, and gives it a lovely shine, It can intensify the sun’s rays and sunburn your pet. Gently lift the hair in a line along the body to dry it from underside. Use the lowest possible setting on puppies until they are accustomed to the sensation … once dry, finish with a soft bristle brush and you are ready to go!