Preparing a dog for the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show is no easy task. When you’re up against tough competition like E.T., the 7-year-old Gordon setter, who won “best of breed,” winning is in all the details. If you thought your ritual of pampering and dressing for a night on the town was elaborate, dog show grooming has you beat.
MSG New Media went behind the scenes at this prestigious dog show and filmed groomers in action. All of the brushing, ribbon tying and styling is more attention than any dog could ask for. In order to preserve some of the sophisticated hairstyles, groomers had to pull the dogs’ fur back into ponytails and even temporarily wrap back the dogs’ ears. One dog even had a personal fan to keep it cool and create a wind blown look for its runway walk. Dog shows are special days, and it takes effort and dedication to keep your dog clean and groomed. But if you have never prepared for a dog show, this is what you need to know.
Brushing your dog’s coat makes a significant improvement on your dog’s appearance. For shorthaired dogs, use a glove-type brush and comb through it in quick strokes. Longhaired dogs will need a stiffer brush, because you will have to remove the matted hair and shedding. Bathing your dog thoroughly and blow drying its coat on a low setting can help make the brushing process go smoother.
Next, you need to check out the dog’s eyes and ears. Use a dog ear cleaning solution and a cotton ball to wipe out any excess wax from the dog’s outer ear. Avoid getting the solution into the inner ear canal. If the eyes have any discharge, use a damp cloth to clean it away.
A nice bright, white smile can score you points with the judges, so brush your dog’s teeth regularly so they look healthy and smell fresh. Remember, use a toothpaste specifically for dogs. Human toothpaste is toxic if swallowed, and dog’s lack the ability to spit it out. Also, it’s usually easier to brush a dog’s teeth with toothbrushes that fit over your finger, because you have more control over where you’re brushing.
A manicure and pedicure can easily be done at home, but you have to avoid the quick located in the dog’s nail. Cutting the quick can be painful for the dog, and the dog’s nails will most likely bleed and be more susceptible to infection.
A properly groomed dog is a result of experience. You have to get used to your dog’s hair, and it might take you some time to experiment with grooming products before you figure out which ones are your favorite. If you’re interested in putting your dog in a competition, attend some first and watch how more experienced groomers deal with similar breeds. Preparation and attention to detail as well as love and support can increase your pet’s chances in a dog show. Gaining experience at upcoming spring and summer competitions could give you the confidence and success to show your dog at Westminster next year.