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Grooming your Mastiff

| Coat | Eyes | Bathing | Ears | Claws | General |

Dog-gloveIn addition to the daily walk, grooming is another important thing a mastiff-owner should take care of every day. This includes cleaning the dog's ears and eyes, brushing his coat, clipping his claws, and giving him a bath from time to time. You don't need to (and shouldn't) do all of this every day, but the brushing and ear-checking should be a daily habit.

Teach your Mastiff to stand still while he's a puppy. The first few times of claw-clipping might be a challenge for both of you, but if you're careful, calm and persistent, the dog will soon experience the grooming as a natural thing, yes, even as a social thing that he enjoys. Many Mastiffs love being brushed, and cleaning the ears isn't too unpopular with some of them either. Just remember not to use force if he finds the whole thing scary. Doing that will at least double the time it takes to make him except the treatment. You don't need to rush things. Let the dog take his time to get used to the grooming.

 

Why groom the Mastiff?

You will never regret it once you've made it a habit. It's pretty obvious why you should clean your dog's ears: Infections and mites are very likely to occur if you neglect it. The bathing and brushing make the dog smell less dog, and the shedding of hair will be greatly reduced. By cleaning the eyes every time it's necessary, you keep eye infections on a distance (it will also make you want to hug your Mastiff more often!). If you let his claws grow freely, they will finally become so long that even walking is uncomfortable. When you've neglected your responsibility in such a way, it's hard to solve the problem by just "cutting them off". The nerves grow within the claw, and you definitely must not cut them off. This would be very painful, and the amount of blood can be surprisingly large! One claw is bad enough. Don't even consider doing this on all four legs! This would be due to torturing your friend, and it will take a very long time until he trusts you to clip his claws again. So - you simply have to do this regularly, preferably once a week. If not, you'll end up at the veterinary sooner or later (don't forget your credit card and a good excuse at home, you'll need both!).

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Start grooming your Mastiff while he's a small puppy...

Puppy

...and continue doing so the rest of his grown-up life! Grown-up

 

What to do? When to do it? How to do it?

Coat
As mentioned earlier, you should brush your Mastiff every day. Dust, dead hair and dandruff-like stuff will stay in the coat until you remove it! Those things smell pretty bad after a while, and the chances for skin-problems are a lot bigger if you don't get rid of it. The best thing to use is a dog-glove. These are made for short-haired dogs, and work fine with a mastiff. You can also do it the without any kind of "tools": It's quite effective to use two wet hands instead. After having put your hands in water, "handbrush" from the back of the dog and forwards (the opposite direction of which the coat is growing). Then remove the lose hair etc by handbrushing the other way. Try it!

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Claws
Clip the claws once a week. Decide to do it on a specific day and time, like every Saturday morning. By doing this, it will soon become a habit for both you and your Mastiff. Clipping the claws is one thing you shouldn't forget doing! I already have explained why.

Clipping the clawsSo, how do you do it? First of all, you can't use a pair of scissors to clip a Mastiff's claws! You need a specially designed clipper like the one on the picture on this page, and you need the largest size there is! Make the dog stand still, grab one of his legs, and lift it up. Start with one of the forelegs. If you take a closer look at the back of one of the claws, you can see the nerve (quick). You will see that the nerve is shorter than the full length of the claw, and it is the part that extends the nerve that you should cut off. It's better being too careful the first times you try it, rather than cutting off too much. Remember: Pain hurts! Also keep in mind these three keywords as a reminder of how to behave while grooming your Mastiff: You should be: Careful, calm and persistent! You don't need a vet to do this if you start clipping your Mastiff's claws while he's still a puppy. Having a vet doing it is almost like having an electrician come to your house to change a light bulb. :) Trust me, you can do it yourself!

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Eyes
Some Mastiffs tend to get a lot of mess in their eyes. The more loose skin in the face and around the eyes, the worse. Maybe your Mastiff doesn't have this problem at all, but some do! It's normally a morning-problem (just like it is to some of us), but since dogs are sleeping several hours during the day, you have to clean away the eye-stuff whenever it's necessary. In other words, there are no rules here. You have to do what you see is best for your Mastiff.

Why do you need to bother at all? There are a couple of reasons: Firstly it is not all that pleasant to walk around with the eyes filled with who know what. Secondly you prevent the dog from getting infections be keeping his eyes clean. Thirdly: It looks rather bad. The number of hugs are greatly reduced if your Mastiff's eyes are not clean. And then finally: Where do you think all the mess ends up if you don't remove it? I'll tell you. On all your furniture, walls, sheets, clothes etc. etc.

Be gentle while cleaning. Use a wet piece of cloth, or at least something soft (like toilet paper). The dog definitely will prefer a combination of both wet and soft. If you're not careful enough, you might risk that you're irritating the eye in a manner that increases the problem even more, and that's not you wanted to do at all! Clean the eye from the outer edge moving inwards, just like you would do to yourself. A dog's eye is very similar to the human eye when it comes to this.

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Ears
If you don't wash you Mastiff's ears, you are asking for trouble! It looks like the "ear-ventilation" isn't good enough, and the inside of the ears doesn't dry very well. This means that the wax stays moist for a long time, if we don't remove it. The chances for various kinds of infections are quite big if you don't take this seriously enough. Mites are also a problem that tend to bother some dogs frequently. This can be treated effectively (talk to your vet), but it's not something you want to keep on doing throughout the dog's whole life. Remember that ear-problems can be very unpleasant for your Mastiff. Besides it smells pretty bad!

You'll need a soft piece of cloth to wash the ears. Do not use cue-tips etc. for anything else than the outer parts of the ear. You can wet the cloth a little bit, but if the wax is really moist, it's easier to work with a dry one. Don't be afraid of that you're doing anything that can harm your dog. As long as you wash only the parts you can see, it's no problem at all! The only thing you need to remember, is to be careful not to push the wax further inside the ear while washing. This is a usual mistake for both beginners and more experienced dog owners, and can easily lead to infections etc. You want to get the wax OUT, not stuff it into the inner parts of the ear! Don't worry - with a little practice you'll work it out just fine!

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Bathing
Before you read this, there's one thing you need to know: A dog does not need, and should not have, as many baths as a human being. That would remove all the fat that protects the skin from bacteria, microbes and other problems with the skin. It also may have a negative effect on some allergic dogs. You must also be aware of that a dog's skin is different from our skin. This means we need different kinds of shampoo. You can normally buy dog-shampoo from your local dog-food shop. If you've experienced what bathing a dog with "human-shampoo" can do to the coat, you will be very thorough on this! Also notice that some Mastiffs can get various kinds of eczema and rashes if they bath too often, even without using shampoo. They definitely need to have some fat in the coat! Don't wash it all out!

There are several reasons why you want to give your Mastiff a bath: If you don't, he will smell pretty bad after a while (like three or four dogs!). If you give him a bath from time to time, you also will find it easier to keep his coat free from dead hair and dandruff (see the section about the coat). He also will look healthier and nicer if he's clean! If you have a bathtub, you can bath your Mastiff in it, even if he'll fill the whole tub! If you just have a shower, things get more complicated. You simply have to use your imagination. It's not a terrier you're dealing with! During summer, you can wash him wherever you like!

A couple of advises: If your Mastiff has had a swim in salt water, you should wash the salt out of his coat afterwards. If you notice any kind of eczema that might come from too much time spent in water, you should prevent the dog from swimming/bathing for some time.

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