When it comes to daily chores for your mastiff, the first thing that comes to mind is walking him on a daily basis. There is another chore that is equally important, and that is grooming your pet. Grooming includes cleaning or wiping your dog’s ears and eyes, clipping the claws, brushing their coat for loose ends, cleaning their teeth and bathing them periodically as well. All these tasks do not need to be performed on a daily basis, but on a need to do basis. You, the mastiff owner, are the best judge as to when your pet needs attention. Having said that, brushing their coat and checking their ears for cleanliness and infections can be done every day, as a good grooming practice.
You need to teach your mastiff puppy to stand tall from a very early age. Claw clipping can be a daunting task at first, but you get the hang of it, if you do it carefully and by staying calm and resilient. This will be sensed by your dog and he will soon become comfortable with the ritual too, and may even start enjoying it. Some of the mastiffs even enjoy brushing and ear cleaning, and with regular care, it will be an easy process for both, the master and the pet. Whatever you do, never use force or hit the mastiff, or else you will scare them away, possible for life. It will only lead to frustration on your part and take more time and effort than it usually should. Patience and resilience are key to the grooming process in the beginning, until it turns into a habit for both of you!
Bathing and brushing drastically reduced shedding of messy hair and reduces the body odor from your mastiff. These are good hygiene practices and also ensure that he doesn’t develop any infections or ticks in the long run. If you keep his eyes clean, he is less likely to develop any infections and makes him look more adorable. Similarly, if you don’t cut his claws in time, they may become uncomfortable and he may have trouble moving, and even worse, may lead to nerves growing within the claws, which can be painful when you cut them.
What to do? When to do it? How to do it?
Let us look at some of the basic grooming tasks that you need to do be engaged in, on a regular basis, when you get a mastiff dog.
Claws require clipping once every week. You can set a particular day and time every week when you and your mastiff are relatively relaxed and composed. With few weeks of grooming that way, it becomes second nature and you are more likely to stick to a routine.
Here is how you go about clipping them. Buy a specially designed clipper which is decent size. It should correspond to the mastiff’s claws, and cannot be too big or too small. When the dog is standing still, grab one of his legs and lift up. Starting with forelegs is a good idea. The back end of the claw has a nerve called the quick. You only need to cut the par that extends the nerve (and not the quick). Always err on the side of caution and cut less than you want. The more you practice the better it gets. The last thing you want is to cut the quick and damage his nerve! This can bleed and be painful. This is super easy once you have practiced it a few times and you do not need to take him to the vet every week.
Mastiff’s eyes can get really messy. The loose skin around the face and eyes can worsen it. As you would expect, this is usually noticeable during the mornings. However, as mastiffs are generally lazy and sleep during the day as well, you will need to ‘keep an eye’ on their eyes and clean as necessary.
The eyes need cleaning for several reasons. It doesn’t look pleasant, and you certainly do not want to show off your mastiff to an outsider. The dog can develop eye infections if the dirt and sticky substance stays in their eyes for longer duration. You naturally do not feel like hugging the mastiff as they do not look pleasant and clean. And lastly, if you do not clean it, the mess will dry or get wiped on your furniture, clothes, sheets et al – you get the drift!
Clean the eyes gently using a piece of wet cloth that should be soft in texture. A damp toilet paper will also do the trick. It is best to use a combination of wet and soft that will be appreciated by your dog as well. You do not want to cause any irritation that may lead to infection or inflammation, and naturally, discomforting to your mastiff.
Cleaning process is fairly simple and similar to how you would do it to your own eyes – starting from the outer edge and then moving towards the inner part.
If you do not clean their ears for long, you have no idea what is breeding within them. That will be the last thing you want to see or touch. Their ears are not that ventilated and after bathing or getting wet, they do not dry very quickly or properly either. As a result, the wax inside their ears stays moist for longer. This wax build up can eventually lead to terrible infections that can be painful, irritating and interfere with their hearing. Another issue is mites and that will most probably need a visit to the vet. Either or all of these issues can lead to an unpleasant smell as well, and nobody likes a smelly pet!
The ears can be washed and cleaned with the help of a soft piece of cloth. Never use cotton buds / cue-tips, unless you are just cleaning the outer area of their ears. If you use it for inner ear then you may push the wax even further and that may exacerbate the problem, and worsen the infection if there was one.
For wet wax, you will be well advised to use a dry cloth for better cleaning results. As long as you are only washing and cleaning the inner part of the ear that is visible to you, you cannot do any harm to the dog. So do not be worried about hurting him whilst you clean.
Brushing the coat all over the dog’s body should be a daily ritual. If you do not do it on a daily basis, then you are leaving the dust, dead hear, dandruff and other bodily oils to build up and spoil the coat, or even worse, lead to skin infections. They also smell very bad if left for too long. One of the best pieces of advice is to use a dog-glove that is made for short-haired dogs like mastiff. They grip well and let you groom in a natural manner when you use those hand strokes all over their body. You can also use your bare wet hands by using ‘brushing-like’ strokes, starting from their back area and moving forward towards the head – basically brushing him against the direction of the growth of coat. This should be followed by hand brushing in the usual or opposite direction, which is when you will notice dead hair and dust extracted.
Bathing is a frequent need of a mastiff. Depending on his activity, daily habits, and how often he stays outdoors, he can be bathed in a corresponding frequency, ranging anywhere from once a week to every 6-8 weeks.
This breed has short but dense coat and they require routine bathing to minimize shedding hair all over your house, and more importantly, to keep their skin and coat healthy and supple.
Before you bathe them, it is a good idea to run a high powered dryer on them, to get rid of any loose coat, dirt or debris that they may be holding within their coat. If you do not have a dryer, then a slicker brush can also be a practical option. The coat will also need trimming from time to time, so they stay healthy and require less bathing.
One thing is for certain and you need to be clear about it: mastiffs do not need a daily bath like humans do, as their skin texture and type is different to ours. That will actually be counterproductive as all the fat on the skin gets eliminated which is meant to protect the coat and skin from bacteria, microbes and other related skin conditions. Some dogs may also be allergic to frequent baths, given the amount of detergents that you would put on their body on a frequent basis. Always try to use hypoallergenic or chemical free products that won’t cause irritation in the long run, and avoid the urge to use ‘human-shampoo’ on them. You do not want your dog to have eczema, rashes or any kind of skin condition, either through chemical based products or over bathing.
They do need a bath every now and then, and you are the best judge of that. If you ignore the bathing ritual or are just too lazy to do it, then you should be prepared to put up with the smell too.
You can even use your backyard (during summers) or your own bath tub for bathing purposes. You can be imaginative and creative with the bathing spots, as mastiffs do tend to get over-sized and it won’t be particularly easy to bathe them anywhere you like. Pet grooming centers are always an option, but they can be expensive in the long run.
A well-groomed and bathed dog will be much healthier and better-looking when he gets the grooming attention he needs.