Havanese Coat Care
Shoshi is our heart dog but she not only has a cottony coat but a thick, dense coat. It makes coat care difficult.
But I have learned a few things over the number of years of attempting to keep her knot free. I admit, I was at first frustrated, even shed a few tears but she did me the biggest favour. I soon learned that if I perfected my techniques on her, then the rest would be easy.
Unfortunately, no one had any real tips on Havanese coat care of the cotton type but cotton coats in the Havanese do exist. Thankfully none of my other dogs have her coat but if they did, I now know I could care for them.
I think I tried all the products, tools and much time in a state of frustration.
Here are some of the things I tried.
1. I cut her coat short. It helped but still knotted - just shorter coat to unknot. I didn't like the look on her.
2. I used thinning shears to cut away from the skin and into the knot to break up the mats making it easier and it thinned out her coat.
3. I pulled the mats apart and either used my hands or a corner of a comb to break up the knot.
4. I tried every grooming spray out there.
5. I thinned out her coat. That actually did help but didn't last. As soon as the new hair came in, I had knots near the skin. arrgh.
6. I used a slicker. Yes, that works too but you fry the hair making it a frizzy, broken mess. But a good quality slicker can help you break up a knot if done right. I am not a fan of slickers except on rare occasions on feet as feet get cut and therefore the ends aren't broken to an extreme.
So, what does work?
Well, technique does get perfected the longer you keep at it and I can take a mat apart rather fast but Shoshi rarely has knots. Did her hair suddenly get better or did I perfect my skill or did I find a magic product? It's a little of both.
I do brush and comb all layers of Shoshi's hair most days. Some think they are combing all layers but they are just getting the top layer. I did notice that even missing a day that I am rarely finding a knot.
I did learn that a clean coat knots less. What is a clean coat? When it starts knotting, I know it is time. Usually that is 7 to 10 days for Shoshi.
I also cut the hair under the arms and on the tummy to minimize grooming. Even a tummy cut a half of a inch is better than long coat and you don't see it. This can even be done on show dogs.
I also learned that a coated cuticle if done evenly knots less. Too much product and you get knots. So, how do you distribute a grooming spray evenly?
I bathe my dogs with 2 shampoos. It sounds a bit excessive but my first is a brightener and the second is a reconstruction or nutrient filled shampoo. Then I use a good quality conditioner and the key is to distribute evenly. If you do not have a Bathing Beauty like I do, you use a hair colouring bottle/mixing bottle. You put your conditioner in it and you shake and distribute and gently pull the conditioner from the roots to the ends. Lift up all layers and make sure every part gets coated. If you do it right, by the time you finish the entire body, you can start rinsing the section you first started adding conditioner to. Rinse thoroughly.
Are you done? NO
Now you need to add a finish to the coat - a grooming spray watered down half and half or less. You have to play to see what works for each coat. I use Show Sheen or Summerwinds Fine-l-Shine or Laser Lites Silk. If I use Show Sheen, which is the cheapest of the bunch, I put in a half of a cup of Show Sheen to 2 cups of water. I distribute it with my Bathing Beauty but you can use the mixing bottle method. I lightly rinse, if at all. Or you can spray it section by section (a bit more tedious) and then comb it through without rinsing while in the sink. The affect you are seeking is a coated cuticle.
When you spray it through you use less product but get less coverage and less of an affect. That's the idea of mixing it with water as you tend to saturate more without the buildup.
Okay but that gets the coat wetter and increases drying time. You still pat them down so not really.
Do you still use grooming spray while drying? I brush and comb the coat till it is dry. If it isn't smooth and silky when dry, I add some spray and lightly dry it in. If your coat is not silky to the feel when dry, you didn't use enough grooming spray in the mix. You still have the opportunity to spray section by section, parting the hair, spraying and using a brush similar to a Mason Pearson to distribute evenly. This takes more time as you have to part and spray and brush but it does work and it will save you from getting knots.
I use grooming spray daily and still her coat lasts about 10 days. It feels to die for and it really doesn't knot.
Sure daily combing and brushing thoroughly stops that but with a cotton coat, usually it's not enough and it wasn't for Shoshi. She knotted to touch and don't talk to me about that once in a lifetime blowing coat stage. I cried through that!
If you do not want to use the mixing bottle method, get the coat mostly dry, and use the part, spray and brush method. But I warn you, Show Sheen can be slippery on floors and you best watch out. People have been known to fall straight on their ahems. That is why I prefer the 'in sink' method. That slippery feel is what coats that cuticle keeping it slippery enough to not stick together.
If I use Show Sheen at bath time, I do not use it again all week. I use another grooming spray. Too much Show Sheen will create knots and give a heavy, gummy feel. Use it strictly at bath time and use any other daily grooming spray. I have my faves but that will eliminate the buildup, increasing the time between baths.
Good luck and feel free to ask any questions.
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