Grooming Your Alaskan Malamute
|Grooming, Shedding and bathing your Alaskan Malamute|
|Coat Care and Grooming
Even though your Alaskan Malamute is basically a clean, odor-free dog in its natural habitat, it today's cities and towns they do manage to pick up dirt, especially if they are working dogs. A correct Malamute coat will not form 'mats' as the coats of some long haired breeds (like Afghans). However, it is a good idea to go over the dog weekly with a thorough head to toe grooming. It is a good time to check for skin rashes, cuts and eye or ear problems.
Bathing of your Mal is not recommended on a routine basis as this will dry out the dogs natural oils, but only when your dog is obviously odorous or dirty. A good brushing or combing will remove most of the surface dirt, and leave the hair and skin healthier. Equipment for grooming should include the following:
'Pin Brush' - Reaches down through a thick cost, and also massages the skin to release natural oils.
'Narrow and Wide tooth Combs' – Gets at hard to reach spots, and really removes dead hair during shedding.
And a grooming rake also is handy for shedding . ask your local pet store to guide you to the right size.
'Nail Clippers' – Malamute nails should be clipped frequently as the particular dog requires. Nail growth will depend on what type of ground the dog is kept on, and the amount of exercise given. It would be most beneficial if you asked your vet to show you how nails are trimmed, and then you can keep it up yourself.
'Scissors' – Blunt tipped, sharp scissors are handy for trimming feet and face and preparation for showing.
Bathing your Mal
Bathing a dog ONE day before a show is recommended, and helps remove dead hair while putting the desired sheen on the coat. When shampooing your dog, use lukewarm water and a prepared dog shampoo. These shampoos are milder than the human type, as dogs have very sensitive skin. Be careful to rinse all of the shampoo from his coat, and let him drip dry for a few minutes before toweling. Dogs are best toweled dry or blown dry (with a hand held dryer) while being combed or brushed right to the skin. This releases natural oils to replace those lost during the bath, and removes all loose and dead hair. It is best to confine the dog indoors, away from drafts, until he is thoroughly dry to the skin. This may take 24 hours in some animals when in full coat.
The Day of the Dog Show
While a bath the day before the show should be sufficient to present your dog at his best, be prepared to wash down legs and feet should the dog get soiled on the way to the show. There is usually water available, and you can carry a small pail and some shampoo and towels for needed touch ups. A wet face cloth is good for cleaning up the face, or spots on the ruff or chest.
It is proper to trim the feet to the shape of the pads. Do not remove hair between the toes, just remove the bits that stick out and spoil the shape of a good foot. It is optional to trim face whiskers and eyebrows, and this must be your decision alone.
There are a lot of last minute sprays, chalks, etc. that some exhibitors use to enhance the coat, but if your dog is healthy and clean, he should have sufficient sheen on his coat. If you decide to use sprays or other tips from exhibitors, experiment at home first rather than just before your class is called.
Grooming the Puppy
All of the preceding information applies to the puppy, except it is not advisable and usually not necessary to bathe the young puppy. Regular grooming with a soft brush will accustom the pup to the routine, and keep the coat from getting so dirty that a bath is in order. Getting used to grooming at an early age will pay off later, especially if you plan to show your dog.
Ear and Teeth Care
Start ear cleaning when the pup is young. Use soft cotton moistened in mineral oil or hydrogen peroxide, and clean the outer ear gently. Do not clean deeper than you can see. If your pup is scratching his ears a lot or seems sensitive to ear cleaning, consult your Vet, as a deeper problem could be present.
If you are feeding your dog a proper diet, there will be little work for you to do on his teeth. For minor stains, use a soft toothbrush with baking soda and brush his teeth as you would your own. Sever tartar stains should be removed by your veterinarian.
The Alaskan Malamute usually sheds twice a year, and this is usually spring and fall, however it may be when he feels like it. Some Malamutes shed completely and all at once, others shed in clumps, and some lose varying amounts continually. For those who show their dog this can be frustrating, but if you see the shedding coming on you can speed up the process by extra brushing and combing, or by a bath to loosen the hair.
If you have an important show coming up and your dog begins to shed, there are a few things to remember that may help your chances of winning. Do not give a hot bath if shedding has started. Use dry shampoos, wet cloths or chalk and powders to touch up whites. Also a bit of hair dressing may pick up the sheen of the coat, which is often duller during shedding. Lack of undercoat during shedding season is normal, but trimming the dog to make it more even is not allowable. Trimming toes and whiskers is one thing, but to scissor the coat or trim guard hairs is not permissible. If you use chalk or powder, be sure it is brushed out of the dog before entering the ring.
Dog wool can be saved and spun. It is amazingly soft like angora, long wearing and warm. Once spun and knit up, it should be hand washed and dried flat. For information on the spinning of dog wool contact:
During the time that dogs are shedding (particularly if they are showing), use the following coat supplement to speed up growth of a new coat, and to assist the skin in recuperating after a full shed.
Mix together: 1 lb. Wheat germ
Add 8 oz. Cod Liver Oil, and then sufficient cooking oil to make the product hold together – usually about 16 oz. Put about 2 to 3 tablespoonfuls on the dog's dinner. Karen's dogs just love the taste. This also keeps the full coated show dog in super shape.