Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier pet trim with clippers
How to Groom a Wheaten Terrier
Wheaten terriers are beautiful dogs that make wonderful companions, but their lovely coat requires regular maintenance on your part. They have a single coat of hair that is nearly human-like, and it will knot up terribly if not carefully combed through at least every other day. In addition, various trimming and cleaning techniques need to be used regularly to keep your furry pal healthy and happy. But, with the right tools and techniques, grooming can become a daily bonding time for the both of you!
Brushing and Combing Every 1-2 Days
Use a grooming table, multiple combs, and one or more brushes.A grooming table with a 2 by 3 ft (0.61 by 0.91 m) top is just the right size for a wheaten terrier, and can really save your back while grooming! You’ll also need a standard-width and a wide-tooth dog comb, and at least one brush. You can try a slicker brush, a pin brush, or both.
- Using a grooming table at home will also get the dog used to being on one, which may make them more comfortable at the groomer’s or the vet’s office.
Groom your dog when they are alert and happy.If possible, try grooming when the dog is in a good mood but not too worked up, like after a walk. Create positive associations with grooming by keeping a friendly tone and offering lots of praise throughout the process.
- If your dog gets restless or grumpy during the grooming and needs a break, that’s okay. Try to resume in a few minutes after they’ve settled down a bit.
- Reinforce common activities and good behavior on the grooming table. Reward your dog for calm behavior while they’re on the grooming table or set them on the grooming table before you reward them.
- Try feeding them their meals on the table to get them more comfortable.
Brush the outer layers of their coat with your chosen brush.Start at their back and brush down each side, then move on to the legs, face, tail, and abdomen. Use short, easy strokes, and place your other hand above where you’re brushing to reduce tugging.
- Basically, do this initial brushing in a similar fashion to how you’d brush a person’s hair.
- If you groom your dog at least every other day, you probably won’t come across many knots in the outer layers. But you’ll still likely find them underneath, which is why brushing alone is not sufficient.
Start combing the inner layers of hair with a wide-tooth comb.Starting just above one of the paws, lift up a tuft of hair so you can see where the roots meet the skin. Let go of a little of the hair in the tuft, then comb down through it, following the direction the hair lies. Let go of a bit more hair, then comb through it and the hair you already combed through.
- Repeat this until you’ve let go of and combed through the entire tuft.
Continue combing through one tuft at a time.Once you’ve combed through the initial tuft above one of their paws, grab a new tuft above it that includes some of the hair from the previous tuft. Comb through it a bit at a time as before. Work your way up the leg, then repeat the process on the dog’s other legs.
- Remember to keep offering praise to your dog while combing them.
Work through a knot with your comb, fingers, or scissors.Whenever you come across a knot, try to work through it with your comb. It may help to turn the comb and pick through the knot. You may also be able to work the knot free with your fingertips.
- You can find detangling sprays at pet supply stores that may help loosen up stubborn knots. Spray the knot liberally, then try to work it out with your comb or fingers.
- If all else fails, place the comb between the dog's skin and the knot and cut it out with scissors. If a knot is right up against the skin, it's best to see a groomer.
Comb through their sides, chest, and neck, starting at the outer belly.Once again, you’ll grab a tuft of hair, let go of some, comb down through it, let go of some more, and comb through it and the previous hair. Work your way up one side to the spine, tuft by tuft, then move to the other side and repeat.
- After you’ve finished their sides, start at their chest (just above the armpits) and work your way up to their neck.
Comb their face and wipe their eyes.Wheaten terriers have long eyebrows and “bangs” that drape over their faces. Comb through this hair in an up-and-back direction, and hold it back while you check their eyes. If you see any “gunk” or “crust” in the corners of their eyes, dab and gently wipe it away with a damp, clean cloth. Then let the hair fall back into place.
- After finishing with the eyes, comb down through the hair on each cheek, a little at a time.
Move on to their tail, armpits, groin, and belly.Work your way up their tail, tuft by tuft. Then do your best to work through the hair in the pits under each of their leg joints. You’ll likely find lots of knots here, so work slowly and pick each knot out. Then gently comb through the belly hair, bit by bit.
Repeat the entire combing process with a standard-width dog comb.This may seem like overkill, but you’ll be amazed how many little knots you’ll still find when you use a comb with teeth that are closer together. Do everything in the exact same order, in the exact same fashion, and keep giving your dog praise for their patience!
- With practice and a compliant dog, you’ll be able to do all this brushing and combing in around 10-15 minutes. But this assumes that you’re doing it every day or two. Otherwise, it will take much longer to get through all the knots.
Bathing Them Every 4-6 Weeks
Brush and comb your dog before and after the bath.When bath day comes, go through your regular brushing and combing routine before the bath and after drying them off. This combination provides your best chance of preventing knots.
Gather your bathing supplies before starting the bath.You want to make sure you have everything ready before your dog goes into the water. You’ll need:
- A tub filled with about 6 inches (15 cm) of lukewarm water
- A non-slip mat placed in the bottom of the tub
- A rinsing cup or, even better, a spray attachment for your faucet
- Doggy shampoo—not human shampoo!
- At least one towel for drying
- A blow dryer (optional but recommended)
Wet the dog down in the tub.Use the rinsing cup or spray attachment. Work carefully around the eyes and ears, as your dog won’t like getting water in these areas. Praise your dog as you work.
- Remember, the water should be lukewarm (just above room temperature), not hot or cold. Dogs are sensitive to water temperatures.
Work the doggy shampoo into your terrier’s coat.Add a small squeeze of shampoo into your palm, rub your hands together, and use your fingers to massage the soap deep into your dog’s fur. Start at the neck and work your way to the tail, adding more shampoo to your hands as needed.
- Don’t wash their face with your hands. If necessary, add a tiny bit of shampoo to a damp washcloth and carefully wipe it over their face.
Rinse the dog thoroughly.Use your sprayer and rinsing cup, and keep rinsing until soap-free water runs out of the coat. Keep up the praise for your dog so they’re more willing to let you finish the job!
- If you’re using a rinsing cup, keep filling it with clean, lukewarm water from the tap, not the soapy water from the tub.
- Use a clean, wet washcloth to wipe the shampoo from their facial hair.
Dry the dog with towels and, if desired, a blow dryer.Cover your dog with a towel as soon as you pull them from the water. Use one or more towels to massage them dry. To help dry them even faster, follow up with a blow dryer set to the “low” or even “cool” setting.
- Dogs’ skin is very sensitive, so never use a blow dryer on the “high” setting.
- If it is chilly where you are (whether indoors or outdoors), use a blow dryer if at all possible.
- Start your post-bath brushing and combing session as soon as they are dry.
Doing Additional Grooming Regularly
Brush their teeth daily with doggy dental care tools.Add a small dab of doggy toothpaste to the toothbrush, lift up part of their lip, and gently brush over each tooth in a circular motion. If you’re just introducing your dog to tooth-brushing, start by using just your finger (with toothpaste on it), then try a finger-brush, then move to the full-size doggy toothbrush whey they’re ready.
- Human toothpaste is not formulated for dogs, and doggy toothpaste is usually flavored so that dogs will enjoy the taste of them.
- If you have any concern that your dog might bite you, allow your vet or a groomer to clean their teeth.
- Daily teeth cleaning is ideal, but brushing a few times per week (or even just weekly) is better than nothing.
Pluck and clean their ears once a month.Every 1st or 15th of the month, for instance, do more thorough ear maintenance while brushing and combing your dog. Pull out stray hairs growing inside the ears with tweezers, plucking them one at a time while holding the tip of the ear with your other hand. Then wipe out the ear with a damp cloth and, if desired, spread a small dab of antibiotic ointment on the inner surface of the ear flap.
- Don’t try to clean down into the ear canal or try to apply ointment into it. If the ear canal appears to be clogged up or if there is a foul odor emanating from the ear, call your vet.
- If your dog has never suffered from ear infections and you’ve never plucked their ears, don’t start doing it. If you have questions, ask your vet if ear plucking is a good choice.
Trim the very tips of their nails as needed.Use either guillotine-style or scissors-style dog nail clippers, and only snip off the very tips of each nail. Have styptic powder ready to staunch any bleeding if you accidentally cut into the quick (the vein inside the nail)—but this shouldn’t be an issue if you only snip off a small amount.
- Give your dog lots of praise to keep it calm. You may only be able to do one foot at a time before your dog has had enough for the time being.
- You may only need to trim a wheaten terrier’s nails monthly.
Trim their hair or take them to a groomer every 4-6 weeks.Most people rely on groomers to trim their wheaten terriers, but you can try to do it yourself. After brushing and combing them twice as normal, you can use scissors or clippers to trim off around 0.25–0.5 in (0.64–1.27 cm) of hair. Grab small tufts of hair as before, then use your fingers or your comb to expose the amount of hair you want to trim off. Keep working tuft by tuft over the dog’s body.
- Don’t trim much, if any, of the length from a wheaten’s long eyebrows. They help keep their distinctive flop of “bangs” from completely obscuring their eyes.
- A wheaten terrier will normally need a trim about every 4-6 weeks, which is about the same length of time they usually need between baths.
Video: How to Groom a Wheaten Terrier Matted
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