Wednesday 25 March 2020

Poodles In A Time of Crisis

Grooming your Poodle at Home

Poodles have a coat that needs to be maintained as part of their welfare requirements. It is likely to be difficult to arrange grooming services from a professional for the forseeable future, and a few people have contacted me for advice on how to manage this at home.

I have some downloadable information about grooming on my website, including diagrams of popular poodle clips and information on how to clip and what products to use. If you don't already have them, you will need to mail order some electric clippers such as these and some additional blades, such as a 7F and a 15. For brushes and combs, I would buy this slicker brush and the coarse version of this comb.

If you have a young puppy, the pup will probably be OK for a while to have its face, feet, and around its bottom clipped with a 15 blade and the rest of its coat washed and brushed/blowdried -- with a puppy, you can probably manage this with two people, one holding the hairdryer and the other brushing the coat.

If you have an older puppy, from about 9 months to 2 years, the puppy is likely to be in coat change, and it will probably be easiest for you to clip everywhere else except the head with a 7F blade, in more of a German trim. This will stop the coat from matting and make maintenance much easier. If you leave the coat longer on the dog's head, you will need to blowdry it and brush as with the young puppy, and you will probably also want to comb it through and trim it (you can use ordinary hair scissors intended for people). It's also probably easiest for people with adult poodles who want to do something as easy and low-maintenance as possible to do this trim.

If you want to do a longer and more involved trim, you will need to use a stand dryer to dry your dog effectively instead of a normal hairdryer. It's also worth investing in some more professional scissors intended for use on dogs.

Your poodle's claws will need to be trimmed once a month or so. Take your time and give the dog lots of treats for letting you trim its claws. Only trim a small piece at a time to avoid making the claws bleed.

Poodles are (supposedly) prone to ear infections, although none of mine have had a problem with this. I find it helps to wash inside the dog's ears thoroughly with a dilute shampoo solution and rinse them out well with clean water to keep them clean, and to either use an earwash or a few drops of a solution of alcohol and plain white vinegar to help dry the ears after they get wet inside. If the dog's ears are excessively hairy, you should be able to tease out the hair in a loose clump with your fingers (don't try to put tweezers down your dog's ears or to remove all the hair). If your dog's ears smell unpleasant or the dog seems to find it painful for you to touch them, you should not put anything in its ears and you need to take it to the vet.


Please do not order or buy more food than you need. If everyone follows this rule, there will be enough for everyone.


You are allowed to go out to exercise once a day. If your dog is normally exercised more often than this, or you have to isolate yourself because you are unwell, make sure your dog has regular access to the garden and try to play indoors with your dog to give it some mental stimulation. You can train things like scentwork and search squares in the house.


Vets should still be open but general advice is to avoid going unless it's an emergency. Telephone your vet if you are concerned about your dog. If you have a puppy, it's very important it has at least one DHP vaccination (core diseases) at about 12 weeks old -- many breeders will advise giving an additional vaccination a few weeks before this to protect puppies whose maternal protection wears off earlier. It's worth trying to get a vet to do this if your puppy is at this age. If your dog is older than this and was vaccinated appropriately as a puppy, research has suggested that immunity derived from the core vaccines lasts for at least three years and probably for life, so this is less important.


Although we are living through difficult times, dogs are more vital than ever for the companionship they provide. One silver lining some of us may have is more time to spend with our dogs.

Monday 23 March 2020

Magnolia and Pandemic

Every spring I take a picture of the magnolia tree. This year I have taken the picture from inside the house through the window in support of the government's message. Help the NHS by staying at home unless you really need to go out in public.