How To Groom Your BERNESE MOUNTAIN DOG
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COAT As I mentioned earlier, the Berner has a thick double coat that acts as an insulation barrier between their body and the outside environment. Like all double-coated dogs, they'll blow their coat (meaning shed heavily) twice a year, typically in the spring and fall. They also have feathers, which are longer hairs that extend a bit, along their front legs and chest and their rump, down their back legs. I'll get into the best tools to use in just a few minutes but know that brushing your Berner every day during shedding season and every couple of days the rest of the year is going to be something you need to commit to doing. While brushing, you'll want to be on the lookout for tangles, especially right below their ears, that can quickly turn into mats. Brush them with a long tooth comb first, this gets down into the double coat and then finish with a slicker brush to smooth and shine their outer coat. Always brush in a front to back and top to bottom pattern. Frequent brushing like this will also show exactly where they are prone to getting to the dirtiest and where you might want to trim them shorter next time. One thing I need to mention here because it's a question so many people ask about double-coated dogs like the Berner… Should you shave or trim the coat very short on them for a cleaner and easier to groom dog? Absolutely not. And this goes for every double-coated breed out there. Their double coat is a crucial part of how canines like this regulate their temperature, and it may not grow back correctly if you shear it that short, which could impact the dog for the rest of its life. You can certainty trim the excess feathering without negatively impacting them if you don't get into their full coat. If you're ever unsure, it's best to take them to a groomer experienced with double-coated breeds. Of course, you'll need to bathe them now and then as well, just like any dog. Make sure you use a shampoo and conditioner formulated for the pH balance dogs need since it's different than what we humans need. Like you do when brushing, wash and rinse in a front to back and top to bottom pattern, and using a wet rag on their face. And be careful not to get water in their ears. Spend some extra time rinsing them thoroughly with their thick coats so no residue is left behind that could irritate their skin. OTHER GROOMING NEEDS You may also want to enlist the expertise of a groomer when it comes to trimming the fur on their paws and between their toe pads. Typically, this involves a set of clippers and a pair of shears. With a steady hand and a well-trained Berner, you can do this at home too, but it never hurts to learn from a pro. Depending on the activity level of your Berner, you may not have to trim their nails more than a couple times a year. Do both of you a favor and get them used to the vibration of a nail grinding tool early on in their life, though. Trust me; you don't want to be struggling with a powerful breed like this when they are fully grown. When grooming your Berner, you'll want to clean out their ears gently and check for any irritations or dirt. You can use a special ear cleaning solution but make sure to go back with a dry cotton ball or rag to make sure no moisture is left behind that could cause an issue. Their long coat can grow into their ears a bit, so just keep an eye on this every time you get them an ear rub, and you'll prevent any potential issues. Other than a keen eye, you'll want to have a couple of tools on hand to make grooming your Berner's luxurious coat even easier. TOOLS For the thick double coats, I'm a big fan of the Furminator brush. This is a brand of long tooth comb that I mentioned earlier that really gets down to the bottom layers of their coat. Next, you'll want a slicker brush. This is the typical brush you see that has spaced out prongs on a square paddle, and this will be the brush to use when you're trimming with your shears. Of course, you'll need a pair of pet-safe shears. These are special scissors with rounded tips and will be used a little bit all over. And you may even want to invest in electric clippers if you're confident in your abilities and don't want to do everything with the shears. Again, get them used to the vibration and sound of the clippers early in their life. Many Berner owners find it useful to have an absorbent towel handy during the wetter and colder months to dry the feathered areas and paws when coming back inside and a box of baby wipes for those muddy days. WRAP UP With some daily maintenance and patience during shedding seasons, you'll find the Berner only requires a bit of time or money to keep groomed and clean. They are easily trained to stand still and, of course, love the attention they get while being groomed. A well-groomed Berner is a gorgeous sight to behold and makes their white and tan markings on their rich black coat even more striking.