Prepare the parlor.
With Oscar’s Big Haircut this week, we dug up some advice for Francine from fancy dog groomers in the Victorian era.
From Chapter III, Grooming:
A great deal in a dog’s appearance depends upon whether his owner has him well groomed or not… Grooming, to be effective, must be constant and thorough. A casual overhauling with a dirty brush once in two or three months does not at all represent our views on the subject… Conspicuous amongst inventions which are really serviceable is the hair-glove, and no breeder of smooth-coated dogs should be without some of these in his kennel. In the case of the long-haired varieties a coarse comb and dandy-brush are about all that are necessary. Very hard brushes, as a rule, are best avoided; they may do no harm to a thoroughly healthy coat, but the skin even of a healthy dog is peculiarly susceptible of irritation, and any undue stimulus may start him scratching till he is almost raw. A hard brush may therefore inflame some pustule on the skin, and before the injury is discovered a dog may have disfigured himself for months to come. A hard short-bristled brush, if constantly used, is also liable to remove more hair than is necessary, and thereby injures the dog’s appearance.
Many dogs are very fidgety when they are being groomed, and throw themselves about in a manner which renders the operation a tedious one. There is no remedy for this but patience, and after a dog once becomes accustomed to his morning’s grooming, he soon gets to like it, and seems to look forward to the luxury. It is always desirable to chain him up when grooming is carried on, in case he breaks away and gets into mischief. The modus operandi is very simple, but we have always found it best to let the dog lie down, and do as much of his legs as possible first. The reason of this is that during the grooming of his legs a dog very often lies down and fidgets about, and in this way gets his coat all covered with sawdust or whatever may be laid on the floor of the kennel. This is not so annoying when his back and sides have yet to be groomed, and he can return to his bench neat and tidy. The legs should be thoroughly rubbed with the brush or hair-glove, care being taken to pass the hand in the direction the coat runs, or instead of benefiting the coat it will be injured by being made rougher than it was before. Attention should then be directed to the head and ears; the back must next be done, and the proceedings terminate by brushing out the tail. Under ordinary circumstances the hair-glove is sufficient for smooth-coated dogs, but its bristles are neither long nor stout enough to penetrate the jackets of the long-haired varieties’ When the latter have to be dealt with a dandy-brush will usually suffice, the comb only being resorted to when the coat is knotted and tangled up. In using the comb the operator should be as gentle as he can, for if he drags tufts of hair out he hurts the dog and injures his appearance. A thorough combing-out is an excellent practice before a dog is washed, as it helps to remove all superfluous hairs, but when the coat is wet it is always more or less tangled, and should not be combed. As we have said before, systematic grooming is at the bottom of many a dog’s blooming condition, and no morning should go by without strict attention being paid to his toilet. Careful grooming also assists greatly in the destruction of fleas and other vermin, and renders the coat sweet and clean.
We may remark that these hints on grooming refer solely to general management, and no allusion is made here to any special attention show dogs may require in the course of their preparation for exhibition, as such will be fully gone into in the chapter on exhibiting. A good rub over with a large dry chamois leather after the brushing out is completed is an excellent termination to the grooming, but in ordinary cases is not so essential as the brush or hair-glove.