We recommend you keep the following supplies/grooming tools on hand:
All purpose dog shampoo.
Commercial flea shampoo can be used if fleas are a problem.
Good quality heavy duty pliers style nail trimmers, OR electric rotary grinder (such as Dreml MotoTool)
Bathing should be necessary no more often than once a month. Unless directed to do so my your veterinarian, baths should be given no more often than once a week. Many bassets can go several months without a bath.
Bassets prefer to be bathed in the house so they can enjoy warm water (and maybe a bubble bath). Provide a non skid surface, such as a bath mat, on the bottom of the bathing tub. Or you may wish to bathe your basset on the laundry room floor, over the floor drain. To prevent basset hair from clogging your drain, insert a ball of steel wool into the drain before starting. Check the water temperature to be sure it is not too hot or too cold. Cotton balls in the ears will prevent water from getting in. A drop of mineral oil in each eye can prevent irritation from shampoo...or use a tearless shampoo.
After wetting your basset thoroughly, apply plenty of shampoo and work it into the coat and down to the skin. You may need to shampoo twice if it´s been a while since the last bath. The most important step is to RINSE, RINSE, RINSE. And when you have all the soap out of the coat, RINSE SOME MORE. This is when the sprayer hose comes in handy. If soap is left in the coat, the coat will be dull and flaky, and the dog may itch. When you are sure you basset will turn into a prune if rinsed any more, dry thoroughly with lots of towels. Do not allow your basset to go outside if the weather is chilly until he is completely dry.
Regular brushing will help keep your basset´s coat clean, healthy and reasonably odor-free. Most bassets have 2 kinds of hair - fluffy soft light-colored undercoat, and harder outer coat or guard hairs. Under normal circumstances, a good brushing once a week with a hound glove or good quality bristle brush, which removes the loose outer coat, is all that is necessary. However, during periods of heavy shedding, usually twice a year, the undercoat comes out and much more is necessary. At these times you may need to groom your basset daily or at least every two days to keep from being buried under doghair.
First, I would try a Slicker Brush. These are fairly readily available at K-mart or any pet store. They have bent wire bristles and the handle is set on at an angle. If the undercoat is very loose, you can simply brush the coat with it and it will come out. Once you've gotten all you can that way, start brushing AGAINST the hair growth to get out some more. Or, you can try combing with a flea comb or the fine end of a 10 cent plastic pocket comb (which probably now costs a dollar!). This will usually get out the thickest clumps. Then you need to move on to some form of stripper ( and I'm not talking about Gypsy Rose Lee). Shedding blades can be bought at most pet or horse supply stores and they work fine. You can also use a fine-tooth hacksaw blade. The best is a Magnet Stripper, available only at dog shows, or from some dog supply catalogs - costs between $5 - 14, depending where you look. Grooming stones also work very well. These are lightweight crumbly black pumice stones, available at dog shows, from many pet supply catalogs, or at your hardware store where they are sold to clean grills. Using the stripper of your choice, carefully comb through the hair repeatedly - it will pull out the remaining dead undercoat. But be sure not to push too hard (especially with the hacksaw blade) as you can scratch the skin. Next, brush thoroughly with a Zoom Groom rubber brush or one of those mitts with the soft, stickyish rubber palms "As Seen on TV". This will remove any loose outer coat. Finally, give a good brushing with a good quality bristle brush, or hound glove, or rub her down with a damp chamois or a piece of velvet. This will remove any dust or dandruff and give a nice shine.
The Basset's warm, dark ear canal with little air circulation provides a wonderful breeding ground for bacteria and yeast. Regular cleaning is essential for ear health. A healthy ear canal will be pale pink with no inflammation, discharge, or foul odor. If any of these is present, an exam by a veterinarian is advisable. Ears should be checked for problems and cleaned weekly. Cleaning is simple. Steady the dog´s head, and squirt ear cleaner into the ear. With the home made solution, we actually fill the ear canal with the liquid. Massage the base of the ear for a few moments, then stand back. The basset will shake his head vigorously. This will help bring any loosened wax or dirt out of the canal. Simply wipe the ear out with a cotton ball or a piece of gauze. Do NOT dig down into the ear canal. Your mother was right when she told you not to stick anything smaller than your elbow into your ear! You may use a Q-Tip to clean around the ridges at the entrance to the ear canal. If you have a problem with moist ears, you may want to squirt a commercial ear-drying powder into the ear canal after cleaning, or your vet might recommend a medicated ointment. Repeat the process with the other ear.
Although dogs rarely get cavities, they still need regular dental care to prevent gum disease and tooth loss. Feeding a dry food diet is better for dental health than a canned or soft moist food diet. Chewing on bones, and some of the commercial "dental toys" can also help. But the most important part of good dental hygiene for your basset is a daily toothbrushing. This can be done with a human toothbrush, a doggy toothbrush, an electric toothbrush, or even a piece of gauze wrapped around your finger. Use a commercial doggy toothpaste or other canine dental cleanser (NOT human toothpaste) or even baking soda. Be sure to brush along the gumline and don´t forget the teeth in the back.
Nail care is very important for the basset. If nails are allowed to grow overlong, they force the dog to turn his foot out when he walks to avoid the nails. This puts added stress on an already deformed front leg assembly and can lead to increased orthopedic problems down the line as well as discomfort to the basset. Ideally the nails should be short enough that they do not click when the dog walks across a tile or linoleum floor. This is not always possible, but it should always be striven for.
Proper nail care is made more difficult by the fact that bassets seem to be particularly touchy about their feet and often actively resist nail trimming. There are several ways to minimize this resistance. Most importantly, the basset should be taught from birth that any part of his body can be touched by his people. From the day your puppy comes to live with you, you should, as part of play and petting, run your fingers all over his body: over legs and feet, between toes, in his mouth and along his teeth, around and in his ears, etc. Second, nail trimming must be done regularly, ideally every 2-3 weeks. When done regularly, your basset will learn it is inevitable, and he will become familiar with the routine and fight it less. Third, he should always be rewarded for allowing his nails to be done. At our house, the bassets volunteer to be first on grooming day in order to get the biscuit reward when grooming is done! Fourth, the nail trimming process should be as painless as possible.
First, you must get control of your basset. Have him lay on his side on your grooming table or other raised surface. It may help to have a second person help to steady him and distract him by taking to him, singing into his nose (I know, that's weird, but it works for us!!), or allowing him to lick peanut butter off fingers. If you must do nails alone with a very uncooperative dog, I recommend working on the floor. "Sit" on the dog by sitting on the floor, rolling him onto his back or side in front of you, then putting your legs over him to hold him still. You can also sit on the floor with the dog sitting between your legs facing away from you. Lean him back against your body and wrap your legs around his tummy with one arm around his neck and the other holding the foot to be groomed.
Many dogs who are resistive to a clipper are accepting of a rotary grinder such as the Craftsman Rotary Tool, the Dreml MotoTool, or the Oster Grinder. The cordless model is quieter and less likely to upset the novice dog. The corded model has more power and is quicker. The addition of the Flexi-Shaft attachment makes it more maneuverable and easier on the hand. Use the cylindrical sanding drum with a coarse sandpaper sleeve. Grind back all sides of the nail, even the bottom, at a slight angle, until you leave just the tip of the quick exposed. This quick tip will then dry up and recede, allowing you to shorten the nail even more the next time. Never hold the grinder on one spot for more than a second or two - it gets HOT and will be uncomfortable for the dog. A detailed description of how to use this tool on nails can be found here.
When using a clipper, be sure not to cut into the dog's quick. This is very painful to him and will not make the process any easier the next time. If you are unsure of where to find the quick, you may want to just shave off a thin sliver of nail at a time until the nail is short enough. Be aware also, that if nails have been allowed to get long, the quick grows along with the nail. You may not be able to get the nail short enough without cutting the quick. In this case, trim back just to the quick every other day – the quick will recede, allowing you to get the nails to a proper length. In any case, do have styptic powder handy just in case you get too close. You can get a "bleeder" even if you don't cut into the quick.
Grooming the basset for show:
The basset is about as low maintenance a breed as you can get, but they do require grooming. It would be nice if you could just give them a bath, clip their toenails and take them in the ring. You probably could get away with it. But your basset will lack the finished, polished look of the true showdog.
Preparation should begin well in advance of the show. Your basset should be groomed regularly, especially during the spring ‘molt' to insure the coat is in tiptop shape. All the loose dead undercoat should be carefully removed, using one of the many stripping tools available. I prefer to use a Magnet brand or Pedigree brand stripping knife, or a grooming stone, although when the dog is shedding heavily I will also use a slicker brush (and brush against the grain of the hair), a flea comb, or the fine end of a simple plastic pocket comb. Follow the stripping with a thorough brushing with a rubber brush - I like the Zoom Groom for cats - and a few good swipes with a hound glove or good quality bristle brush. This will need to be repeated several times before the coat looks fresh and new and shiny. Nails also need to be attended to regularly (ideally once every week) to prevent the quicks from growing out and to keep the nail nice and short. You should not hear the nails click when the basset walks across a bare floor.
The day before the show, do your major show preparation. This will minimize the last minute grooming on show day and mean you will get to sleep an extra hour or two before getting up for that 8:00 AM ring time so common for bassets. You should check teeth and ears and make sure both are clean. Don't get lazy and just clean the front teeth - some judges are ‘tooth fairies' and really root around in that mouth, counting teeth and checking even the back molars. Then, with a small scissors, carefully trim the long hairs between the pads on the feet. Trim from the underside of the pad only. Do NOT trim the long hairs around the tops of the nails - this will make the nails look longer! Next, trim the long hairs on the end of the tail. I gather all the long hairs together and cut in one more or less smooth cut just beyond the end of the tail itself. If the dog has an unusually short tail, you may want to leave it a little longer. If your dog has a tail that droops too low over his back, you may want to get that tail tip as short as you can so it doesn't touch. Do NOT trim the hair on the underside of the tail - it is supposed to be longer and brushy! Next, using a thinning shear, trim the long hair on the back of the upper thigh and the butt - from just above the hock joint to the curly-cues on either ‘cheek'. This will help define and accentuate the rear angulation and give a neater look. Now you're ready to do the nails. Most show-folk use a rotary tool - the Oster Nail Trimmer, or the Dreml or Craftsman Rotary Tool. The cordless model is quieter and less likely to upset the novice dog. The corded model has more power and is quicker. The addition of the Flexi-Shaft attachment makes it more maneuverable and easier on the hand. Use the cylindrical sanding drum with a coarse sandpaper sleeve. Grind back all sides of the nail, even the bottom, at a slight angle, until you leave just the tip of the quick exposed. This quick tip will then dry up and recede, allowing you to shorten the nail even more the next time. Never hold the grinder on one spot for more than a second or two - it gets HOT and will be uncomfortable for the dog. If you MUST, you can also trim the whiskers, although this is certainly not necessary (I haven't trimmed a whisker since about 1981). If you do, trim very short, leaving absolutely no stubble. Stubble is very unattractive and inexcusable. Use a blunt scissors, and putting a finger inside the lip, push the whisker out while cutting to get right down to the skin. Bassets are very adept at sucking in their whiskers when they are trimmed and then popping them back out when you think you are done! Also , be sure to get ALL the whiskers. Don't miss the ones on the side of the cheeks, or under the chin.
Next, give your basset a good bath. Any dog shampoo will do just fine. Some dogs benefit from a medicated shampoo. Sometimes a flea shampoo is advisable. There are special shampoos for black coats or white coats or brown coats - not really necessary, but they may make you feel like you are accomplishing something. If your dog has lots of white, you may want to use a whitening shampoo with optical whiteners, or you can add a few drops of laundry bluing to the final rinse. The most important thing is to get the dog impeccably clean and to Rinse, Rinse, Rinse.
On show day, you should begin your last-minute grooming about and hour or hour and a half before judging if you opt to do the full groom job. Some people may opt to skip some steps, but I find it produces a less than finished look. All the grooming can also help keep you busy and get any jitters under control. Once you are proficient, it will take you about 15 minutes to put the final touches on each dog. He should have at least ½ hour to rest after grooming is completed.
First, check carefully to see if your basset has gotten dirty. Bassets have an incredible ability to find dirt and especially if your basset is a kennel dog, it is almost assured that he is no longer spotlessly clean. The white feet are most likely to get a bit grubby overnight. Puppies tend to get odd things ground into their backs and hips during play. Clean any soiled areas with a good waterless, rinseless shampoo. I like Self Rinse Plus the best. Using a spray bottle of cleaner, thoroughly wet the soiled areas and scrub vigorously with your hands, working up a lather. Then towel dry. Check ears (inside and out) and wipe them clean with the towel. Caked dried dirt or dried drool can be easily removed from the ear leather with the Magnet stripper or Grooming Stone. Check the teeth - bassets do eat dirt. Just because his teeth were clean last night doesn't mean they are clean now. You don't want the judge to find mud when he checks the bite! Wipe any matter from the corners of the eyes.
Now that your basset is again scrupulously clean, check for any loose hairs and remove with the stripping knife and/or Zoom Groom, finishing up with the hound glove. Then, set out your supplies to chalk the dog. You will need Chalk Mate or Cholestrol Hair Conditioner, a small, stiff brush such as a vegetable brush (some people use a shaving brush), and a container (a small fruitcake tin works well) of "chalk". You can purchase grooming chalk from a supply vendor or you can save money by making your own. I find the homemade actually works better. Mixing up a batch of chalk is NOT an exact science. No two people use quite the same recipe. I doubt I ever make it exactly the same twice. I use approximately 6 parts cornstarch, 2 parts baby powder and 1 part baking soda. I do NOT measure - I just dump. Shake the closed can or stir the chalk to mix well.
Put a snood on the dog to keep the ears out of the chalk. Scoop out a small dollop of Cholestrol - about the size of a pea. Rub it between the palms of your hands to coat them, then rub it into the white areas on one foot and leg. Repeat for each leg. Other white areas which have become stained or discolored, such as throats or blazes, can also be chalked. Now set the foot on the upside down lid of your chalk tin to catch the extra chalk. This makes for less mess and you can reuse what you catch by dumping it back into your tin. Dip your brush into the chalk and using the brush, work the chalk into the coat by brushing against the grain. Thoroughly coat the white areas of the foot and leg. Then go on to the next foot. When you are done, leave the chalk in the coat. Most of it will fall out during the rest period before show time. If it doesn't, use a soft brush such as a shoe brush to remove excess chalk just before going into the ring. The chalk itself should not be visible. However, the coat will be cleaner and whiter and will stand off from the leg a bit, giving the appearance of more substance.
When you are done chalking, apply coat polish to the unchalked areas. Many people use mink oil spray. I find this softens the coat slightly and tends to attract dust. I prefer to use a non-oil based product. I have used a horse product for many years. It gives the coat extra shine, and repels flies and dirt. The brand I use now is called Laser Sheen and is applied in a light mist with a spray bottle. You then work it into the coat with the hands and then smooth the coat with the hound glove. Finally, squirt a few drops of a sterile eye irrigating solution into each eye. Now put your basset back into his crate for a nap.
When you go to the ring, take along either a piece of velvet or a damp chamois to give your dog a last wipe to remove any fresh dust or chalk residue. Remember to remove the snood just before you enter the ring and you're ready to win!
All pets are must be vaccinated according to our contract requirements. We also require each owner to bring one leash and one collar if you are bringing a dog. We require that your leash and collar are on the dog at all times until placed in or released from the care of AHomeAway. It is also required that the animals prescribed medication be brought with the dog with spacific instructions affixed on them or printed on paper. The veteranarian's Rx documentation will be best to bring. This will allow us to know exactly what the Veteranarian requires.
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