GROOMING THE PET CORGI
by Stephanie Seabrook Hedgepath
Thankfully, the Corgi is an easily kept breed and there is relatively one must do in order to keep them in top condition. The first step in grooming a Corgi to make him look good on the outside, depends upon what you put in his insides! If you have a Corgi that is difficult to keep in coat, having already ruled out physical problems, you may need to address what you are feeding to him. A Corgi can be expected to blow his coat (by this I mean drop his undercoat) seasonally, usually heaviest in the Spring of the year. If your dog is dropping coat more often than this, then you may not be feeding him a good enough quality food. Find a “specialty” quality food that you like and can afford, and stick to it. Do not change foods too often – cats get finicky, dogs don’t. You can feed the same food everyday for his entire life, and he will just keep on eating!
Grooming consists of more than just combing and bathing, The two T’s must also be taken care of: teeth and toenails. Toenails should be routinely inspected and cut. It is best to try and get on a regular schedule of cutting toenails about once a week. Routine tooth care is also of extreme importance. There are many doggie toothpastes on the market, and you may use a toothbrush, or even a washcloth to apply the toothpaste. Human toothpaste is NOT recommended, as there is really no way for your dog to rinse his mouth out, and you know how much you hate to swallow any toothpaste, so you know your dog won’t want to do it either. The doggie toothpaste requires no rinsing, and they actually come to enjoy the routine. Tooth care is important, for some dogs, as some people, have a tendency toward gum disease which opens them up to infections that can seriously spread throughout the body as they get older. Preventative measures are always better than huge vet bill later.
The easiest method of grooming the coat is to get into the habit of combing him out daily. This will help stimulate hair growth and will keep you on top of any skin or flea problems before they can become a problem. The “implements” that you will need to keep your dog in tip-top shape include combs: coarse, medium, fine, and extra fine (flea comb). The coarse and medium comb can often be combined into one, as a greyhound type comb, with coarse on one end and medium on the other. I prefer a comb with a handle, as it is easier for those of us with arthritis to manipulate. The fine comb is not a flea comb, but is listed as “fine”. The extra fine comb is a flea comb. I rarely use a brush, but when I do, I prefer a bristle brush or a pinbrush to a slicker. In bristle brushes, I use a “porcupine” brush, one that has stiff white bristles surrounded by softer black bristles. The slicker brushes rip out too much healthy coat. A pinbrush is only useful if you brush against the direction in which the hair grows in order to help pull out loose undercoat. You will also find it much easier to dry the coat with a hairdryer. Any hand-held one will do. Remember to blow the coat with the direction of the hair growth, not against it. After all, the standard does state that the Corgi’s coat should lie flat against the body, not stick out straight from it! One grooming implement that I find to be a necessity is a nail grinder. This makes it so much easier to keep the toenails short. Oster has one out that has two speeds, but a lot of folks are using the Dremel rechargeable grinder. You will also find dozens of other uses for it around the house. When using a nail grinder you should wear protective eyewear so as not to catch anything unwanted in your eyes. Of the other nail trimmers, I far prefer the guillotine type such as the Resco nail trimmer with replaceable blades to the scissor type. Now that we are pretty well set with our hardware, let’s see what else we need.
Some other items you want for grooming your Corgi is a good quality shampoo, one that will get the dirt out, but leave some shine to the coat. You might want to experiment with Show-Sheen, a horse product that is sprayed on a damp, clean coat and combed through or rubbed into the coat before drying. This is a silicone rinse that is a polish to protect the coat, giving it a wonderful shine, and it repels dirt, too. You do not want to use a creme rinse on a Corgi’s coat. That’s a no-no that leaves the coat way too soft to the touch as the outer coat is to be harsher in texture.
Now, on to the actual grooming. It is not necessary to bathe a Corgi often. Only if they get unusually dirty and when they are dropping their undercoat do they really need a bath. If you have combed him out on a daily basis then you should only have to quickly comb him out before you bathe him. After his bath, either put him somewhere where he can air dry and not get dirty or blow him dry while combing him out. If he is blowing coat, comb him out first with a coarse comb, to loosen the dead coat. Then re-comb with the medium-tooth comb, and finally with the fine tooth comb. The flea comb is usually only used if he has picked up fleas and you want to trap and kill the adults fleas. To comb the dog, always go in the direction the coat grows or at a right angle to the growth. We rarely back brush (go in the opposite direction of hair growth) on a Corgi. I usually start with the dog lying on his side, either on a grooming table, or on my lap. If you do not have a table, it is often easiest to sit on the floor with your legs out in front of you. Lay the dog in the “V” between your outstretched legs on his side.
Start at the back of the dog on the hind leg. Comb the hair from the hock down to the toes. Then in the longer hair on the broad part of the thighs, separate the coat, holding it up with your left thumb (if you are right handed) and then comb a section of hair down toward the foot. This will be at a right angle to the direction of growth of the hair. Continue combing until you have reached the top of the thigh where the topline coat begins.
Next comb the “pants” section, starting at the area right above the hock where the hair becomes longer to form the pants. Again, hold the hair up with your left thumb, and separating a small section at the time, comb it out and down towards the hock.
Then comb the sides of the dog, starting in the loin area in front of the thigh, and using the same technique, comb in sections until you reach the ruff area of the neck. Be especially gentle when combing the loin area of the dog. This is the only area where the dog is vulnerable to attack and they are super sensitive here.
Turn the dog over and repeat on the other side. Then lay the dog on his stomach, and comb his topline, starting at the tail area, with the dog facing away from you, and work your way up toward his neck. Then with the dog seated in front of you, start at the bottom of the chest and use the same technique that you used on his legs and sides, comb up the chest and neck to right under the chin. Comb the coat on the legs, too. Then work around the sides of the neck in small sections in the longer hair of the ruff.
Finally, comb the face, the top of the skull and the ears. (Yes, even comb the ears!) If you do this on a daily basis, it should take no more than 10 minutes, as the comb glides easily through the coat. You should comb your dog out a MINIMUM of once a week. I usually use the fine comb to do the daily grooming. You will find that your dog looks forward to his daily grooming session. This is a good time to quickly brush his teeth and check his nails. You will also be surprised how quickly you can pick up on any small changes in your dog’s health in your daily sessions. I have caught things that were easily cared for.
That’s about all there is to it. Weekly nail trimming, keeping his teeth clean and his coat combed out will keep your dog glistening and beautiful. This is a natural breed, and one of the Corgi’s great attractions is the fact that he is so easy to keep with a minimum of grooming whether at home or in the show ring.
© 1993 Stephanie Seabrook Hedgepath. All rights reserved.