Grooming a Shorthaired Chihuahua

This wash-and-wear dog breed needs regular nail trimming and brushing to look its best.

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Q. I have a shorthaired Chihuahua, and I was just wondering if there is anything special I should be doing when I groom her? I use a waterless shampoo because she has a strong doggie smell after about a week after her bath, and she gets regular bath once a month. I clean her ears and eyes once a week, and have been filing her nails a tiny bit every few days to get her used to me touching her feet and work her nails down.

A. When it comes to grooming, you lucked out because the shorthaired version of the Chihuahua is one of the easiest dogs to maintain. Basically, all you need is a rubber curry brush, quality pet shampoo and conditioner, cotton balls, ear cleanser, small-sized nail trimmers and some styptic powder to do the job. The hardest thing about grooming this adorable pet is learning how to safely and confidently handle her so she won’t become nervous and stressed. If your little girl already allows you to bathe and brush her and file her nails, you have mastered most of this already.

Rubber curry brushes come in several sizes and styles, whisking shed hair away as we massage the dog in the direction the hair grows. You may even use it when you bathe your baby to give her a cleansing massage. However, if she has developed pockets of built-up shed hair – a condition we call “packing” – use a wire slicker to remove this, but choose one called a “gentle” slicker because this breed has sensitive skin that can be easily scraped if you work on the same spot too long or too hard.

If doggie odor is a problem, make sure you are feeding her a nutritious premium dog food, preferably one with omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and antioxidants that will help promote beautiful skin and coat. Many manufacturers offer small-breed dog foods with smaller kibble to make it easier to eat for little munchkins like yours. Look for one with no corn, wheat or soy, no artificial colors or chemical preservative, wholesome ingredients and known protein sources. Chihuahuas can be picky eaters so make sure she gets a food she really enjoys and stay away from spoiling her appetite and compromising her nourishment by offering human food.

Next, switch to a shampoo that is fragrance-enhanced to keep doggie odor at bay. There are lots of good ones on the market including the Crazy Pet line by Cardinal Laboratories, which features Wild Cherry, Baby Powder, Pina Colada, Green Apple and Verry Berry shampoos with grooming sprays to match to keep her smelling wonderful between baths.

Another old favorite is Lambert Kay’s Fresh ‘n Clean Shampoo and Grooming Spray, which will also lend a long-lasting scent to your little buddy. In the salon, we have used the Pet Effects line with tropical fruit scents. All are infused with natural fruit oils to keep pets smelling deliciously clean. Available in Strawberry and Guava, Black Raspberry and Vanilla, Coconut and Grapefruit and Watermelon and Pear, they can be used with matching colognes to keep your little pet nice to be near.

As far as nail care goes, I think you need to move beyond filing and start using small pliers-style nail clippers to do the job. Having a helper to assist you if she gets squirmy or nippy would make the job easier, but never put too much pressure on the neck or throat of a Toy dog like yours.

Begin with the back paws, lifting them slightly so you are looking down at the pads and just nip the tips for starters, praising her for cooperating. With your helper in front of your pet, do the same for the front nails, taking care not to squeeze or twist her legs or feet to avoid hurting her.

Have some styptic powder on hand in case you nick the “quick,” the vein inside each nail. Don’t panic if you do; a dab of this powder will quickly remedy the situation. Overgrown nails can impede a pet’s walking ability and can even deform the feet if left untrimmed. If you like, you can still file them to make them smoother after clipping.

Another word of caution on Chihuahua care: When you bathe her, don’t wash her face with shampoo. Instead, just sponge it with a damp washcloth or towel, thus avoiding getting soap in those big eyes and causing irritation.


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