Bathing A Saint Bernard
The information contained within the context of this section has been collected for the use of the membership from the resources of other members and dog fanciers. The subject matter is intended for informational purposes only. The SBCA has no exclusive rights over this information nor does it review the information for its authenticity or correctness. This information is published without any implied or express warranty. Any liability as a result of this information shall be assumed by those that use the information and shall not be that of the Saint Bernard Club of America, its officers, directors or members.
Recently, I posed some questions to one of the saint e-mail lists regarding the grooming of St. Bernards. The following are the responses received of various SBCA club members. Thanks to Giselle Carlow (GC), Penny Janz (PJ), Melody Salmi Kirkbride (MK), Marge Macgregor (MM), Donna McPhate (DM), and Brenda McWhorter (BM) for their contributions. If you would like to contribute St. Bernard grooming tidbits for this webpage that you think other Saint owners would care to know about, please contact me, Lynn Jech, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What shampoo do you use for whitening the whites on the saints coat? What shampoo do you use for just general dog bathing? Where do you bath your saint - on a grooming table? in the bathtub?
MK – Chris Christensen White On White, Clairol Shimmer Lights, #1 All Systems whitening shampoo, 1st In Line whitening shampoo and conditioner, EZ Groom Crystal Enzyme shampoo. I only use a grooming table.
GC - I use Jardine's Whitening shampoo and it gives a beautiful pearlescent and whitening effect. I also use a mix of Woolite and 20 volume peroxide to whiten stained areas on elbows, etc. before shampooing. For general purpose cleaning we use livestock Show Paste shampoo. It is inexpensive and does a great job. (7 pounds of it costs about 12 dollars and lasts through a ton of Saint washing). We bath on a grooming table once the pups are about four months old as it gets them used to the idea of getting up there for regular grooming purposes.
DM - I bathe my dogs on my permanent grooming table, which is set up in the open area of my kennel and is near my grooming supply cabinet, hose and hot water heater. I use J & B Almond Shampoo for regular cleaning because it cleans gently and rinses out thoroughly. I then use a host of products for whitening. In my arsenal you will find: generic Shimmering Lights; A-1 All Systems Whitener; Chris Christiansen's White-On-White; and Mel's favorite, E-Z Groom Crystal White Shampoo. I have recently experimented with one Jeffer's carries called: Wahl's All Out Red, with good results.
A grooming table can save the back.
BM - Smaller ones in the shower with hand held shower hose, larger ones outside. I have a outdoor hose attachment that fits on the utility sink in the garage to get warm water. No outside baths in the winter. I use a horse whitening shampoo to get out clay stains, leave it one for about 5-10 minutes. It seems to work pretty well.
MM - White on White. What shampoo do you use for just general dog bathing?
White on White. Where do you bath your saint? In the driveway.
What kind of brushes or combs do you use and how often do you brush your dog? What brushes or combs have you used that didn't seem to work as well? Do you use a matcutter or scissors for behind the ears or pantaloons?
MK – I use #1 All Systems assorted brushes. I use both a de-matter when needed and scissors for behind the ears and pantaloons.
GC - I use small, very sharp scissors to cut through mats as opposed to cutting them out. If you place the tip of the scissors into the base of the mat pointing outward and cut through a couple of times you can then remove the twisted hair and brush it out, saving most of the coat. Use rakes in varying lengths to groom my roughs and find a hound glove works very well on the smooths or one of those rubber knobby things they use for washing and doing horse...have no idea what they are called!
DM - I use Chris Christiansen's brushes because the wire tips are rounded and don't scratch the dog. For mats, I find his product, Ice-on-Ice, to be outstanding. A little of the diluted mixture sprayed onto a mat and worked into it will loosen it up so that it can be brushed out fairly easily. I use this product on my dogs on a regular basis between shampooing to keep their coats in great condition and protected from sun damage.
BM - . a pin brush, rake, horse shedding blade. For show I use a terrier stripping blade to remove the ear fuzzys, sometimes I'll use a rubber brush for massage, brush from 2x week, 1x week, to once every other week.
PJ - Here is some advice a handler gave me years ago regarding dog bathing. She owned Danes but also showed Saints very successfully.
When bathing your dog, do it in your swimming suit. You won't mind getting wet. During the summer, she always bathed the dogs outside on the grass or in the driveway. She felt the "natural" setting vs a bathtub which even with a mat or whatever gave the dog a better sense of secure footing.
In winter, she bathed the dogs in her heated kennel building which had a drain in the floor. For those without a kennel building, bathing can be done in your basement (not your rec room) over the floor drain.
She would put the shampoo (full strength) in one of those squeezable "ketchup" bottles so she could dispense it with one hand. When beginning, she run a "bead" of full strength shampoo around the dog's neck. That prevented the movement of any fleas up the dog's body to the head area. Then she'd soak the dog and finally squeeze some shampoo on the coat and lather it up being sure to get to all parts of the top (topside as well as underside)
THE LAST THING TO BATHE IS THE HEAD. When dogs get their heads wet, they shake. When they shake, the water in their coats gets over everything - thus the swimming suit and the basement where water won't matter.
So, the idea is to bathe the dog's body and then the head being sure to keep the shampoo out of the eyes. Then rinse, rinse, rinse. Be sure to stress how important it is to get all the shampoo out.
TO GET A DOG TO SHAKE the water out of its coat - blow in its ear. Lift the ear flap and blow. If the dog doesn't shake, blow into its ear again.
What instrument do you use to trim your dog's toenails, why? and are you satisfied? What have you tried that you were unsatisfied with?
MK - I only use a nail grinder (Black And Decker brand at this time). Not satisfied with a traditional nail trimmer, leaves the edges blunt and rough. I prefer the nail to be rounded and soft to the touch so when the saint should paw you for attention, your leg doesn’t get scratched up.
DM - I use a cordless Dremel for doing nails and absolutely love it. Once the dogs are accustomed to it, it is less traumatic than a clipper and we all get though the process with less stress.
BM - I use both a heavy duty scissor type nail trimmer and a Dremel. My female has very heavy nails for her size. I usually do them about every 2 weeks. Using the trimmer, I sometimes have to make the initial cut at the end and then one cut on each bottom side to take off the rough edge.
MM - I use regular dog nail clippers. I tried the Dremel and either I didn't use it right or something. It just didn't seem to work well for me. The clippers are quick. I have used the Dremel to kind of "tidy" up on a dog I am showing after using the clippers.