This section is from the book "Toy Dogs And Their Ancestors", by Neville Lytton. Also available from Amazon: Toy Dogs And Their Ancestors: Including The History And Management Of Toy Spaniels, Pekingese, Japanese, And Pomeranians.
If you wish to get good coats on your dogs do not be afraid of plentiful washing. In spite of all advice and warnings to the contrary, I find this plan far the most efficacious for producing a strong and profuse growth of coat, especially on Blenheims and Tricolours. Black-and-tans do not require so much washing, as it tends to make the colour temporarily rusty. Wash your Blenheims regularly once a week. There will be no harm whatsoever either to health or coat if my instructions are carefully followed. Washing must not be done in a haphazard sort of way, with the soap suds only half rinsed out, and the dog only half dried and left to catch cold. Before you begin, let your dog out for a run, so that there will be no necessity to let him out very soon after washing. Prepare two clean bath towels, soap, sponge, and a fire. Have two vessels (any kind of foot-bath will do). Put hot water in both - not tepid, but hot - and have also ready a jug of hot water just the right temperature for the dog. As to temperature, anything which feels pleasantly hot when tried with your bare arm will be about right. Have the water in the jug just a trifle hotter than that in the footbaths, as it will have time to cool a little.
Do not put too much soda with the water, as it tends to bleach the red and black markings, but if the water is hard add a little borax or Scrubb's ammonia instead of soda. Use common white soap or Jeyes's Perfect Purifier, or Gar-stin's dog soap. Put the bath before the fire, and put the dog in the bath and sluice him well over with the hot water, except his head, which should be left to the last. Then soap him thoroughly, getting a good lather and rubbing well in all the corners, under the arms and thighs and between the toes. Then wet the head, soap your own fingers and rub well, giving special attention to the muzzle. Don't soap and rub the dog's face as if it were a kitchen table, as you will injure the eyes and half choke the poor animal with suds up the nostrils. Do it carefully, as if you were washing a very brittle bit of china. Remember that unless you clean your dog's face thoroughly, remove all tear stains, and make it as white as snow, he will never look his best in the ring. Take care not to get any soap into the eyes if you can possibly help it, as it tends to inflame them, and never allow soap or water to get inside the ear.
The great secret of success in the appearance of a dog when washed is to rinse out all the soap.
After you have soaped him and rubbed him all over, sponge well in the same water, then transfer him to the other bath and sponge again, taking care to wash out every trace of soap. If the faintest trace of soapiness remains in the hair, it not only gives the dog a dirty, grey look instead of the snowy, fluffy appearance he should have, but it also makes the hair fall out. Therefore, I repeat: Rinse your dog well. To insure this, you should put him through a final rinsing from the jug. Use the water hot, on no account cold, and be sure it is not tepid, as tepid water causes colds, while hot water never does so. By this I do not, of course, mean that you must boil your dog. I almost hesitate to give this advice because some people are apt to fly to extremes. I knew a woman who could pick a potato with her bare fingers out of a saucepan that was actually bubbling and boiling over the fire, and her ideas of what is just comfortably hot are probably slightly different from mine. Be very careful to get the soap out of the stop, and this is no easy matter. Do all this as quickly as is compatible with thoroughness - don't turn round and talk to a friend while washing and keep your dog shivering, and don't wash him in a draught.
Take the dog out of the bath, and remove the first moisture with the sponge. This will greatly hasten the drying. Then wrap him in a warm towel and dry him by the fire, with smart but not rough rubbing, beginning by drying the face, rubbing chiefly the wrong way of the hair. In drying the ears, rub them also the wrong way of the hair, but do not hold the hair down while doing this. Leave it quite loose. As soon as he is fairly dry, finish him off with the second dry, warm towel. Give special attention to all the crevices of his face, and finish them with a pocket-handkerchief, rubbing still the wrong way of the hair. In drying the stop, rub across from one eye to the other as well as up and down, and also rub up and down the crease between the sides of muzzle and the eyes. Be sure not to neglect the ears and all round the neck. As soon as he is as dry as you can make him, put him in a basket or chair close to the fire, and let him get thoroughly hot and have a good, long sleep. Please avoid, however, the terrible carelessness which has resulted in the burning to death of some puppies in their basket, a hot cinder falling on them while their master had gone away. Never let a dog lie on the floor after washing.
If you put your hand near the floor you will be surprised to find what a hurricane of cold air rushes along it even in summer. Except on a broiling summer day, a dog should not go out of doors for sev-eral hours after washing, certainly not until the coat and ears are perfectly dry. When completely dry, should the dog still have any discoloration in the stop or show tear marks, apply dry boracic powder, and you will be astonished at the dog's improvement and smart appearance. Brush gently, take all tangles out of the ears and frills. Don't do this in a hurry, as it is kinder to the dog, and you will reap the benefit by the extra amount of hair that will be left in for the ring. Never pull the hair after washing, as the pulling strains it beyond recovery, until it becomes like an overstretched elastic band and eventually breaks off. Do not brush or comb the hair when wet. If the dog has much stain from tear marks, wash his muzzle every day with a small tooth brush and Monkey brand soap, and then apply a mixture of oxide of zinc powder and peroxide of hydrogen.
Champion Windfall has had no other treatment since he was about eighteen months old, and a look at his picture will convince the most sceptical that whatever treatment he has had has been completely successful. You cannot grow coat on a deal board with any preparation or treatment in the world, and some dogs, like deal boards, are incapable of growing thick hair. This is very noticeable among the very straight coated strains. I consider the very long, thin, straight coat a sign of consumptive tendency and an inclination to chest weakness. It has certainly been my own experience that this particular kind of coat means extreme delicacy of constitution. A dry biscuit immediately after washing and drying will be much appreciated, and will reconcile the dog to the idea of lying still by the fire and going to sleep instead of romping about and getting in a draught.
It is a good plan to put him before the fire in one of Spratt's wire runs or in one of the pens. Cover the back of the pen with a dry bath towel, and he will soon be quite dry. If you find that the weekly washing makes your dog's coat too dry and brittle, apply some antiseptic oil or ointment. Do not use carbolic as a disinfectant, as it is very poisonous to dogs, and so is turpentine.
For the amusement of exhibitors I have collected some tenses of the verb "to show," in which they may recognise familiar scenes.