"Life isn't long enough to do all you could accomplish. And what a privilege even to be alive. In spite of all the pollutions and horrors, how beautiful this world is.
Supposing you only saw the stars once every year. Think what you would think. The wonder of it!"--Tasha Tudor

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Corgi grooming 101: The Corgi Coat

If you go to a dog show and watch the breeders and handlers grooming their dogs, you will quickly discover that there are about as many different techniques and products being used as there are Corgis. A correct Corgi coat should lie flat. Should your Corgi have a bit of a wave or cowlick to get down, it can take a bit of creativity to get that flat. Unless you are bringing your Corgi into the show ring, you probably won't be too concerned about getting those cowlicks or waves down. Showing or not, it is still fun to keep your Corgi looking clean and spiffy. So to continue with my little basic grooming series, let's move on to combing and brushing.

For some of this, I will refer to Deborah Harper's book "The New Complete Pembroke Welsh Corgi." Sadly, this book is out of print but you can sometimes find a copy on eBay. It has a wealth of information as well as interesting back history and bloodlines that have had their mark on our breed. Maybe if we all beg Debbie she will tell her publisher that it is time for an updated version. I'd be first in line to buy it. Debbie is not only a lovely friend but an awesome mentor. I always learn so much from her and it is most comforting to know she is always there when puppies are about to be born. The Tasha Tudor illustration above, the black and white photos for correct paw fur trimming which will be in my next post as well as quoted material from her book is used here with permission. The color photos were quickly taken over the weekend by Mary Elizabeth and I.

Debbie writes: "We start at the back end of the dog, at the very bottom of his pants, and work up over his back and sides to the front and end with the chest coat. An English fine comb or a natural bristle brush is used, and the coat is worked from the skin out in the direction the hair grows. Be careful not to scratch the skin as you work. With a dense undercoat, only a very small section can be done at a time. Grooming the coat in this manner will get the undercoat and guard hairs all going in the same direction and will give a smooth, even, rich appearance to the coat. If the coat is full of static electricity, making it difficult to handle because of the flyaway hairs, dampen the coat slightly with a fine spray of water as you work. After all your efforts are done, the dog will give himself a good shake, letting you know he prefers to go dressed his own way..."

What Debbie describes above is what is referred to as 'line combing.' As in the photo below, you will use your hand to hold back the fur above the small line or section of fur that you are about to comb out, toward the natural direction the fur grows, then dropping another small approximate inch of fur while holding the fur above that new section up and proceeding the same way.
The first time you do this combing will probably be the most time consuming part of the entire grooming process. With regular combing and brushing, it will get quicker and easier as you practice. Once or twice a year, expect to have a pretty big shedding which will take a bit more time to handle.

Here is a Corgi who is slightly shedding, before line combing. You can lightly spritz the entire coat with water and using a pin brush, Mason Pearson or your comb, back brush the coat in the direction opposite the way it grows so it sort of sticks up or out and then work on each section as described above.

Hold up the fur with one hand and then comb in the direction the fur grows, inch by inch, with the other hand.
The coat after line combing.
Some people train their dogs to lie down quietly on their sides as they are being groomed or combed out. I spent the day at Sue Jacob's (artist extraordinaire) painting yesterday (but that will be show and tell for another day's post!) Sue started grooming Corgis back in her days as a junior handler. Her dogs always look beautifully groomed. Sue gave me a few tips to share with you. She put Liat (her cuddly handsome sable boy) on his side and he was very happy to lay there for his pampering. After bathing, Sue towel dries the dog well and then after about 20 minutes starts the blow drying process. While blow drying, she is using her comb or pin brush (never one with 'balls' on the end, as she feels it tears the coat, but rather one like I described in my earlier post) and works through the fur in the direction of the coat. She starts with the dog laying down on his side, working around the turn of stifle, sort of line combing from the belly, up to the top. In addition to using a greyhound comb, Sue sometimes likes to use an even finer, almost a 'flea' comb as well as a soft slicker brush on each section as she goes along. After doing the sides, the dog stands up and she works the line from the tail to the head and around to the chest in the same manner.

There should be no scissoring or trimming of the Corgi anywhere on his coat other than on the pads of her paws in order to create a nice clean oval foot, which I'll share with you in the next post.

I've received all of your emails that you are printing out this little basic Corgi grooming series. As soon as I'm finished (we still have basic nail grooming, etc.) I will try and put them all together into a free downloadable file for you as soon as I figure out how to do it. If anyone would like to spare me the time trying to figure it out, do send me an email at christmascorgi@gmail.com and I will be most grateful.

Still to come: Pretty Paws and Nails and getting that Corgi coat healthy from the inside, out.
xo xo -CS ^..^


Life with Fuzzy Ones said...

My dogs like to lie down too, to be brushed. One of my corgis, Penny likes to be brushed "on the run". She'll stand still for a few minutes, then take off like a shot. Run around and come back to be brushed for another 10 minutes. While she is running around, I make good use of my time brushing the other corgi. Bandit has the good sense to lie down and stay put. I really enjoy your blog, I always look forward to your new entries. Have a wonderful weekend! L.

MC said...

Thank you for the tips :) I have a question though- our youngest corgi, Stella, will not let us groom her at all. She is about a year old and still puppy-ish. I have tried two different brushes, wipes made to groom dogs, shown her how I groom Cosmo (he's actually very well behaved during grooming), but she growls and shoots off like a rocket. Do you have any advice? I have tried having someone else hold while I groom her and that doesn't fly either. I don't want to force her bc she seems genuinely afraid and irritated. Any suggestions you have would be great!

ocmist said...

We just came over to tell you that you got an award from Corgi Country. We presented you with one of the “Top 10 Blogs that Make My Heart Smile” Awards. Thanks for being a friend and making us smile! Sniffs and Licks… OC, BG & Dott

ClassyChassy said...

Interesting reading today - can't wait for the paw trims instruction! Thanks!

Anna M said...

I have to groom Taffy in spurts, she likes it but doesn't like to sit still for very long. Fortunately she's a bit slick coated.

Agatha on the other hand.... fluff factored *lol* However, Agatha is a Gumby dog. You can put her in just about any position for grooming and she'll stay there until you are done. She is the ultimate hedonist which considering the time it takes to groom her is a *very* good thing *g*

Tanya said...

I love love your tips. And I want that pencil drawing! My poor Sophie is shedding horribly right now and looks a wreck! I swear we brush a whole dog out of her daily.

betty said...

Cathy, I've been reading your corgi grooming entries, wonderful advice. I just have one question? Do you accept FedEx? I'm packaging Koda up and sending him to you for a "spa day" and then you can FedEx him back. We do it all the wrong ways I'm sure to brush him and bathe him; I got to study your great advice on how to do this in the future. Wonder if it is too late to teach an old dog (me) new tricks in this regard. We're in major shedding season so there are tuffets of fur wherever we look.

(thank you for your kind comment about my situation with my son's friend; I do pray that the truth will come out and the Lord will convict all of us in this whole situation :)

have a glorious day!


Linda said...

I'm not lucky enough to own a corgi, but I found the grooming technique very interesting TY for sharing, they are just too sweet. Lindax