Barbet Grooming

 

Owning a barbet is not all about grooming but it certainly plays a big part. The attraction of having a dog that doesn`t leave hair on clothes and furniture is undeniable but this means that the hair stays within the coat of the dog and therefore needs regular brushing. Most peoples first introduction to the barbet is through a photograph or at a show where the breed is almost always shown in full coat, a mass of hair and curls creating a the image of a big `teddy bear`. The barbet is not shown in any special trim or clip but should be shown as naturally as possible and what the French describe as `rustique`. As appealling as this looks, it takes considerable time and effort to maintain and simply leaving the hair to grow and grow will not produce the desired effect.

Of course the majority of barbets in the UK are not show dogs and for the pet owner there are several options which can provide a happy medium for owner and barbet which are discussed below along with more general grooming and maintenance tips.

 

The Barbet Puppy
Barbet pups getting their first bath.

Barbet pups getting their first bath.

 

Since it will play a big part in a barbets life it is important to get the young puppy used to the sensations and sounds of grooming from an early age. Indeed this process should have been started by the breeder before the young puppy has left its mother. Puppies actually need very little grooming but time spent early on will pay dividends later when grooming in earnest.Firstly make sure that you start your puppy grooming on a table with rubber matting so that the puppy feels secure, it may take two people initially as puppies have a terrible desire to jump. Start by playing with the ears, picking up each foot and getting the puppy used to having its pads and toes inspected. The puppy can be gently brushed and combed. Be patient but firm, if the puppy struggles repeat until it realises that nothing bad happens. It is vital with a puppy that you end every grooming session on a good note.

 

The Juvenile Barbet

There is some debate about whether a young barbet should be shaved completely at 6 months to advance its adult coat. In our experience this is not the case but rather a solution to the problem of the coarser adult coat starting to grow through the existing softer puppy coat. At this time the coat becomes very difficult to manage and tangles easily and so one solution is to shave the dog. Of course as the coat re-grows it is the coarser, adult coat that appears giving rise to the belief that shaving has improved the coat.

 

The Working Barbet
Barbet in a summer working coat.

Barbet in a summer working coat.

 

The coat length of a working barbet is generally a compromise between the need to give protection against brambles, twigs and the cold where the dogs are in water for much of the day and having the coat not so long that it catches on everything and takes an eternity to dry after a days work. Also the time of year needs to be taken into consideration when determining the coat length required. For the working barbet there have been many different `trims` suggested such as those found on the poodle and Portuguese water dog and a few more `creative` ideas, but generally an even length coat of around 1" to 2" is a good starting point.

 

 

 

The Pet Barbet

For the pet barbet there is no right or wrong trim, simply what works for best for the dog and owner. Factors such as whether the dog will be gong to a professional groomer or wil be groomed at home, the time of year and where the dog is walked all need to be taken into account. If the barbet is to be taken to the groomers it is still worth spending some time grooming your dog as it will have a more relaxed experience at the groomers and you will have a better chance of spotting ticks, small cuts and minor infections by going over your dog carefully.

Barbets at play.

Barbets at play.

 

The Show Barbet
Barbet with a good all over coat.

Barbet with a good all over coat.

 

 

The barbet as a show dog needs a long coat to show its curls to the best advantage. To show your barbet you need to do basic trimming round the feet and follow the natural morphology of the dog with your scissors. To present your dog in the show ring as rustic, it is advisable to bath your barbet several weeks before a show to enable the coat oils to re-establish.

 

 

 

Basic Barbet Maintenance
Barbet fleece.

Barbet fleece.

 

To maintain your barbet, whether it is groomed professionally or not is a must. On a daily basis check your dogs eyes, wipe any debris away using a moist tissue. If a green discharge is visible then please seek advice from your vet. On a weekly basis check ears as described below On a monthly basis trim nails and bottom and groin area, barbets also benefit greatly from a poop shute!

If the coat is left without any attention it can become so matted that it has to be shaved off as a fleece, much the same as shearing a sheep. The photo on the left is a single barbet mat.

 

 

Ears

As with all water dogs, keeping the ears clean and dry should be part of regular grooming. If the dog is used to its ears being cleaned from an early age this is a quick and simple procedure which can be done by the owner. In the video below forceps are used to reach the hair inside the ear canal but these should not be used unless you are sure your dog will remain still throughout.

 

Tick Removal

Despite treating your barbet regularly with tick treatments such as`Frontline` and `Prac-tic` these can take up to 48 hours to kill the tick and your dog will still end up carrying these nasty little parasites. Regular inspection of your dog is essential to spot ticks. There are many conflicting opinions on how to best remove a tick. Personally, I prefer to remove them manually as chemical suffocation can stress the tick and cause regurgitation of blood and saliva back into the dog, I use special tweezers which gently grip the tick where the mouth parts attach to the dogs skin. Squeezing too hard on the tick may force tick saliva back into the dog. I then rotate the tweezers until the tick comes free. I then ensure that none of the head or mouth parts remain attached to the dogs skin as this can lead to infection. An antiseptic can be applied to the area of the bite. (see video below) The tick should be disposed of in whatever manner you deem suitable.

Further information on ticks and the diseases they carry can be found at http://www.lymediseaseaction.org.uk/ticks.htm