Old English Sheepdog

Grooming Advice

This wonderful west country of England drover’s dog is a great example of how a seeimgly no nonsense breed can be a lesson in how to present in the showring. For those that figure this breed is easy on the grooming as there isn’t any trimming except for the feet and rear, you could be mistaken! Oh there is so much you can do! You can sculpt this dog with a blow dryer, your hands and backcombing. Your quest is to retain the silhouette and yet present all the grand lines and features of a balanced dog and you do have the profuseness of coat to do it. Who needs a pair of scissors? Best to start at the beginning. You need to retain texture for this coat and there is a popular belief that one ought not to bath this dog as it softens the coat. True to a point.

However, if you use a low foaming shampoo such as Plush Puppy AZ IZ with just a few squirts from the pump to a bucket of water or to a hydrobath tank, you will cleanse the coat without the negatives of a usual shampoo which tends to be higher foaming. If you get bubbles and froth when using this mix, you have added too much. It’s as simple as that. The Hydrobath Wash has a purple tone too that enhances the tone of the coat helping to eliminate any unwanted warm tones though that is not it’s prime purpose which is to keep the texture. You must bath to keep up your profuse coat.

Use the Plush Puppy Whitening Shampoo diluted 3:1 (i.e. 3 parts water to one part shampoo) for the white areas. This has great tonal effect for reducing unwanted warm tones. It will not overly soften the coat though I do strongly suggest that for the body you use the Hydrobath Wash. I do see so many OES exhibitors using Whitening Shampoos on the body of their dogs and this does have a fluffy softening effect. I often see staining around the mouth too. Listerine is a good mild bleach but better you add 1 tbspn Apple Cider Vinegar to the food each day to help keep the gut alkaline instead of acid which causes reddening.

You can follow up with Deep Cleansing Shampoo 3:1. Show day use Plush Puppy Coverup Cream with a barely damp sponge applied layer upon layer as opposed to whacking it on heavily. Dust with chalk and allow to dry. Never use conditioner as they are acid rinses which will flatten and soften, the very thing you do not want on an Old English. However you do need to hydrate the coat and keep the elasticity in the hair shaft. Use instead 1 tbspn Plush Puppy Seabreeze Oil to one gal/4lt water and saturate well through the coat using either a hydrobath or a large sponge. Leave in/do not rinse out. This is a wonderful addition to your coat grooming routine. It does the most amazing things for the coat and skin.

You will have texture and coats like you never had before. Ok, so now the heavy wet work is done and it is time to reshape your Old English to top showmanship presentation. Scissors can only be used on the feet and rear end. Let me share with you what we see that is prevalent in your breed - there is a great tendency to slight hockiness exacerbated by the way you all trim the feet and the fact that OES tend to have a greater profusion of hair on the outer edge of the feet than the inside. So, take your thinning shears and lightly come in from the underneath of that long outer foot hair and snip into it leaving the longer top hair to fall over. This will decrease that width of hair on the outer edge. If necessary clean up the inside a touch too if too close behind.

Ah, the little tricks of the trade! The rear end is easy and you just have to have a good eye for shape. Stand back before you cut and decide where it needs to come off. You can use the new Plush Puppy Powder Puff for Harsh Coats on the butt and headpiece for extra texture. Just sprinkle through and lightly work in with hands and brush or blow dry to remove excess. Great fragrance too - mandarin and ginger! This really allows you to enhance texture but it’s ostensibly for cleansing and deodorising. The side effect is texture, texture, texture! I like this next part - it is where you get to shape and sculpt your dog without violating your rules of standard. I adore Plush Puppy Puffy Dog mousse.

This gives you hold and texture and is totally water soluble so you don’t get buildup on the coat causing brittleness. Brittle coat is the greatest enemy you have when grooming. People tend to rip out the undercoat when grooming and even worse, do not bath for fear of softening and then the coat gets dry and brittle and breaks anyway. If you bath and oil the coat as outlined above you will have fabulous coats on your dogs.

Now plan where you want to put the Puffy Dog. You cannot possibly blow dry the whole of the dog in one hit and by the time you get to the other end the mousse will have dried too before you have shaped the hair. For ease of usage as you have a large dog, mix 3 golf ball amounts of Puffy Dog to 2 cups/500 ml water and allow to dissolve by lightly rocking (not shaking) in a spray bottle.

Spray the hocks well and blow dry to shape. Use this same mix for the head blow drying forwards with the Plush Puppy Cushioned Pin Brush. You now need to keep that drop over the withers, so have a mix of 1 teaspoon Plush Puppy Swishy Coat & 1 teaspoon Plush Puppy Blow Dry Cream to 1 cup/250 mls water in a spray bottle and liberally apply to the withers and base of neck so as to show that drop of the withers and the neck to maximum effect. I see too many people using wet towels to create this same effect only to have added humidity to the coat making the situation even worse.

The same mix can also be used under throat and chest area to keep the hair down and not lose the outline. Remember, there is no trimming in these areas! If you work on each area at a time rather than a blanket all over approach, you will get the symmetry and balance you are seeking. It is a big dog and there are a lot of parts you can single out to tweak the overall appearance. You have enough hair also to do it with. The Poodle is sculpted with scissors and clippers; yours is shaped with hands and dryer. You can use Plush Puppy Powder Puff for Regular Coats which is an amazing new innovation to cleanse and deodorise and best of all give light texture to the feet, legs and hocks. Just dust through, rub in lightly and then brush out or blow dry out to remove excess.

Now the head piece - this is such an important part of the overall picture and one people tend to mess up or make a tangle of. Stand in front of your dog’s head and brush back, away from the front, section by section starting at the back. Next, still standing in front of the head and using Plush Puppy Sit N Stay with a small amount applied to the hands and worked between the hands till warmed and passing over from wet sticky to a drier sticky feel, section horizontally from the front first and work through with the hands, wiping on section by section from root to almost the ends.

Allow to dry for two or three minutes. Then, still standing in front of the dog’s head, with the head down and starting from the front area of the head, section horizontally and lightly back comb methodically and slowly, section by section from the roots to the ends, joining each section to the section before it. You want to create that forwards fullness that follows the arch of the neck. This headpiece scuplture should not move - what hairspray? Done correctly, you don’t need hairspray and hairspray has alcohol in it causing brittleness and breakage. You can do final fluff around things such as a light dusting of Plush Puppy Pixie Dust onto the brush or sifted on with your hands.

This is applied with a gentle touch and should be subtle with just enough to catch the light for enhancement. If you have done this grooming routine properly and taken the time to focus on the various sections of the dog, you will have achieved an overall picture of balance and grace. Your breed the Old English may be an outdoors person and he may have come from country stock that was very no nonsense but, he is a masterful competitor when presented with intelligent presentation and attention to detail. His shuffling bear gait and his loveable eyes peering from beneath and through the fringes of his beautifully coiffed headpiece make him a stunning dog in a working mans group.

- Cheryl Le Court