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Small Dog Grooming

Keep Your Small Dog Looking Their Best

By Meredith Alling. February 22, 2013 | See Comments

Small Dog Grooming

Small dog grooming can vary from breed to breed, but some guidelines will hold true for all small dogs. Take a look at our checklist.

You might think that owning a small breed dog means less grooming, but in reality there are a wide range of small breeds from extra-tiny to medium, and their grooming requirements vary as much as their size. It’s true that some small breed dogs -- such as Chihuahuas, Beagles, and Italian Greyhounds -- are relatively low maintenance when it comes to grooming, but other breeds -- like Toy Poodles and Shih Tzus -- require a lot of upkeep. Here we’ll look at some grooming considerations that apply to small breed dogs in general.

Train for Grooming

Many small breed dogs have big energy, and this can translate to impatience and fidgeting during grooming. This type of behavior is not only frustrating, it can also be dangerous when performing delicate procedures such as nail trimming or cleaning around the eyes. Train your dog from an early age to be comfortable sitting still. You can make the grooming area more pleasant for your dog by using a towel, blanket, or skid-free mat. Your dog should also learn to be comfortable having different parts of their body touched. In quiet moments with your dog, pick up a paw, rub their ear, gently slip a finger into their mouth, and touch their face. This way your dog won’t be so surprised when you reach for a paw or open their mouth during grooming.

Tiny Tools

In many cases grooming your small breed dog at home is completely doable, but you’ll need the right tools. One of the trickiest parts of grooming is nail clipping, and for this very sensitive procedure you’ll need a nail clipper that is sized appropriately for your dog. For many small breed dogs a pair of small pet nail clippers will work -- this is the same size used on cats. Always check the packaging of the product before using it on your dog. If you have a medium sized dog, you may need to go up a size or two. For fussy dogs who just can’t stand the sight of those clippers, you can try using a dremel to sand down the nails instead.

Another tool that you need to get right is the toothbrush. Small breed dogs are more susceptible to dental problems because of their small mouths, so daily teeth brushing is a must. Never use a human toothbrush or toothpaste on your dog. For small breeds, you can find a small angled handheld brush or a soft brush that fits over your finger. Dog toothpaste comes in a variety of flavors including poultry and peanut butter. Your dog may end up liking this necessary grooming step.

Low-Maintenance Small Breed Dogs

All dogs need to have their nails clipped, teeth brushed, and get regular checks for fleas and ticks, but beyond that, many small breed dogs require little grooming. The following breeds have easy to care for coats and less grooming needs than other small dogs: Affenpinscher, Beagle, Boston Terrier, Chihuahua (short haired), Dachshund (smooth and wirehaired), English Toy Spaniel, French Bulldog, Hairless Chinese Crested, Italian Greyhound, Manchester Terrier, Miniature Pinscher, Papillon, Pug, Rat Terrier, and Toy Fox Terrier.

High-Maintenance Small Breed Dogs

Some small breed dogs need a lot of grooming to keep their coats healthy, clean, and free of mats. These breeds aren’t for the owners who just can’t put in the time, as in many cases daily brushing and care is needed. The following small breeds need some extra pampering: Australian Terrier, Bichon Frise, Bolognese, Coton de Tulear, Lhasa Apso, Havanese, Maltese, Miniature Poodle, Pekingese, Powderpuff Chinese Crested, Shih Tzu, Silky Terrier, Skye Terrier, Toy Poodle, and Yorkshire Terrier.

More on Dog Grooming

How to Groom a Dog
How to Trim Nails
Grooming and Cuts for a Maltese

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Small Dogs at a glance

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  • 1Small dogs can be extra fidgety and impatient during grooming, so train your dog early to stay still.
  • 2The right size tools are important for small breeds to avoid injury.
  • 3Some small breed dogs require very little maintenance while others require a lot. Select a breed that realisti