Basic Supplies

You read a bit about grooming supplies in Chapter 5, but there's a lot more to the grooming process than buying a brush. The details will depend on whether you will do all the grooming yourself or hire a professional to do the tough stuff. If you plan to take on the grooming challenge, you'll need several brushes, shampoo, plenty of towels, nail clippers, dog toothpaste, and a toothbrush. You can groom your Yorkie sitting in your lap, use the kitchen counter, or even invest in a grooming table.

Brushes and Combs

You will need at least a couple of brushes, even if they are exactly the same. This is because when you brush your pup out after a bath, the brush will be getting wetter as the dog is getting drier, and you will want to be able to change to a dry brush. Recommended brushes are stiff rather than soft, with bristles of a material other than nylon, which breaks the coat. If you choose a pin brush, choose one without the small balls on the ends of the pins, as these tend to pull at and break the coat.

When it comes to grooming tools, you get what you pay for. Bargain combs and brushes may turn out to be uncomfortable to use, may lose teeth faster than your dog sheds hair, and will generally prove disappointing. If you pay for high-quality supplies, you'll be rewarded with years of high-quality performance.

A comb will also be needed. Select a metal one with long teeth, with a handle comfortable to hold in your hand. You may also want a fine-toothed flea comb. This can be used both as a finish comb, to be sure no small mats are hiding in your Yorkie's coat, and on the face to clear away eye mucus.

Scissors and Nail Clippers

A good pair of blunt-tipped scissors will make trimming your Yorkie's ears and paws slightly less frightening for you. Be sure the scissors cut easily, without pulling on the hair. If you're left-handed, search for a pair made specifically for lefties; otherwise you will find yourself pulling the Yorkie's hair while you are trying to cut it.

As far as nails are concerned, your dog will be more comfortable with his nails kept short. Of the several styles of nail clippers available, those that operate the same as scissors are a bit sturdier and easier to use than the guillotine type. Some people prefer to grind nails with a Dremel tool rather than cut them, but many dogs become frightened by the sound and appearance of this tool. If your dog is very frightened of having his nails trimmed or you are worried about hurting him, you might prefer just to have your vet or a professional groomer do the job for you. These professionals are used to dogs squealing and squirming, and they have special equipment to help the task go more smoothly. If you do decide to trim your dog's nails yourself, be sure to have some styptic powder on hand. Occasional nail bleeds are to be expected, and this product will help you manage the problem.

Yorkies that are carried around by their owners have little opportunity to wear their nails down and will need frequent nail trimming. Yorkies that frequently go for walks on hard surfaces will wear their nails down more effectively.

Shampoos and Rinses

Any good dog shampoo will do just fine for your pup. However, because you have to shampoo your Yorkies head, you may want to look for a tearless shampoo in case any should drip into his eyes. Just don't use shampoos meant for human hair. These products do not have the proper pH balance for canine hair.

To make brushing easier and to keep the coat gleaming, you'll also want to choose a conditioner. Some products are conditioner/detangler combinations. You can find them as sprays or pour-on liquids.

Dental Care

One common problem among Yorkshire terriers is crooked teeth. In particular, Yorkies often have overlapping, somewhat jumbled incisors, which can be prone to plaque buildup. For this reason, it is important that you pay attention to your dog's tooth care.

Toothpaste for dogs does not foam up as toothpaste for humans does; this is because dogs can't rinse and spit. Dog toothpaste is also flavored to make it palatable for them, chicken flavor being the most common choice. You do have a couple of options for getting the toothpaste onto the teeth. A child's tooth-brush is a good size to use on a Yorkshire terrier. You can also buy a device that slides over your finger like a thimble, so you can reach more areas of the mouth. Finger brushes can be purchased from many pet-supply stores and veterinarians.

Dirty teeth can actually impact a Yorkie's total health adversely. Unhealthy teeth lead to offensively bad breath and gum infections. The solution to these problems is costly veterinary dental cleanings. To avoid danger to your Yorkie (and your wallet), take the time to clean your dog's teeth on a regular basis.

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