The Schapendoes is an extremely hardy dog. As they are not extremely common they have not been subject to bad breeding like many of the more popular breeds. They are not prone to any hereditary health issues. Their average life span is around 14 years.
The care of the Schapendoes is mainly about skin care, but there are also other items that require special care.
The attraction of the Schapendoes is in large extent determined by its fur, and this fur requires necessary maintenance. The coat is composed of a soft fleecy fluffy undercoat and a dry long tousled outer coat. The undercoat is the insulating layer and along with the top coat, together ensure that the rain does not penetrate to the skin.
The care consists mainly of regular combing with a wide tooth comb, so the tangles and other impurities are removed but not all the undercoat is combed out. It is important because the undercoat provides insulation, even in extremely hot weather. During the summer their coat is always thinner than the winter. The breeder , should do a “combing” demonstration so that these guidelines are only an extra helping hand. If are you having problems it is wise to contact the breeder of your puppy, who knows the coats “with their specific characteristics” of their dogs.
- Long & thin toothed comb for regular grooming
- Grooming table so you can stand and is easy on your back.
- Pair of thinning sheers/scissors and ordinary barber scissors to remove strange tufts
- Buzzcut Clippers only for toes and genital areas
- Bottle of Ear cleaner
- Clamp to remove. Loose hair from the ears
- Nail clippers
- Towel to empty anal glands
The learning process of a puppy
Your puppy needs to learn from the beginning that being groomed on a table is a good thing. When your puppy is mature it can make all the difference having a relaxed dog while grooming to make the process more efficient for you and less stressful for them. It is also important for your puppy to get used to being handled while you are working with him and during everyday life. Start by looking in his ears, eyes, teeth, in his mouth, also be sure to hold each of his toes to prepare him for nail clipping. This will also come in handy for veterinary visits.
While combing through his hair try putting him on his back for a moment and look at his belly (you can immediately see if there might uninvited guests are like fleas). Fidgeting or increased scratching could also be a sign of unwelcome guests. He will learn that combing and that all the fiddling and tinkering is really just fun, so once your puppy behaves praise him calmly while you are grooming. If your puppy is a bit older and understands how things work, go a step further and have him lay on his side while you comb. You could even work with a partner so one person combs while the other keeps the dog relaxed and in position by giving him praise and the occasional treat when he is well behaved. The overall goal is to teach your dog that grooming can be fun.
When you get your puppy you should be brushing him once a day so they can get used to the process even though their hair is short. When you and your puppy are ready, you can move to once a week. Remember to reinforce the positive aspect of grooming each time with your puppy with encouraging words and the occasional treat because once they hit the teenage phase they can become “forgetful”.
Adolescence and the large shedding
Schapendoes start shedding their puppy coat anywhere between 8-12 months, it also has to do with the season as well but each dog is different. The puppy coat is replaced by the adult coat and often falls together with the seasonal change of coat. During this period, there will be more mats the tangles and you will have to comb everyday. Each day you go back to comb you may feel like you are starting from scratch all over again but after this transition to adult coat you can go back to combing once a week for the rest of his life.
During this time your Schapendoes is also going through puberty and that sometimes makes it very difficult to comb him because everything he has learned about liking grooming has suddenly been forgotten … To prevent it from completely going wrong during this period, it may be wise to do combing temporarily as a couple because when he suddenly no longer remains so good, combing can become very difficult … so a few extra hands may be ideal. One keeps the dog loosely in place, which leads him down if needed and the other has two hands at their disposal to complete the necessary grooming because if suddenly you catch thick tangles you will need two hands. One hand to hold the mat firm and a comb in the other hand to untangle the mat. You will have no ability to hold him still in place while attempting to remove the mat. And this comes with the right guidance… and over time that coat will change and juvenile quips all in the past.
Adult Schapendoes needs are once again to be thoroughly combed once every one-two weeks although some may allow even less. This depends on the type of coat, because there is quite a difference in the Schapendoes coat of hair.
Layer by layer The technique of combing a Schapendoes is to do it in layers. Start at the bottom of one leg by pushing all the unbrushed hair up against the grain towards the spine and comb down with the grain.
Only start with a small portion of hair and add a layer of unbrushed hair to the brushed area and continue to comb down with the grain over top of the prebrushed hair.
After each leg is complete work your way towards the spine on the torso.
Then start in the middle of the belly and work your way to the spine again.
The tangles are completely out.
The very thick tangles you should try to work out by starting at the tips (outer knots) and move towards the middle of the knots. Only as a last resort should you cut out a mat. Schapendoes are not meant to have hair cuts, if you like short-haired dogs then you should look at a different breed.
There are places that tangles are more common than other places, such as the beard, under ears, where the collar is, between the hind legs, and armpits/elbows, also do not forget the feet need a thorough combing. The hair under the feet wear off normally by walking on hard surfaces, if not, you may cut it flat, NOT with scissors but with buzzcut clippers between the toes and footpad.
There is also a lot of hair on their heads. Do NOT cut/trim it, the hair prevents the sun from hitting their eyes and causing UV damage. Plus they can see through all that hair. If you are interested in doing activities such as agility you may consider putting a ponytail on top of their head, especially for competitions. If you use the thin non-stick elastics they do not rip the hair out, yet still hold the hair well.
Ears Require Special Care
Some dogs actually grow entire forests of hair in those ears which can cause problems because the wax can be not be removed in a natural way. The wax then accumulates in the hair with the risk of ear infections, etc.
Regular empty picking is the solution, this is not painful, at least if you do NOT immediately remove it all at once. Remove hair in small tufts between thumb and forefinger, tweezers or wire clamp and the hair will detach itself, without any pain, most dogs find it even feel good.
Males can also produce large tangles around their anus, between his testicles and at the tip of his penis. You can safely cut the hair at these areas with a buzz cutter a little shorter, it also prevents the risk of inflammation and causes reduced ‘dripping’. For females, you can also cut the hair around the vulva which is also more hygienic.
The coat is “self-cleaning” this means that most of the dirt naturally falls off as soon as it is dry, it may need the help of a quick comb through any parts that are thicker. He may still need a good wash if there are any lingering odours. Also if the filth they were exposed to was oily/greasy they will likely need a bath.
During the combing you be sure to take a look at his teeth even in puppyhood, you can immediately see how his teeth are growing and if he has lost any teeth or if any adult teeth are coming in. If an adult tooth is growing in while the baby tooth is still strongly in place it can affect the direction the adult tooth grows, so it is important to remove the baby tooth in time. Also, it sometimes takes a long time before the new tooth comes in while the old one is long gone, this can cause the gum to become stiff and hard which makes it difficult for the adult tooth to break through and in some cases the tooth chooses the path of least resistance and goes crooked or lies flat. This can also be prevented by the vet allowing the new tooth to come in with some extra support through a small incision in the gum.
Your adult dog may also suffer from tartar. After first getting your puupy used to getting his teeth checked you can start using a finger tooth brush.
With regular brushing you can keep the tartar under control. There are also many other dog teeth cleaning options but ask your vet what they recommend for your situation.
Again be sure to look for this throughout your dogs lifespan by starting to check their teeth and mouth while they are puppies so you do not have to battle with them as they mature. Soft food, the composition of the saliva and the hardness of the water all influence the formation of tartar and this is the reason that one dog will have much more trouble than another. Most tartar causes inflammation and bad smelling breath.
Fleas and similar bugs
While combing, you may notice uninvited guests such as fleas, lice, ticks and mites. Fleas leave little brown/black droppings behind, and sometimes that’s the only sign you can see that your dog has fleas, because they are so fast, you usually do not see them. Lice and mites are not as common but are the cause of unbearable itching. Puppies do run an increased risk of contamination of these critters, especially with fleas and mites because they have not gotten all their shots and protection yet. All it takes is for them to be exposed to contract any of these guests. Ticks are blood-sucking creatures that can also transmit Lyme disease. Various tick-borne diseases are dangerous for humans and animals. It is therefore important to be alert for it and before using pesticides it is good to ask your vet for their advise.
Most Schapendoes are more than hard surfaces to get (too) long nails but sometimes they do break a nail and it is important to remove the broke piece completely. For this job you need to have a good pair of nail clippers. Most Schapendoes have black nails and therefore it is very difficult to see where the “life” begins and you run the risk that you cut off too much, so if you do not trust yourself go to a groomer or the vet (assistants) at your convenience. Do not forget to trim the toe on the inside of the front leg, this one often gets missed and if left unchecked the nail can continue to grow all the way around until it grows into their flesh.
Also, make sure he does not suffer from full anal glands. The anal glands are located on either side of the anus and when they are full, they feel like kidney beans. If he is suffering from full anal glands there may be several clues that he will give you; the most obvious is that you see there is inflammation, he may also rub his bum across the floor or scratching/biting himself in that area Fully clogged anal glands will not go away and must be emptied. You can do the job yourself if you know how to do it, otherwise you could drop in at the vet. The vet can very often solve this in a few minutes, even at a good groomer they can.