Grooming Forum - Question & Answers
by Kathy Coffman, Baycrest Mobile Pet Salon
Friends, in grooming there are no real hard and fast rules, once you can understand the basics of canine hair the rest usually follows through as gained knowledge. All groomers are artists and as such each has his/her own methods that work best for them. In dealing with Akitas and the many complex coat types/variations available in our breed what works best for one dog may not affect the coat of another. I will address the questions as relayed to me.

How to get the whites white again?

Many people use human products/hair treatments and shampoos, some even use dish detergent-swearing that ivory works best. I tend to follow the belief that a show coat is far to valuable to chance problems. You must keep in mind that many dish detergents have degreasers in them-and can not only burn the eyes but can also burn the skin and damage the coat by removing too many valuable oils. It is far easier to keep a white dog white than it is to take a stained dog and make him white again. For this reason I will explain how I maintain a white coat, and also how I regain a white coat. (mind you these are my methods and they are in no way the only methods)

First off you need a good quality dog shampoo, any shampoo you choose and happen to like the results of will do. But do not use any shampoo that has excessive coloring added to it, it will not work with my method :o) If you can find a clear, semi clear, or light blue shampoo, or any light pastel color it will work well-all shampoos are diluteable (is that a word?)

Then you will need a product called bluing-many of you old timers may remember this product it came in powder form for whitening laundry as well as a liquid form-for this method you need the liquid. If you are unable to find it, it is available through Valley Vet Supply and also on Martha Stewart's site on the web-that product is called "Ms. Stewarts-liquid bluing". Shampoo your dog all over first, remove all the debris and dirt that will wash off. Rinse-then take a dish detergent bottle of shampoo and add one to three short squirts of bluing and shake to mix very well. If done correctly your shampoo will turn a royal blue-not navy-not light blue-just a plain royal blue-you will have to experiment. If you make it too dark you can and will turn the dog blue-Do not try this for the first time before a show! PLEASE!

If you do happen to turn your dog blue-don't fret-just let him spend a few days in the direct sunlight and the blue tint will fade-When making up this shampoo mixture do not make more that you will use-as it does not keep-the light will turn the shampoo back to its original color. After the first shampoo and rinse, rewash the white areas of the dog with this shampoo, you can use a rag to scrub the really dirty parts of the dog. If this is done on a regular basis you will have a dog that is so white you will have to put sunglasses on to look at him in the direct sunlight!

This product reflects light off of white, which gives the illusion of shiny hair shafts. It is amazing if used correctly and on a regular basis. The more you do this the darker blue you can make the bluing mixture, on young puppies with brand new hair the mixture can be quite dark blue, the older the dog or the older the coat, the lighter the mixture should be to start, if you have a dog that has just blown coat and is wearing brand new white fur you can use a pretty strong mixture. OK (this stuff will not effect fawns or creme coats and does nothing for colored hair-red, black, brown,etc so don't waste it on the other parts of the dog) Now stained, yellowed, and tinged white coats- If you are fighting a specific stain, such as an elbow stain, try using 30 volume hydrogen peroxide mixed 50/50 with undiluted shampoo, rub it into the elbow and let sit for a couple of hours before bathing. This can be repeated until the elbow is again white-or as white as you can get it. After each bath is it a good idea to keep a heavy thick good quality creme rinse in a spray bottle and spray the elbow periodically throughout out the day until the hair gets white again, this can also be used as a preventive to keep elbows from staining.

Make sure you use the bluing mixture on the dogs whites each time you bathe him. With repeated applications the dog will once again turn white, although it does take quite a few baths. My female spent a week at a friends, she was always very very white. When she came home she was dyed red with clay. It took me more than 20 baths over a three week period to get her white again-but I did it- and I only used the bluing mixture. So be patient it does work. You may not see it each time but your friends will notice and comment about how white your dog has become.

Many people complain that the whitening shampoos that are commercially sold do not work, well they do work, they just don't work as well as the home made versions and they take many many more baths to see the results. These companies are, after all, in the business of selling shampoo. And each and every one of these products are no more than what I have just told you. A good shampoo with liquid bluing added.

juju tied into this question with-"I have use a "human" whitening shampoo on Taka-Shimmering lights. It seemed to irritate his skin and my groomer suggested shampooing AFTER the whitening shampoo with another shampoo. Any particular suggestion of what to use? Oatmeal perhaps?"

As I stated above I am not an advocate of using human shampoo on dog hair. If you really want to see why-wash your hair in your favorite dog shampoo one time. You will look like you haven't washed your hair in weeks. It will be oily and greasy. Dog hair is not like human hair, in our breed especially it is water repellent, and weather repellent. Human shampoo is designed to remove oils on the hair. Dog shampoo is designed to remove oils from the skin. Just imagine how dirty your hair would get if you always sat on your head, on the floor, on the couch, out side, in the kennel etc. When dealing with dog hair VS human hair we are dealing with two entirely different problems.

I have friends who show their dogs and swear by the shimmering lights use-I for one see no real marked improvement when compared to my method, and I believe the shimmering lights is meant for gray hair (on humans) which adds a blue tint to the hair and washes back out, so that if you were to use that and then re-shampoo you would wash away the effect. I do believe this product would be good to use on silver or gray dogs though. As for your dog juju, I would be willing to bet that your dog is merely reacting to the fragrance in the product, many dogs do. If you notice your dog going through a sneezing bout for up to three days after shampooing, change shampoos quickly. For a really good quality shampoo for a dog that is sensitive to other shampoos try Nature Choice Aloe Premium shampoo. I have the number as I don't know if juju wants product endorsements on here LOL. It is an aloe based shampoo that works extremely well on sensitive dogs It is tearless and dilutes 16 to 1, which means that one gallon can make up to 16 gallons. and it is just about 20.00 a gallon. This is the only shampoo that I can use on my male, and believe me I have tried them all. LOL

This is fun-as you can tell I love my profession and love grooming Akitas even more. Thank you for inviting me to share with all of you.