Having a roll in fresh snowfall is your Samoyed's idea of the perfect bath, and snow does clean him. But without the white stuff, your Sammy needs a bath from time to time to keep him fluffed up and bright white. Bathing him isn't difficult, but it can be time-consuming.
Unless your Samoyed gets into something nasty or muddy, monthly bathing is sufficient. You want to keep his coat and skin healthy, but bathing too often will remove natural oils and dry them out, and can actually cause skin problems. Strike a balance. Besides keeping your buddy looking clean, bathing helps hold down the dog dander that causes allergy in susceptible people. It also removes allergens that might cause problems for the sensitive dog.
Brush your pal thoroughly before you start the bath, to remove any mats in his coat. Cut tough mats out of his coat if you can't remove them any other way. Mats tighten up in water, and become nearly impossible to remove.
A Samoyed sheds his undercoat coat once or twice a year, so don't panic if he suddenly sheds a huge amount of hair when you brush him. Your pal can shed the equivalent of a bushel in two brushings, according to the Samoyed Club of America. That's the equivalent of 8 gallons.
Interestingly, Samoyed hair can be spun into wool and knitted up into clothing for you. Brushing and bathing your pal could play a part in a new hobby. Breeders and owners say Sammy-wool clothing is extra warm, and perfect in winter.
As for what to use as a shampoo, the Samoyed Breed Club suggests a good quality whitening pet shampoo to enhance his snowy appearance.
Before you put your Samoyed in the bath, place cotton balls in his ears to protect them from the water. Stand him in the bath or in a large shower stall. It's a good idea to have a non-slip mat under him to give him secure footing. Another good idea is a cover over the drain to catch his hair, and he may shed copious amounts of it during his shower.
Use a spray attachment to wet your buddy's coat thoroughly. This may take a while, because his double coat is thick. Your dog may prefer it if you wet his neck-to-tail area first, and his head last. Put some pet shampoo on his shoulders and some on his hips and start working it in. Pay special attention to his legs, feet and hips. Use as much shampoo as you really need, but remember that whatever goes into the coat has to be thoroughly rinsed back out, and that's often the most arduous part of bathing a dog. Take care not to get shampoo in your pet's eyes or mouth. It's a good idea to use a washcloth to clean his face.
Rinse and Repeat
Shampooing is the easy part. Rinsing takes more work. If you leave any trace of shampoo in your buddy's coat, it will irritate his skin. Once you've rinsed him thoroughly, you can apply a pet conditioner, then rinse him again. Give him a final thorough rinse, feeling the hair between your fingers to be certain no shampoo or conditioner residue remains in the coat.
And You Thought You Were Done
Drying your snowy-coated friend is the next task, and it isn't a brief one. In fact, some Samoyed experts say it can take all day. Place towels over your pal to soak up excess water, then rub his coat with more towels to get as much water out as you can. Stand him on a table, so he'll be at a level that will make the long process of blow-drying his coat as easy on you as possible. Tempting as it may be to use the hot setting to speed the process, you must only use warm air on your dog. Brush the coat to fluff it as sit dries.
If you prefer to let your dog's coat dry naturally, make sure he stays in a warm room, as he can catch a chill if he's allowed to run around outside while he's wet. You'll still need to brush his coat from time to time during natural drying.
If your Samoyed gets muddy between baths, let the mud dry, then thoroughly brush the coat. This should be sufficient to keep him clean and maintain his good looks until it's time for his next bath.
Based in London, Eleanor McKenzie has been writing lifestyle-related books and articles since 1998. Her articles have appeared in the "Palm Beach Times" and she is the author of numerous books published by Hamlyn U.K., including "Healing Reiki" and "Pilates System." She holds a Master of Arts in informational studies from London University.