I recently came to the decision that the best thing to keep Maya and Wally happy and comfortable was to shave them down and stop trying to maintain their coats. Neither has the best coat in the first place and age and neutering have made things harder to manage. This wasn’t an easy decision, but it’s turned out to be a good one and I wanted to share some of my thought process.
First off, I will completely acknowledge that shaving (as opposed to hand stripping), will permanently damage the coat. This is commonly sited as the reason given to pet owners as to why their should not shave their PBGVs. Incidentally, spaying and neutering also permanently damages coat, but no one seems to talk about that. Maya is almost 15 and is retired from everything. Wally is ten and only competes in scent work, a sport that doesn’t require a protective harsh coat. In fact, the time spent removing burrs from him after a particularly bad exterior search area at a recent trial factored into my decision. That said, I would not shave down a PBGV that I planned to show or hunt with in the future.
Now let’s talk about why I did this. With Maya, it came down to a quality of life decision. She is still pretty mobile, but like many senior PBGVs has gotten less patient for grooming. She has always grown hair faster than I could groom it and is no longer able to stand on the table comfortably to be combed out. Even her shave-down I did in 15 minute increments over the course of a day to make it easier for her. With Chili, who passed away earlier this summer, grooming had become a big struggle at the end of her life and I wanted to avoid going down this path again.
Wally’s haircuit was quite honestly, more for my convenience than his. He also has a lot of hair and doesn’t love grooming. I also don’t enjoy grooming and was spending a disproportionate amount of time on him in particular. Before you lecture me about why I shouldn’t have a breed that requires extensive grooming, I will remind you that in 1990 when I got my first PBGV, the grooming expectation was to keep her brushed out and give her a bath before shows. That was all. I was also lucky in that my first few PBGVs had really harsh coats, which are much easier to maintain.
By simplying coat care for these 2 dogs, I freed up time to allow myself to better maintain the dogs that I do want to keep in coat. Grooming is always more time intensive in the summer, because I wet my agility dogs down frequently at trials. I plan to keep up their haircuts, even if this gives me an excuse to knit some dog sweaters for winter.
Here’s a picture of Maya and Wally with their new look. It took more getting used to for me, but getting the hair out of the way has also been a nice reminder that both of these dogs have really nice structure that is no longer hidden away.