The most beautiful thing about a beautiful German Spitz is his magnificent coat. The first task of a Spitz owner must therefore be to nurture and care for this marvel. It is often the opinion that this requires a lot of effort - but the opposite is right. Grooming a German Spitz's coat isn't nearly as complicated as you might think. Nevertheless, you still have to take care of your Spitz! The Wolfspitz in particular requires additional effort, on the one hand due to its creped coat structure and on the other hand due to the partially inbred Keeshond fur masses. The coat of the Giant Spitz, on the other hand, is really easy to care for. Once the dirt has dried, it can be easily shaken off. Therefore, the Spitz almost never needs to be bathed.
“Less is more” is the principle that you should follow when caring for the Spitz's hair. This means that the less you do, the more beautiful the Spitz's hair will be. If you over-groom his fur, you will do more harm than good to it. Unsuitable combs and brushes and too frequent bathing should be avoided. You should be very careful when using the comb so as not to tear out too much of the undercoat, which gives the off-standing hair the necessary support. In her booklet, Gerda Umlauff tells us about the statement of an English breeder who stated:
"The comb should only be used to clean the hairbrush, because then it cannot cause any damage."
You should also be very sparing when using the slicker brush/wire brush so as not to remove too much undercoat.
Utensils needed for grooming the Spitz:
- a pimpled brush
- a slicker brush
- a metal comb with narrow teeth
- a natural bristle brush
- an atomizer bottle filled with water and some grooming product
A side tip: It's better to buy high-quality (and therefore rather expensive) brushes or combs, they pay for themselves. Anyone who saves here is saving at the wrong end. However, this does not mean that you have to buy any highly praised slicker brushes for up to €90. I got the old slicker brush on the far left from my grandma, and it is by far the best I've ever had. Doesn't scratch, just pulls out the loose undercoat, and the thick teeth mean the hair doesn't break off.
In itself, it is easily enough to brush the Spitz thoroughly once a week. The skin is massaged and supplied with blood, while the natural fat of the fur is distributed from the root to the entire length, making the fur look fresh and healthy. By the way, grooming is important throughout the year and not just during shedding. Matted areas do not insulate, but rather conduct heat away from the body. The insulating effect of the fur in summer and winter is based on the layers of air between the fur and the skin. These air layers are hindered by felts.
Brushing is basically about loosening up the fur so that it doesn't become matted and allowing air to reach the skin - although some Spitz owners seem to think that the purpose of brushing is to get the entire undercoat out of the fur. Of course, after a while there will be hair hanging in the brush and during the shedding process the brush will probably be full after just two minutes, but these are hairs that were already loose anyway. There is no need to pluck out the undercoat, as this will only destroy the texture of the fur. Unfortunately, it can be observed again and again that all the undercoat hair is removed from many German Spitzes in summer. The result is a dog whose fur is no longer off-standing, but instead hangs limply like cooked sauerkraut. What is forgotten here is that the undercoat also fulfills a function in summer - it protects the dog from the heat.
For normal grooming, a studded brush is the brush of choice. The plucking brush should only be used from time to time for particularly lush hairy ends; the nubby brush is usually not enough here. Since dry hair breaks more easily, spray the dog with a mixture of water and coat care before you start. When you start brushing, it is important to divide the fur into small sections and really brush down to the skin, i.e. to also reach the base of the hair (in our case the scalp) and not just comb the surface of the fur. The dog is then brushed while lying down; it is best to work on the collar at the end while the dog is sitting. You can then work again with a natural bristle brush to give the fur the finishing touch. To achieve a high-gloss effect, you can rub the tip at the very end with a moistened chamois leather.
A bath is often recommended at the beginning of the coat change because this removes the undercoat well. Personally, I advise against this because the Spitz's fur doesn't need to be washed - unless our Spitz has rolled in some excrement. Otherwise, its coat cleans itself and care with a comb and brush is sufficient. Black Spitzes should not be left to dry in the sun after bathing, as the fur will lighten in the sun and then have a (possibly undesirable) red sheen.
During the change of fur, it is recommended to brush the fur daily in order to get rid of the old, dead hair as quickly as possible. By not brushing too much or for too long, you avoid damaging the undercoat. The credo in this case is: shorter, but more often.
Old dog books recommend adding one to two teaspoons of linseed oil and a little cod liver oil every day when changing fur. This makes shedding easier and ensures a beautiful, shiny coat.
By the way, one method of getting the loose undercoat out very fast during the coat change is "carding" or the "hooking method", which is explained very well in this video. This involves working through the fur quadrant by quadrant. However, you should be careful not to comb out the undercoat completely. If the guard hair hangs down afterward, you definitely combed out too much undercoat.
If the Spitz starts to smell, it is usually not due to the lack of a bath, but often it is the dead, detached undercoat that causes the smell. Especially with Wolfspitzes, where the loose undercoat sticks to the fur due to the structure of the individual hairs, you have to use a brush to help. If the shed undercoat is not removed, the end result is matted, bad-smelling hair that can cause skin diseases and is a burden to the dog itself.
(1) Brush section 1 forward
(2) Brush section 2 forward
(3) Brush section 3 forward
(4) Brush the front of the ruff upwards
(5) Brush down the front of the barrels
(6) Brush down the front of the barrels
(7) Frontquarters upwards
(8) Hindquarters upwards
(9) Brush the tail forwards
(10) Brush skull hair upwards
Important: Always brush against the direction of the hair growth! This doesn't hurt the Spitz, but it ensures that the fur is off-standing well - and off-standing hair insulates best.
Some areas of fur are a challenge. The fur behind the ears is very soft and fluffy and becomes matted quickly. It is advisable to comb this area regularly with a fine comb. Similar places are on the stomach and armpits.
Otherwise, you should only use the comb very sparingly, as it may pull out too much undercoat. Only during the coat change, when a lot of dead undercoat is shed, can you use the comb on the body as an exception.
You should never simply strip a Spitz of its thick fur so that it doesn't get heat stroke in the summer. Clear-cutting would leave it exposed to the sun without protection and could cause serious damage. Nevertheless, it may be necessary to shear a Spitz from time to time. This can be used to help older dogs who no longer shed properly or who have been neutered to regain their joy in life, as the thick, woolly undercoat of old or neutered dogs can lead to circulatory problems. However, here too, you should not shorten the fur to a few millimeters, but rather leave it at least (!) 2 cm.
At the end of the 18th century, it was a fashionable thing in Holland to shear Keeshonden like poodles. At that time, they were given a so-called “lion clipping”. For neutered animals, who usually develop a very thick, woolly and soft undercoat, this might be a way to circumvent the challenge of stressful brushing - for both of you. By the way, the structure of the fur changes so much during castration that everything gets stuck in it, and it takes forever for the fur to dry. For this reason alone, I would advise against castration.
I see German Spitzes wearing clothes more and more often. A coat here because it's raining, a sweater there because it's winter. Sense or nonsense? Let's take a look at the FCI breed standard. There you can read:
"Indifference to weather, robustness and longevity are its most outstanding attributes."
"German Spitz/Keeshond has a double coat."
This also applies to all Spitz varieties. This double coat is weatherproof, water-repellent and both warming and cooling, so that the “Spitz” farm dog is well protected at any time of the year. Naturally. So if there's one thing the German Spitz really doesn't need, it's outerwear. Save yourself the money, your Spitz will be thankful - for sure!
You can also collect the brushed out undercoat of your Spitz and have it spun into wool to knit something beautiful out of it. Dog wool doesn't scratch and is cuddly soft and gives off great warmth and, especially when dense, it can definitely compete with Nordland jackets. Another name for dog wool is "Chiengora", as the yarn can be compared to angora - and it sounds less like dog hair and more like something exquisite. 😉
Our first own wool made from dog hair. Now if I could still knit...😉
If the dog runs a lot on asphalt, it is usually not necessary to cut the claws, as they will wear off on their own. You can test this by taking a piece of paper, which you should be able to slide easily (!) under the claws of the standing dog. If that doesn't work, you should shorten the claws using claw scissors, but you have to be careful not to cut anything into the veins - course that will cause a lot of bleeding. Especially if you have never done that before, it is certainly better to have them cut by the vet the first time.
I don't believe in putting cream on the paw pads at all, after all, they are supposed to be resistant and robust. However, soft tenderness is diametrically opposed to robustness and, for example, shards get into soft bales much more easily than into rough and hard ones.
In summer, you should check every day between the toes and webbed feet and also under the paws to see whether grass awns have become caught, as they are barbed and can gradually penetrate the body. Grass awns have already been found inside the body in the chests of dogs on X-rays. Personally, I cut the fur at the bottom between the paw pads short in the summer, but leave the whiskers on the front of the paws. This way the grass awns don't get caught as easily and the dog still has a feeling for the surrounding surface.
If the dog has picked out a grass awn and accidentally swallowed it, it often gets stuck very unpleasantly in his throat. You can tell because he's constantly slobbering and smacking his lips and is obviously trying to choke down the awn somehow. Here it helps to give him a good portion of low-fat quark or sauerkraut. This means the grass awn can be swallowed, and it tastes good too.
One part of the body that is often neglected is the dog's butt. I clean my dogs' butts every day and remove any leftover feces. My method of choice is wet wipes, but you can of course also use a specially designed cloth that has been dipped in lukewarm water beforehand. A clean dog's bottom not only looks nicer and is also more hygienic for dogs living in the house or apartment, but is also useful in terms of pathological changes in the anus, which are of course noticed more quickly by the owner.
As with us humans, the quality of teeth in the dog world varies from dog to dog. Some animals still have excellent teeth even in old age, while others develop tartar as young animals. Nevertheless, you should check the teeth of your dog regularly, because toothache or inflamed gums do not go unnoticed. Bad teeth are often noticeable through penetrating smell from the snout, so it's better to have the vet take a look at this.
I once tried brushing the dogs' teeth, but now I think it's stupid. In my opinion, the best way to care for your teeth is to feed really large bones, which promote abrasion due to intensive chewing. I prefer the-bigger-the-better bones for dental care. It is often not recommended to feed them because they are too hard. But that's exactly the point of the whole thing: a soft bone doesn't cause abrasion, a hard one does. Another advantage is the size of the long bones because they cannot be swallowed. However, with frozen bones you have to make sure that they are completely unfrozen before feeding, otherwise the dog can actually break a tooth on the hard-frozen bone.
In addition to chewing bones, I occasionally use a scraper to remove plaque, which everyone is probably familiar with from their own visits to the dentist. You can buy these online for a steal and can easily remove stubborn plaque from your dog's teeth.
....you should check regularly, especially in summer when it is grass awn season. Cleaning is only necessary if there is heavy dirt deposits.
Actually, not a problem, given the breed. Older books recommend cleaning dog eyes every day. It's best to do it first thing in the morning with a specially designed washcloth that has been dipped in lukewarm water beforehand. Or you just take wet, PH-level neutral wipes.
The most important point regarding medical precaution comes right at the beginning: the rabies vaccination. Regardless of how you feel about vaccination in general, what matters to me here is less about the active ingredient and more about the fact that if rabies is suspected, tests on living animals are NOT permitted. This in turn means that if rabies is suspected, the official veterinarian always has the animal euthanized first and only then tests for rabies. That is the regulation about rabies in Germany. So you should take this really serious.
Since distemper has now made its home here again and also leptospirosis should not be underestimated, your dog should definitely receive at least its basic immunization. How to proceed is up to each dog owner: the options range from continuing to vaccinate at various time intervals to checking vaccination protection through vaccination titers.
You should do worming now and then, but of course it depends on the dog - dogs that eat everything from the sidewalk while going potty should perhaps be dewormed more than once a year - and on your personal sense of hygiene. Of course, you give the dog chemicals here, but these do not attack the intestinal bacteria, as can be read in various forums. An antiparasitic and an antibiotic are two different things. If the candidate has fleas as a sublet, you should definitely remember to deworm at the same time, as fleas very often also transmit worm eggs.
Unfortunately, when it comes to tick protection, you only have the choice between hardship and misery. On the one hand there are the disease-carrying ticks, and on the other hand there are the active ingredients of tick repellents, which, like Fipronil or Permethrin, act as neurotoxins and are sometimes classified as carcinogenic (in humans). I only use tick protection in high season, but ultimately everyone has to decide for themselves.
The influence of plasticizers - in particular Bisphenol A - which is very often found in plastic toys for dogs, prevents the methylation of the DNA: bisphenol ingested by the bitch during pregnancy impair the brain development of the puppies, which later manifests itself in increased anxiety. In addition, various tests show that impairments in social behavior and learning ability also occurred (sometimes over several generations).* Plasticizers should therefore be avoided throughout your dog's life, as they can have a strong influence on the Epigenome (sometimes across generations); This applies to both adult dogs and puppies!
By the way, be careful when declaring it“ BPA-free”; This means nothing other than that there is no Bisphenol A in it. All other plasticizers can still be present in the toy.
*Kundakovic and Champagne, 2011