Working LGDs usually get full of mud, dirt and grime. No one expects them to continually be spic and span, but I know my dogs all adore their "grooming time" with me and relish the individual attention.
Spring time typically brings coat shedding with most LGD breeds - even those with shorter hair such as the Spanish Mastiff will "blow" their thick winter undercoat this time of year in preparation for the hot days ahead. Many people resort to body shaving longer haired LGDs such as Great Pyrenees and Maremmas. This should never be done. Why not? See below!
This diagram is one of the best descriptive attempts I've ever seen on why you should not shave your long-haired Livestock Guardian Dog for summer. The chart is courtesy of Riverside Grooming, Riverside, California.
Please, if your LGDs are long coated, read this and study it before you get those sheep shears out and go to shaving. You can actually cause your dog to suffer MORE by shaving him. See why here:
In other words, nothing beats a good brushing and combing out! A good brushing will also soothe your dog and give you both time for bonding and relaxing. Its a great way to find burrs, wounds you didn't see because they were obscured with hair; it is also a way to check for fleas and ticks.
While you are at it, don't forget to check those nails and dewclaws too. This diagram is courtesy of "The Hydrant" Blog:
Some long haired breeds also may develop dirt caked mats or small balls of fur and mud between the pads of their feet. If left unchecked they eventually cause the dog discomfort. I find my two of my male Pyrenean Mastiffs develop these because they both have exceptionally heavy feathering on their feet and hair between their toes. My females don't seem to have the problem quite as much, nor do my Great Pyrenees. By carefully tugging on these matted balls of dirt and hair, one can extract them out far enough so you can then take sharp but blunt nosed scissors and shred out and cut the mat out from between the dog's pads. I've seen "toe mats" like these cause my big boys to slightly limp from discomfort, but as soon as I work them out, they show instant relief and gratitude.
Don't ever neglect to have plenty of cool, clean water available for your dogs during summer, and make sure the water trough or container is not so high that a smaller or young pup cannot reach the water.
There are many other "should do's" for the approaching hot months ahead. I have an article coming up in the next sheep! Magazine about "prepping" your LGD for the upcoming summer heat and all that comes with it….watch for it in the upcoming issue.