Dog shows are obviously places where breeders can showcase their breeding, but they can be very useful for ordinary dog owners, too. They are places where you get to see lots of dogs of the same breed at once, to get information and to mingle with likeminded people. Even when you don’t have high expectations for your own dog it can be a fun activity for you and your dog as long as you do not take it too seriously.
But what happens when you enter your dog to a show? You filled the registration online and you paid the fee. The day comes. How exactly do you need to prepare your dog so that he is at his best at the time the judge makes his decision? It is a bit different for each breed, so let’s go through what the procedure is like with a German Spitz.
Before we begin let me tell you first that I don’t claim to know everything about this. There are many aspects about dog shows I don’t like and I rarely go to these events anymore. However, one of my German Spitz Mittels became a Finnish Champion, which proves that I do have a little bit of experience on the matter (the header picture).
Some people say that it is not necessary to bathe a German Spitz before a dog show if the fur doesn’t feel dirty but I say otherwise. I definitely think you should always bathe your dog before a show, every single time. Without exception it always makes your dog look better and I think it’s a polite thing to do for the judge, too. I usually bathe them the day before, but if you are busy you can do it a couple of days earlier if you want, as long as you can keep your dog from digging any dirt in the meantime!
The process of bathing your German Spitz should be familiar to you by now, but if you want to read the article I wrote about the grooming process of a German Spitz, you can find it in this link.
For a shampoo I would choose a brand that adds volume and texture. German Spitz has a beautiful double coat and the more volume it has while you are presenting him on a show the better it looks. There is no need for any conditioner; a high-quality shampoo will be enough. In fact, I think using a conditioner can do more harm than good. A shampoo like this may cost a little bit more but it is a good investment. The bottle lasts a long time, too.
After giving your German Spitz a bath you should dry him by blow drying. It is important to get the fur completely dry so that the hairs do not get tangled up.
Keep brushing your dog while blow drying (the way your hairdresser does) and you will be able to get coat not only clean and shiny looking but very fluffy as well. Brushing outwards helps lift the hairs upwards, which makes the fur look even fuller than it already is. Make sure that the fur is dry everywhere, also behind the ears. This prevents the fur from matting.
Take your time in this blow drying process. Take a short break and let your dog run around a bit if needed and then get back to it. Take as long as it needs for the coat to be completely dry and as fluffy and profuse looking as possible.
If you only have a dog you can probably use your own blow dryer. However, the coat of the German Spitz is so thick and it takes such a long time to throroughly dry it that you might want to consider getting a more professional blow dryer. There is a good one now available on Amazon. Check it out.
Cutting the claws
For a fine look you also need to cut your dog’s nails so do not forget this part. I have written a whole article about how to clip the claws on your German Spitz, so if you need advice on this part, please go read my article by clicking this link (the link will open in a new window)
Trimming the hairs on your dog’s paws
German Spitz is a breed that has hair growing on his paws between his pads and these hairs should be trimmed. Using regular scissors will do and there’s no need to remove the hairs completely; just enough so that it looks neat.
The hairs on a German Spitz’s paws grow really long if they are not being cut regularly and this gives your dog an untidy look. Eventually if you let the hairs grow naturally you cannot even see the shape of the paw anymore. Therefore I suggest that you trim the hairs around the paw. This way the paw will look what it should be: round and small, like that of a cat. I trim the hairs even when I don’t take my dogs to a show because I like how it gives my dogs a finished look: like they are well taken care of. Neat overall.
This is something that can be done at the same time you are cutting the claws on your dog. This is a good way to make an overall check-up on your dog’s paws at the same time: just to make sure that everything is okay.
Trimming the hairs on your dog’s ears
Now this is probably the most complicated part on your preparation for a dog show. It is not compulsory; a German Spitz can be presented without any clipping of the hairs. However, most people do this and I do, too. It simply makes the dog look better.
Ears are really important in defining the correct look of the German Spitz. They should be small, preferably really small, and relatively close to one another. When you let the hairs on your dog’s ears grow naturally, they grow so much you cannot even see the shape of the ear anymore. By slightly trimming these you simply show what your dog’s ears look like, you do not really make any drastic changes. The more natural looking the outcome is, the better.
It takes practice to master the art of the ear trimming and if it is your first time, don’t do it if you are about to enter a show! Practice beforehand, not when you are about to show your dog. I remember when I first started trimming my dog’s ears; they looked terrible! It’s easy to laugh now, but it surely wasn’t funny back then. Sometimes I ended up asking help from people who were more experienced than me, just because I didn’t think I could properly trim them myself.
But, like in all aspects of life, this, too, you can learn. I trim the ears of my dogs all the time, even when I’m not planning to attend a dog show, and by consistent training I really feel like I’ve managed to become quite good at this. That’s what I’ve been told. I’ve had lots of compliments from people. Who would have thought in the beginning?
I think it is important not to trim too much, but to simply trim the tip of the ear and leave the rest of it untouched. I have a video where I do this on my German Spitz Mittel; you can watch it here:
For this you need to have special scissors. Here is a picture of mine. They have been golden. I love these so much. I don’t think you need to buy the most expensive pair just for trimming your dog’s ears, but I do think it’s wise to invest a little bit of money. If you purchase the cheapest one, it can be seen in the quality of the outcome.
I first bought a couple of cheap ones but they were quickly broken. It would have been wiser to invest a bit more money the first time. Check out the price of the scissors I found on Amazon.
German Spitz, like all Spitz dogs really, should be groomed in a way that they look as natural as possible. Except for the ears and paws, do not cut the hair, do not trim, do not shave! Scissors and a German Spitz don’t belong together when you are about to enter a dog show. For example, some people try to trim their Kleins to look like Pomeranians and that is obviously a mistake that the judges are not going to like.
Dog shows are not all about the grooming, of course. It takes a lot of practice to master everything you and your dog need to do there. It requires quite a bit of training before your dog is ready for a show (and you, too!). Your dog needs to walk calmly and nicely on a show leash even when there are hundreds of dogs in the same place. It’s not an easy task, especially for a young inexperienced dog!
I have written an article about how to train a German Spitz for a show. You can go read it by clicking this link: Training a German Spitz for a Dog Show: Beginner’s Guide.
But, when you do decide that you are ready for a show, groom your dog the best of your abilities and then enjoy the ride. The first time can be so frightening, but try to have fun no matter how scared you are. When you have fun, so will your dog. And that’s kind of the whole idea of this anyway.