AKC Gazette
Lhasa Apsos
March 2017

Pretty versus ugly? Ugly doesn’t win. Even when the dog is good, an unattractive one will usually lose to a lesser, but pretty one. These priorities do not have to compete, just be kept in the right order. You can add pretty to good much more easily than the opposite.

I thought of this recently while grooming a puppy for her first show. We hold ourselves to high standards for conformation quality, coat condition and presentation. This puppy easily passed the first test. I stacked her on the table and admired her solid back and set of neck. Her shoulder assembly and straight forelegs were framed in lean hard muscle without bulk, giving her elegant carriage and reach. Her first and second thighs were held in place by well-developed muscle. She stood solid and her dark eyes sparkled with mischief.

I looked at her coat: good texture and length for her age, but then something we’re not used to – stained feet, face and whiskers. While not necessarily a sign of neglect, coat stain seriously detracts from the pretty look we all seek in both pets and show dogs.

We strongly believe puppies and adults need plenty of free exercise to develop their full potential, both physically and mentally. Ours have a large play-yard with a wall to climb and run, blocks to jump and lots of toys. Six inches of ¼-inch washed pea gravel covers the ground, which normally provides good drainage of both rain and urine, and does not damage coat. But rain came early this fall and was relentless, yielding little opportunity to clean the wet yellow leaves and dead fir needles covering the ground. Hairy feet and faces got soaked and stained in the sodden mess and there was little reprieve in the small covered runs.

Coat stain can be caused by a number of factors and there are solutions or remedies to combat the problem when prevention has failed. Bleach and/or antibiotics are not recommended.

  • Chronic licking – Allergies or infection are involved. Eliminate the cause.
  • Housekeeping – Avoid soiled pens, crates and runs. Regular cleaning is mandatory.
  • Food – Some foods, even very good ones, have ingredients that affect body chemistry, resulting in a stained face or rear. Check with friends who have white dogs for recommendations and watch for changes in formula.
  • Water – Chemicals, especially some found in well water, may discolor coat. Give distilled drinking water and use a cleansing shampoo and rinse to remove chemical buildup on the hair.
  • Body chemistry and inflammation – Some dogs have a natural body chemistry or systemic inflammation that results in stain from the eyes, mouth and feet. Eye stain can be removed with daily application of a topical solution containing boric acid. Herbal remedies given with food, especially those containing turmeric, may also be effective.
  • Environment – Wet leaves, wood or other organic matter contain natural dyes that soak into hair and cause discoloration. Avoid contact when possible and to correct, bathe regularly in whitening and/or clarifying shampoo. Follow up with a conditioner that seals the hair cuticle.
  • Organisms – Red yeast, bacteria and fungus thrive under certain conditions and penetrate the hair shaft. Disinfect surfaces regularly with a mild bleach solution. Do not rinse.
  • Piggy habits – Some male dogs spray their underbelly from sternum to back toes. Regular use of a belly band or weenie wrap is helpful.

Dealing with a stained coat involves work to improve appearance and make a good dog more attractive. Start with good, then make it better.

Cassandra de la Rosa, The American Lhasa Apso Club, Email: dlrcas@msn.com