Here are some Manchester-specific tips and tricks I have picked up over the years.
Keeping your Manchester Clean
They prefer to stay clean and some will bathe themselves like a cat. Since they do not have an undercoat, they are great for allergy sufferers because they do not shed much or produce much dander. However, bathing them too often will make their skin dry out. I prefer to use emu oil shampoo, because it keeps their coats shiny and doesn’t dry them out. It’s completely normal for a Manchester to have more dander for a day or two after their bath so don’t let this worry you. You won’t have to bathe your dog more than once every few months unless he or she gets into something. Between baths, you can freshen them up with an emu oil spray. Spray it on and wipe them gently, in the direction that their coat naturally lays, with a soft towel or dry washcloth.
In the winter or when in a dry climate, their ears will crack and dry. It will start at the tips and spread to the rest of the ear leather if not treated. The edges are the worst and the cracked pieces will start to fall out if not treated. Vets are not used to seeing Manchesters and often misdiagnose this as a fungal or other type of skin infection. When the ears are first starting to get dry, the very tip of the ear will look grey or white. Do NOT treat this with lotion, it will only make it worse and strip out the fur. I rub a drop or two of vitamin E oil between my thumb and forefinger and then gently massage it into the dry parts of the ear, so if you catch it early, it would only be the very tip of the ear. Be careful not to get any in the inner ear or ear canal because this can result in an ear infection. Be sure to purchase vitamin E that is 30,000 IU, labeled for consumption. Make sure it’s not synthetic because it doesn’t work the same and the synthetic oil is very sticky. I have purchased some synthetic versions by mistake on amazon because the description was misleading. Vitamin E oil is also good for healing and encouraging hair growth on cuts, scrapes and scars. Do not start use until a solid scab has formed and don’t use it with stitches (you can use it after stitches have been removed).
If your Manchester needs a little extra help keeping warm be careful about how you choose to dress them. Their fur is thin and skin is sensitive so most materials are going to cause your dog’s hair to rub off and/or irritate the skin from frequent use. So far, the best thing I have found for keeping the seniors warm indoors (they need a little extra help in the winter) or something light for cool spring or fall days, are the stretch fleece coats from Gold Paw Series. The best part is that these are light enough that your dog won’t overheat and the seams are on the outside so there is no skin irritation or hair loss. I put these in the washer and dryer and they have held up well. My teen Manchester has worn these all winter without suffering hair loss. My 8 to 10 lb adults wear a size 8. My 10 – 12 lb adults wear a size 10 and 12 -14 lb adults may need a size 12.
Seniors aside, I don’t clothe my dogs indoors, nor do I put coats on them when they run out into the yard for a quick pee, even in the winter. If they are going to be outdoors for a prolonged period of time, you should be with them and if you need to wear a long sleeve shirt or jacket, they need clothing. If their nose is ice cold and they are shivering, you should cover them up outside. Indoors, I prefer to address this by giving them a fleece blanket or snuggle bed because they do lose their resistance to cold over time if you keep clothing on them.
Dental Care Do’s and Don’ts
Toy breeds are notorious for having dirty teeth that require frequent cleanings by the vet. My first Toy Manchester started losing teeth at age 5 and had to get yearly dental cleanings, getting more teeth pulled each time. Despite the cleanings, she was completely toothless at 10 years. She lived until she was 16 1/2 years old, due in large part to my diligence in seeking regular dental care for her. Rotting teeth can cause infections in the heart, liver, kidneys and lead to an early death. If your dog has horrible breath, he or she probably needs a dental. I learned some things along the way that have helped my dogs keep healthy teeth and gums into their teens with fewer dentals and minimal extractions needed.
I have 3 tips for keeping teeth clean:
- Feed dry kibble. Canned food or kibble softened by mixing in water will rot their teeth. It sticks to their teeth and builds up. Dry kibble is shaped to assist in scraping off tartar as your dog chews.
- Get them in the habit of chewing on safe toys and hard treats. What you give your puppy to chew will influence what they prefer as an adult. Buy toys and hard chews (see supplies page for recommendations) that will get tartar off when they chew and help clean your dog’s teeth.
- Brush their teeth. Daily is best but if you just can’t get in that habit, do it as often as you can. Something is better than nothing.
In my experience, the following dental products do NOT work: water additives, products you spray on the teeth, dental wipes, dog food or SOFT treats that are supposed to prevent tartar. Anything softer than a greenie will not clean the dog’s teeth and I have recently questioned how much greenies and similar products really help.
Cleanings are expensive because they require your dog to be put under anesthesia. There are some offices selling anesthesia-free cleanings as a cheaper alternative but it would be inhumane to clean their teeth as deeply as they need it without anesthesia, so anesthesia-free cleanings are ineffective. Start brushing your puppy’s teeth with a dog toothpaste so they get used to it and learn that it tastes good. As a puppy, it doesn’t matter if you’re really getting the teeth clean because they will fall out by 6 months, you’re just getting your dog used to brushing. Their mouths are small so I buy toddler toothbrushes. The finger brushes and regular dog toothbrushes don’t allow you to reach the back molars which are always the dirtiest. If the brush head is larger than your pinky, it’s too big.
My dogs trust me and I get them used to letting me touch their mouths and their teeth. They will allow me to use dental flossing sticks on their teeth. They get food stuck in their incisors (the front teeth) and around the canines just like people do. I don’t floss them every time I brush, but if I notice there is food or hair stuck between their teeth, I floss them. If you don’t trust yourself to do this or trust your dog to hold still, I do not recommend flossing. I would never attempt to floss a puppy. They just don’t have the patience or training yet.