Monday, June 13, 2011
Grooming Baby English Angoras
I am going to start a series about grooming English Angoras at various ages and stages of coat development and give you some tips that I have. We will start with babies! Baby English Angoras, about three and months and younger, are very easy to groom, I generally do not do much at this stage of their life. For any babies with their mother, you should be handling them and cleaning them up if they get dirty, but you generally will not have to do much until they are weaned. At weaning, I treat with Ivomec to prevent fur mites. After weaning, I try to handle the babies at least twice a week so that I can check on their health. I will at that time make sure that they do not have any tangles behind the ears. The only other area that my babies may need attention would be between the back legs of the rabbit, which may get dirty on occasion. If they are matting or webbing at this age, you have either a fur mite problem or a poor coat quality problem.
To remove the tangles behind the ears, I will spray the area very lightly with a leave in spray conditioner for dogs that is available at pet stores, either at full strength or diluted with water to half strength. Then, I will use a wide steel tooth comb to comb the tangles out, but using my fingers if necessary to pull apart larger “clumps”. I will check the babies bottoms as well, but typically, the biggest concern at this age will be the wool behind the ears. Resist the urge to use your brushes on the coat unless absolutely necessary, as the more you brush the more damage you will cause. In English Angoras, overgrooming is typically the cause of most new people’s frustration, because the coat breakage that it causes leads to excess webbing and matting. Just take that cute baby out, make sure it is healthy, and use the steel comb behind the ears if necessary, and that is all the grooming you should do.
Some would be against using any sort of coat spray on English Angoras. However, if you are using it as outlined above, you are not spraying it indiscriminately in order to alter the appearance of the coat, and you are not doing it at a show, which would both be violations of show rules. However, there is no reason to not use this spray lightly in a discriminate manner as needed at home so that you cause minimal damage to areas that need more intense grooming. If these tangles are combed out without the spray, you will definitely cause more breakage of the coat, which will lead to more problems later on.
Some words of caution - be careful to not put the leave in spray conditioner on the rest of the coat, as it may cause the baby to lick and chew if they do not appreciate the smell. Therefore, sprays with strong odors should be avoided, as well as any grooming spray that causes the coat to feel any different after spraying. You may need to experiment until you find the right ones that have little smell, work good, and do not cause any build up that would alter the coat. One thing that you can do is speak to a local dog groomer who may have some ideas for you. Also, even though your juniors are too young to show, make sure to not use this at shows.