Bath Time

Bath Time for your Coton

A clean Coton is a healthy Coton.  They love to strut their stuff and show off when they feel clean. Regular bathing and grooming is the easiest way to stay ahead of those dreadful mats.

Don’t let that profuse cottony coats scare you!. Practice and a few simple tip will help you achieve that professional look.

Our Cotons are small companions that do not know they are not human. They sleep in our beds, allowed on the furniture and travel with us in our cars. So grooming and bathing is needed regularly. How often depends upon your yard, surroundings, weather and how much debris they pick up during their daily activities.   They are non shedding breed, don’t smell like a wet dog when wet. However, to keep them impeccable beautiful they do require work. How much works depends upon you.

Before the Bath

Dirty & Grimy Coat

It is never an ideal situation to be forced to brush a dirty, grimy coat, as this will normally cause significant breakage. However, catch 22 becomes necessary before a bath.

Dry and Clean Coat

Never brush a dry coat (even a clean, dry coat), as this will further facilitate breakage. Always mist the coat with a grooming spray, or spray your brush with grooming spray to allow the brush to glide smoothly through the coat. A clean well conditioned coat makes regular grooming a breeze. Well conditioned does not mean layers of applied conditioner.

Mats and Tangles

They must be removed prior to bath. Condition will not remove mats and tangles. Mats left in will only become more of a problem because the dirt and shampoo will only make the mats tighter, creating a bigger job for you.

Line Brush Well

You must brush and/or comb your Coton all of the way down to the skin before his bath. When you believe the tangles are gone, run a large greyhound or poodle comb throughout the entire coat, making sure to reach the skin. If you find more tangles, work them out with your fingertips, then continue checking the rest of the coat with the comb. In particular, pay special attention to the areas behind the ears, under the legs, on the feet, and on the belly and groin area.

Examine your Coton, grooming sessions also allow you to examine your dog’s coat, teeth, eyes, ears, and nails for signs of problems.


Cleanse the eye area to remove any debris collected underneath the eye Be extremely careful with your pet’s eyes during all parts of the grooming process. For the eye area you will need a safe, effective under-eye cleanser.
Gimborn Eye Clear is safe to use daily to clean area below the eye with a cotton ball. This cleanser can actually be used as drops in the eye, so it is an extremely safe product.
Butler Eye Rinse, another excellent brand of eye cleaner which many vets use.
Contact lens solution or other saline solution products can also be used to clean the eye area, and can be used after the bath to rinse the eye of any contaminants.

Ointment or mineral oil is not recommended because some ophthalmology specialists believe the ointment may actually trap irritants that run into the eyes during the bath. Shampoo and other debris can get trapped behind the oil in these products, and cause serious eye ulcerations. The ointment can actually create a problem, rather than prevent one.


Cleanse ear canals. Gimborn Ear Cleaner and Gimborn Ear Powder. Use 100 % a cotton ball dampened with an ear cleaning solution.  Never use synthetic cotton puffs. Never use cotton-tipped swabs or Q-tips in the ear.

If you notice a strong smell or signs of redness in the ear, your dog may require a trip to the vet. Our Cotons having pendulous ears and/or profuse hair in and around the ears may be susceptible to more ear problems due to lack of airflow into the ear. Some Cotons will have excess hair growing from inside the ears, this is an ideal environment for bacterial growth. Ear powder can help to grip the excess hair for easy removal. Never allow powder to remain in the ear canal that can cake or cures, follow up with the liquid ear cleaner.

Bath Time Setup

Absorbent towels.
Shampoo /Conditioner (Dilute shampoo and conditioner according to label directions.)
Set up blow dryer and grooming table.
Brushes /Combs/Grooming Spray.


Vellus Show Shampoo
Vellus Clarifying Shampoo
Vellus Show Conditioning Concentrate
All Systems Super Cleaning and Conditioning Shampoo
Les Poochs Pooch Bright Shampoo
Best Shot Shampoo/Conditioners
It is best to rotate shampoos occasionally to prevent product buildup. I suggest avoiding any product that contains lanolin.

People Shampoo or Dish Washing Liquid

Both are much too harsh for your dog’s skin and really dry out a dog’s coat. The pH of dog shampoo is two points different than people shampoo, which is a huge difference. The pH is a measure of the acidity or alkalinity of the products. In the long-run, it’s cheaper to buy a high quality dog shampoo and dilute it according to the label instructions.


The Bath

Wet the coat, lather and rinse..

Shampoo with a premium quality pet shampoo. Massage the skin and the hair as you work from the root to the end of the hair, gently squeezing. Never rub in a circular motion, as this will cause tangles and mats. Soap MUST be completely rinsed out.

If you have a puppy, take things slowly, give the puppy plenty of time to adjust to the idea of getting a bath. Always give lots of praise and a few treats to make bath time a pleasant experience.

Water temperature should be lukewarm. Make sure the coat is completely wet prior to applying the shampoo. Dilute shampoo with warm water will help to spread the shampoo through the entire coat.

Remember you do not have to have an abundance of suds to make the dog clean.

Suds the rear of the body first, work forward paying particular attention to the paws, feet and under the tail. Don’t forget the underside of the dog. To reach that area, have him stand on his hind legs by lifting his front paws. Use a degreaser like “Grease Magic” (from Ryan’s Pet Supplies) on feet, ears, muzzle, and any other extra dirty areas. Suds the head and face last. You can wash the face with a washcloth to remove dirt and grime from the face, mouth and beard area.
Once you have a clean Coton, rinse completely and keep rinsing until you no longer feel shampoo anywhere on the dog and the water runs clear. The dog should feel “squeaky” clean! Any residue of shampoo remaining on the dog can cause itching, flaking, and skin problems.
Avoid water and shampoo from getting into the eyes while rinsing by tilting the head backwards. When rinsing the face, make sure that water does not run into the nose, and direct the water away from the eyes and mouth using your fingers. Rinse the shampoo first from the head, face, and ears, and then the body and legs

Apply a good quality conditioner, use as product recommends and rinse well.
The conditioner can be diluted and applied in a mixing bottle and apply by hand and gently massage throughout the coat.

The strength of the conditioner will depend on whether your Coton will be kept in “maintenance” mode or in “pre-show” mode. For daily maintenance, you can apply a heavier, less diluted strength of conditioner. Prior to a show, use a lighter dilution of conditioner, apply more sparingly and rinse more thoroughly so as to not weigh down the coat. Wrap your dog in a towel, and gently blot the excess moisture from the coat. Rubbing the coat will cause mats.
Allow your Coton to shake, which will remove excess moisture. Wait for 15 minutes to let your Coton air-dry naturally if room temperature allows, this will help to hydrate the coat and skin.
Place your dog on the grooming table and lightly spray the entire body with a quality grooming spray.

Grooming Spray:
Vellus Static Stabilizer, Nature’s Specialties Quicker Slicker, Best Shot Finishing Spray.
For a very dry coat, the Vellus Satin Crème or Pure Paws Finishing Cream can be applied. Rub a small amount between your palms and apply sparingly to the coat as a dressing. Distribute the spray from the roots to the ends of hair with your fingers.

Drying Your Coton

Blow dry your Coton’s coat from the roots outward.  It is important to concentrate on drying the root area, and the rest of the hair will dry almost by itself.  When the coat is almost completely dry, put your dryer on a stand or dryer holder and brush each area of the dog as you continue to blow dry for that “finished look”.  Run a comb through the entire coat from the skin all the way to the tips to check for any missed tangles.

This is an excellent time to clip your dog’s nails. The nails are still softened from the bath, and the dog is already becoming tired from the grooming session, so offers less resistance.

Cotons look best when dried with a powerful forced-air dryer with no heating element. Too much heat will dry the coat. Chris Christensen has one of the best professional dryers.  Do not use a back and forth motion in drying your Coton, as this can actually create tangles and mats.  Place the dog in front of you, start drying from the rear of the dog, drying from the bottom of the feet in an upward direction. Work forward, doing the face and head last.  Turn the dryer volume down a notch (if you are able) to concentrate on the face area.  Use the dryer nozzle only, start drying next to the skin, work slowly and carefully, one section at a time, from the bottom upward, and from the rear to the front, against the lay of the coat.  Use your dryer nozzle similar to line brushing.

When the coat is approximately 2/3 dry, attach the dryer hose to a stand, and complete the drying process using the pin brush.
Aim the dryer hose to the area you are brushing. Line brush AGAINST the lay of the coat with a pin brush. The volume of air coming from the dryer nozzle actually helps separate the strands of hair, facilitating the line brushing.

The Coton coat when completely dry should not have any waves or ripples down the center of the upper back.
You should attempt to achieve the straightest look possible, avoiding any appearance of a curly coat. Damp hair under the ears or on the neck or upper back, if left to dry naturally, will curl or wave.

Medium length pins (27mm) Chris Christensen pin brushes for the Coton coat. Chris Christensen, slicker brush for the feet (the Mark I X-Small. Chris Christensen stainless steel “butter” comb model #002 (coarse teeth, 7 1/2 inch spine) to finish the body of the coat. And the #006 comb 5″ FACE/FEET comb is great for finishing/shaping the face and beard.

When the coat is entirely dry, free of tangles and waves, comb through to the skin one last time to double-check your work. For very dense coats in a dry environment, finish off with another spritz of grooming spray or lightly dress the coat with some Vellus Satin Crème. Apply a top-knot, if desired, to keep the hair out of the eyes.

Congratulations — you’re done! Give your dog a treat, it may be ready for a nap. Treat yourself to a nice cup of coffee and enjoy your work of art. When a Coton is clean, dry and tangle free, they are gorgeous. Make the bathing and grooming process a very pleasant experience for your Coton and a nice way for the two of you to bond.