How We Keep Our Home Clean with a Big, Hairy Dog

June 29, 2016

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How We Keep Our Home Clean with a Big, Hairy Dog | Chris Loves Julia

Charly has been a member of our family for over three years now and we can’t imagine this home without her. I’m not going to lie, having never had a dog before, it took me a couple weeks to get used to her and that hair and drool (I actually lost my appetite for 9 days when we got her), but she is truly one of us now. We adopted her when she was a couple years old from a family with five young children, so we were hopeful she would be good with Greta (and later Faye, although she wasn’t in the picture yet) and she is so gentle with each of them, but prefers adults when we have people over. Fun fact: Her name was Tinee when we got her and when we asked the vet about changing her name, he said it was best if we stayed with the same ending sound, which is how we landed on Charly, instead of the runner-up name, Nana.

How We Keep Our Home Clean with a Big, Hairy Dog | Chris Loves Julia

One of the most common questions we get around having such a large, hairy dog is, “How do you handle all that hair!?” and also, “How do you keep your house looking and smelling clean with a dog?” So today we’re going to spill the tips and tricks that have worked well for us over the past three years.

How We Keep Our Home Clean with a Big, Hairy Dog | Chris Loves Julia

First of all, yes! Exclamation point! Charly sheds. She is a Saint Pyrenees (Saint Bernard + Great Pyrenees) and she really only has two big shedding spurts throughout the year, (one of which she is going through right now and maybe inspired me to write this post once and for all), where I end up vacuuming twice a day. The rest of the year, she sheds in smaller clumps generally and I vacuum our main living room every day, although I could probably get away with every other day–I actually just really like vacuuming. We’ve been through three vacuums since getting her. The first two were a Eureka and a Bissell Pet Vacuum and neither could handle the hair. Then about a year ago, we got this Shark Navigator Lift-Away Professional Vacuum (with the premium brush roll, although I’m not sure of the difference between the standard brush–they were the same price) and it has been a dog hair champion! I like that it’s really lightweight, the canister is easy to empty, the filter is washable with a quick rinse under the faucet, it transforms into a small portable vacuum for stairs (Charly’s favorite place to sleep at night is on the stair landing), and most of all–it gets the hair in one fell swoop.

A lot of people question our sanity when we chose a dark indigo rug for our living room with a hairy dog, but I am one of those people that likes to see the mess, whether it be hair or any other dirt. And isn’t there such a great, instant satisfaction in vacuuming it all up?

How We Keep Our Home Clean with a Big, Hairy Dog | Chris Loves Julia

For our wood tile floors, I used to use an old-fashioned mop and bucket for years and years, but nowadays I use a Swiffer Wet Jet, which is quick and easy when I see rogue hair balls flying down the hallway, or when Charly comes in from outside all drool-y. But it’s equally as nice when we have other sticky, human messes. It’s mindless and fast and makes spot-mopping a thing–which, it HAD to be a thing in my life.

How We Keep Our Home Clean with a Big, Hairy Dog | Chris Loves Julia

The raised feeding station we made for Charly a little over a year ago (you can get the full, easy tutorial for that right here) is still going strong, but it has a bonus perk we’ve discovered. We initially made it because it’s better for large dogs’ digestion to have their food bowls higher, but it’s also been a dream to have her them raised for me to quickly Swiffer under it every day just keeping the whole area a lot more fresh. The feeding station is in the laundry room, where we added a small sink when we renovated, and I often pop out her bowls and give them a quick rinse before refilling them for the day.

Also in the laundry room, we have two containers. One with laundry pods and the other with Charly’s treats. A few months ago, our vet put Charly on a diet to help manage her arthritis so we aren’t encouraged to give her treats very often, so now we only keep these minty bones on hand which double as a toothbrush. She loves them, we love that dog breath is now pretty non-existent and bonus, Faye’s clearest sentence is “Can I give Charly treat??” so she gets one every day.

How We Keep Our Home Clean with a Big, Hairy Dog | Chris Loves Julia

The other tool in our hairy dog arsenal, that’s an absolute necessity when trying to stay on top of pet hair, is a Furminator. It’s a brush for pets that actually reduces shedding by 90% and it’s Charly’s favorite thing. It comes in 5 different sizes from extra small to giant (can you guess which one we have?) for long hair and short hair. We probably don’t do it as much as we should, but we always come away with enough hair to make a mid-sized dog when we’re done.

How We Keep Our Home Clean with a Big, Hairy Dog | Chris Loves Julia

Even more than the hair, I’m always worried about the smells Charly may be filling our house with. You know how every home has a smell? My grandma’s house smells like marinara sauce 100% of the time and it’s so comforting and familiar. I don’t know what our house smells like, nor do I know if anyone knows what their own home smells like, but I’m ultra-cautious to try to make sure it doesn’t smell like an animal. Charly was dog-door trained when we got her, so as soon as we got a fence installed after we moved here, we installed two of these “super large” pet doors. One from the laundry room to the garage (we painted the frame black to blend in a little better) and one from the garage to outside.  Letting her have her own access to outdoors has prevented any accidents and having the garage in between her doors, keeps our home a little warmer and gives her paws a chance to dry/clean off before she steps inside. These dog doors also come with locks, so whenever we are all gone, we can make sure our house stays secure.

How We Keep Our Home Clean with a Big, Hairy Dog | Chris Loves Julia

As for other inside smells, Charly isn’t allowed on the furniture, but she does have a rather large bed in the living room, that’s actually just an Ikea Kivik Chaise cushion! The slipcover zips right off and I can throw it in the wash as needed. In between, I spray her bed and the stair landing (where she usually sleeps at night) with Febreeze Pet Odor Eliminator. Seems to work really well!

How We Keep Our Home Clean with a Big, Hairy Dog | Chris Loves Julia

So, that’s the run down of how we keep our house up to par with a 160 pound dog inhabiting it. But that’s not to say, it is always fur free. Or we’ll never walk out of our house with her hair attached to our black pants. Or there aren’t occasional drool drips from her water bowl to her bed that might end up on our pant leg if she comes in for a snuggle. Or terrible smells coming out of her if we forgot to close the pantry and she got into the bagels again (her favorite food). We just choose to love her more than we let those things bother us. And that’s the best way to handle any household pet.


PS. You can see where we got everything in our home right here.

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What do you think?

  1. Niki S. says:

    What also helps with shedding and keeping dirt and dander away is a professional blow drier for grooming dogs. I try to blow my Newfie out often. The shedding air flies through the air outside. It’s not full proof but it does help us keep down on all that stuff. He loves the blow drier. I can’t use it on my smaller dogs as they are afraid of it. I vacuum every day with a dyson, regular one and I have an animal one only difference is the animal comes with extra attachments. Mine have lasted years. I use a hand held dirt devil for the sofa daily because my small dogs are aloud on the sofa to feel safe from the Newfie when he gets hyper as he is still a puppy at 10 months and 130-140 pounds. I heard a roomba comes in handy but have never tried one. I also use Odorxit for smells. I use for mopping and a linen spray to keep odors at bay. It’s a lot safer than febreeze ;) Love your ideas and thanks for sharing them!

  2. Kara Mance says:

    I have 2 Great Pyrenees and have OCD (because apparently I’m a masochist). Many of the things I already do in your article; we have the furminator, I use a swifter, etc. I am interested, however, in the vacuum you mentioned. We too have gone through many, even a Dyson, and our dogs hair literally breaks them! The beater bar, as I’m sure you are aware, gets horribly tangled in hair when vacuuming the rugs. Do you have to remove hair from yours everyday or is the vacuum you mentioned better at not allowing the hair to build up and tangle in the first place? I know I’m two years late but I would spend a small fortune for a vacuum that will handle my dogs hair!! Also, how do you like the wooden tile floor with your dog? Does it hold up? Thanks!

    • Julia says:

      The wooden tile has saved us. Literally. It’s been the best investment because we never ever worry about our floors. We have also really liked the Dyson for our dogs. Do you get your dog professionally groomed? We have found when the shedding gets too bad, we take her in the get professionally groomed and combed out and it really helps.

  3. Carrie says:

    She’s such a sweet girl!! :)

  4. Rachel says:

    I know I’m a couple months late to the show here, but I’ve been googling around looking for advice on keeping a large area rug clean (and clean *smelling*) with a large dog and stumbled across your blog for the first time – what a beautiful home! I have a Dyson vacuum and Hoover steam mop, both of which I absolutely love. But despite taking our chow to the groomer every three months, the rugs he lays on still seem to have his smell (hyper-active pregnant nose senses here!). How do you keep your rugs from taking on Charly’s smell? Do you ever hire a professional carpet steamer for your large area rugs?

    Love your website and can’t wait to start following along!

  5. Meghan says:

    I love this post! My pups are my heart, and so worth the messes.

    We have a Bernese Mountain dog and the hair never stops. We have a Dyson Animal, which we love except for when it’s time to do the shag rugs. The darn vacuum just will not move over those rugs. I’m definitely going to look into the Shark!

    I have a question for you about Charly’s bed. Were you able to buy just the Kivik cushion, without the frame? The only thing I see online separately is the covers. Maybe you know the trick ;)

    Thank you!

  6. Michelle says:

    Can you tell me how you painted the dog door? I have a similar one and with four dogs – 2 of which are mud magnets – its getting rather gross. I’d like to paint the entire door and the dog door so both to hide some mud (currently the door is white/beige) and to make it not stand out so much. I’d love any painting tips. Thanks and love your Charly!!

  7. Nichole says:

    This was a great post. With an Australian Shepherd, two cats, and two kids our house is upside down 24/7. I vacuum once or twice a day because you just have to! I was wondering, how often do you clean your floors? For us, we have accepted there will always be pet fur, but we struggle with the amount of dirt that gets into our home!

  8. Joanna says:

    Truly lovely and practical post. We have a long hair Jack Russel. What she lacks in size she makes up for in hair. I wish I liked vacuuming more because the dust bunny/fur clump situation can get a little crazy. The last statement is so right. We love her too much so a little hair is nothing.

  9. ryan says:

    This is a great post, Julia. I struggle to keep up with the dog hair as well, but I’ve found the triple threat is weekly dates with the furminator (during high shedding season for my lab mix…my pit mix doesn’t have an undercoat), vacuuming as often as I can force myself to and Earthbath Shed Control Shampoo. The stuff really does work. I have to bathe my pittie almost every week anyway (poor thing has the WORST skin allergies), so I just lump my labbie in with her special shampoo. It has really helped me keep up with the hair this summer.

  10. Brittany says:

    Julia! You have no idea how much this post just helped me. I’ve never had a dog and my husband always had one or two growing up. He’s been pushing to get one and I was also so afraid of maintaining our clean house with a dog. I’m saving this post for the future and sending you a great big thank you because if you can do it, I can do it! (My husband will surely sing your praises when I share this with him later)

    Such a fan of your blog, thanks for sharing it all!

  11. Your Sister Patty says:

    Your house smells like the Grey Flannel candle from Target.

  12. Jeanna says:

    That’s life with our 4 legged babies :) I can’t imagine a home without a loving dog in it!

  13. Michelle says:

    Saw your question above about a roomba and thought I’d offer my experience! I am another person whose roomba has saved me from pet hair insanity! Mine does best on hard surfaces and actually has a hard time on rugs with a high pile. It does great on our wood and tile and all of our rugs except one that is shaggy. Love my dogs but the hair struggle can be real!

  14. Jo says:

    A) Our first child was a St Bernard (albeit a short haired variety) and the hair and slobber are definitely overwhelming. I thought the hair thing would be better after our Saint passed away and we got a Great Dane (we have a thing for big dogs). Turns out that dogs with short hair shed just as much, it just doesn’t form tumbleweeds of hair – it’s more like pine needles from Christmas trees.
    B) The Shark! Seriously the best. We’ve killed numerous Dyson Animals and a Bissell and I feel like I wash our dry mop cover every day. But the Shark nav destroys them all!
    C) I’m sure our house stinks. I should buy stock in Glade.

  15. Kelly says:

    Such a good post! Y’all have quickly become my favorite bloggers, not only for your great style, but for your practical posts as well. I have three dogs and hardwood floors with large area rugs. Naturally, they’re on the rugs all of the time. We vacuum at least every other day, but I’ve also been using Arm & Hammer Pet Fresh on the rugs once every 1-2 weeks. So far I really like it! It looks like a big box of baking soda, and you just sprinkle it on rugs/carpet and vacuum it on up. Great way to make the rugs and house smell good fast!

    • Julia says:

      Great tip! I’m going to look into that!

      • Diane says:

        Thanks for the tips and especially for the last sentence. I have a cat and I’m always worried that my house must smell.

        I’ll try the spray you mention.

        I scoop her litter box at least three times a day. I also swoop and vacuum every day. And I use a sticky tape roller on the upholstered furniture.

        And I love her enough to ignore the inevitable claw marks on the leather couch. They add character, I tell myself.

    • Sarah Beachy says:

      I know I’m forever late seeing this post, but i have hardwood floor in our new house and I’m dying to know how you keep them from getting all scratched up with 3 dogs. Any little tips you could throw out? 0:)

  16. Last two sentences – absolutely! We have a puggle and although she doesn’t shed much, she digs (one living room chair to reupholster), gets on the furniture, sleeps in our bed when it’s thundering or too windy (thunder phobia) and barks too much at times. BUT she also snuggles constantly, can do tricks to entertain for days, gives kisses, lets kids pull her ears, brings you a toy when you come home and truly embodies the phrase “mans best friend”. Every moment is worth it to us.

    (Oh – and we have that vacuum as well and it’s awesome! I may get a second to keep upstairs!)

  17. Alison G says:

    In my younger days I always had a cat. I am afraid I can’t have one any more because I can’t stand the mess that comes with one. The litter box, the hair, the worry when we travel. These days I have enough trouble keeping the house clean with two humans! I hate to vacuum.

  18. Staci says:

    The photo of Charly in the kitchen has such great color and mood– her hair is all swirly, it reminds me of a Dutch Masters painting or something. I am so spoiled that my dog is nearly-hairless (he has alopecia so we have to worry about other things like sweaters and sunscreen). However, I want to get a second dog and know that the next one probably won’t be hair-free so these are great tips to keep in mind for our second furry friend. Our vacuum is the Hoover Pet Rewind and I think it would be great for someone with a hairy beast– but maybe not quite as hairy as Charly.

  19. Shay says:

    We have a big, furry Chocolate Lab, and this post was super helpful in thinking through how to manage all.the.fur. Thanks for sharing!! I’m interested in a Roomba or something similar. Charly is so sweet – I’m glad she found her way to your family. Thanks again for your honest post!

  20. Jen says:

    Do you use the Shark vacuum on your tile/hard floors or just on the rugs and carpet? I have a Bissell but it struggles to manage all of our dogs’ hair and often gets clogged. Our house has wood floors and tile with a few large area rugs, so I’d like a vacuum that works for everything.

    • Julia says:

      It works awesome on our tile floors! I vacuum everything with our shark. You don’t even have to adjust the height, it self adjusts, which is really nice.

  21. Danielle says:

    Great post! And what a beautiful dog! :)
    We have a 70 pound yellow lab that we, too, adopted 3 years ago. I was worried that the dog hair would bother me and while I don’t love it, like you said so well, I love her (my Betty) even more. Thanks for the vacuum recommendation, btw. While I would love a roomba, the Shark is definitely more budget-friendly!

  22. Jennifer says:

    Hi. Great post. I have a 6 year old 150 pound Newfoundland. Occasionally, I have a mini meltdown over the hair on the carpet/wood floors/tile and the drool on the walls and furniture. But, I agree that the joy she brings to our family outweighs the extra inconvenience. She’s a member of our family and I wouldn’t trade anything.

  23. Kathy says:

    Hi Julia- I have 3 cats that shed quite a bit. It’s a challenge keeping up with the fur. I vacuum 2-3 times a week which seems to help. My biggest complaint is fur on my floor length curtains, and wonder how you keep yours looking so clean?

    • Julia says:

      I wash them, put them on a high spin cycle and hang them back up instead of drying them. This also cuts down on static attraction of hair. There’s one curtain, behind Charly’s bed, that gets pretty covered in hair and I just vacuum it occasionally.

  24. Those last 2 sentences nailed it.

  25. Lisa says:

    We have the shark. And we have 13 bird dogs. Most live in the barn, but we do have three Boykins that live in the house. I love that vacuum!

  26. Stephanie says:

    Yay! A REAL post about pets!!! I LOVE you guys! We also have a large dog (German Shepherd ). We LOVE our Furminator! We could not live without it. We also shop vac Henry once a week to help with his constant shedding. He absolutely LOVES it! We also use L.L. Bean Dog beds and carrots for cookies/treats!

  27. katie says:

    We have 2 goldens and 2 long haired cats, so we are constantly fighting some of these same issues! I completely agree on the furminator – I’m always amazed with how much fur comes off of the dogs when we use this!

    We finally broke down and bought a roomba a few weeks ago. There is no love of vacuuming in our house, so our once a week schedule just didn’t keep up with the fur. So far we’ve loved the roomba, although one of our dogs is very afraid of it so we can’t run it when we’re not home (which would be even more convenient!). We’ll still need to vacuum some, but it’s nice to have the roomba do more of the daily maintenance.

    • Julia says:

      I’ve heard really good things about those! Do they work on hard floors, or just carpet?

      • Heidi says:

        They work on both really well. We have hard wood throughout but it has no issues transitioning to our thick area rugs. The new model has a function to handle the change from hard floors to carpet. Seriously the best investment we’ve made. You program it to run as many times a week as you want and you just need to empty it at the end of the day. So nice to come home to a clean house (well, the floors are clean) and not have to vacuum. I still do a good vacuuming on the weekend but that’s just because I also have to vacuum the stairs etc.

      • Erin says:

        I broke down and bought a Roomba a couple months ago and it has saved my sanity as well (I don’t have time to vacuum every day and with two goldens it is necessary). We have hardwoods in most of the house (tile in bathrooms/mudroom), and I’d say that the Roomba works BETTER on hard floors than carpets. I go over my rugs with my dyson every few days or so because it seems like the dog hair sticks too much to those for the Roomba to pick it up.

  28. Ashley R says:

    I’m not the only one who loves the instant gratification of vacuuming up a mess! Haha :) It seems like keeping a house clean with a dog is a lot like keeping a house clean with kids. It’s an everyday thing that you just have to make time for.

  29. Heidi says:

    We have a 90 pound German Shepherd/Lab mix that seems to always be in a big shed. I also like to vacuum but can’t do it every day. We have a Roomba that vacuums for me every other day and helps keep me sane. It’s so easy to just schedule it to run while we’re at work and come home to clean floors.

    • Julia says:

      I’ve heard good things about those!

    • Quelcy says:

      I LOVE her from afar! Bring her to Pittsburgh next time. ;)

      Your approach is way more pro-active than my general “there will be tumbleweeds” approach. I’m still waiting for someone to come up with swiffer pads that attach to a dog’s paws or something.

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