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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.