Regular grooming is a basic need for all dogs and plays an important role in their overall comfort and health. Just like us, they need a little maintenance from time to time to look and feel their best. While they don’t need to bathe as often, you need to understand your dog’s grooming needs and regularly schedule time for bathing, ear cleaning, nail trimming, teeth brushing, and more. Not sure where to begin? These cool dog grooming methods, ideas, and tips will make dog grooming a breeze and keep your canine pal looking and feeling like a Westminster winner.
Dog Grooming and Health: What’s the Connection?
For many dog owners, grooming is a luxury. Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth. Even if you have a low-maintenance, short-haired breed, grooming is essential for your dog’s health and wellness. Here’s a look at the most important facets of dog grooming and the health benefits of each:
Skin and Hair Health
Many dogs experience dry skin, tick and flea bites, and other skin issues some time in their life. The good news is, these issues can easily be avoided or treated with regular grooming and special shampoos. From extra-moisturizing shampoos for dry skin to shampoos featuring flea and tick repellents, there are options out there for every dog’s needs.
Since dental issues are a common problem for dogs, teeth brushing is an integral part of the dog grooming process. This is especially true for dogs that regularly eat soft food. In addition to brushing your pooch’s teeth, Milk Bones, and other treats and chew toys can also be given to clean the teeth and promote good dental health.
Ear and Eye Health
Dogs are also prone to eye infections, cataracts, and tear staining. While grooming can treat some of these issues, it also allows for early detection, allowing you to visit the vet and preserve your dog’s vision. Grooming is also needed to treat or prevent ear mites and keep your dog’s ears clean. Regular ear cleanings are a must for any dog, but dogs with long floppy ears require them even more than short-eared breeds.
Unfortunately, cancer is quite common in dogs, and the risk is even higher for those who haven’t been spayed or neutered. Certain breeds are also more susceptible to cancer than others. Golden Retrievers, for instance, have a very high cancer risk. In fact, cancer is responsible for nearly 60 percent of their deaths. While grooming won’t lower your dog’s cancer risk, it will allow you to detect tumors or lesions sooner and potentially save its life.
The Different Needs of Different Breeds
Dogs vary greatly in size, personality, and coats, so it’s only natural for different dog breeds to have different grooming needs. Rather than delving deep into individual breeds, let’s have a look at the grooming needs of various dogs according to their coat type:
• Short and Smooth
Dogs with short and smooth coats, such as pugs and Doberman pinschers, often lack an undercoat and need to be brushed weekly with a bristle brush to help spread the coat’s natural oils and remove loose hairs. Spray-on conditioners can also be used to keep the coat healthy and shiny.
Short and Wiry
Schnauzers, terriers, and other dogs with short wiry coats should be brushed twice a week with a medium-tooth comb and a slicker brush to help prevent mats and remove loose hairs.
• Short and Double
Dogs with short, double coats, like Rottweilers and Labradors, have a thin and soft undercoat as well as a course and straight top coat. For proper upkeep, they must be brushed at least twice a week and more frequently when shedding during the spring and summer months. As far as tools go, slickers, pin brushes, and metal combs work best.
• Long and Coarse
Shih Tzus, Lhasa Apsos, and dogs with similar long and coarse coats need even more grooming attention. In fact, dog breeds with this type of hair should be brushed three to four times each week using a pin brush, bristle brush, and fine-tooth comb. For mats, a slicker brush may be helpful as well; and remember to always brush in the same direction.
Long and Smooth
From the Maltese to the Irish Setter and Yorkshire terrier, there are a variety of dog breeds with this type of coat. In order to keep their coats from matting and remain silky smooth, regular grooming three to four times a week is a must. Fortunately, the grooming process is much simpler than with coarse-haired dogs and a slicker brush and a nice fine-tooth comb is all you need.
• Long and Double
Dogs with this type of coat, such as collies and chows, have thick and heavy undercoats as well as straight, coarse outercoats. With so much hair, they must be brushed two to three times per week to minimize shedding.
Poodles, Bichon Frises, Irish Water Spaniels, and all other breeds with curly coats require less grooming than many of the straight-haired breeds. However, while they don’t shed, their hair tangles quite easily. Ideally, dogs with curly hair should be brushed twice a week with a metal comb and slicker brush to keep their coats mat-free.
Want some more expert tips? Keep reading to learn even more.
Dog Grooming Tools – The Essentials
Walk into any dog groomers and you’ll see special washing basins, drying mats, blow dryers, and an assortment of combs, brushes, clippers, shampoos, and countless other cool dog grooming products. However, the exact tools you’ll need depend on your dog and his or her breed.
For example, a Yorkie is going to need different grooming tools than a Siberian Husky, and both are going to need different tools than a Basset Hound. That being said, some grooming products are definite essentials, regardless of the breed.
Dog brushes generally fall into three categories: slicker, pin, and bristle. Slicker dog brushes feature fine wire bristles and are typically used for brushing dense overcoats. Pin or wire brushes often have rubber tipped bristles for detangling thick and wooly coats. Bristle dog brushes, on the other hand, are much more versatile. They can be used for everything from working out mats to trimming and styling.
Like brushes, dog combs also come in a variety of styles and sizes for different types of coats. Fine-tooth combs are ideal for soft and smooth coats, wide-tooth combs are best for thick and heavy coats, and medium-tooth combs are generally good for everything in between.
There are several dog clippers on the market, but choosing the right one for you and your dog is largely a matter of preference. From a convenience standpoint, it’s best to opt for dog clippers with snap-on blades, guards, and combs. This important feature will save you a ton of time and frustration.
Dog groomers often have their own opinions and preferences when it comes to scissors. Some prefer straight scissors, while others prefer curved or blunt-tip scissors. Regardless of which type of scissors you choose, it’s best to purchase quality scissors rather than deal with dual blades and poor results.
Dog Nail Clippers
Nail clippers are a must for every dog owner. There are several varieties of nail clippers to choose from in all different sizes. Whether you have a Scottish Terrier or a Mastiff, there’s a quality pair of nail clippers out there for you. Although nail trimming can be a difficult and stressful task for certain dogs and their owners, some sharp, well-made nail clippers will work wonders to make the process as quick and pain-free as possible.
For many dog owners, bathing equipment means little more than dog shampoos and conditioners. However, there are many more dog bathing items designed to make the job easier as well. For example, if you have a small dog, you may want to consider a mountable wash station. If you have a larger breed, a stainless steel tub with a built-in shower head may be the perfect bathing setup.
Grooming tables aren’t necessarily a basic essential, but they certainly do help. These specialized tables are available in electric, hydraulic, and stationary models. Electric grooming tables utilize electric motors to raise and lower the table. Hydraulic tables, on the other hand, require groomers to raise and lower the table via a pumping action. Despite requiring some work on the part of the groomer, many prefer these tables for their sturdiness and long-lasting durability.
Ideal Dog Grooming Setup
Having the proper dog grooming equipment can make grooming your dog a much easier and enjoyable task. If your budget allows and you want the best possible results, the ideal setup would be
• Dog wash basin or bathtub
• High-quality faucet sprayer
• Electric or hydraulic dog grooming table
• Electric hair clippers with snap-on blades and guards
• Clipper vacuum
• Variable speed blow dryer
• Good dog shampoo and conditioner
• Dog nail clippers
• Microfiber drying towels
• Assortment of brushes and combs
• Medicated ear solution
• Styptic powder
• Lots of cotton balls
Please note, this is an ideal dog grooming setup. While most of these items are an absolute must, you don’t necessarily need a grooming table or separate dog wash basin. However, if your budget allows, these two items will help make grooming your pooch easier than ever before.
Grooming Schedule – Make It a Regular Thing
The grooming needs of dogs vary greatly depending on their breed, coat, age, and several other variables. For example, a short-haired dog typically requires less grooming than a long-haired breed. Nonetheless, it’s important to create a grooming schedule and stick to it in order to maintain your dog’s coat and overall health. Here’s a look at how often you should tend to each grooming task:
Dogs need their coats brushed for a number of reasons. Not only does it remove dirt, but it also gets rid of mats, reduces shedding, and stimulates oil production for a healthy, shiny coat. Every dog, regardless of breed, should be brushed at least once a week. However, heavy shedders with longer hair should be brushed more often.
Ideally, your dog’s teeth should be brushed every day to prevent plaque buildup and promote oral health. At a minimum, you should brush his or her teeth two to three times per week and provide your pooch with chew bones and dental toys to minimize plaque buildup.
Believe it or not, most dog owners bathe their dogs far too often. Bathing dogs too often can deplete their skin’s natural oils, resulting in dryness and itching. Ideally, your dog should only be bathed with a canine-friendly shampoo twice a year. That being said, rinsing off dirt, dust, and mud can be done much more frequently.
Active dogs who go on plenty of walks generally only need their nails trimmed a couple of times a year. However, less active dogs or those with minimal exposure to pavement and concrete should have their nails trimmed once a month or every other month. As a rule of thumb, if your dog is making a “tap, tap, tap” sound as he or she is walking around the house, it’s time for a trim.
For many dogs with short, cropped ears, regular cleanings usually aren’t necessary. However, if you have a Basset Hound or any other breed with longer ears, regular cleanings and ear drops are crucial in preventing yeast and bacteria buildup.
Not all dogs need their coats clipped, but similar to people, the ones that do need them clipped at different times. The best way to determine whether or not your dog’s hair needs to be clipped is to examine its coat. Is hair growing around the eyes and impairing his or her vision? Does its coat regularly experience tangles and mats? Is it looking unkempt or unclean?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, it’s time for a trim. To determine a trimming schedule, simply see how long it takes until your dog’s coat begins experiencing the above signs of dishevelment once again.
Special Dog Grooming Tips and Advice
Regular grooming is an essential aspect of being a responsible dog owner. If you’ve yet to establish a grooming routine, start small by attempting one grooming task one day, another the next, and so on.
Ready to get grooming? Here are some more expert tips to groom like a pro and make the process as easy as can be.
• Short, Smooth Coats
Begin with a rubber brush. Then, use a bristle brush, and finish with a chamois cloth.
• Short, Thick Coats
Remove tangles with a slicker brush first. Follow up with a bristle brush.
• Long Coats
Remove tangles with a slicker brush first, but be gentle and careful when removing mats. Follow up with a bristle brush.
• Check for Bugs and Ticks
When brushing your dog, keep an eye out for bugs and ticks, which can cause health problems when left unnoticed.
• Remember the Tail and Feet
They’re easy to overlook, but dogs with longer coats need their tails and feet brushed too.
• Use a Quality Dog Shampoo
A dog’s skin is different than a human’s. It’s important to use a mild shampoo with plenty of oils to avoid dry skin and irritation.
• Brush First
Begin by brushing the coat. This will make bathing much easier and far more effective.
• Opt for a Bath Mat
If you plan on bathing your dog in the tub, use a doggie bath mat to prevent slipping.
• Bathe with Lukewarm Water
It’s important not to bathe with water that is too hot or too cold.
• Avoid Spraying or Splashing Around the Face
An easily manipulated shower head with a cord will help you direct water exactly where it needs to go and avoid the ears, eyes, and nose.
• Rinse Thoroughly
A common mistake when grooming pets is leaving shampoo in the coat and on the skin, which can cause itching and irritation.
• Use a Bath Toy
If your dog gets overexcited come bath time, a bath toy may help divert his attention and make the process easier.
• Check the Ears
Is there any foul smells or a lot of wax and debris. If so, some cotton balls and ear drops may be in order.
• Blow Dry on Low
Using a blow dryer can help prevent getting everything in your home soaked as your dog dries. Instead, use a dog-friendly blow dryer on a low setting to speed up the process.
Certain dog breeds have certain needs. For instance, pugs and bulldogs need special attention paid to the folds in their face, and dogs with long droopy ears require extra TLC in order to maintain proper ear health. Talk with your veterinarian for grooming tips specific to your canine friend.
Dog Grooming in 6 Easy Steps
Step 1 – Remove Any Mats or Tangles
After you have calmed your dog down and prepared him for the grooming process, inspect the coat and look for any areas with tangles or matted hair. Prior to shampooing, it may be helpful to remove the mats or tangles with a detangling solution.
Mats are even tougher to get out when wet, so make sure to remove them first while your pup is still nice and dry. If your dog’s hair regularly becomes tangled, a matting rake may prove helpful as well.
Step 2 – Perform a Pre-Bath Brushing
You should give your dog a nice brush down to remove loose hair before every bath. This is especially necessary for long-haired dogs.
There are several styles of dog brushes on the market to choose from. If your dog has short hair, a brush with sift bristles may work best. These types of brushes are easier on the skin and promote shinier coats. Depending on your dog’s coat, slicker brushes and pin brushes may also work great.
When performing a pre-bath brushing, make sure to brush the entire coat working from top to bottom and front to rear. Make sure to remember the head, tail, and feet as well.
Step 3 – Bath Time
Some dogs love water and others run from the tub every chance they get. However, if you slowly introduce your dog to water and offer some verbal encouragement, your dog may actually come to like bath time.
When washing your dog at home, you’ll need to decide on the best place to perform the task. For small dogs, the kitchen sink is a popular spot. For large dogs, the tub, shower, or even outdoors is often ideal. Special dog washing basins are also available. These are designed specifically for dogs and work wonderfully in keeping dog hair and dirt out of the tub or shower.
If you have a large dog, a ramp may prove helpful in getting him in and out of the tub. After all, the last thing you want is to pick up a sopping wet 70-pound dog.
Here are some more helpful dog bathing tips:
• Place a non-slip mat on the floor of the bathtub.
• Use a handheld showerhead to reach all of the important areas.
• For comfort, and to avoid burns, only use lukewarm water.
• Place cotton balls in the ears to keep out water.
• Use the right type of shampoo for your dog’s skin and coat.
Many first-time DIY dog groomers mistakenly use human shampoo when bathing their dogs. DO NOT do this. Dog shampoos have different pH levels and are designed specifically for their sensitive skin.
When you’re ready to begin bathing, apply the shampoo and use your hands to work up a good lather. Rub it into your dog’s skin from top to bottom and head to tail.
While you are more than free to use latex gloves, using your hands will give you a better feel and allow you to locate any ticks, lumps, and so on. If any tangles or mats were properly removed prior to shampooing, the process is all the easier.
When you’re done shampooing, rinse thoroughly to remove every last suds.
Step 4 – Clean the Ears
After bathing your dog and drying its fur, the next step in the grooming process is cleaning the ears. Clean, dry ears are important to prevent wax buildup and bacteria growth.
When cleaning the ears, however, make sure not to clean too deep and damage the eardrum, which can cause hearing issues. The only part of the ear needing cleaned is the external canal as this is where most dirt and wax buildup occurs. In addition to irritation, buildup within the ear blocks air flow and may lead to infection.
The amount of hair, folds, ridges, and secretions in a dog’s ears is completely genetic and varies by breed. However, the more you clean them, the greater your chances of keeping infections at bay. This is especially true for Basset Hounds, Cocker Spaniels, and other breeds with floppy ears. When dirty, you may notice scratching, a foul odor, and other signs of infection.
To save some time and expedite the ear cleaning process, pour some ear solution into your pooch’s ears and gently rub them at the base. This will loosen wax and debris from the ear canal. You can then use cotton balls and swabs to remove the debris and dry the ears.
Step 5 – Trim Toenails
Unless you regularly run or walk your dog on pavement or concrete, chances are his nails are going to need to be trimmed from time to time. As a general rule of thumb, if you hear a tapping or clicking sound when your dog walks, it’s time for a trimming. If neglected, the nails can become ingrown and infected.
If you’re new to grooming and have never done this before, be prepared. Nail clippers can be quite scary for even the largest of dogs. The trimming process often causes anxiety and dogs to act aggressive or difficult, especially if they have had negative nail trimming experiences in the past.
To make the experience as easy as possible for both you and your dog, it’s best to handle his feet often at a younger age and get him acclimated to the process. If you do this, clipping his nails will be a breeze. However, if your dog is anxious and aggressive, another person may be needed to hold him down while you clip. A muzzle may also be helpful.
If this is your first time clipping a dog’s nails, begin by clipping at a small angle and take small snips. If you cut too much of the nail off and snip the quick, it will cause pain, bleeding, and a bad experience for your dog. The quick is the pink part of the nail. With dark nails, identifying the quick can be difficult, so it’s best to play it safe with small snips.
In case you clip too far, which even for the best groomers happens time to time, make sure to have some styptic powder on hand. Apply it immediately and apply pressure to stop the bleeding and form a clot. Be careful not to remove the clot afterward.
If you want to avoid the dreaded nail clipping process, you can keep your dog’s nails nice and short by regularly walking him or her on cement. This will grind the nails down naturally and keep them nice and short.
Step 6 – Brush Teeth
Healthy teeth are important for a healthy dog. Dogs use their teeth for everything from eating to playing with toys and chewing on bones.
Unfortunately, no matter how many dental sticks you give your dog, it’s natural for his teeth to become dirty and begin decaying without regular brushing. A toothbrush and dog toothpaste can keep your dog’s teeth clean and healthy. Plus, you’ll enjoy fresher breath as well.
That’s all there is to it!
Now that your dog is all groomed and looking like a “Best in Show” winner, take some time to reward him or her with a hug and treat. Positive reinforcement of good behavior works wonders with dogs and will pay off in future grooming sessions.
I hope you’ve enjoyed these cool dog grooming tips. Here’s to many years of health and well-groomed fun with your loving and deserving canine friend!