Grooming dogs is a necessary component of dog health, so it’s important to know the specifics. This article addresses the grooming needs of different breeds and coat types.
Grooming A Double Coat
With a double coat, dogs have long, coarse hair (aka ‘guard coat’) that covers softer, downier hair. The Border Collie, chow chow, Keeshond, Newfoundland, Pomeranian, Shetland sheepdog, and Siberian husky are example dogs that bear the double coat. To properly groom the double-coat, you’ll need a grooming rake. A grooming rake is a wide-toothed comb made of stainless steel, and it can comb a dog’s undercoat while leaving its top coat intact. Although a rake’s teeth are spread apart much further than a regular grooming comb, it’s more effective at grooming the hair beneath.
Try to groom a double-coated canine once a week. If that’s not possible, seek out the services of a professional groomer once a month.
Grooming a Long Coat
The Afghan, bearded collie, briard, Lhasa apso Maltese, Shih Tzu, Tibetan terrier, and Yorkshire terrier are examples of dogs with long coats. Here, grooming requirements are much more intricate since long coats can be characteristic of a dog’s breed. Daily brushing and combing is an absolute must, else you’ll face tangling and matting brought on by knots or simply shedding. But sometimes daily brushing and combing aren’t enough.
Since the hair of a long coated dog is long all over, proper grooming includes trimming as well. Both the paws and anus of long coated dogs need trimming to minimize dirt and bacteria growth.
The role of a long-coated dog may necessitate additional trimming as well. Groomers will use a stripping knife on a spaniel or setter, for example, that doesn’t participate in a conformation show. With this knife, excess dead hairs are stripped away to thin the coat. And based on the amount of work that dog owners are willing to take on their own, this type of thinking is appropriate every two to three months. Of course, the puppy cut reduces this schedule even more. The puppy cut, or “teddy bear trim” employs the use of simple scissors or clipper, and it shortens a long coat to only one or three inches of hair.
Grooming a Medium Coat
Both the German shepherd and golden retriever bear medium coats. Weekly brushing will keep the medium coat free of tangles, knots, and mats. It will also keep the coat clean – free of dirt and dust. If a medium-coat dog will exhibit in a conformation show, only the ears and feet need trimming.
Grooming a Short Coat
The bulldog, Cardigan, hounds, Labrador retriever, Pembroke Welsh corgis and pug sport the short coat. Only regular brushing and combing is required with these types of dogs since their undercoats shed without a lot of trouble.
Grooming a Northern Coat
With a northern coat, weekly brushing and combing will keep the undercoat free from tangles, knots, and mats. (See our article about northern dogs for a list of canines with this type of coat.) If a dog’s undercoat is matted, you or a groomer will need to trim the mat all the way down to the dog’s skin. Since most of these dogs live in cold climates, you can see why maintaining a rigid grooming schedule is so important. A northern dog won’t be very comfortable in a cold climate if pieces of its undercoat are missing! To make matters worse, the undercoat of a northern dog is often the only part that grows back giving a trimmed northern dog a rather unusual and patchy looking overcoat.
In the group of non-shedding (or more correctly, minimal shedding) dogs you’ll find the bichon fries, the Poodle, and the Portuguese water dog. All three of these example dogs require an exacting trim once a month or every two months to avoid tangles, knots, and mats.
Of our three example canines, you’re probably most familiar with the Poodle and its rather intricate cuts. Keep in mind that Poodles under one-year-old were the puppy clip, while adult poodles may wear the English saddle or Continental clip.
With the puppy cut, the Poodle’s face, feet, and tail lack hair except for a pompon sitting atop the tail’s tip. The rest of the hair is trimmed to the same, long length with a smooth transition from the chest and legs to the entire body.
The Poodle’s Continental clip demonstrates a shaven face, throat, buttocks, feet, and upper hind legs. The top of the poodle’s head, neck, chest, thighs, ankles, and tail tip is covered in thick, rounded puffs of hair (better-known pompons, bracelets, or just ‘puffs‘). Hip pompons are not obligatory.
The Poodle’s English Saddle clip is almost identical to the Continental clip, except that the dog’s knees and hindquarters are covered (minus a small, shaven curve on both sides of the hindquarters).
The Affenpinscher, Berman wirehaired pointer, Chesapeake Bay retriever, daschund, and Irish wolfhound are great examples of dogs with wiry coats. Here, the coat bears a soft undercoat covered by a very coarse outer coat. It’s an interesting coat to work with because once the outer coat grows to two or three inches, it dies! But that’s a good thing because a dead coat is easier to remove. It can be stripped (or thinned as described above), or it can be plucked. Using either method, removal not only prevents matting, it also makes room for new outer coat growth. This task should be completed every three or four months.
For conformation wiry-coated dogs, stripping is preferred over the bimonthly or tri-monthly non-conformation styled trim since trimming can change a wiry coat’s color and texture.
Grooming a Smooth Coat
Smooth coat dogs, such as the boxer, Doberman, Greyhound, a miniature pinscher, Weimaraner, whippet, and vizsla require the least amount of grooming. A weekly brushing with a curry tool is sufficient for these types of dogs. A curry brush or curry mitt uses rubber nubs to work through a smooth coat since a brush’s bristles may be too rough on these dogs’ skin.
Grooming a Hairless Coat
Yes, even a hairless dog needs grooming. Although a “hairless” dog is shaved to appear hairless, it still bears hair on is head, feet or tail tip. It might not be much, but it’s hair that can tangle, knot, and matt just like any other dog hair if it isn’t regularly combed or brushed. The hairless parts need care as well since they’re prone to sunburn and acne. Weekly bathing with a gentle shampoo will help thwart acne breakouts while sunscreen will prevent sunburn. Always take special care of hairless dogs and dress them appropriately in cold weather.
Grooming a Curly Coat
The natural beauty of an Irish water spaniel’s or Poodle’s curly coat can be ruined if it isn’t properly dried. Specifically, blow-drying a curly coat will produce a frizzy fright instead of a display of luscious curls.
Grooming a Corded Coat
Unless you’re already skilled with styling a dog with cords, this is a look that’s best accomplished by professional groomers. Not only will this style not work with a dog that wasn’t corded as a puppy, it won’t work with a groomer who isn’t accustomed to the lengthy bathing process either. Bathing a corded dog can take hours!