Your dog’s coat type tells you how much to brush, comb, or wash him. Her lifestyle – couch potato or dog athlete – dictates the rest. Regardless of your dog’s coat type, we have tips that will help all dogs. We’ve rounded up some professional groomers and let them tell you their secrets to making your dog jealous of the dog park.
There are several coat types: short, medium or long, also single or double coat, and the coat can be wiry, curly, rough, silky, smooth, corded or hairless. And don’t think that a hairless breed makes grooming easier, as it often requires more baths. Getting the right grooming tools and knowing how to use them on your dog’s coat type is critical. Here are some tips that can help you brush in the right direction.
- Catherine Juarez, owner of the Bubbles & Barks dog grooming salon in Passaic, New Jersey, says that fur dogs (such as German Shepherds, Labradors, and Huskies) “need a curry brush, undercoat rake, slicker brush, and comb.” While hair types (Poodles, Yorkies, Shih Tzu, etc.) need “a slicker brush or pin brush and a comb”.
- Don’t just brush or comb your dog’s top hair. Groomer Kimberly Rines, owner of The Grooming Shack in Duluth, Minnesota, says, “Comb your dog in layers so you get all the way down to the skin.”
- When brushing or combing, watch out for areas of friction – underarms, groin, behind the ears and under the collar – as the skin is more sensitive and knots are more common,” advises Stephanie Zikmann, founder of The Holistic Grooming Academy in Scotland, UK.
- Always dry and brush your dog after it gets wet from a bath, swim, or the weather,” said Brandie Gitzendanner, owner of The Paw Spa Elite in Oklahoma City and Mustang, Oklahoma. “Air-drying your dog without combing and drying can lead to mats.”
- “Comb!” says Elly Linam, owner of Elly Scissorhands Dog Grooming LLC in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. “After brushing your dog’s coat, you should comb it to catch any small mats that are hiding. Greyhound style combs work great for this.
Need more help? There is an easy to understand video on YouTube with Andis Grooming Educator Diane Betelak walking you through it entitled Correct brushing and combing techniques and made by professional grooming company Andis.
How often you bathe your dog will depend on her coat and lifestyle. Usually a dog can be bathed about once a month, but keep a close eye on the oil or dryness of her coat so you don’t offset the natural balance of her coat. Dogs with oily skin and hairless breeds should be bathed more often. Aside from the basics, here are some groomers’ badge secrets.
- “Use an exfoliating glove! says Stephanie Z. “This helps lather shampoo and clean a dirty coat efficiently. It’s also a great way to thoroughly wash and rinse a dog’s face without leaving soap in the eyes.”
- “Keep rinsing!” advises Stephanie Wilson of Wüf Pet Spa in Cincinnati, Ohio. “If you think you’ve rinsed out all the shampoo and conditioner, rinse more. It’s crazy how easy it is to leave product in the coat.”
- “Use conditioner,” says Catherine. “Conditioner helps replenish the oils removed by shampoo.”
- “Drying the coat takes a few steps,” explains Liana Carver, a groomer at Roch & Gertrude Pet Spa in Pasadena, California. “First towel to soak up dripping water. A second towel is to dry the coat as much as possible. Comb out to make sure there are no tangles before going to the dryer. If your pup is okay with it, comb him while using the dryer.
Looking for more advice? Checking out Tips and Techniques for Bathing Your Dog by Dogster’s sister publication Whole Dog Journal at whole-dog-journal.com.
shh! Other Groomer Secrets
It’s not all shampoo and brushing. Here are some other simple secrets that you may not know about.
- “Don’t leave collars and harnesses on 24/7,” says Stephanie W. “If necessary, coiled leather collars or silk are less likely to create friction mats.”
- Brandie reminds us to get the cornstarch. “It is good for loosening mats that are not too tight. Simply sprinkle and work into the matted area, then brush out.
- And completely dry! “Many pet parents will towel dry their dogs and let their dogs air dry,” says Nadia Lee, owner of 4 Legged Tribe in Lomita, California. “Moist plus wet fur will lead to a ‘wet dog smell,’ and pet owners will not be able to pull off a parlor-style ‘blow-out’ look.”
Single and double coated tips
A double coated dog has two coats: an outer coat and an inner coat. Elly explains: “A double coated dog coat acts as insulation in both hot and cold weather. It keeps them cool in hot weather and warm in cold weather.”
The outer coat is longer than the inner coat, does not shed as much as the inner coat, and it is the coat you see that shows the color of the dog. The inner coat is skin-tight and soft, which you feel by parting your dog’s coat. Many popular dog breeds have double coats: Labs, German Shepherds, Border Collies, and Golden Retrievers. Brush up on these expert tips for single and double coat dogs.
- A dog with double coat and fur should never be shaved, says Liana. “Doing that can damage the guard coat – the outermost layer layer. You run the risk of it growing back patchy, changing texture, or not growing back at all.”
- Brandie tells us that the second layer tends to peel off in cycles. “This undercoat needs to be blown out with a force dryer or brushed out to avoid a frayed coat. Infected coats can trap moisture on the skin causing irritation, hot spots and infections.”
- Single coated dogs have no undercoat. “This coat tends to matt more easily and requires more brushing to maintain good coat health,” says Stephanie W. Popular single-coat dog breeds include Dachshunds, Greyhounds, Poodles, and Chihuahuas.
Hair vs Fur
What is the difference when it comes to dog hair vs dog fur? Our groomers solve this mystery for us.
“Dog hair is like human hair,” explains Elly. “It continues to grow and needs pruning. Dog fur does not grow continuously and will shed at the end of its growth cycle.”
Kimberly adds: “Dogs with hair don’t shed like a puppy with fur. They require regular grooming to manage the length and health of the coat, while fur dogs tend to shed more and have periods where they ‘blow’ their coat. This means all the dead coat of the season comes out and, depending on the breed, can be quite a bit!”
Owner + trimmer = fantastic healthy coat
Grooming is an essential part of the overall health of dogs. “During my years of experience talking to pet parents, they all want the same thing for their dogs. They want to be able to improve the lives of their dogs,” says Nadia. “Groomers are here to help achieve this goal with pet parents.”
Between professional care
My pup loves to squirm around in a well-excavated plot which means he’s always filthy. His BFF and groomer is Elaine Moyers, who splits her time between Louise’s dog and cat grooming in La Habra, California, and her studio in Yucaipa, California. She shares some simple tips of what to do in between visits.
- Brush and comb your pup thoroughly.
- A bath, dry shampoo, or even wiping with a wet towel as needed, as well as conditioning coat spray can help keep your pup smelling good.
- Check and clean the ears with ear cleaner, pet wipes, or a cotton ball dipped in alcohol. Only clean what you can see. If there are sores/redness, excess dirt, or a bad odor, contact your vet.
- Use plain water on a cloth or paper towel to remove dirt around the eyes.
- File pointed nails in between cuts with a nail file or Dremel.
- Use positive reinforcement. Anything you can do to make sure your pup is comfortable with being touched, the less stressful her professional grooming day will be.