Dog Grooming

Your Complete Guide to Dog Care and Dog Training.

Grooming and General Care



Brushing and combing the dog should be made into a pleasant ritual. Select a place to do the grooming-a chair, table or bench will be satisfactory. Lift the dog onto the chair or table, talking to him, reassuring him that all is well. Let him know that he’s in for a treat, not an ordeal. Let him sniff each tool; the comb, brush, nail clippers and scissors. It’s very important that he learn to associate these tools with a pleasant experience. Handle the situation with tact and care, and the pup will look forward to it. Botch the job and you will be looking for the pup the next time you bring out the grooming tools.

When brushing the puppy, stroke the brush with and against the lie of the hair. This will help to loosen dead hair and stimulate the skin. Use a brush with the correct bristle length; short for medium- and short-haired dogs, long bristles for long-haired dogs. If you do any combing, use a fine comb for the short-haired dog and a comb with widely spaced teeth for the long-haired, medium-haired and wirehaired dogs. You can bring out the gloss in your dog’s coat by polishing with a flannel cloth or one of the commercial grooming gloves. These grooming gloves are available in pet shops or pet supply stores.


Under natural conditions, the dog sheds twice a year, in spring and fall. In spring shedding, the dog loses his heavy undercoat, and in fall he sheds dry, dead hair to make way for the winter coat. Dogs kept indoors all year may shed over a longer period of time. Overheated rooms, lack of exercise, illness and unbalanced diet-all of these will increase the amount of hair shed and the period over which it is shed. Too many baths can also contribute to excessive shedding.

You can help hurry the process during the periods of natural shedding by vigorous brushing and massaging of the skin. If the dog is allowed outside, he will help with the job by rolling in the grass or brush. Do a good job of brushing and massaging, and there will be very little hair dropped in the house.

Matted hair

If you have a short- or smooth-haired dog, you will not have to worry about matted hair. But medium- and longhaired dogs do get tangled or matted hair from burs, paint, tar, chewing gum or other sticky or prickly objects. Dried food will also contribute to matted hair, and this is common in puppies and very old dogs. Matted hair is not only unsightly, but it can pinch and irritate the dog.

If the hair is not too snarled, try combing out the mats. Do this gently. Hold the matted hair or tuft in one hand and gently comb it. If it is too tightly matted, you will have to cut it off. Use blunt-end scissors. Puppies are very quick and wriggly, so be careful not to jab your pup with the scissors. There’s very little danger with blunt-end scissors. Gently pull the mat away from the dog’s body, then carefully cut the hair between the skin and the mat or tuft. Avoid pulling or yanking the tuft; it hurts. Tar, paint, and other sticky or gummy matter can be softened with acetone (nail-polish remover) and then combed out.

Just how much trimming your dog needs depends, of course, on his breed. The very short-haired breeds require no trimming, except an occasional shortening of the whiskers and eyebrows. Dogs with long, fine hair, such as Cocker Spaniels, Setters and Afghans, need to have the dead hair removed from time to time. The process of removing this dead hair is called stripping, and a special tool called a stripper or dog dresser is used. You can get one of these gadgets in most pet supply stores. Or you can obtain one called the “duplex dog dresser” from the Durham-Enders Razor Company, Mystic, Connecticut. This company also publishes charts for all breeds requiring trimming, except the Poodle. These charts are easy to follow and have the trimming process outlined in numbered steps.
Trimming and stripping are necessary to shape or balance the dog’s coat. And this finishing must be done according to the breed standards. This is where the charts mentioned above will come in handy. If you don’t want to tackle this job yourself, you can take the dog to a professional who specializes in your breed.
Terriers accumulate dead hair in their coats and will require trimming. They, too, must be trimmed according to specifications. Long-haired breeds don’t need trimming, but they do require plenty of brushing. You may, if you wish, trim the hair on and between the toes of your long-haired dog. Also trim the hair or feathering below the hocks on the hind legs. But check the breed standards before you start to do any snipping or trimming.
Poodles are in a class all by themselves when it comes to “beauty” treatments. There are various Poodle trims and styles, all requiring some experience if the dog is to look neat. Let a professional show you how to do the job. Watch how it is done and then, if you want, you can take care of any subsequent clips. Don’t expect perfection on your first few attempts; it takes time and skill to turn out a perfectly groomed and trimmed Poodle. That’s why the job costs so much. But if you spoil the first clip, you can let the hair grow back in again.
Summer or crew haircuts
Never clip a dog’s hair close to the skin in summer. His hair acts as an insulator against heat and protects him against insects. When you give him a crewcut, you’re exposing him to sunburn, the bites of flies and other insect pests. Also, the short hairs will prick and itch him every time he moves. You will not be doing him a favor by shaving him close, no matter how hot he looks. He’d rather be hot than put up with the misery that accompanies a crewcut.

Your Complete Guide to Dog Care and Dog Training.