Dog grooming can be an intimidating topic for pet owners because there are simply so many different subjects to cover. Understanding what type of coat your dog has, what the different brushes are, how to use them, if you should shave your dog, and how to trim your pup’s nails can be a mind-boggling amount of information!
In this article we break down all the basic information you need to know to properly tackle your dog’s grooming. Each type of coat has different needs, and it is important to fully understand these needs for your dog’s health and comfort.
Different Dog Coat Types
There are five basic coat types, and each one has a different composition and different maintenance. Each coat type will require a different method of grooming. To properly care for your dog, you will need to determine their individual coat type.
Smooth coated dogs have a short coat that is smooth to the touch. Some breeds with smooth coats include: Bulldogs, Boxers, Dalmatians, Chihuahuas, Labradors, and French Bulldogs. This coat is typically the easiest to maintain. A smooth coat dog has short hairs that are all of equal length, and a bristle brush is the best choice for grooming.
A double coat (or rough coat) has two layers of hair, a soft undercoat and a protective outer coat. Some breeds with double coats include: Rough Collies, Huskies, German Shepherds, Samoyeds, Akitas, Golden Retrievers, and Corgis. This double coat works to insulate the animal in hot or cold weather. Double-coated dogs can easily become matted if the undercoat isn’t removed during shedding. When grooming, each layer should be brushed individually using a slicker brush and undercoat rake.
Wooly-coated dogs have thick, curly hair that is not shed. Some breeds with wooly coats include: Poodles, Bichon Frises, and Labradoodles. Similar to a sheep’s wool - these dogs must be trimmed, as the coat will grow continuously and become tangled. The dog should also be groomed daily to remove tangles, using a slicker brush or a fine-toothed comb.
Wire coated dogs also have an insulated coat, with wavy, wiry hairs on the outside. They typically feel slightly rough to the touch. Some breeds with wiry coats include: Fox Terriers, Scottish Terriers, Jack Russell, and German Wirehair Pointers. These coats require hand stripping, meaning the outer coat must be removed carefully by hand, so the new hairs can grow in. A slicker brush should be used for a wire-coated breed, to remove excess dead hairs.
A silky coated dog has long, soft hairs without an undercoat. Some breeds with silky coats include: Border Collies, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Springer Spaniels, Yorkshire Terriers, Long-Haired Dachshunds, and Cocker Spaniels. This coat should be brushed frequently to prevent tangles. The best brush to use for a silky coat is a slicker brush or a fine-toothed comb.
Different Dog Brush Types and How to Use Them
Now that we have determined what type of coat your dog has, we can go over each type of brush, and their intended use. Improper use of brushes can damage your dog’s coat, and irritate their skin.
A slicker brush has a flat rectangular surface, with short fine wires spaced close together. In removing tangles, mats, and loose hair from your dog’s coat you shall use this. Use this brush on the top layer of a double-coated dog, to detangle a wooly or silky coat, and for general maintenance of a wire coat. This brush should be carefully run over the coat to remove loose hair, and gently worked through tangles. Be careful to avoid excessive pressure when brushing, as the wires can scrape your dog’s skin.
An undercoat rake has a single row of teeth, these teeth can be placed very close together, or be thicker and spaced out. To remove shedding from your dog, you use rake. Use this brush on the undercoat of a double-coated dog, choosing longer teeth for longer coats. Lift the upper coat, and use the brush to collect the dead hair below, taking care not to scrape the skin.
Pin brushes are similar to a typical human hairbrush. They have an oval shape and flexible wires with round pins on top. These brushes can be used for spot-cleaning loose hair, or finishing up the grooming process by fluffing up your dog’s coat. Other than that, they do not provide a specific benefit to your grooming process.
A bristle brush is shaped like a pin brush, but contains tightly spaced flexible bristles. These brushes are used for smooth coated dogs, to gently remove loose hair. This brush is simply run through your dog’s coat. Because the bristles are flexible, Your dog will not experience irritation just apply less pressure.
Trimming Your Dog’s Hair with Clippers
For dogs that do not shed their coats, trimming the hair is essential to preventing mats and tangles. While we will not be covering what type of clippers or what type of blades you should use, we will determine which coats should be trimmed or clipped, and how to cut your dog’s coat properly.
What Coat Type Should You Clip?
Dogs that do not shed must have their hair cut at some point! If they do not have their hair trimmed, they will be prone to tangles and dreadlocks. Curly coat types are generally cut using clippers, and silky coats are generally trimmed by hand using scissors. Smooth and wiry coats typically do not need cutting, while double-coated dogs with medium or long hair should never be shaved with clippers.
While using scissors to trim the uneven hairs on a double-coated dog can be useful for preventing tangles, a double coat should never be shaved! Double-coated dogs have natural insulation from both heat and cold. During the hotter months, your dead undercoat is being brush out, the long outer coat repels the sun’s rays. With the undercoat shed, the long guard hairs allow air to circulate beneath the coat. Shaving the coat leaves no protection from the sun, causing sunburn. A shaved double-coated dog is also unable to circulate air, and the breeze simply blows above the surface of the hair without reaching the dog’s skin.
How to Trim Your Dog’s Hair
When using clippers to trim your dog, it is important to prepare ahead of time for a good cut. Ensure you read the operator’s manual, and safety precautions, of your clippers. You should bathe your dog ahead of time, and give them time to dry thoroughly. Brush any tangles or mats out of your dog’s hair prior to clipping. Attach a guide comb to your clippers to reduce the likelihood of accidentally nicking your dog’s skin.
Begin work on an inconspicuous spot in your dog’s coat, to allow for less glaring mistakes in the beginning. Place the flat end of the clippers against your dog’s coat, and move them in smooth strokes. Run the clippers in the direction of hair growth to ensure an even length. Make sure to give your dog frequent breaks if they seem uncomfortable, it may be necessary to break your trimming up into separate sessions.
Clipping Your Dog’s Nails
Dogs don't like if you trim their nails often. Doctors seduce your dogs just to trim their nails! Train them to be less sensitive while young.. When choosing a method to trim your dog’s nails you may use clippers, or a dremel.
Using a Dremel
Make sure to read all safety instructions for your nail dremel prior to using on your dog. Always ensure you give your dog plenty of breaks if they need it, a negative experience will simply make your dog more upset next time you try to grind down their nails. You may use a dremel for wearing down your dog’s nails, or use it to smooth the edges after using nail clippers.
Using your non-dominant hand, hold your dog’s paw firmly but gently. Press the dremel against the bottom of your dog’s nail, where the nail is flat. Slowly move the dremel from the bottom of the nail towards the front, and remove. Repeat this process, taking care not to leave the dremel pressed against your dog’s nail for too long. In lighter colored nails you should be able to see the quick, where the blood vessel inside the nail begins. In darker nails you must be more cautious, if you hit the quick it will hurt and the nail will bleed.
Using Nail Clippers
Human nail clippers will not work on your dog, you must purchase dog clippers that have a guillotine shape. It is much easier to accidentally hit the quick when using nail clippers, making it important to trim small amounts at a time. Again, gently but firmly hold your dog’s paw, and trim away small pieces from the end of the nail. Take caution to avoid clipping up to the dog’s quick. Whether you use a dremel or nail clippers, if you hit the quick they will be quite uncomfortable, and less likely to sit still next time you shorten their nails.
Keeping your dog well groomed, and using your grooming equipment properly, does three things. First, grooming keeps your dog healthy! A poorly groomed or matted dog may have uncomfortable side effects. Second, grooming properly keeps your pup safe. Knowing how to use your equipment will keep your dog safe, and avoid potential injuries. Third, your dog will have better behavior next time around when groomed appropriately. Frequent (and safe) grooming keeps your dog comfortable with handling. If your dog is in the process of grooming and they experience pinching, pulling, scraping, nicking, and bruising. They most definitely will give you trouble next time they need grooming!
- 1 Different Dog Coat Types
- 2 Different Dog Brush Types and How to Use Them
- 3 Trimming Your Dog’s Hair with Clippers
- 4 Clipping Your Dog’s Nails