Dogs Trust

The Importance of Grooming for Dogs

Regular grooming with a brush or comb will help keep your dog's hair in good condition by removing dirt, spreading natural oils throughout their coat, preventing tangles and keeping their skin clean. The amount of time spent grooming will largely depend on his or her coat type.

Brushing is vital to prevent your dog’s coat getting matted, as well as removing dead hair, dirt and dandruff. Brushing also stimulates the natural oils in the skin and fur, which helps make for a glossy, healthy coat. But grooming isn’t just about brushing your dog’s fur, it’s also a chance to check for any unusual lumps or bumps and give them a general health check. You can use it as an opportunity to check for any signs of fleas or ticks, inspect their teeth, eyes and ears and make sure their nails aren’t overgrown.

Smooth, Short Coats
If your dog has a smooth, short coat (like that of a Chihuahua, Boxer or Staffie), you only need to brush once a week. Use a rubber brush to loosen dead skin and dirt and follow with bristle brush to remove dead hair.

Short, Dense Fur

If your dog has short, dense fur that's prone to matting, like that of a Labrador, brushing once a week is fine. Use a slicker brush to remove tangles and catch dead hair with a bristle brush.

Long, Silky Coats

If your dog has a long, luxurious coat, such as that of a Yorkshire terrier or Maltese, they will need daily attention. Every day you'll need to remove tangles with a slicker brush. Next, brush their coat with a bristle brush. If you have a long-haired dog with a coat like a Border Collie's, follow the steps above, but also be sure to comb through the fur and trim the hair around the feet if needed.


Nail Trimming:

When dogs spend a lot of time outdoors, running on different hard surfaces, such as concrete, their nails wear out gradually and there is less need to trim them. But, nowadays, dogs often move on softer surfaces such as the lawn of the garden or the interior of the home, which can lead to overgrown nails. We advise chatting to your groomer or vet on how best to maintain your dogs’ nail health.


Bathing your dog:

We recommend bathing your dog at least once every six months, but some may require more frequent baths if they spend a lot of time outdoors or have skin issues. Speak to your vet to discuss the most appropriate frequency of bathing and the most suitable products to use for your dog’s individual circumstances. 

Using a shampoo formulated for dogs is best. Human shampoos generally aren't toxic to pets, but often contain fragrances or other substances that can irritate your pet's skin and strip oils from their coat. It's always a good idea to check with your local vet or vet nurse to ensure you’re selecting a shampoo that will meet your dogs’ needs.

Dogs with loose facial skin or wrinkles, such as Pugs or Bulldogs, will need special attention. To prevent dirt and bacteria from causing irritation and infection, clean their folds with damp cotton wool and always thoroughly dry the areas between the folds. Ensure you always make this a positive experience for them and reward them throughout with tasty treats!

If you notice any problems with your dogs skin such as redness, dryness, lumps, scabs, itching, wounds or hair loss, then contact your vet for advice.

Poodles and poodle mixes usually need professional grooming every 6 weeks:

In recent years, Ireland has seen a dramatic increase in the popularity of poodle cross breeds. What many first-time poodle cross owners may not be aware of is the frequent grooming required to keep their low-shedding, curly and knotted coats maintained. Poodle crosses, otherwise known as ‘doodles’ require high maintenance grooming as do Bichon crossbreeds too.

It is crucial to maintain the coat of all breeds that do not shed much naturally. Poodle crosses are severely prone to matting, tangles and knots, which can cause their skin to become extremely tight and sore. If owners do not brush their dog in between grooming appointments, they run the risk of extreme matting and groomers can often have no other choice but to shave the dog down to their skin, to avoid major discomfort and pain that would be caused by trying to work the tangles out.

Our top tips:

It is always best to groom your dog from an early age, as this is the time when they make associations which can affect what they enjoy and what they don’t. If you have a puppy, introducing them from a young age can help build positive associations with being groomed. Teaching your dog to feel relaxed and confident with all different types of handling will give them the best chance of coping well throughout their life. For all dogs, introducing handling and grooming slowly, at their own pace can ensure they have a positive experience.

Always make grooming and handling a pleasant experience, praise your dog and reward with something that they find positive, such as tasty dog safe treats. Choose a time when you are both relaxed, perhaps after a walk. We recommend using introducing the handling slowly, stop, then reward with a tasty treat and repeat if your dog is comfortable.

If your dog needs professional grooming, it’s vital they are gradually and positively introduced to the sounds and smells of a dog grooming salon to help them feel relaxed during their groom. Educating and positively exposing your puppy to grooming from an early age helps their development and overall wellbeing.

If your dog shows signs that they are worried or fearful of being groomed, or their behaviour has changed, get your dog checked by your vet who may recommended referral to a qualified behaviourist.

You might want to introduce grooming equipment to your dog – this is a good idea if they have a long or curly coat! Make sure you are using equipment that is best suited to your dog’s coat type, starting with a soft, gentle brush can be useful.

As with introducing your hands, start by placing the brush onto your dog’s body for a moment then removing it by giving them a treat. Continue with a step-by-step process as slowly as you did when introducing your handling. If your dog shows any sign of worry, then stop and give them a break. Go back to a stage at which they were relaxed and progress more slowly.

Cost of Grooming:

On average, dog owners spend around €300 per year on grooming, this of course varies depending on the dog and their coat type. This is a factor you need to consider when welcoming a dog into your life. We recommend researching groomers who use positive reward-based care, and who ensure your dog is up to date on their vaccines before entering the salon. A good groomer will also be more than happy to discuss your dog’s needs prior to a visit, i.e., if they are nervous of strangers, perhaps an introductory visit to build confidence around them will help, take some of their favourite treats to share to build up a positive association with them and make it a nice experience.