How Often Should I Groom My Dog?

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Sharing your life with a dog is one of the most rewarding experiences you'll ever have. And when you select a canine companion, you're ideally looking for a dog who will seamlessly fit into your lifestyle — couch potato, active, or something in between.

You also have to consider his grooming needs — does he need costly, regular professional grooming or is he more low-maintenance? How often you should take your dog to the groomer for brushing, bathing, and haircuts really depend on what kind of coat he has. Other grooming considerations are how much he sheds, and how much grooming you are keen on doing at home.

While dogs from poodles and Goldendoodles to Yorkies and Afghan hounds usually require regular trips to the groomers to maintain their hygiene, health, and luxurious appearance, others like Doberman pinschers, Great Danes, and whippets, for example, can easily skip the groomers for a little DIY, at-home maintenance. Likewise, nail trims are often doable at home, though many dog owners prefer their vet or groomer do the deed at least once a month. Bottom line: every dog can benefit from a professional pampering at least a couple of times a year.

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The following guidelines for grooming schedules are based on the type of coat your dog has:

Short, smooth coat

Pit bulls, smooth dachshunds, greyhounds, basset hounds, bullmastiffs, and French bulldogs all have a short, close-lying topcoat that is smooth with little to no undercoat. Smooth, short coats are the easiest to care for and require only minimal grooming to keep them shiny and healthy, which means occasional baths and infrequent brushing. Low-maintenance breeds are perfect for people who don't have a lot of time to groom at home or to visit a groomer. But these dogs do, however, shed; sometimes extensively; or not much at all, depending on the breed.

Consequently, a professional groomer's "low-shed" service is beneficial. Also known as carding or "furminating," this thorough brushing aims to cut down on fur-encrusted furniture and clothing, plus keeps your pal in tiptop condition. Frequency will depend on your dog's level of shedding. Keep in mind that shedding is natural for many dogs, and nothing, not even shaving, eliminates it.

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Short double coat

Double-coated dogs have a soft undercoat and a water-repellent topcoat. Labrador retrievers, Akitas, and Australian cattle dogs are among those who sport short, double coats featuring a coarse, straight topcoat 1/2- to-1-inch long with a thick, downy undercoat. The hair may be longer on the ruff of the neck, rump, and tail. They are seasonal shedders and should visit the groomer four times a year to remove the dead undercoat

Medium double coat

Golden retrievers, German shepherds, Rottweilers, and Norwegian elkhounds are examples of dogs with medium-length coats 1-to-2.5 inches long with an undercoat. In most cases, the grooming requirements for medium, double-coated dogs are frequent brushing to remove the shedding undercoat. This type of coat can benefit from a professional grooming session at least r times a year.

Long double coat

Collies, Samoyeds, chow chows, and Newfoundlands are among the breeds with 2-to-5-inches long, double coats that shed seasonally. Frequent, routine grooming is essential to keep them in peak condition. Featuring a soft outline of longer hair on their rump, tail, and neck, and feathers on their belly, feet, and behind their ears, these dogs can mat easily. Depending on their lifestyle and frequency of mats, a trip to the groomers every few months keeps them in top form.

Long drop coat

Afghan hounds, Lhasa apsos, and Maltese are among the breeds with long, profuse, coarse or silky hair that "drops" or hangs down from the body. Some breeds have a single coat or a double coat, such as the Shih Tzu, that grows continuously and must be trimmed at regular intervals or becomes unmanageable. Their coats easily become matted requiring long, expensive grooming sessions. When cut short, their coats can last two to three months between cuts, but hair longer than an inch needs professional grooming every four to six weeks at least to prevent serious matting issues.

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Curly or wavy coat

Poodles, Portuguese water dogs, and bichon frisès have curly or wavy coats that grow continually. These coats collect dirt and debris and mat easily. If the hair is longer than half an inch, it should be brushed at least twice weekly. Hair longer than an inch should be brushed daily. Take your wavy or curly dog to the groomers every four to six weeks for a haircut to prevent severe matting.

Wiry coat

With their wiry coats, terriers are less prone to matting and can go two to three months between grooming appointments.