How Often Should I Groom My Dog?

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How often you should take your pooch to the groomer for brushing, bathing, and haircuts depends on what kind of coat he has.
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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 pooch to the groomer for brushing, bathing, and haircuts really depends on what kind of coat he has. Other dog 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 trips to the groomers on a regular basis 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.

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Likewise, trimming your dog's nails and cleaning your dog's ears to prevent ear infections are often tasks that are 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.

The following guidelines for creating a grooming schedule are based on the type of coat your dog has.

Smooth short hair coat

Dachshunds have a short, close-lying topcoat that is smooth with little to no undercoat.
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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 maintain shiny and healthy coat, 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 short-haired dogs do, however, shed; sometimes extensively or not much at all, depending on the breed.

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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 buildup and fur-encrusted furniture and clothing, plus keeps your dog's skin in tiptop condition. The frequency will depend on your dog's level of shedding. Keep in mind that shedding loose hair is natural for many dogs, and nothing, not even shaving with clippers, eliminates it.

Short double coat

Double-coated dogs have a soft undercoat and a water-repellent topcoat. Some dog breeds who sport short, double coats featuring a coarse, straight topcoat 1/2-inch to 1-inch long with a thick, downy undercoat include the Labrador retriever, Akita, and Australian cattle dog. 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.

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Medium double coat

Golden retrievers, German shepherds, Rottweilers, and Norwegian elkhounds are examples of dogs with medium-length coats 1 to 2 1/2 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 four times a year.

Long double coat

Collies, Samoyeds, chow chows, and Newfoundlands are among the breeds with 2-inch to 5-inch long, double coats that shed seasonally. The Alaskan and Siberian husky breeds also fall in this category. 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, the dog's coat can mat easily. Depending on their lifestyle and frequency of mats, a trip to the groomers every few months keeps long-haired dogs in top form.

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Long hair drop coat

Long-haired dogs have coarse or silky hair that "drops" or hangs down from the body.
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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 long-haired 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. Without frequent grooming, 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 and need regular grooming. These coats collect dirt and debris and mat easily. If the dog's hair is longer than half an inch, it should be brushed at least twice weekly. Daily brushing or combing is recommended for hair longer than an inch. Take your wavy or curly dog to a professional groomer 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. Brushing with a slicker brush between appointments can keep your dog's coat healthy and free of knots.

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