Fed up with your pup’s long hair getting in their eyes? Or are their claws scratching you? We discuss puppy grooms, from where to go, costs and everything in between.
When should my puppy have its first groom?
It's important to note that a first groom doesn't actually include any cutting. The aim of a puppy groom is to get your puppy socialised with the noises and the clippers, so your puppy will have a bath and blow dry and will be shown the clippers and scissors without being cut.
This is all to ensure your puppy isn't scared and can feel relaxed that no harm is going to come to it. Founder of North London groomers Dog Gone Fabulous Jane Blackaby says: "My advice is to take your puppy for its first puppy groom soon after they have had all of their vaccinations. Grooming is part of the lifetime care of your dog and so it’s important for their socialisation and well being to get them use to visiting the groomers - it’s smells, sounds and processes. Therefore, the sooner you can get them used to being at the groomers, the less anxious and more comfortable they will feel when they are being groomed.
"All puppies are different, some can be more anxious than others. We expect most will take 2 or 3 visits before they are ready for their first full groom. It’s also helpful for new owners to meet with their groomer and understand the care needed between grooms. We will show you how to brush; what to look for and avoid. It’s a lifetime partnership and we care about your dog."
Most long haired dogs need to be groomed every 6-8 weeks. This could be less or more frequent depending on how you care for your puppy's coat in between grooms. But always check with your breeder for advice.
Does my puppy need to be groomed?
Not every breed needs to be groomed, but it is always best to check with your breeder and with a groomer if you are unsure. some dogs might look like they don't need to visit a groomers, but they may have an old coat that they haven't fully shed which can make their coat itchy and also impact how waterproof their coat is. So they might need at least a hand strip or a bath and blow-dry to remove the old coat.
Hand stripping vs cutting
Some breeds can be hand stripped instead of being cut. This is where the dead hair is removed from the undercoat rather than their top coat being cut. Hand stripping involves pulling out the old under coat so a new one can grow through.
This may sound painful, but dogs with an undercoat do need to shed their coats so a new one can grow through, they usually she it by themselves but not all dogs do that quite easily. Regular grooming can also help avoid fur here, there and everywhere over your home, car and clothes?
Avoid having your puppy's coat shaved off by the groomer
So many people get upset when they pick up their dog from the groomers and its been shaved to an inch of its life. Yes you might have got a bad groom, but the reality most likely is that your puppy was matted.
The longer the coat the more maintenance it needs. You need to brush daily with a slicker brush and a comb. Some breeds like poodles, which have a wool coat not a fur one, require being brushed against the coat, from tail to head. With these sort of coats, if you brush from the head down it can feel like there are no knots, but if you brush the other way you may find it is matted at the skin.
Regular bathing is also key. I bath my toy poodles weekly, I know some groomers and owners who don't brush them daily, but instead bath weekly and soak in conditioner to keep the coat fresh for the week. Speaking of, like with our hair, conditioner will help to keep the knots at bay with long haired dogs, plus a leave in conditioner is great at helping to break down a matted coat.
Keeping claws trimmed
Cutting your dogs claws yourself can be scary, especially if you have a puppy that won't sit still for you. If you catch the quick there will be a lot of blood. Don't worry, some cornflour will soon stop the bleeding. But to avoid this its always best to get a groomer or vet to do it.
You may think that your dog will naturally file its own claws when it walks, but claws can grow quickly and if you don't get them trimmed regularly, then the quick will grow longer, making it difficult to keep them short. If they are too long it will make it difficult for your dog to walk, meaning they could twist their paws as they walk which could cause other joint problems.
You should get their claws trimmed every 4-6 weeks, or, as I tend to do, a tiny trim every two weeks. You can use clippers, or there are electric files which you just place the claw on for 10 seconds and it will trim it (these also leave a smooth finish unlike cutting which either needs filing afterwards or you'll be covered in scratches). I find that the electric file makes my two toy poodles more relaxed and easier to trim than with standard cutters.