Dogs vary enormously in size, shape, behaviour and coat; and all have individual needs, but there is one thing of high importance in common across all of them, which is: regular grooming.

By Belinda Morris, Team Leader for Hadlow PIF Grooming School
and member of the Guild of Master Groomers

Coat types range from those with long flowing coats, such as the bearded collie, to those with short skin-hugging coats like the Dalmatian and each brings slightly different needs, but all still need, and benefit greatly from, regular grooming.

WHY IS GROOMING YOUR DOG SO IMPORTANT AND WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS?
Regular brushing and combing helps to ensure that long coats don’t get matted, which can lead to health and welfare issues, and helps the shorter coated dogs with the natural shedding of hair, allowing new hair growth and assisting the natural regulation of the dog’s body temperature and with weatherproofing.
By regularly bathing, drying and brushing your dog, you are are not only ensuring that the coat doesn’t start to matt up and instead helping the natural shedding process, but you are also giving your dog a mini health-check.
Grooming your dog regularly means that you are far more likely to spot parasites such as fleas and ticks, as well as lumps, sores and grass seeds.
It’s also an opportunity to check that the eyes are clean and clear and that your dog’s ears are free from a build-up of wax and odour as this could prevent an ear infection.
Some breeds, especially those with long dropped ears such as spaniels, can be more prone to ear issues. Detecting these issues isn’t starting to build up. Again, if you spot any potential issues, seek veterinary advice. Feet and nails are also a very important area to check over whilst grooming. If your dog’s nails become too long, walking can become painful and the nails may start to curl around and into your dog’s pad, again causing pain, discomfort and leading to possible infection of the pad. Hair between a dog’s pads can become matted and clogged with mud, and at certain times of the year, grass seeds can easily embed themselves in the feet.
As all dogs naturally shed their coat, some more than others, regular grooming will help this process and mean less shedding of hair and dander (flakes of dead skin) in your house and also helping to reduce bad odours in the house. People prone to allergies may not realise that the dander in the coat can be the cause of their allergies to dogs, not early could hopefully aid a faster recovery. If you suspect your dog has an ear issue, always seek veterinary advice.
Check your dog’s mouth, teeth and gums to ensure there are no broken teeth or debris stuck in the mouth and that plaque just the hair, and they may find that regular bathing and brushing of their dog will help to reduce dander and shedding hair in the coat and therefore reduce any flare up of their allergies.
YOUR DOG’S GROOMING NEEDS
For first time owners of a dog it is important to do your research on breeds to see what breeds fit in well with your lifestyle. Some breeds require more grooming time than others and some will need to visit a salon more often than others, adding cost to owning a dog.
Understanding what is meant by ‘matting’ and how to avoid it is often challenging for new owners. Often new owners brush their dog, but don’t get deep enough into the coat to avoid matting from happening.
Removal of matting can cause discomfort to a dog and often the only option is to clip the coat on a short blade to get under the matting and remove it with as little discomfort as possible. The end result can be quite shocking for owners who have never seen their dog with this little hair before, but sadly it is sometimes the only welfare-friendly option. Prevention is key therefore to reduce the risk of it happening in the first place.
Many people also don’t realise that washing and towel-drying their dog, leaving them to dry naturally, can in fact aid the matting process To avoid this, owners need to brush, comb and dry their dog at the same time.
GETTING PROFESSIONAL HELP
To help you as an owner keep on top of and understand how to groom your dog effectively some dog grooming training centres and salons offer days where you can learn to groom your own dog. These days will help you to understand how to use dog grooming equipment safely and how to handle your dog correctly and safely whilst grooming.
If your dog requires specific styling, don’t forget that it can take many years of training to become a competent dog groomer and it is always best to seek a qualified dog groomer to complete the styling.
However, being able to maintain your dog’s coat and nails between visits to the grooming salon can help to reduce overall costs for grooming and again creates an enjoyable time bonding with your dog.
Dog groomers certainly appreciate owners that have taken the time to and effort to understand and maintain their dog’s coat and health between visits to the salon!