Warning…this is going to be long and I am not a professional by any means but I have experience with grooming all our doodles! Haha! Grooming is key in the life of your doodle! I think of grooming as a bonding time between me and my dog. The goal is to start young so they will enjoy the process. If you are behind no worries there is hope for your dog to enjoy grooming! If you have gotten behind on brushing and have a matted dog..just go to the groomer for a shave down and start fresh. Hair always grows back. I’m going to share some tips and tools I use. I have never had to shave down any of my F1 Labradoodles. Does that mean they have been 100% matt free their whole life? No! Because I’m human and life gets crazy and sometimes I get behind on brushing but I have found great tools and products to easily get matts out. Now I’m not talking whole body to the skin matted..that is going to require a shave down.
I will start with tools needed for grooming. I feel these are essentials and things you must have. I have a whole bucket of grooming tools but if you have these you will be set for good grooming.
1.A slicker brush. Now there are lots of different slicker brushes out there and I have owned a lot of different ones. I have finally found one that I love! The teeth are longer and it brushes the dogs out so much faster than ones I have had in the past. I did pay more for this but I have come to learn the old saying you get what you pay for is so true especially when it comes to grooming equipment.
This is the brush I have now and love! The large is out of stock right but medium will work fine. This is another one I have tried and it is decent.
2. Greyhound Comb. I have a couple of combs with different teeth sizes. I think that it’s a good idea to have a couple. The wider teeth are good to start with and the close teeth are good to finish with. You for sure want a metal comb and again the $20-$40 range combs are going to last longer, the teeth aren’t going to bend if they catch a knot, etc. like the cheaper ones I know from experience.
These are 2 different Chris Christensen ones. One is split Coarse/Fine and one is all coarse. The Master Grooming one is split coarse/fine.
3. Brushing spray. You never want to brush a dry coat. This causes damage and breakage to the coat. A brushing spray is great you don’t want the coat soaking wet but just a light spray. If you have used de-tangler you don’t need brushing spray on that area.
4. Matt splitter. These are great to have for those times you do come upon a matt. I like to use the long teethed one for the body and the small teethed one for the legs, ears, face, and other sensitive areas. Neither of these are the brand I have and love but I can’t remember where I got mine from its been so long and they don’t have a name on them. Both of these are the same style as what I have though.
If you are planning to bathe or groom at home here are some helpful things.
We are very careful about the shampoos we use. We love LA shampoo and it smells amazing!! Every other bath I use a oatmeal conditioner. Both of the ones we use are below.
High Velocity Dryer:
If you ever plan to bathe at home getting your doodle completely dry is key in preventing matts. A high velocity dryer is what you need to make that happen. Human blow dryers have too high a heat and can damage their skin/coat. Dryers range in price. The more expensive the faster it is going to dry and most likely the quieter it is going to be. I’m currently saving for the most expensive one I listed for that very reason I want one that dries faster and quieter.
I have the Flying Pig grooming table and its great! I bought the 38in and it’s plenty big enough. It folds down and you can store in when not in use. I considered buying the Polar Aurora table but in the end went with a brand I knew and trusted.
Oh the clippers I have gone through since I started grooming my own dogs. I could fill a trash can with the wasted clippers and money. This is for sure one thing you want to get a good set. I have owned Andis, Oster, and Wahl clippers. My Andis clippers have been my favorite. I had Osters that were good as well but they were very heavy and blew a lot of air so in turn blew hair at you but I’ll share the name of those if you are interested just ask. They are in the same price range as the ones below.
The exact clippers I have are the more expensive ones. They clip so smoothly and run cooler than most I have owned so you aren’t constantly changing hot blades while clipping. I also have the other pair too. They are good too but don’t run as smoothly.
For doodles depending on how short you want to cut them is depending on what blades you will want. Very Important is that you get blades to match your clippers. So if you get Andis clippers get Andis blades. #10 is what you should use for sanitary areas and the pads of the feet. For a short clip #7F is a good length. I think this length is better for curlier coats as I think the wavy/hair coats look better with a longer coat but its all personal preference. #30 for use with clipper guards only. There are Ultra Edge and Ceramic Edge. The Ceramic Edge are supposed to stay cooler but I find myself using the Ultra Edge ones more. I have 2 of each so when one gets hot I can switch out. I don’t like to use cooling spray.
Clipper cool care:
Your clipper blades will get hot. I prefer to own several blades and switch them when they start getting warm but if you don’t want several to switch you will want this to spray on the blades to keep them cool.
You use these to determine coat length when shaving. Metal teeth ones work better than plastic teeth ones. These are universal if you use a #30 blade.
There are tons of nail clippers out there and most have the guard to help prevent you from cutting too close but now there are clippers with quick finders which will alert you if you in the quick. If you do cut in the quick which probably will happen at some point especially if your doodle has black nails..those are the hardest to clip make sure you have some bleed stop on hand. I also like to dremel my nails afer trimming. That will just take any sharp edges off and make them smooth.
We use LA Ear Cleaner. It’s gentle on their ears but does a great job cleaning.
These are for plucking ears. I have these pink ones. I like to have a straight and curved pair and like shorter ones verses longer ones. I clean good after every use and if one of the doodles ever has an ear infection I get a new pair to make sure germs aren’t transferred.
I have three pair of scissors I think are needed. A straight pair, a curved pair, and thinning shears. I use my curved shears and thinning shears the most but straight scissors are great to have too. I honestly can’t remember where I purchased mine from but this is a cool set that has all three types.
Now for what you have probably all been waiting for…how to groom!
Go ahead and get some treats out! I use treats often as I’m teaching my doodles about grooming reward them when they are sitting still or doing something good.
I’m sitting here trying to get into words how to properly brush and I have the thought I bet I can find a good YouTube video and wahla! So watch this https://youtu.be/f9iXELY0EJ0 for how to Line Brush which is how you should brush to make sure you get all the way to the skin when you are brushing and aren’t just brushing the top while they are matting underneath. You are going to need your grooming spray, slicker brush, and comb for line brushing. I always have my matt brush on hand in case I find one that is too bad to get out with the slicker brush or comb.
If you are going to be bathing at home you always always always want to brush out first before your bathe. When a dog gets wet it just tightens those matts and makes it almost impossible to get them out without cutting them out. Once completely brushed out then you can move to bathing and drying. You want to make sure to get them all the way dry after their bath.
After this move to your grooming spot. Get our your grooming spray and start your line brushing. If you line brush 1-2 times a week min you should be able to maintain a matt free dog.
At this point if you plan to shave/trim on your own instead of going to a groomer this is when. You never want to shave/trim a dirty dog always a brushed, freshly bathed and dried one. This is the point where I’ll break it up a bit by how I groom different generations.
F1 Labradoodle- I only trim face, feet, and fanny. I never shave any off the body/legs of my F1’s. I put a picture below showing how to groom the face. To be honest depending on how fluffy the face of your doodle is you may only need to trim in between the eyes and you can neaten the beard/ears as needed. For feet I shave the underpads with a 10 blade to prevent lots of dirt/grass coming in from the bottom of their feet and believe or not they can matt there. Fanny I just shave with a 10 blade right under tail. Ears should be cleaned weekly and plucked as needed. You want them to have air flow in their ear canal. I put a video below of how to pluck ears as well. One of the best videos I’ve seen. Also trim nails as needed I trim mine typically every 8 weeks or so unless I notice they need it before. After trimming I Dremel them for no sharp edges. If you want to shave your F1 Labradoodle’s body read the next paragraph.
F1 English Goldendoodle, F1b Labradoodle, F1b English Goldendoodle, Australian Labradoodle- I start with a face, feet, fanny(explained above). The body it really depends on the amount of brushing you want to do/are willing to keep up with. To shave the body I use guards over my clippers or a 7FC blade which is fairly short. You can hand scissor but that takes lots of practice and time. Your guards will determine how much hair is left behind. Always keep in mind you want to blend one area of the dog into the other. I always lightly move the clippers away from the body in a scooping motion when moving to the legs so there isn’t a harsh line from the body to the legs. If you are unsure of how to clip…YouTube. I have learned most of my clipping skills by watching video after video. Everyone has a slightly different technique so you just find what works for you. The feet should be scissored and kept round. I just go around the foot in a circle and clean up the edges.
Tips for grooming:
- Start as soon as you get you puppy with at least regular brushing. If you are going to a professional groomer when they finish their shots they should be there if you nothing else but a face, feet, fanny to get them accustomed to the process.
- Lots of Patience! Especially if you are starting with a puppy
- Remember that hair grows back. If you get behind on brushing and your dog requires a shave down just try to brush more in the future. If you trim and mess up..it’s ok!!
- If you are going to the groomer take a picture of how you would like them groomed. If there is something you don’t like from that visit just explain it for next time. Most groomers are willing to work with you and get that perfect look. Just keep in mind their is no standard cut so it can be hard for them to figure out if you just say I want a doodle cut that could mean a million things and be realistic in the picture you have and your doodles coat type.
- While you are sitting on the couch with your doodle do things like play with their feet, rub their ears, or any problem area they don’t like getting brushed. This will get them accustomed to these areas being handled.
- Reward! Reward! Reward! If they do something good like stand still treat. If they let you brush their legs or feet and they don’t normally treat. They will correlate doing what ever you treat them for with treats and want to repeat those behaviors.
- Have a specific place for grooming so they know that X spot means grooming. Whether that be a grooming table, on a sheet or towel, or just sitting in a specific spot in your house. They will soon learn that spot means time for grooming.
If you have any other specific questions not answered here feel free to message or email me and I will do my best to answer.