I had a very busy week last week, and in that busy week came a few dogs that because their owners had not kept up with brushing their coats, I unfortunately had to clip it all off and start again. Sometimes this happens when people move house or have to change groomer and don’t keep up with their regular schedules so the coat gets unmanageable even when they are trying to brush, but sometimes its because brushing isn’t happening or isn’t being done correctly.
All dogs benefit from regular brushing, even smooth coated dogs! When grooming I use a ‘Zoom groom’ rubber brush, rubbing in circular motions over the dog to loosen the fur that is shedding, especially at this time of year when dogs are getting into their season moult, you’ll be amazed the difference it can make to the hair left around your house. If you combine this with a groom every 8-12 weeks, you may well find you spend far less time hoovering up hair!
For the longer coated dogs, there are various things I recommend depending on coat type and length.
For what we refer to as ‘silk’ type coats (spaniels) the main areas that I often find matted are the ears, the legs and the armpits. Making sure you keep the ears brushed out and knot free is very important for these dogs as their long drop ears make getting air flow to the ear holes difficult. Keeping the ears tangle free helps the ears move properly so that air can get round the ear.
Keeping the legs and feet tangle free is important if you want the traditional cocker style rather than a clip off. To achieve feathers on the legs I need to be able to fully brush and comb all the hair to trim it into a tidy shape.
If the armpits get matted, they can pull at the sensitive skin under there and form matted balls that rub and can irritate them.
For the long ‘double’ coated breeds (border collies, golden retrievers, Pomeranians etc) they have a fluffy undercoat that sheds and as they shouldn’t be clipped, it is important to keep the shedding undercoat from forming matts that pull at the skin and trap dirt and grime. An undercoat rake is a useful tool for this.
The worst contenders for matting are the wool and wool mix breeds, which is the poodles, bichons etc and the cockerpoos, labradoodles, and other crosses. A lot of people really like to keep the coats long and that takes a lot of maintenance. When in longer coats these dogs really need daily brushing with a slicker brush and going over with a comb to check that you have groomed all of the coat right down to the skin, not just the top layer.
As a groomer, I follow the 5 freedoms of the animal welfare act, when de-matting dogs, I have ‘Freedom from un-necessary pain and suffering’ to keep in mind. Therefore I will only de-matt a dog for 10-20 minuets, depending on how well they cope with it, with 20 minuets being my maximum. When the dog gets in a state like that, it is far kinder to clip it off short and start again than try and brush it all out, and doing that is kindest for the dogs is what is important to me. As much as I would prefer to have all my dogs pretty and fluffy, under some circumstances I have to do what is right for them, as much as I don’t enjoy doing it. It is time consuming and costly as clipping a dirty matted coat speeds up how fast my clipper blades go blunt and takes more time.
I’m thinking about starting to stock the most common grooming tools to sell to customers that are struggling with home grooming, I’ve had a few people ask, as well as the shampoos I use. If anyone is interested I use wildwash and earthbath shampoos and am going to look at stocking pet sized bottles of that. If you want wildwash before I can get it in stock, dolittles pet supplies on Barnet Wood lane in Ashtead or in Sutton Green. (I’ve not been to Sutton Green much but I really rate the service in the Ashtead store!)
I hope this post helps a few people understand why home grooming is so important, even when your dog sees a groomer regularly. If anyone has any further questions about home grooming between my visits, feel free to use the contact page and send me an email or call/text and I will be happy to help. And also that I can come and do bath/brush out visits between full grooms at a cheeper price than the cost of the full groom!