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How to groom a Goldendoodle
So you own a Goldendoodle and want to know how to groom him or her? It's not as hard as one might think, given
all the lovely thick hair your doodle has. There are many different ways you can groom your Goldendoodle. As a puppy, most do not need but a slicker brush ran through the coat once a day. Maybe a bath, once a month unless your puppy has gotten him or herself into a messy situation. Young puppies only need to be trimmed around the anal area, the front and back paws and in front of the eyes. Clipping the coat in front of the eyes prevents the growing hairs from turning inward and causing a corneal abrasion on the eye itself. Unlike the Poodle, a Goldendoodle should never be shaved down completely to the skin. The reason for this is because the Goldendoodle has very fine hairs that appear to be thick and its coat actually protects him or her in the heat as well as in the cold. If you are going to have your Goldendoodle shaved down, we recommend leaving at least 1 1/2" - 2" of the coat out from the skin.
Unless your Goldendoodle has extensive Poodle within its DNA genetic make-up, the doodle coat is never as thick as a purebred Poodle. As your Goldendoodle becomes a teenager, you will have noticed he or she has gone through many coat changes and phases. This is why only scissoring to even up the hair and remove any straggly hairs may be the only necessary "grooming" at this age. The Goldendoodle's coat will thicken and become shaggier as your doodle nears its first birthday. We recommend using a slicker brush during the Goldendoodle's coat phases and changes because the slicker brush has different lengths of bristles inside of the brush and the bristles will remove any dead hairs or lingering "baby" hairs. It will also help your Goldendoodle's coat from matting. Leaving an upside down "V" shape about the face is the most popular trim for a Goldendoodle.
While there are many fine canine shampoos on the market, I never recommend using them because many canine shampoo products have harsh chemicals that can cause dry skin with the Goldendoodle. I always use either baby shampoo or Pantene that has a conditioner inside of the shampoo. Non-tearing shampoos, though, work out better for your Goldendoodle dog. Lets discuss the matter of bathing and then we will discuss trimming. When bathing your Goldendoodle, using either a large utility type tub or your own tub is recommended. This is dependent upon the size of your Goldendoodle. If he or she is too large to lift, you can even use your shower. With the dogs that stay inside of my home, I will put them in the tub with myself or the shower and I never have to worry about getting wet! With my outdoor dogs, I use a normal sized bathtub that is elevated and situated in my grooming shop. Any time you bathe your Goldendoodle, you want to make sure that you do not use any soap or shampoo on the face or near the eyes. I am sure that you know what it is like to have soap or shampoo in your eyes and its the same feeling for your lovely dog! I always use a wet washcloth to clean the face, that is just wet with water. To clean the ears, I recommend a "spritzer" bottle that is one part white vinegar and one part hydrogen peroxide. This helps clean your Goldendoodle's ears and also helps them smell better. Never use Q-tips! A Q-tip can cause damage to the ear canal. You can use cotton balls or a thin washcloth and use your finger or pinky to clean inside the ear as far as you can reach. Depending upon whether or not your Goldendoodle has hairs growing inside of the ear, you may feel more comfortable having your vet clean his or her ears.
Grooming is one of the biggest expenses in owning a Poodle hybrid because of their long coat. If you can afford it and don't have the time or knowledge on grooming your Goldendoodle or don't want dog hair in your bathtub or shower, have them groomed by a professional groomer. It's very important to Pick your groomer as carefully as you would pick your own hairdresser. There are many lazy groomers who use anesthesia or other sedatives on dogs when they groom and this is highly inappropriate as well as dangerous! If a groomer has a problem with you watching them work on your dog or waiting while they work on your dog, I'd find another groomer. Unfortunately, many canine deaths and injuries have been linked to lazy, inexperienced groomers. Grooming your Goldendoodle is not as hard as one might think. It usually takes the coat approx. 2 hours to completely dry, depending upon the thickness of the actual coat. Even using a blow-dryer, your Goldendoodle's coat will take two full hours of drying time. Make sure the room is nice and warm.
When bathing your Goldendoodle, it's important to work up a good lather from the back of the head on down. I always use a fine comb to go through the coat while I have the Goldendoodle all lathered up. This helps remove any small debris that might be in the coat or little tangles that can occur from lathering. You have to remember that shampooing your Goldendoodle is a great time to bond with him or her. I always gently massage their legs, back, belly and neck as I lather the coat. This not only feels good to your Goldendoodle, but it helps him or her know that this is a pleasant experience and not one to be afraid of. Some Goldendoodles may not like being groomed at first, but over time, they do learn to accept it and like it. After working up a good lather, using a shower nozzle or sprayer will make it easier to rinse the coat. You'll want to rinse your Goldendoodle's coat several times to make sure you have removed all of the shampoo. Never rinse the shampoo towards your Goldendoodle's face. Always from the back of the head and downward.
When drying your Goldendoodle, you have to remember that the loud noise from the dryer may scare him or her. While holding your Goldendoodle, you may want to start with the slow speed and then increase the speed once your doodle gets use to the sound. I personally use a commercial, cool air type of dryer for my dogs but they can be very costly ($400 and up). This type of dryer forces out only cool air and blows the water out of the coat. For family pets or homes with just one or two dogs, a good hand dryer will work just as well. If the weather is warm you can partly air dry them and just use the hand dryer to fluff and brush the coat out but NEVER, partly dry your Goldendoodle in the winter and then allow him or her to go outside until your Goldendoodle's coat is COMPLETELY dry! If you do use a commercial cage dryer make sure that your Goldendoodle does not get too hot especially if they are a senior dog. Some can cause older dogs to have a heat stroke, especially if placed too closely to the dog with out proper ventilation. When using dogs dips, I always recommend partly drying the doodle's coat and then allowing the coat to "air" dry. This prevents the dip from being blown off of the coat, which would be a waste of money.
If you decide to groom your Goldendoodle in the winter, make sure that you pre-heat the room that your Goldendoodle is going to be groomed and bathed. We all know how cold we feel AFTER getting out of the tub or shower. You don't want your Goldendoodle to catch cold from shivering after his or her bath is complete. Assuming that you are using a regular heat blow dryer after your Goldendoodle's bath, if you use the slicker brush while blow-drying, you will help remove any dead hairs inside of your Goldendoodle's coat. The slicker brush will also help prevent your doodle's coat from tangling. Never allow your Goldendoodle to go outside until he or she is completely dry, especially in the winter. If using a heat dryer, keep the heat on low and do not place the nozzle too closely to your doodle's coat as it will burn his or her skin.
Bathing your Goldendoodle can either be a nightmare or a pleasant experience. I have a raised bathtub (it's easier on my back) with a non-slip mat inside of the tub. This prevents my puppies from slipping and becoming injured during the process. It is necessary to have a long shower hose with good water pressure if at all possible. The biggest mistake most home groomers make is not getting out all the shampoo in the coat. This is why I recommend rinsing your Goldendoodle several times after a good lathering. Leaving soap in the hair will dry out and irritate your Goldendoodle's skin; perhaps you have seen your Goldendoodle scratching even after you checked his or her coat for fleas. Speaking of fleas, regular shampoo will not kill fleas or their eggs. You must use a shampoo specifically for ticks and fleas or you can use "Equate". This is a human "lice" shampoo that has pyrithins that will help kill fleas, ticks and lice that may get into your Goldendoodle's coat. Make sure to Read the label on any flea and tick shampoo or preventative. Some canine flea and tick preventatives will kill only the fleas on the dog and some will kill the eggs and adult fleas as well as the ones that may jump on later. While you can certainly use a light cream rinse on your Goldendoodle's coat, make sure to use it sparingly. Creme rinses can cause your Goldendoodle's coat to lay "flat". If you decide to towel dry your Goldendoodle, don't rub the coat against the grain or this will encourage knots and tangles. Also do NOT towel dry your Goldendoodle if you use flea and tick dips. This will remove the dip and be a huge waste of money. Just squeeze the coat out with your hands if you have dipped him or her or if you have not used any dips, squeezing the coat with good absorbent towels will help, should you want to "air-dry" your Goldendoodle. I do recommend NOT bathing your Goldendoodle but once a month unless he or she really requires a bath. Bathing more than this can cause your Goldendoodle to have dry skin.
Cleaning the ears of your Goldendoodle is very important, each and every time he or she is groomed. Some Goldendoodles tend to have ear problems for a number of reasons. Many tend to have very long, heavy ears and the long hair that drapes over the ear prevents air flow that causes moisture build up. This causes the ears to become a perfect environment for breeding bacteria. It seems that once you have ear problems with your Goldendoodle, they are very hard to clear up and they seem to re-occur. While Goldendoodles generally do not have the issue of the hair growing inside of the ear, some will if they have more Poodle DNA. Goldendoodles who have more Poodle DNA and have hair growing in their ears prevents their ears from "breathing". Cleaning the ears and keeping the hairs plucked or pulled out of the ear canal is a must each and every time you groom or have your Goldendoodle groomed. Check the ears frequently if you only groom your Goldendoodle once a month. This is important. I remove unwanted ear hairs by "plucking" any hair I can reach in the ear canal with my fingers. Hairs that can not be reached with my fingers, I personally use small canine forceps that lock, so that I can clamp onto the hairs and in a slow twisting motion, gently pull them out of the ear. While this is not a pleasant experience for your Goldendoodle, it will help him or her from getting an ear infection later down the road. I then wipe the ears out with one part white distilled vinegar and one part hydrogen peroxide. It's important to make sure the ears are dry when you are done. If you think they are damp inside (after bathing this could happen) use a hand dryer to dry them out. (Wet ears grow bacteria easier then dry ears). As I mentioned before, never use Q-tips to clean the ears. Q-tips can cause the ear canal to rupture as well as drive ear wax, if any, further down into the ear canal. If your Goldendoodle dog does have an ear infection or issue, talk to your vet about the best way to treat it. Excessive shaking of the head can cause the ear canal to rupture and ear infections, as we may well know, are very painful. A couple of drops of "IVERMECTIN" can be placed inside of the ears to kill ear mites and "IVERMECTIN" works the best. If your doodle has a slight ear infection, you can use "Otomax", purchased through your veterinarian. This is a gentocin based solution that can be placed inside the ears.
Now that your Goldendoodle is dry, lets discuss how to trim him or her. If you can't afford expensive sheers, you can check the sewing section of any department store and purchase a good pair of scissors. You can generally find a very good pair for under $20. Canine grooming scissors are very expensive and can run into the hundreds of dollars. Be very careful with a new pair of scissors as the blades are sharp and you can severely cut your Goldendoodle's skin if you are not careful! Trust me! I've had a few pups get nicked because they would not sit still and one quick turn will cause YOU or your doodle to get cut. Your Goldendoodle should have a fuzzy face or an upside down "V" shape to the front of its face, from the forehead down to the nose. Above its eyes you can create bangs or just trim the hair so that the hairs are not sticking towards the eyes. I usually trim the hairs close underneath the eyes and in an upward motion so that I can keep the "V" shape between the eyes down to the nose. Some Goldendoodles tend to have dirty mouths because of all the hair around the face, so you can even trim the hair around the mouth if you like. Trimming is really not only to keep your Goldendoodle comfortable, but to help him or her keep as clean as possible. It's also a personal preference of whether you trim or leave your doodle shaggy. Every Goldendoodle should sport a full facial beard by the time he or she is a year old. This facial beard is generally in the shape of an upside down "V". Looking at the eyes in a frontal position, and then glancing at the nose, you can visualize the upside down "V" and this helps you maintain the appearance of your Goldendoodle, if you decide to trim him or her on your own. Sometimes the coat will mat underneath the armpits, so you may want to check there as well as behind the ears. Little tangles that can't be brushed or combed out can be trimmed off. Your Goldendoodle should also have paws shaped like the Golden Retriever. I personally trim the coat around the paws closely and I also trim the hairs in-between the pads but care is the be taken so that you don't accidentally cut the pawpads of your Goldendoodle. While trimming the coat, you can also clip your Goldendoodle's nails. I use the guillotine type of nail clipper but they all seem to work well and if you want, you can even use a sharp pair of scissors if you are trimming a Goldendoodle under the age of one. Young puppies can have their nails trimmed with simple nail clippers. The most important thing to remember when trimming the nails is to not get them to short. Remember, cutting your own nails too short is painful! Take off a little once a week because this will help the quick stay short. If you do plan on grooming your own doodle regularly have some "quick stop" on hand in case you nick your Goldendoodles "quick". You can purchase this at most pet stores or feed stores. The "quick" is a small blood vessel running through the nail, similar to our own nails. The pink portion on our nails is where we feel the pain if we cut our own nails too short. Clipping the nail too short and hitting the quick is not life threatening to your Goldendoodle, but it will make it harder to do his or her nails the next time. Trust is an issue here! It is painful for your Goldendoodle if you cut into the quick and should definitely be avoided.
Your Goldendoodle is more than likely a very shaggy dog. All dogs that have a thick coat or a shaggy coat will have an issue of fecal matter becoming imbedded into the coat, if this area is not kept trimmed. Special attention underneath the tail is a must with any Goldendoodle! He or she will also thank you because fecal matter that builds up around the anal area can cause your Goldendoodle to have constipation issues or rectum issues. This should definitely be avoided. While there is no wrong or right way to actually trim your Goldendoodle dog, I do find that the Goldendoodle's skin is sensitive to the sun if he or she is light in color. You must remember that your Goldendoodle can be harmed by the sun's rays just like we can.
Keeping your Goldendoodle's coat trimmed no less than 1 1/2"- 2" out from the skin will also help protect his or her skin from insect bites as well. During the wintry months, you may want to allow your Goldendoodle's coat to stay shaggy. Remember that unless he or she wears a sweater when going outdoors, that shaggy coat is all they have to weather the elements. Having grooming equipment will help with coat maintenance if you plan to groom your Goldendoodle yourself. Good clippers are costly and should be very well cared for. They will last longer this way and your clipper blades will stay sharper. A good set of Oster clippers costs about $175 and blades can be anywhere from $2 to $40 or more. Never use clippers on a very dirty dog or you will have to sharpen the blades quicker. Clippers must be oiled and greased inside regularly. They will break if you drop them and it always seems that they get kicked off the table by your doodle, so never leave them on the table. It is convenient to have a number of blades for your clippers. I generally have about 10 blades on hand with some still in the package in case I forget to send them out to be sharpened. They can be changed in the midst of clipping if they get too hot, but I do recommend using a blade wash or blade "cooling" spray, as this helps prevent the blades from overheating. Whatever size blade you choose to use is always ready if you have several sizes on hand. I personally use a "10 medium" on my Groom Master clippers by Oster. The blades should be changed rather often, since a dull blade pulls the hair and tends to leave the coat ragged. Not only this, but a dull blade will eventually stop cutting and only pull the hair causing your doodle to get upset! The small carbon brushes and springs wear out quickly in an old clipper, making the machine rattle when it runs; They are easily replaced by unscrewing the small knobs on the side of the machine and its important to always have these extra parts around in case you suddenly find yourself in need. As I said, grooming equipment isn't cheap, but paying a Groomer over time can become more expensive.
If you are wanting to have your own grooming supplies on hand (which is recommended), you can order many things for your Goldendoodle by CLICKING HERE. Just make sure that you tell them "Dee Gerrish" recommended you. We have purchased from Revival Animal for many, many years! Their prices are reasonable and they have many terrific items to select from. Groom Master, by Oster, is a very good clipper. I've had owned two in 11 years and my second one is still going and going and going, like the Energizer bunny. They are long lived clippers and do very well. Some breeders and groomers like to use clippers that have two speed settings; Some even use what is called "clipper boosters". This is really not necessary unless you intend to shave down or groom multiple dogs in a single day. Money should NOT be spared where clippers blades are concerned. I learned the hard way. A good set of clipper blades are "Cryogenic" and run approx. $28 each. Oster will sharpen them for you but they are usually behind by up to 4-6 weeks. Another reason I say it's good to have at least 10 sets of blades on hand at any given time. You can send out 7 and have three new ones on hand while waiting for Oster to send your other blades back. During the summer heat, we always recommend trimming your Goldendoodle's coat down but as stated above, it's really personal preference. Most Goldendoodles with a shaggy coat are more comfortable with a short coat during the summer and in the winter, many do better with a shaggy coat to help keep them warm. Keeping your Goldendoodle groomed will always make your doodle happy! It's also a great way to bond!
*Author: Dee Gerrish (Goldendoodle World) 2007. Rights reserved.
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