How to dog groom my dog?

Dog being washed in the bath with shampoo

As well as keeping your dog looking neat and tidy, dog grooming is an essential part of caring for your dog's health. It has many benefits to your dog, and can also help you bond and enjoy some quality time together. If you’re unsure about how best to take care of your dog’s coat, in this article we’ll cover the basics of how to get your dog looking and feeling their best. 

Get your dog used to grooming as soon as you can

As dog grooming is an important part of the basic healthcare for your dog, it is important that you get your dog used to being brushed as soon as possible. If you don’t work on this then it can make grooming sessions very stressful for both you and your dog. 

If you have your dog from a puppy, then start getting them used to being handled and brushed as part of your regular training routine. You should also get them used to having their mouth, eyes, and paws checked so that they don’t squirm too much. Do this little and often to get them used to it, and soon they won’t react and will happily let you go through their dog grooming routine with little fuss. 

If you rehome an older dog, you should either ask the rescue centre what needs to be worked on with their grooming routine or if any issues arise when grooming your dog you should consult a dog trainer.

How to groom your dog and what equipment you need

How often you groom your dog and what you will need very much depends on their breed and coat type. Each coat length and type will need different tools and techniques, and this will also determine how much time you will need to take for your dog grooming routine.


Short-coated breeds such as Hungarian Vizslas, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, and Italian Greyhounds will only need light grooming two or three times a week. A pin brush, a soft brush, and a soft finishing cloth may be the only things you need. However, short-coated breeds that shed a large amount such as Labrador Retrievers may need going over with a shedding rake to remove as much of the dead undercoat as possible so that it doesn’t end up all over your carpets and furniture!

Medium or long-coated breeds

Medium or long-coated breeds such as Border Collies, Newfoundlands, and Golden Retrievers will need grooming on a much more regular basis to keep their coats tangle and matt-free, and can even need grooming as much as once a day. Tools such as slicker brushes, detangling brushes, and long-toothed combs will help you brush out the coat to remove knots and keep your dog’s fur clean and free from debris. 

Wire-coated breeds

Wire-coated breeds such as Border Terriers, Schnauzers, and German Wirehaired Pointers can benefit from hand stripping to keep their coats looking neat. You can ask a dog groomer or your breeder to show you how to do this, as it involves using a stripping knife and your thumb to pull out the long guard hairs from the coat leaving the much shorter and softer undercoat behind. While it takes a while to do, it can make your dog’s coat much easier to look after.

Refer to the grooming frequency recommendations for particular breed at Breeds A-Z.

How often should you bathe my dog?

Just like with dog grooming, how often you bathe your dog depends on their coat type and length. However, a good rule of thumb is that you should only be bathing your dog when necessary - i.e. they’ve rolled in something smelly, they’re dirty or muddy from a walk, or they smell bad! Bathing your dog too much can cause skin problems, so only get the shampoo out if you need to.

When choosing which shampoo to use, you should always choose one made specifically for dogs so don’t go reaching for any of your bottles from your shower! Dog shampoos are specifically designed for the pH balance of your dog’s skin, and using a human product could upset their skin.

If you’re unsure of which shampoo to use, you can either ask your breeder, your vet, or a local dog groomer and they should be able to give you some recommendations suited to your dog.

Brachycephalic dogs, especially those with excessive wrinkling and skin folds, commonly experience chronic skin irritation and infections. The deep skin folds create friction and trap moisture, creating an environment conducive to bacterial and yeast overgrowth. It is crucial for owners of all brachycephalic dogs with skin folds to routinely inspect their pet's folds and wrinkles for any signs of irritation or infection. Daily cleaning is recommended to eliminate dirt, debris, moisture, and food particles. Additionally, owners should make efforts to keep their dog's wrinkles dry not only after bathing but also following drinking sessions.

Does your dog need to go to a professional dog groomer?

If you are new to looking after a specific type of coat, it can be a big help to take your dog to a professional groomer to begin with so that you can learn and pick up tips on how best to care for your dog’s coat. They will give tips and pointers on where to start, and show you how to manage the upkeep of your dog between dog grooming appointments so that they don’t end up with a matted and painful coat.

How often do I need to trim my dog’s nails?

A lot of dogs will naturally wear down their nails when walking on rough surfaces on their daily walks, but some dogs need a helping hand to keep their nails trimmed and healthy. Dog groomers and vets can help you keep your dog's nails trimmed, and have specialist tools to do this with minimum fuss. 

A sure sign your dog’s nails need to be trimmed is that when your dog is standing and putting all their weight on their paws, the nails touch the ground. This means that they could potentially be uncomfortable for your dog. You should also check the dew claw, as it can grow so long that it cuts into your dog’s skin.

Find a vet near you

If you're looking for a vet practice near you, why not visit the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons' Find a vet page.

Think your dog may be affected?

If you're worried about your dog's health, always contact your vet immediately!

We are not a veterinary organisation and so we can't give veterinary advice, but if you're worried about any of the issues raised in this article, please contact your local vet practice for further information

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