Grooming tips for different hair types

Grooming tips for different hair types

No matter what type of dog you invite into your home, he’ll need to be groomed! Understanding his hair type – and how much work it entails – is key to keeping him looking his best.

All dogs require grooming, with some needing more than others. Before you select a breed, make sure you understand his grooming requirements – his overall health depends on it!  Be realistic when taking on the responsibility of maintaining a canine companion’s skin and coat, whether that means hiring a professional groomer or caring for your dog’s grooming needs at home. Consider time, budget, and your ability to do the job, as grooming can be expensive and requires dedication. Regardless of breed, all dogs require basic grooming such as monthly nail trims, regular ear cleaning, and dental care routine.

Here are some quick pointers to help keep your dog’s skin and coat healthy:

Short single (smooth) coat (e.g. Doberman, Boxer, Chihuahua, Bulldog)

These dogs are the “wash and wear” breeds.  They can shed their short, coarse hairs and require brushing and bathing when necessary. Quality grooming products can reduce shedding and odour effectively. These breeds will require nail trimming at least once a month, as well as regular ear cleaning, but they don’t need a haircut.

Tools needed:  Hound glove, shampoo and conditioner, ear cleaner

Short double coat (e.g. Labrador, Pug, German Shepherd, Siberian Husky)

These breeds shed their coats heavily two or three times per year and regularly throughout their lives. When dogs are in a heavy shedding cycle, they require a lot of undercoat removal to help with thermal regulation and to ensure the skin can breathe. You can use various de-shedding tools at home, but be careful not to cut or damage the coat. You can bathe these dogs up to once a week to help alleviate some of the shedding. Dogs with short

double coats do not have their hair cut.

Tools needed:  De-shedding tool, slicker brush, quality shampoo and conditioner, ear cleaner

Long double coat (e.g. Golden Retriever, Pomeranian, Australian Shepherd, Border Collie)

The grooming needs for breeds with longer double coats can vary. Some are more coated than others. If you have a more heavily-coated dog, she will require daily brushing and bathing to ensure the undercoat doesn’t become impacted or matted. Thoroughly drying your dog after bathing is important to maintaining skin health. A less heavily-coated dog may only require brushing once a week to remove shed hair and detangle longer areas such as the tail and hind end. Trimming the furnishings (longer hair) and feet is sometimes done to neaten the dog’s appearance.

Tools needed:  Slicker brush, greyhound comb, de-shedding tool, quality shampoo and conditioner, ear cleaner

Drop coat and curly coat (e.g, Maltese, Yorkshire Terrier, Shih-Tzu, Poodle, Portugese Water Dog)

The hair on drop coat dogs does not stop growing and will eventually touch the ground. Curly coats will continue to grow as well. The options for haircuts are endless. Basically the longer the hair, the more grooming is required. The breed standard for most drop coat breeds is long and flowing to the ground. The amount of time, energy and skill required to maintain a dog in full coat is not always realistic for the average person, so you may choose a shorter style. Generally, these dogs require daily brushing and combing, weekly bathing, and a full body haircut every four to eight weeks, regardless of hair length.

Tools needed:  Greyhound comb, firm-bristled slicker brush, quality shampoo, conditioner and detangling spray, ear cleaner

Wire coat (e.g. Brussels Griffon, Irish Wolfhound, many Terriers)

To preserve the hair texture of a dog with a wire coat, specialized grooming procedures are mandatory. Specific tools and techniques are used to remove the softer undercoat while maintaining a healthy top coat all over the dog. You may choose to clip the hair, but this will compromise the texture and arguably the health of the dog’s skin and coat. These special grooming techniques are best learned from the dog’s breeder or handler, or a groomer who specializes in hand-stripping. The coat must be worked several times a year to achieve optimal growth. Wire coats take dedication!

Products needed:  Specialized hand-stripping knives, ear cleaner


Becki Selby owns a busy grooming salon in Peterborough, Ontario and serves as a sales consultant for an all-natural pet health company. She has worked with animals since 2000 in a variety of capacities, including veterinary assistant, pet food retailer, and pet store manager. Becki has been involved with conformation dog shows and has worked with dog trainers. Her passion is advocating for animal health and welfare.