Grooming for Dogs - How to Take Care of Your Dog’s Coat for Better Health!
07.10.2022 - Reading time: 12 minutes
A dog’s coat is a barometer of health: if it is shiny, it usually means that your dog is in good health. A dull, rough or flaky coat usually indicates a deficiency or parasites, which is why you should take good and regular care of your dog’s coat. There is much more to grooming it than just brushing and shampooing, even though both are obviously an important part of the routine. For example, some breeds need regular clipping or trimming to counteract annoying or harmful matting of the coat in a timely manner.
- Grooming dogs - good for skin and hair and to fight germs
- Consequences of lack of grooming: felting, infections and parasite infestation
- Dog grooming: a healthy habit for your dog to learn to enjoy
- Wellness for four-legged friends
- The dog's coat - single or multicoat?
- Long-haired coats: how to care for them correctly
- Grooming products and aids for dogs with long coats
- Dog grooming tips for long-haired dogs
- Dog-grooming for dogs with short coats
- Dog grooming in winter - should dogs be bathed in winter?
- Accessories for grooming short-haired dogs
Grooming your dog is not just about beauty, but also health. Read this guide to find out why this is the case and how to groom your dog correctly!
Grooming dogs - good for skin and hair and to fight germs
By correctly grooming your dog, you can detect any abnormal changes early on and avoid matting of the coat. Daily combing or brushing of the coat, especially after a walk through woods and meadows, reveals parasites such as ticks and fleas so that they can be picked off immediately. This way you can nip in the bud a subsequent flea infestation or a disease-causing tick outbreak. For more information on tick bites in dogs and fleas in dogs, follow the links.
Daily grooming, such as brushing, massaging and, if necessary, using special conditioning products developed for dog coats, takes much less time than you might think if done correctly and as part of a grooming routine.
Residual dirt is easily brushed out and makes it unnecessary to bathe your dog every now and then. Dead skin particles and hair are also removed. At the same time, you can check whether your dog’s skin is really healthy. Bites often remain undiscovered after small or large scuffles and can quickly develop into full-blown infections.
Scabs, ticks, fleas, open, bald patches or even inflamed skin can be recognised immediately. New, healthy fur can grow back better – the skin can literally breathe again. Well-performed grooming is also a kind of massage that promotes blood circulation and stimulates the body’s natural defences.
Consequences of lack of grooming: felting, infections and parasite infestation
The consequences are:
- Unkempt fur is flaky, itchy, can knot, mat and literally suffocate the dog’s skin. The potential consequences are skin damage, infections or parasite infestations. If the UV exposure and ventilation of the skin is lacking due to matting, this can easily lead to bacterial skin infections and even weeping eczema.
- When heat and humidity are added to the mix, fungal infections are just a matter of time.
- Fleas, mites and ticks feel perfectly at home on warm, moist skin under matted fur. Here they can eat their fill and spread diseases and infections such as mange and eczema unhindered.
Therefore, regular coat care prevents skin diseases and infections and provides your dog with a greater sense of well-being and zest for life.
Dog grooming: a healthy habit for your dog to learn to enjoy
Not all dogs enjoy being groomed, as combing can cause painful pulling and tugging if it is not done carefully. A dog that has had a bad grooming experience may even react aggressively when you approach it with a brush. However, do not give up on grooming, but change your methods and approach when dealing with problem dogs.
The best thing is to practise grooming on your puppy. Use particularly soft natural brushes and combine grooming with exciting games where the brush can become a toy. Every puppy likes a soothing massage with the flat of the hand.
Wellness for four-legged friends
But you can also persuade older dogs who did not learn about grooming in “infancy”, or even those who unfortunately had bad experiences with it, of the benefits of brushing, using patience and treats. Always start grooming by doing something pleasant, for example, stroke the dog’s head or belly – depending on what it most enjoys – and try to repeat this motion with a pleasantly soft brush. Make the brush a natural part of your reluctant dog’s life. Leave it among its toys or “forget” it in his dog bed. This “brushing exercise” needs to be repeated every day – it works best when combined with a particularly tasty reward.
But be careful: grooming is not something that should be left in the hands of children, who can unintentionally hurt the dog out of ignorance and incompetence – with possible fatal psychological consequences.
The dog's coat - single or multicoat?
The difference between long coats and short coats is obvious and needs no further explanation. But did you know that the key grooming factor depends on the structure of your dog’s coat? Both short and long coats can be single or multi-layered.
Single-layered coats are made up exclusively of a topcoat (outer layer),
whereas double-layered coats are made up of a topcoat and an undercoat.
Breeds with double-layered coats are Leonbergers, Pugs, Golden Retrievers or Labradors.
During the natural moulting process, both the topcoat and the undercoat gradually die off, so it is important to remove the dead hair with the right brush and comb. When the dog “sheds” its undercoat in spring or summer, the brush should be used on a daily basis – the daily procedure may be somewhat shorter in this case.
On the other hand, it is wrong to use some trimmers and clippers that not only remove the dead fur and “trim” dense coats, but also cut off healthy, regrown topcoats. This makes the coat brittle, becoming increasingly dull and sensitive.
Ridgebacks, whippets, greyhounds and similar sprinters and hunters among other dogs have a single-layer coat, as do poodles. Poodles’ curly, long-growing hair is often shorn off by dog owners. However, experts among dog groomers warn against this. The single-layered coat protects the sensitive dog’s skin underneath, but if it is cut back too far there is a risk of sunburn and, in winter, hypothermia. Use special brushes to keep the coat free of felting.
So-called “weatherproof” dog breeds, especially the Nordic breeds, as well as water dogs and many guard dogs, have coats with multiple layers. Their coat structure can even consist of three layers, especially if an intermediate coat develops in addition to the undercoat and topcoat.
It is true that grooming is seasonally intensive for this type of dog coat, but its multilayered structure means that it is normally very dense, strong and prone to natural “felting”, i.e. it does not shed that much.
Something that surprises some dog owners is the realisation that the single-layered coat of some of our four-legged friends, like the whippet or the dalmatian, requires a lot of care. Although it cannot become felted, it is often very fine, falls out more often and the underlying skin is highly sensitive.
Long-haired coats: how to care for them correctly
Long-haired dog breeds require special, intensive grooming depending on the density and structure of their coat.
When your dog jumps into a pool of mud or rolls around in cow pats, you don’t really have to ask yourself whether to bathe them or not. But what about in everyday situations such as after a walk on rainy forest paths or in parks?
The answer is to bathe your dog as little as possible and only use gentle, moisturising dog shampoo. Instructions and tips on this topic can be found on the link Bathing your dog correctly.
The Collie, Spitz and Belgian Shepherd have low-maintenance, straightforward long coats. Dogs with single-layer long coats should be thoroughly brushed and combed several times a week. The Briard and Old English Sheepdog, for example, are more difficult to groom. Their coats are denser and get matted easily.
Demanding, multi-layered long coats with a lot of undercoat, such as those of the Newfoundland or Chow-Chow, require particular care and must be combed and brushed almost daily. At least the critical areas on the head, muzzle, under the axillae, around the genitals and paws should be combed or brushed daily. This is because they quickly become matted and then cannot be groomed at all.
Grooming products and aids for dogs with long coats
A grooming comb and a brush are part of the basic grooming equipment for long and short-haired dogs alike. Plastic bristles or combs generate electrostatic charge, whereas natural bristles or coated wire bristles are more suitable for dog-friendly grooming.
You will need a pair of shears to trim the hair on your dog’s genitals, ears and paws. Rounded shears are particularly suitable for these particularly sensitive parts of the body.
A de-felting rake and an undercoat brush are recommended for thick, stubborn undercoats. The brush also provides a great additional shine. Dense, long and curly coats can be tamed with a little practice and clippers. And if your dog has a particularly coarse coat, experts recommend the FURminator, which removes dead hair, skin particles and the undercoat without damaging the topcoat.
Tools for grooming
- Coat comb
- Coat brush
- Dematting comb
- Undercoat brush
- Special dog shampoo and where necessary Skincare products
All the important grooming products and tools for your dog are conveniently available from in the Maxi Zoo Online Shop.
Dog grooming tips for long-haired dogs
Long-haired dogs should first be brushed against the grain with a natural or wire brush. Then work through the coat from front to back, always in the direction the hair grows. In the next grooming step, lay your dog on its side and brush it with one hand while you check the grooming with the other hand.
In longhaired dogs’ coats, moulting is a hairy business, in the true sense of the word. When this happens, you will have more work to do, but your home, sofas and textile surfaces will thank you for it: It is best to remove dead hair from your longhaired dog every day during the moulting period. To do this, you need a coarse-toothed comb that also reaches down to the lowermost layers of fur. Then comb the topcoat of your dog with a fine comb. If the dog’s coat is long enough, grip it calmly in your hand while you brush it.
For dogs with thick undercoats, a special undercoat brush is essential.
Small bits of matting are best removed using your fingers, whereas difficult areas require a special tool such as a de-matting rake or scissors. The dog’s hair is thickest on its back. The tail and the base of the tail are particularly sensitive areas of the dog’s body. It is no wonder that matting occurs most quickly here, and it’s where parasites feel most at home. You must ensure that these problem areas do not develop to begin with.
When grooming, always take a close look at the skin in order to identify any changes at an early stage.
Dog-grooming for dogs with short coats
You may be asking yourself at this point: Do I need to give my short-haired dog special grooming at all? The answer is yes, short-haired dogs also need to be groomed. Grooming a short coat is not necessarily a quick job either. The structure and density of the coat, coat change and average hair loss determine the amount of grooming required. For some short-haired dogs, weekly brushing is adequate, while others may need to be trimmed.
Many breeds with short, smooth coats have a skin flora that only recovers slowly after bathing. For these dogs, a bubble bath should be the exception rather than the rule.
For every kind of short-haired dog, there is the right grooming routine and helpful tools. It’s important to get your dog used to regular grooming when it’s still a puppy. This way you can prevent skin diseases and other unpleasant consequences.
Dog coat grooming tips for foul weather:
- Rainy weather: Is it raining cats and dogs again? Never mind! Dry your pet well after a walk in the rain. It’s not only the coat that needs to be toweled. The loin and elbow areas, belly, the spaces between the paws and the ears should also be dried. This is the only way to ensure that no secondary diseases such as colds, fungal infections, skin inflammation and increased parasite development (parasites like it damp and warm) arise.
- Be cautious about how often you bathe or shower your dog. Every time you bathe or shower it, the dog’s coat loses its protective layer of oils that surrounds the dog’s coat. Moreover, if not treated, the dog’s skin, which is otherwise protected by a layer of talcum, also dries out. You can only ensure that your dog’s coat is well cared for by using a special shampoo that is adapted to suit the dog’s coat.
Dog grooming in winter - should dogs be bathed in winter?
Regular grooming is also important in winter to encourage the dog to shed and to remove dead hair. In long-haired breeds, the snow and generally damp weather can also quickly lead to matting and knots. These tend to form on the legs and between the axillae and are uncomfortable for your dog. Therefore, the grooming regime for your dog’s coat is even more important in winter than in summer.
A bath may also be advisable for removing fine micro-sand from the coat. However, it is best to bathe your dog exclusively in the evening. This gives it enough time to dry overnight and prevents it from catching a cold with its damp coat. Read more about this in the Maxi Zoo guide “Colds in dogs”.
A bath is generally not recommended for short-haired breeds of dog. The coat dries slowly and the protective layer of oils only builds up again slowly.
Accessories for grooming short-haired dogs
Take a look around the Maxi Zoo online shop where you will find accessories and grooming products designed to suit your dog’s type of coat. You may be surprised to find that some of the grooming items in the long-haired range can also be used on short-haired dogs.
On overview of accessories:
- A coat comb and brush are essential for grooming short-haired dogs.
- For bristly short hair, there is the special terrier curry comb.
- Soft brushes are a must for puppies’ soft coats as well as for the velvety single-layered coats of whippets, galgos and similar hunting and running dogs.
- For short-haired dogs with a lot of undercoat you’ll need a trimmer and a trimming knife.
- Both de-felters and thinning scissors thin out dense and curly coats..
- The FURminator is particularly suitable for short-haired dogs with strong coats, such as Dalmatians, as it removes dead topcoat and undercoat in a particularly effective and caring way.
- And if bathing is part of the wellness programme, then it is best to use special dog shampoos, which are suitable for your dog’s hair type.
It is understandable that this or that coat care implement may disconcert dog owners. You may wonder whether you are up to using it correctly, because you don’t want to do anything wrong to your four-legged friend. It’s best to talk to an experienced groomer or get a dog groomer to show you how to use the implements properly. A conversation with the experts will make it clear how to use the tools, and after a short practice period, you will certainly be able to use them with ease.