Grooming: how do you keep your dog in tip top condition?
I’m revisiting this information, which I wrote a few years ago. I suspect the prices for grooming your dog have gone up considerably! Grooming is one of the key ‘hidden costs’ of dog ownership, as you may not think about it before you get a dog. However, once you’ve had your dog for a few months, you will start to realise just how much care you dog needs.
Ask yourself: how lazy am I? Then ask yourself: how rich am I? I think these are the two key questions when considering what dog will suit you. This is particularly important when thinking about the care your dog will need relating to its grooming requirements.
Long or short coat?
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that dogs with short coats require less care than dogs with long coats. Common sense tells us that a Labrador will not need as much grooming as a Border Collie, for example. Or will it? Labradors have what is know as a ‘shedding coat’ which comes out all the time, scattering fine, short hairs throughout the house, sticking to every surface and getting into food.
As a result, short-haired dogs still need grooming. Regular brushing will stop the hair being scattered everywhere. You will also find that short-haired dogs tend to smell more, because dirt becomes trapped in the hair, prompting the need for more regular baths. Dogs like the Spanish Water Dog, Spaniels and Labradors also love the water, so will find puddles and ponds to jump into at every available opportunity.
Border Collies have a ‘moulting coat’, which comes out in armfuls once or twice a year. Over a three week period, you will have ‘tumbleweeds’ around the house and may have to vacuum behind the sofas. After that, not much hair comes out. If you brush during those three weeks you can definitely reduce the impact, although you will be astonished with just how much hair comes from one dog!
Other care required for a Border Collie, (as with most dogs) will include:
- Nail trimming – their nails must be clipped or trimmed
- cutting out tats – sometimes Border Collies get hair clumped into tats, which have to be cut out. This is partly because they don’t need brushing on a daily basis. Their hair is silky and usually sorts itself out, but sometimes the fine hair on the belly and round the back legs needs tidying up.
Hypoallergenic or ‘non-moulting’ coat
This sounds ideal doesn’t it? A soft, cuddly coat, that doesn’t shed or moult – perfect! Or is it? Well, in my view, there are a number of issues with this type of coat:
- it will still come out, just not as much as with shedding or moulting breeds
- you aren’t guaranteed this type of coat if you have a crossbreed, or so-called designer dog – it will depend on how the mix of breeds comes out in your individual dog
- dogs with these coats need regular care. As with collies, their hair will form tats and because it is curly, this is going to happen all over their bodies, on a regular basis. They will therefore need daily brushing, and/or frequent trips to the grooming parlour.
NB: Dogs do like to be muddy! You won’t keep them clean and that’s as it should be. They need to be outside, running around, smelling smells and exploring. If you try and cover up their ‘dog smell’ with your silly perfumes and shampoos, they will just go and roll in some more mud.
Using a Grooming Service
I picked up a leaflet for one of these services recently, having never really looked into it before. Wow, these things cost A LOT of money! Prices are from 2018. For example:
- Pug: Bath, brush and blow dry every 4-6 weeks and Express groom every 6-8 weeks. Total annual cost: £528
- Cockapoo: Bath, brush and blow dry every 4-6 weeks and Full groom every 6-8 weeks. Total annual cost: £594
- Newfoundland: Full groom every 6-8 weeks, including de-shedding or hand stripping as required. Total annual cost: £816
By way of contrast:
Border Collie: Stand in a bucket when muddy, clip nails if not worn out by running around, cut out some tats, brush when moulting. Total annual cost £0. Lol.
Of course there are many grooming tools to choose from to enable you to do the expensive stuff yourself. This deshedding tool looks great and it comes in different colours!
There are also nail clippers to keep their toes trim. People worry about doing their dog’s nails because if you catch the quick, they bleed profusely. But the dogs aren’t especially bothered if this happens, and it’s much better to risk that than to have nails that are far too long, as this can be crippling for your dog.
Just a minor point here about microchipping, as the ‘grooming service’ I looked at offers to do this. Since 6th April 2016, all dogs are required by law to be microchipped. As a breeder, I know that I am legally required to have my puppies microchipped by the time they are 8 weeks old. I get this done by the vet. I have to register the pups in my name and then the new owners have to transfer ownership to them.
So, if you are getting a puppy, check before you get it that it has been chipped? You should therefore be able to trace its ownership back to the breeder. If you are getting a rescue dog, it should now be microchipped before you get it and that chip should be registered to the previous owner. If not, why not? There’s not much point having a legal requirement to microchip dogs if this doesn’t allow us to trace ownership of them.
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NB: I am not a dog trainer, or a dog behaviourist, just a dog breeder and owner. I can only offer my opinion, based on my experience.