No matter what type of dog you have from a hairless variety such as the Chinese Crested through to a long haired, ringlet style coat of the Komondor, there are some grooming supplies that are just basic. As with most things that you will buy, the most expensive is not necessarily better than the mid price range, but if you buy cheap products you will have to replace them more often, resulting in an overall greater cost in most cases. The basics of good dog grooming include three basic types of supplies and these include brushes and combs, scissors and clippers and bathing supplies.
Brushes and Combs
There are many different types of dog brushes and combs on the market, with each being designed for a particular type of coat type. The most common brushes are the bristle brushes which closely resemble the bristle brushes used by people. These brushes can be stiff bristled or soft bristled, natural or man made bristles, plastic or wooden handled. The types of brush is largely a personal preference as well as what works best for the dog's hair type. Soft bristle brushes are ideal for the short hair on the legs and face of most breeds, but they are also great for overall grooming on soft, flat coats such as a Greyhound or a Jack Russell Terrier. The stiffer bristle brushes can also be used for single coated dogs or dogs with very short double coats.
A heavier brush for those dogs with thick, dense types of coats such as the Newfoundland, Collie and German Shepherd is the pin brush. This is a metal or plastic brush that, instead of bristles, has short, rounded metal pins. In some brushes the pins rotate to avoid tangling and pulling, and in some the pins are fixed in and don't rotate. Pin brushes come in many sizes from smaller ones for toy breeds on up to large sized ones for the big dogs. Getting the right size of brush is just as important as getting the right type, a brush that is too large can actually cause the groomer to bump the dog with the brush, especially when brushing around the legs. A brush that is too small means that grooming will take much longer than necessary.
Slicker brushes are made of very fine, short metal tines that are usually on a flat surface that looks slightly like a grooming pad with a handle. These brushes are designed to add a slick and smooth look to the coat as well as detangle and remove dead hair. Slicker brushes are often used as a finishing type grooming tool on straight haired breeds.
Combs can be wide or narrow toothed, metal or plastic or even wooden. These combs are ideal for combing out the long hair of the legs, known as furnishings, as well as the long hair on the tail and even on the ears. Flea combs are very fine combs that can be used to trap fleas, flea eggs and flea dirt and remove it from the coat.
A shedding brush, shedding blade or a grooming rake is a specially designed tool that allows easy removal of old, dead hair even in heavy shedding seasons such as spring and fall. For many breeds that "blow" their coat or shed huge amounts this brushing tool can be very beneficial in speeding up the shedding process as it removes so much dead hair.
Scissors and Clippers
All dog owners should have a good pair of very sharp, blunt ended scissors in their dog grooming kit. These scissors can be used to trim knots and mats, remove hair from between the pads of the dog's feet and even trim the hair into a neat and orderly cut if needed. It is very important to buy the blunt ended scissors to avoid any possibility of nicking or accidentally cutting the skin when cutting out mats or tangles.
Electric clippers are needed for some dogs but not for all. Many people are uncomfortable with the idea of clipping their own dog and simply find it easier to use a professional groomer every three to four months or as needed. Clipping your dog isn't all that difficult if you stick to a basic puppy or sport cut and there are lots of online and in person dog clipping classes that you can attend to learn just how to make your dog look like they just came from the groomers.
If you are planning on buying a set of electric clippers, buy the best possible set that you can. This is one case where saving on a lower quality will end up costing you considerably more in the long run. Look for the best quality blades as well as a good warranty on the clippers. A selection of blades and accessories is also a great option when making the purchase. Be sure to read the instructions and keep the blades properly cleaned and oiled when in use. Store only after the clippers have been cleaned to avoid dulling the blades and having problems with the clippers after just a few uses.
Only use the best possible bathing supplies for your dog, even if it means going a bit over budget. Low quality shampoos and conditioners will leave your dog's coat looking dull and lifeless and can also lead to skin allergies, hot spots and skin irritations. Most dogs will only need infrequent bathing so a bottle of shampoo and conditioner will typically last a long time.
In addition to shampoo and conditioner that is made specifically for dogs, look for items that are free from alcohols and chemicals and try to stay to natural ingredients and unscented products. Hair detanglers for dogs are a great idea especially if you have a long haired breed. A spray in coat conditioner can also be a terrific idea if you are concerned about the bathing stripping the natural oils from the hair.
A non-skid bath mat or an inset into the bathtub or sink that will help the dog feel secure and provide traction is also a great idea. To really spoil your dog consider a few fluffy towels for drying and even a special, low heat pet hair dryer to add that finishing touch.