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There are different techniques for grooming a dog depending on the breed of dog that you have and the coat length and type. Since using the right grooming technique will make grooming faster and more pleasant for both the owner and the dog, using the right grooming supplies and methods is very important.
There are literally thousands of websites, articles, online demonstrations and tutorials on how to groom your dog. The more information and ideals you have the better you will be able to find the techniques and methods that meet your needs as well as your dogs. Probably the two biggest issues to consider is if you have a single coated or double coated breed, and the length of the hair. Single coated breeds have one type of hair over their body. Some of the terrier breeds are single coated as are most of the dogs with a very short coat such as a Boxer. Many of the dogs with long, flowing coats such as the Maltese also have single coats. Typically most single coated dogs will have a coat that lies very close to the body without any volume or fluffy appearance. Double coated breeds have an outer, coarser hair and then a thick, dense and almost woolly inner coat. In double coated breeds the outer coat typically provides a protective layer that is water resistant and the inner coat provides a dense, insulating layer for warmth. All of the Northern breeds including Samoyeds, Huskies and Spitz types have a double coat. Double coated dogs typically shed or "blow" this dense inner layer at least twice a year.
Short coats are often the easiest to care for, although some short coated dogs shed more than dogs with longer coats. The only difference is that shorter hairs are often less noticeable, but actually no easier to keep off furniture, carpet and clothing. Ideally a short coated breed should still be brushed two to three times as week as this will help with circulation, removal of dead hair, plus give the owner time to completely check the dog for any possible injuries, skin problems, dental issues or even long toe nails. Grooming a short coated dog is typically done with a stiff bristle brush or pin brush, followed by a slicker brush. For those dogs with very short coats a slicker brush may be all that is used. If is absolutely critical to only brush the coat in the direction of hair growth. In most dogs this will be from the neck to the tail with a slightly downward angle. Brushing against the direction of hair growth can irritate the skin and cause small skin lesions that may become infected.
Some dogs, such as Bulldogs, Boxers, Boston Terriers, Pugs and even Chihuahuas can be groomed using a grooming mitt or glove. In addition a special grooming chamois cloth can be used to add a natural gleam and shine to the coat, it is simply rubbed over the coat in the direction of hair growth.
Medium to Long Coats
A dog with a medium to long coat is much more prone to tangles and mats in their coat, regardless of it being a single or double coat. In the spring and fall shedding in double coated dogs will make matting a particular problem, so additional grooming will be necessary at these times.
To groom a medium to long haired dog the owner will typically need at least two brushes, a pin brush and a slicker or stiff bristle brush. The pin brush can be used to groom the outer coat in the direction of hair growth and remove any and all tangles from the surface. The stiff bristle brush, or the pin brush if necessary, can then be used to brush out the woolly undercoat. To get through to the dense undercoat use your non-brush hand and simply push the longer outer coat up and forward, starting either at the neck and working back or at the hips and working forward. Use the stiff bristle or pin brush to gently brush the undercoat back down and in the direction of hair growth. As the undercoat is groomed down the outer coat will also fall back into place. Finish with the slicker brush for a polished appearance.
In the spring and fall a shedding blade can be used to trap the dead hair and remove it from the coat. These shedding blades, or a grooming rake, are just the tool to help get rid of the dead hair quickly and painlessly for the dog. Never pull out clumps of dead hair, this can cause the dog to become very sensitive in one area and can even lead to skin infections if the hair is pulled against the direction of growth.
Be sure when brushing a long haired breed to get all the hair, especially the areas prone to mats. These are typically the areas under the ears, along the neck, especially if the dog wears a collar, behind the legs and where the tail connects to the hips. The long hair on the rump, often known as the breeches, may also be an area prone to tangles and mats. If the mats are significant and cannot be removed with the brush, use scissors to cut them out.
Specialty Coats and Hair Types
Probably the most common specialty coat type is that of the terrier breeds. This wiry, naturally oily coat is thick and rough in texture on the outer coat and soft on the inner coat. The outer coat is typically not clipped or trimmed, rather it is routinely stripped. Stripping the coat involves a very detailed processes of plucking all the old, dead long hairs from the coat, leaving a short, trim coat that has a healthy appearance. Clipping most terriers is considered to damage their coats, often for several years. Most terrier owners or owners of wire-haired breeds will take their dog to a groomer to have this task completed.
Very few breeds have coats that cannot or should not be brushed. One such breed is the Komondor, whose long, ringlet coat should be allowed to form naturally and without brushing, but individual strands or ringlets are separated. The Puli is another such breed. The hairless dogs may not need special grooming, but their skin needs protection from the sun as well as regular conditioning to prevent drying and skin rashes.
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