Grooming is very essential for a dog. Regular grooming maintains the optimal health as well as emotional well-being of your dog. There are many professional grooming centres offering a wide range of services at fairly competitive rates. In addition to grooming centres just round the corner or across the street, there are many mobile grooming centres as well. Always, do check if the professional groomer has the requisite certification before entrusting your prized pet to them. While hiring a professional groomer is a better option for pet parents with funds to spare, grooming at home is for the budget-conscious.
For a pet parent trying his hand at home grooming for the first time, it is important to first understand the process before commencing with it. There are many how-to video as well as write-ups available online that explain the nuances of grooming a dog at home. Such how-to videos and write-ups are posted by both real pet parents as well as grooming experts. In addition to offering a platform for researching the process, the internet is also a good place to order your grooming essentials.
Remember, while pet grooming at home can be light on the pocket and be quite comforting for your dog, there are only certain styles and cuts that can be achieved within the confines of your home. A professional groomer, on the other hand, has the expertise to experiment and give your dog a whole new look altogether. If you are looking for a complete makeover for your dog, it is best to not try it at home and hire a professional groomer instead. Once the haircut has been given, follow-up touches can quite easily be given at home and the cut maintained for a fairly long time period.
For grooming at home, the following shall be required:
- Dog hair trimmer
- Dog hair clipper
- Shampoo and conditioner
- Comb – can be de-matting comb or finishing comb
- Brush – which can be either bristle brush, slicker brush or pin brush.
The above-mentioned are the basic tools required for grooming a dog at home. Depending upon the specific dog breed, other grooming tools might be required as well.
Ideal Brushes, as per Hair Texture
A brush used for grooming a dog at home can be either a bristle brush, slicker brush or a pin brush. While slicker brushes, with their fine wire bristles, are ideal for removing tangles and mats; pin brushes are used on dogs with woolly or curly coats. Bristle brushes are suited to almost all breeds.
The recommended brush type is in accordance with the hair coat type and texture. Some guidelines to pick the brush ideal for your specific requirements is:
- Short-haired dogs with wiry coats – such as Terriers – require a bristle brush that is firm and has short bristles that are closely spaced. Along with a bristle brush, the coat of a Terrier might also require a slicker brush as well.
- Delicate coats with a thin texture – such as Maltese, Yorkies – need to be brushed with a pin brush, along with a slicker brush for easing out mats and tangles.
- Short-haired dogs with smooth coats – such as Chihuahuas, Hounds, Retrievers – require a bristle brush with short bristles that are closely spaced to each other.
- Dogs who have medium to long hair – such as Spaniels, Lhasa Apsos, Setters – require brushing with a bristle brush, a wire-pin brush as well as a slicker brush. More prone to mats and tangles, dogs with medium to longer hair require the use of different types of brushes to keep their coats clean and shiny.
- Double-coated dogs – such as Pomeranians, Collies, Sheepdogs, Shepherds – also usually require the use of a bristle brush, a pin brush as well as a slicker brush. Such double-coated dogs are known for their thicker outer coat with a downy and soft woolly undercoat within.
The brushing technique for such double coated dogs also differs from the technique adopted for other breeds with single-layered dog coats. While single-layered coats have to be brushed in the direction of the hair growth, with the grain, so to speak; a double-coated dog outer coat has to be brushed with the grain and the softer inner coat is brushed against the grain.
The table below summarizes the various coat types and the ideal bushes for them:
|Serial No.||Hair Coat Type||Ideal Brush|
|1||A short-haired smooth coat – seen in most of the Hounds, Chihuahuas, Retrievers||* Bristle brush, either soft or medium, with short bristles that are closely placed to each other|
|2||Short-haired and wiry – as of Terriers||* Bristle brush that is firm and has short bristles closely placed to each other
* as well as a slicker brush
|3||Medium-haired to long-haired, usually with flowing hair – as commonly seen in Lhasa Apso, Setters, Spaniels, Golden Retrievers||* Bristle brush, either soft or medium, with bristles – can be either long bristles or short bristles – widely spaced;
* A pin brush made of wire
* Along with a slicker brush that can be used for easing out tangles and mats
|4||An outer coat with coarse hair and a downy soft undercoat – such double coats are seen in Chow Chows, Pomeranians, Sheepdogs,Collies, Shepherds||* Bristle brush which is firm, and has long bristles that are widely-spaced
* A pin brush made of wire
* As well as a slicker brush for easing out mats as well as tangles
|5||A thin-haired and delicate coat – such as of Maltese, Yorkies||* A pin brush made of wire
* Along with a softer slicker brush for easing-out mats and tangles
Selecting a Clipper
Also, keep in mind the basic difference between a clipper and a trimmer. While a clipper is larger-sized and used for cutting long hair, a trimmer is much smaller in size and used for detailing purposes. Selection of the ideal clipper blades also requires a certain amount of research. Always keep in mind that the lower the number of the blade, the longer the hair that you will end up with. That is, while Number 5 blade will leave behind one-fourth of the existing hair length, a Number 10 blade will leave behind one-hundredth of the original. You will also need a clipper spray to cool down the blade in between the clipping process.
A cut above the Rest
When it comes to a haircut for a dog, there are indeed many options to choose from. While certain haircuts and hairstyles are more suited to a particular variety of dog coat, there are some cuts that can be given to almost any dog, irrespective of the coat.
Some of the most popular haircuts for dogs are:
- The Wavy Coat Dog Hair
Known for its curls, the wavy dog hair tends to knot and tangle easily. Also, as the wavy hair is prone to breakage, always spray on a conditioner before brushing a dog sporting such a coat. The haircut for a wavy coat dog depends upon the pet parent concerned. There are no set rules as such for grooming a dog with wavy hair.
Popular breeds with wavy hair include – Poodle, Bichon Frise, Irish Water Spaniel and Curly Coated Retriever.
- The Puppy Cut
One of the most low-maintenance cuts, the Puppy Cut is popular with many pet parents. As the hair on the entire length of the body is clipped to a uniform length, usually 1-2 inches, the amount of grooming required after such a haircut is reduced greatly. This haircut is not a breed-specific haircut as such and can be given to almost any breed.
The Puppy Cut is also known as the Kennel Cut, as kennel owners give the puppies in their care this cut to make them more manageable and hassle-free. A popular summer cut, the Puppy Cut is probably the most popular haircut with pet parents who want to keep it simple, opting for practicality over style.
- The Teddy Bear Cut
Quite similar to the Puppy Cut, the Puppy Cut also involves the hair being clipped short all over the body. The only difference between the Teddy Bear Cut and the Puppy Cut being with regards to the face. While in the Teddy Bear Cut, the hair on the face is trimmed and styled to resemble that of a cute and cuddly teddy bear, the hair on the head is not specifically styled in a Puppy Cut.
While this cut can be given to almost any breed, common breeds sporting this hairstyle include the Shih Tzu and Pomeranian.
- The ‘Practical’ Top Knot
In a ‘Practical’ Top Knot Hairstyle, some of the hair on the head is gathered together and secured with a ribbon or band, giving the appearance of a ponytail of sorts. Sometimes, the ponytail can also be braided as well. Secured in a ponytail, the hair then falls in the semblance of a cascade. Hair on the rest of the body is then trimmed to a uniform length, as per the preference of the pet parent concerned.
The ‘Practical’ Top Knot is most commonly seen on Shih Tzus.
- The Top Knot Show Cut
Somewhat similar to the above-mentioned ‘Practical’ Top Knot, the Top Knot Show Cut differs in the fact that this cut is reserved for show dogs. While in the ‘Practical’ Top Knot, hair on the rest of the body is clipped; hair is left as it is in the Top Knot Show Cut. This particular haircut, while scoring on styling, fails miserably at practicality. As the hair is left long, there is more tendency towards developing knots and tangles. Dogs that have a Top Knot Show Cut have to be brushed many times in a day.
- The Lamb Cut
To achieve a Lamb Cut, hair on the body and neck is clipped short, leaving comparatively longer hair on the head and legs. The hair on the legs and head is then cut by hand with the help of a scissors. The Lamb Cut combines practicality with style. Low maintenance as it is, the longer hair on the head as well as legs also tend to up the dog’s style quotient. This is not a breed-specific haircut and can be given to any dog.
- The Lion Cut
As the name suggests, the Lion Cut involves making the dog appear like a lion. To achieve the lion’s mane, hair on the neck and back is left longer. The hair on the rest of the body is cut short. While the Lion Cut can be given to almost any dog, it is most favored by pet parents of little Pomeranians. With a Lion Cut, even a Pom can look menacing enough.
While the ‘Practical’ Top Knot and the Top Knot Show Dog are ideal for dogs with long hair, the other hairstyles can be given to any dog, regardless of the length of hair that it has. When deciding upon the perfect haircut for your dog, do keep in mind your reasons for going in for the cut. That is, if the haircut is for practical reasons or for stylistic purposes. Practical haircuts – such as the Teddy Bear Cut and the Puppy Cut – are recommended for pet parents who wish to keep the grooming process simple and hassle-free. On the other hand, for those with an eye for styling, Top Knots are the perfect choice.
When it comes to selecting the prefect haircut for your dog, it is only you who can decide. Your dog, in any case, hardly has a say in the matter.