Grooming tails and doodle dilemmas!
by Cheryl Mason // February 2018
Grooming tails and doodle dilemmas!
Having previously qualified as a veterinary nurse as well as groomer, I have been fortunate to work with and handle dogs in one capacity or another. Perhaps one of the biggest changes I have seen over the years are the trends in certain breeds and the increasing complexity of the care needed with these dogs, in part due to their coat type.
Did you know that there are six different coat types a dog can have?
These consist of; Smooth, Wire, Silky, Double coated, Woolly and Corded. I have purposely listed these in terms of the level of care these coats need to maintain them. The latter two being the most labour-intensive.
It is really important to establish which of these coat types your dog has, as each will determine which grooming tools and schedule will be required, both at home and at the groomers.
More recently there has been a sharp rise in the number of the wool coated breeds, commonly known to us doggy people as ‘Doodles’. These consist of any combination of breeds that include Poodle or Bichon Frise. Eg Cockapoos, Labradoodles, Cavachons, Lhasa-poos……the list goes on!
Although coats can vary within a litter of doodle siblings, more often than not if mum or dad is either Poodle or Bichon Frise, then the pups will likely be of the woolly variety.
These coats require great vigilance by their owner and daily brushing and combing in all areas (even the tricky bits such as groin, armpits, inside legs and under ears) as they will become problematic fairly quickly. Often fine knots will occur if the dog has got wet or simply through friction. Friction knots occur in those tricky areas mentioned purely from movement and the coat rubbing together, or through a collar or harness rubbing the coat in those area.
Of course, we cannot avoid our dogs needing to wear a collar or harness and we want them to go out and enjoy themselves, but the care rests firmly with us as owners to ensure we pay particular grooming attention to these areas too.
Further to this, doodles require a regular professional grooming schedule and need to be clipped out every 4-6 weeks to prevent the coat getting too out of hand and troublesome knots developing into matted coat that cannot be saved anyway.
The problem with knots and mats is twofold; from both a physical and mental aspect. Firstly, knots twist and tighten over time and also if they get wet. This means that they pull on the dog’s skin, damaging the hair follicles and causing the dog pain and distress if left for any length of time.
Secondly, the dog becomes resentful of being groomed and handled. In the dog’s mind all they know is that they have something on them that hurts and they don’t want anyone to touch it or them. This all too often causes the dog to develop a strong aversion to grooming, which can be a vicious circle as it will make life difficult us as owners as well as the groomer.
Obviously this a counterproductive for these dogs when they have a whole lifetime ahead of them needing to be groomed and kept comfortable. This is absolutely the reason why it is so important to build that positive and trustful bond with your dog from as early in life as possible, in getting them used to being handled and groomed all over, accompanied by treats and praise, so that the dogs become accustomed to the process and come to see this as a good thing. This also strengthens that all-important dog and owner bond too. As I always said to owners
“if a dog isn’t used to being groomed at home by their owner, then they are less likely to allow a relative stranger (albeit a friendly one!) to groom them at all!”
Of course, grooming isn’t only necessary for the longer-coated, wool breeds, as said earlier, but for dogs of all coat types. Therefore, it is essential to establish a good regime using the appropriate grooming tools.
Here at Dogs Trust Dog School we teach a handling element in our classes, amongst many other useful skills, to prepare our dogs for those groomer, as well as vet visits. We bring various bits of professional paraphernalia into our classes to make this as relevant to the dogs as possible, such as vet clothing, stethoscope, grooming tools and such like.