Spring means tulips, cherry blossoms and that your dog is about to blow its winter coat! I'm sure most of you have a few brushes and combs lying around but I have a feeling if you own a double coated breed (like a Newfoundland) then you probably have an arsenal of grooming tools and products that cost as much as a child's tuition. Grooming isn't hard, it just takes some time and if you do a little brushing every day then you'll have a dog that people just gush over because they look so pretty! The bonus is that you'll be able to detect any skin problems or lumps and bumps that you may not have noticed before.
Why groom your dog yourself you ask? Well, I got to know a few local groomers on the show circuit who also own their own shops and I asked them what they would charge to groom a Newfoundland in full coat, just a pet cut not a show quality cut, and the typical response was that it started at $150.00. What? I almost keeled over until another friend said that they charge him $60 for a toy breed puppy cut. What? You could invest that money in tools and one or two grooming sessions with a professional and learn to do it yourself. Really, it's just practice and in the long run you'll save yourself so much money and keep your dog
Since I do all my own grooming on both the dachshunds and the newfoundland I thought I would show you what is in my grooming bag so you can pick up some basics that will help get you started. These are mainly for "pet" grooming, show grooming takes it to a different level, and some products and tools are very particular to a breed so I am only going to cover what I use to keep my dogs clean and trimmed for day to day grooming.
First off, the bag. If you have tools then you'll need a place to put them to stay organized. My favorite bags are actually contractor's bags that you can find at a place like Ace or Home Depot. They have plenty of pockets that are big enough to fit a variety of brushes and cans. I like the idea of a bag you can zip closed, especially if you are taking your tools to a show, because I've seen people lose thousands of dollars worth of scissors and brushes that were stolen, but at home I use the Husky 10" All Purpose Tote. It's incredibly sturdy, has a ton of room, and I can see everything at once.
I cleaned out my bag last weekend and here are the basics that I use every month to keep the dogs trimmed and brushed out. (What isn't shown are the nail clippers and the grinder but they should be a part of your routine also. I like using a grinder because I can get closer to the quick but I still need clippers for the dew claws.)
Here are my main tools for the longhaired dachshunds and I try to buy the best quality I can afford, they last so much longer. The tools I'm linking to aren't necessarily the ones I'm showing in the pictures and might not be ones that I've actually used but are similar:
- Pin Brush- I use this for brushing through snarled coats and to help get sticks and stickers out.
- Boar Bristle Brush- This brush is to smooth out the coat and daily brushing. Gets a nice shine going and brings out the natural oils.
- Small Shedding Comb- Your longhaired dachshund sheds too and this will get all the dead hair out without scraping the skin like the Furminator does. Tried the Furminator and I hated it, plus it really hurt! I find that you end up cutting the top hair and not really getting at the undercoat so I don't recommend it.
- Fine Stripping Knife- Great tool for getting rid of dead hair and a must if you have a wirehaired dachshund. Lay almost flat and work like a comb if you have a longhair, but don't stay in one area too long or push too hard or you'll have a naked dog! Using a stripping knife for a wirehaired is an art form to me and one I am not familiar with so please ask a show groomer how to use it on a wire coat. I've used this on Foyle too for stripping out his front feet and stop of dead hair.
- Coarse Stripping Knife- I use the coarse on the body and the fine along the throat and on the back of the neck. If you are showing I really like this look vs. using clippers, it's much smoother and more natural looking to me. Start a few months before with a hard trim then follow up with the stripping knife and keep working it every night.
Here are the basic tools you'll need to groom your Newfoundland, scissors not included, those are coming up next:
- Poodle Comb- Must have to get through thick coats and mats. Work layer by layer, starting at the bottom and lifting the coat up to get all the way to the skin. Some versions have very sharp pins so you may need to sand them down.
- Slicker Brush- You'll need several sizes but these are good for every day brushing and a "softer" way to get through the coat. Get one with a comfortable handle because you'll use this a lot!
- Undercoat Rake- This will be your best friend and I found my rake to be the best tool to get all the dead undercoat out. It's addictive when you see how good it works!
- Mat Remover- Get a few different sizes because you'll need to get into small areas at times. Be very careful with this tool, it is incredibly sharp and will rip your dog's skin or your hand apart easily. Literally cuts through mats. If they are really bad please just use scissors and cut them out carefully.
Finally we have scissors. This will take you from amateur to professional but it can take some practice to learn how to use them effectively for your breed. This is where you want to spend your money because a high quality pair will last years if taken care of appropriately. Scissors are also very personal so don't be offended if someone won't let you try theirs out. One drop and they can be ruined. I have had good luck with Geib so that's what I will link to, but if you have a chance to try out different brands please do! I use#1 and #3 on both the dachshunds and the newfoundland.
- 48 Tooth Thinning Shears- Must have if you're getting a pair of thinning shears, great for blending and thinning out a thick coat.
- Curved Shears- I use these mainly for the newfoundland to round out the chest and sometimes the stomach. Great for tight feet and blending into the feathers. Wish I had a miniature pair for the dachshunds.
- Straight Shears, Small- Good all around scissors, if you are only getting one pair get a straight pair. Good on ears, feet, tails, almost everything.
- Straight Shears, Long- Excellent for newfoundlands, especially for feathers and hocks where you want to do one long cut so it isn't jagged.
- 26 Tooth Thinning Shears- We call these the Chainsaw and you will love, love, love these if you are grooming a newfoundland. This cuts your grooming time in half but it takes out a lot of hair in one cut. Awesome for doing a hard trim, or a shorter summer cut. I have Oster and they are very tempermental. Any drop or knock and I have to have them fixed and they just don't cut the same. If I win the lottery I'm going to buy the Geib. Do not use on dachshunds.
- 3 3/4 & 3 3/4fc Clipper Blades- If you decide or have a groomer shave your newfoundland ask for these sizes. Do not go shorter or else there will not be enought protection and you'll risk burning their skin. These blades leave @ 3/4" of hair and it makes them look better than a tight clip. It's a personal decision to clip but if you don't have time to brush through a thick coat daily or don't want to tackle a shampoo/dry session then don't feel bad about shaving. I started shaving Foyle to prevent dehydration and further damage to his kidneys and I was sad to see his coat go, but so happy that he feels more comfortable. Plus, they are less likely to get hot spots and skin infections which are painful and can lead to further problems.
My two favorite places to buy tools are Pet Edge (ask for the catalog because they don't always show up on line unless you know what you are looking for) and Cherrybrook Premium Pet Supplies. Pet Edge has the best prices and Cherrybrook has unique tools and brands that I like.
So, there you have the basics for two different breeds. I was lucky enough to have friends teach me how to groom and we still get together for grooming "parties" to help each other out, but if you aren't part of a breed club ask a trusted groomer if you can pay for a few lessons. Next week I'll go over products like shampoo and conditioners and how to wash your dog. Yes, there's a right way to wash your dog! What are your favorite tools? Please share, this is how we learn and try out new ideas!