show your support

Dog Grooming Basics - All You Need To Keep Your Dog In Tip Top Shape

Simple or Stylish - a Complete Nose to Tail Makeover

Go to "Dog Grooming At Home Study Guide"

Jump straight to the specific dog grooming challenge you are faced with:

It is believed that as far back as 100,000 years ago, the wolf's DNA differentiated itself from the dog's. Whether this occurred as a turning point in the evolutionary timeline, or as a result of man's hand is unclear. What is clear is that the idea of a domesticated canine following man's footsteps is no new concept.

One study suggests that all dogs alive today are descendants of 3 Chinese bitches, who lived 15,000 years ago. Shall we say, the 3 Eves of dogkind?

Additionally, a human was found buried with his dog in Germany. Both bodies dated to 14,000 years ago. And, the oldest bones of a companion dog found in North or South American have been unearthed in Utah - and that little fella is believed to be 11,000 years old. Basically humans and dogs go way back, and it's easy to see why...

Dog Grooming Schools

The History of Pooch Panache

Now that we've touched on Dog History 101, the question remains:

If domesticated dogs have been around since about 12,000 B.C., when did humans begin to practice dog grooming? Did cavemen set up shop in fissures and barter puppy clips? Not likely. The first instance is surely not documented. Maybe it consisted of matted patches of fur cut with a sharpened whale bone, or yeast-filled ears cleaned with a cloth woven from animal fur?

What we do know is that documentation and depictions of dogs serving as princes and princesses of their owners' castles exist as far back as 4240 B.C. And, as you may imagine, they were not akin to Tramp. I'd bet they were more the class of Lady!

In 17th Century France, the poodle became the official dog of Louis XV's court, awarding her the rags-to-riches term "French Poodle". Many of the do's that the poodle donned long ago still live today - in the Continental and English Saddle clips. Around that same time, Terriers were considered to be prettier when their coats were trimmed of excess wiry hair.

In the 19th Century, the first documentation of how-to grooming guides serves as evidence of washing, trimming, and general maintenance of the aristocratic dog. Paintings from that same period depict both a lady shearing her companion, and a professional performing the same in a village marketplace.

No matter the exact point in time when professional dog grooming was born, we can all agree - it's been a doggone long time. Our own hairstyles have changed - from the powdered wig to the mullet to the stacked bob. Our fashions have evolved from buffalo hides to hoop skirts to leg warmers to low-rise jeans. But one glance at a dated depiction of man and his best friend will reveal that dog style has changed little. In fact, if you look hard enough, you're likely to find a painting of a man wearing a beaver fur hat and a frock coat, accompanied by a little Yorkshire Terrier that eerily resembles your own little Yorkie.

Dog grooming is an art that has spanned centuries - and one that has never gone out of style.

Dog Grooming - not just for High-Class Citizens

Is your dog a high-maintenance diva, or a scruffy, low-maintenance tough guy?

Regardless of whether your buddy sports bows and braids, or burrs and a funky odor, a few grooming practices are mandatory for the maintenance of a dog's health and happiness.

The Daily Brush is not a club into which only long-haired dogs are admitted. Brushing is necessary for controlling shedding and stimulating blood flow. It also removes parasites, like fleas and ticks, from all lengths of hair. Stimulating the skin with brushing promotes proper oil distribution to the coat, which is essential to a shiny, healthy look and feel. It's imperative that long-haired dogs are brushed daily, for resulting mats can be painful and dangerous to cut away.

Bathing Your Dog not only transforms him into a more pleasant-smelling companion, but promotes skin health and a shiny coat.

Nail Trimming is more than a diva's pedicure. Nails that are too long can curl into the dog's pad and cause pain and result in infection. They can split, causing the same kind of pain that your own split nail would cause. Additionally, too-long nails can cause toes to spread, resulting in lameness, poor posture, and joint pain. And yes, long nails hurt you...and your furniture.

Tooth Brushing offers more benefits than the obvious. In addition to curbing doggie breath, it stimulates blood flow to the gums, removes plaque and tartar, and prevents gum (periodontal) disease. Your dog's teeth are important - because to date, effective doggie dentures have not been patented.

Ear Cleaning is especially important for our floppy-eared friends. If you've ever had a dog with an ear infection, there was no denying it. Between the smell and the head-shaking, it's more than obvious. Floppy ears promote the build-up of wax and the growth of sinister villains like bacteria, fungus, and yeast, which can lead to infection, itching, pain, and further complications if not treated.

Clipping is essential for certain long-haired breeds, to prevent mats and skin problems.

Other grooming musts occur on a case-by-case basis. For instance, if your dog is sprayed by a skunk, has hot spots, or is hosting a flea circus, auxiliary procedures are necessary to return Spot to normal.

It's important for either you or a professional groomer to perform, at a minimum, the above procedures to stay abreast of your dog's health - to spot lumps or lesions, and remove harmful parasites.

Every dog deserves basic grooming. Just as you know the importance of daily bathing and grooming for yourself, you should now understand that a dog's level of health can be in direct proportion to the amount of grooming attention he receives. When you groom your dog, you're offering a service that wolves shower upon one another, daily. When pack members groom one another, they are not only removing insects and other harmful elements from one another's fur, but they are strengthening the pack bond.

dog grooming supplies

Preparing Your Dog For Grooming

I've got to be honest with you - if I was expected to stand still while a stranger came toward me with sharp objects, buzzing appliances, and strange-smelling concoctions that I'd never before encountered, I would be nervous, to say the least. But, having my own hair cut and styled is no big deal. Why? Because I've been conditioned to understand that there is no threat, either from the barber or from the tools she uses. If I had been raised in a commune where haircutting was forbidden, and was then released into the civilized world, my first haircut would be a traumatic event. Who knows? I might bite someone - and I'm not even a dog.

Helping your dog to embrace these same notions at an early age is imperative if you intend for him to have a pleasant grooming experience.

Start as soon as you bring the dog into your home. He can never be too young or too old. Introduce basic commands (stand, sit, stay, lie down, paw) and make common practice of massaging, brushing, poking, and picking at your dog. Open his mouth and introduce a toothbrush donned with poultry or beef flavored toothpaste. Spread his toes and wiggle your finger in between his pads. Lift his ears and lips. Take his collar off and back on again.

Why? Imagine this. If you were never hugged, kissed, touched, or patted on the back, you might be suspicious of the first person that approached you in such a manner. If hands were never laid on you, except for punishment, you might be inclined to defend yourself against any advances. That's how a dog that hasn't been introduced to touching will feel about his groomer - whether it's you or a professional. Make it fun - teach your dog to revel in the attention.

Start early to properly socialize your dog. Take him to the park, to stores that allow pets, to friends' houses that have children and pets. When a dog is introduced to a situation early, with no negative effects, he will trust similar situations throughout his life. Again, imagine if you were holed up in a house with the same people for all of your life, never coming into contact with anyone in the outside world. When you finally meet outside people, your reactions would likely be much different than those of a person who's become accustomed to socializing. Your dog will naturally be suspicious of people if he hasn't come to learn that there are lots of them and most of them are harmless. The last thing you want is for your dog to assume that his groomer is going to harm him. That will result in anxiety for the dog and possible injury to the groomer.

Obedience classes are a wonderful way to familiarize your dog with other animals and people, and to teach him basic commands that will be helpful during grooming.

Introduce your dog to running water and a sink with warm water in it. If you plan to wash at home, use the sink that you will bath your dog in. If you plan on using a professional groomer, at least the dog will be trustful of the sound and feel of the water.

A spayed or neutered animal is always calmer, and less prone to anxiety and biting.

When the day finally comes for your puppy or dog's first grooming appointment, drop him off and leave quickly. Assurance from you sends a message to the dog that there's something to worry about. Likewise, if you're planning on doing the dog grooming yourself, maintain a light and playful attitude. Reassuring your dog through the process may serve to raise his anxiety level - and yours. Don't make a big deal of it.

Be sure to inform your dog's groomer of any health issues, not only those which you deem relevant to the grooming procedure. Also, be sure that your dog's vaccinations are current before his first grooming appointment.

How To Choose Your Dog Groomer

As with choosing your own hairstylist, looking in the yellow pages isn't the recommended method. You could find yourself contracted with Edward Scissorhands, or the last man on earth that still embraces the mullet.

Likewise, the yellow pages and strip mall signs are not good methods for quality decision making. Compile a list of potential groomers and visit each one, taking the following factors into consideration. When choosing your dog groomer consider these important elements:

  1. Cleanliness: Do the staff clean up after each dog's procedure? Are cages kept free of urine and feces? If the smell in the facility is offensive, I would assume the service to be the same. When you patronize a substandard grooming facility, you risk the infection of your dog's skin...or worse.

  2. Humane Treatment: Are the animals in the groomer's care treated with a nurturing and patient manner? Are the handlers gentle? Are dogs and cats housed in separate areas? Are cages large enough to accommodate the animals in them? And are dogs under automatic blow dryers monitored, to prevent burning? If, during your visit, the staff at the facility does not seem to be enamored with their furry clients, then imagine how they treat them while not under your scrutiny.

  3. Good Lighting and Organization: Is the facility well-lit? Are work areas well-spaced and organized? If more than one groomer works at a time, does each one have sufficient space to move around his or her workspace? If the groomer is cramped, expected to operate with substandard equipment, or under insufficient lighting, no one can honestly expect the results to be dynamic.

  4. Finished Product: Visit during regular business hours so that you can assess the quality of the hairstyles exiting. Would you be satisfied if your dog were donning the same quality? Crooked cuts and skin nicks are good reasons to cross a groomer's office off your list.

  5. Particular Breed Results: If your dog is of the Terrier persuasion, do not make a decision based on a Golden Retriever's bath and clip. Some groomers specialize in particular breeds, and likewise, some shy away from certain breeds because they do not have the experience or the desire to perform a certain style. Be specific about your dog's breed and the clip style that you fancy. Ask for pictures, and decide for yourself.

  6. Vaccinations: Choose a groomer who requires all canine clients to sport vaccination records - like Rabies and Bordatella (Kennel Cough). This will protect all animals, including yours, that share a space while in the facility.

  7. Familiarize Yourself: Take a few minutes to ask the manager or staff questions involving time required for a visit, appointment availability, cost, pick-up and delivery procedures, and complete services offered.

  8. Tranquilizers: If your dog is of the anxious sort, and will require a tranquilizer for his appointment, ask your groomer if they will administer it. Many will not (unless they're affiliated with a veterinary office), but will accept an animal that has been tranquilized by a veterinarian and transported to the groomer's office.

Additionally, network with your dog's veterinarian, kennel, pet supply retailer, breeder, and pet-owner friends for recommendations. Clients who have had a bad experience will talk - and so will those who've been satisfied. Rumors travel fast - but so does a good word about a quality product.

You can expect to pay $40 to $60 for your dog's visit to a professional groomer. Of course, that price can vary. Urban locales tend to be pricier. Mobile dog grooming services' prices are a bit higher, but so is their convenience factor. And, of course, heavy matting and complex cuts will add bucks to your bill.

Whether you chance the groomer-next-door, or travel three towns south, a finicky attitude is central to grooming success.

Get a Dog Clip without making the Trip

Trekking to the dog groomer can be difficult for some folks. Namely seniors, the disabled, and those with limited available time to do so. Additionally, some dogs fall victim to car sickness or are just too aged or ill to withstand the trip. For any of these difficult situations, there is an answer - Mobile Dog Grooming.

mobile dog grooming

Mobile dog grooming offers convenience in a busy world. The difference in price from stationary facilities might just be justified with the amount of gas and time that you save. Housed in vans or trailers, mobile dog groomers will perform full service dog grooming right outside your home. You're simply responsible for providing a legal parking space. The grooming is performed right under your muzzle, so you can be sure that procedures are performed to your high standards.

Moreover, your dog is king of the mobile groomer's office. He'll have the entire facility to himself. That means no sharing of parasites or illnesses, or animal kingdom tussles with other questionable characters.

Mobile groomers also come in handy when you're out of town with your pooch. You no longer have to search for a groomer's office. They'll come to your hotel or resort and pamper your beloved. So why make the trip?

Dog Grooming at Home - Keepin it in the Family

Considering attending to your dog's hygiene needs at home? Consider this: When you work your dog's skin and remove foreign objects, you're mirroring a portion of his natural, wild heritage. Wolves do it for one another, and now you can use home dog grooming, not only as part of a money-saving routine, but as a vehicle to bond with your best bud. He will repay you with heightened loyalty and extra wet kisses.

Just ten minutes per day spent doting on your doggie's physical condition will result in a stronger bond and a mutual respect.

You may want to shoulder all hygiene needs at home, or just a portion. Here, you'll find a menu of standard services offered by professional dog groomers (or, you). Keep in mind that if you choose to take care of your dog's grooming needs at home, you will be required to purchase a few dog grooming supplies to get you up and running.

Brushing Your Dog

Fur, that is - We'll Touch on Teeth Later

Daily brushing is necessary for every dog, regardless of fur length. True, longer hair is more prone to mats and tangles, but brushing your short-haired dog stimulates blood flow and oils, and importantly, alerts you to any changes in his skin condition.

If, while brushing, you notice sore spots, itchy skin, or a notably dull coat, consider your dog's overall health. If his latest veterinary check-up has proven him to be free from disease, consider changing his diet. Higher quality dog foods are sometimes the answer. Also, the addition of fatty oil to his diet can clear up skin conditions quite effectively.

Also note that parasites in your dog's fur can transfer disease and can take a leap from the dog to you or your family members.

Black specks on the dog's skin are a sure indicator of the presence of fleas. Run a flea comb through the hair and put your finds into soapy water to kill them. A flea-killing shampoo should be used during your dog's next bath (start at the head when washing, to avoid a flea stampede into the dog's ears).

If a tick is found crawling, pluck it and plunge it into rubbing alcohol to kill it. If the tick is imbedded in your dog's skin, use tweezers to grasp its head, as close to the skin as possible, and pull it straight out, at a 90 degree angle to your dog's body. Do not use substances like petroleum jelly or dish soap to force the tick to back out of the dog. This could stress the tick and cause it to regurgitate its contents back into Fido. Yuck! Also, do not attempt to kill the tick before pulling it. If you do, you will be left with a half-tick whose jaws are clamped into the skin - making it nearly impossible to remove. If you pull the tick and the head remains in the dog's skin, swab the area with rubbing alcohol, and the skin will likely naturally push the head out, or the skin will grow around it. Consult with your veterinarian if the area becomes inflamed or red.

Examine your dog for burrs, seeds, thorns and other foreign objects while brushing his fur. Remove any that you find. Check between his pads for those same types of objects. Cuts and irritations from any of these can cause infection and numerous other complications.

Tools needed for brushing depend greatly upon your dog's coat length. Long-haired dogs are going to require the most maintenance, and the greatest number of grooming tools. You'll need an oil-based conditioner or detangler, a pair of scissors or a mat razor, a fine toothed comb, a wide toothed comb, a pliant wire brush, and a mat comb. Coats that sport tresses of significant length are pleasing to the touch and the eye, but require an extra shot of maintenance. Mats are common, and must be removed - either by combing or cutting. If left intact, mats will tighten until the dog's skin is pulled and his movement inhibited. Severe pain and infection can result.

Dogs with a medium length coat can get by with a soft brush for most spots, and a comb for longer, feathered areas.

Short coats, which are all the rage this season, require little hair styling, but stimulation and examination are still necessary. A terrycloth rag or hound glove with massaging nubs work perfectly.

Brushing your dog daily aids in eliminating future problems and gives both of you a special time to look forward to. Read on for a better understanding of the construction of your dog's coat and to learn about where all of that extra hair is coming from!

The Anatomy of a Dog's Coat

Collar, Bodice, Hem

To better understand why your dog is carpeting your house with fur, or why you must dodge tumble furweeds to make your way from room to room, let's discuss the construction and function of your dog's coat.

Dogs that shed seasonally (or year-round) have double coats. That is, a top coat and an undercoat. The top coat is what you see. The shiny, coarse guard hairs protect the dog by repelling water, sun, and other unwelcome contaminants. If you find a hair in your house that looks much like the others lying about, but is longer, tapered at the end, coarser, and thicker, you've recovered a guard hair. These guard hairs are shed only once per year.

The undercoat is composed of a more downy hair, and is usually what you find in your dog's brush. In most climates, the undercoat dies twice per year. The length of daylight triggers a hormone within the dog's system, which in turn triggers this function. Other circumstances may dictate heavy shedding. Bad nutrition, poor general health, whelping, recent x-rays, surgery, or the administering of anesthesia may cause your dog to present uncharacteristic shedding.

You can expect a normal shedding cycle to last for three to eight weeks. Some breeds, and some dogs that live in areas with irregular daylight patterns, may shed year-round.

You can control your dog's shedding with the addition of a fatty oil into his diet and regular brushing and bathing. Or, collect it and make a sweater;)

Singled-coated dogs, like poodles and some terriers, do not shed. Their hair is more like ours. It keeps growing...and growing...and growing. Single-coated dogs make up a large portion of dog groomers' clientele for this very reason.

Bathing Your Dog

That Coat is not "Dry Clean Only"

You should bathe your dog about once per month. More frequent bathing could cause drying of his skin. Sometimes, a veterinarian will recommend more frequent shampooing, but will also probably prescribe special shampoo that contains Aloe Vera or another specific medication for your dog's specific skin problem. Conversely, bathing that's done too infrequently can leave your dog with an excess of oil, mats, and a bad smell. Use a canine-specific shampoo. Human shampoo has the wrong pH level, and will leave Fido with skin problems.

Have everything you'll need for your dog's bath by your side - before beginning. If you're halfway through the bath and realize that you've forgotten the towel, you'll be in a pickle, to say the least. Have a washcloth, dog wash, and a towel available. Remember any extras, too, like treats or conditioner.

Start by brushing the dog and removing any mats. Place him into an empty tub or sink and add a few inches of warm water, slowly. If the rising water puts Pooch into a panic, use a detachable shower head in a dry tub. Use a light spray or a cup to wet his fur, avoiding his head. Lather, using your fingertips to massage the skin, while taking the time to feel for any lesions, bumps, or parasites. Avoid the eye, ear, and face area while lathering. Most dog soaps aren't tear-proof.

Be sure to thoroughly rinse the soap from Rover's fur, or he could be left with itchy skin and a dull or sticky coat.

After he's rinsed, use a wet washcloth to wipe his face and the insides of his ears. If you're lucky, you'll get him out of the water before the great shake. A towel placed over his head may help to delay the inevitable while you transfer him to a shake friendly zone, but always be alert - you could be plastered at any moment.

Workin' at the Dog Wash. Workin' at the Dog Wash, Yeah!

What? You don't enjoy chasing your dog with the hose? Or wiping hair from the bathtub? Or cleaning up after your dog shakes and plasters your home decor with soap, hair, and dog-scented water? Well, you’re not alone.

Enter the Self-Serve Dog Wash.

Self-serve dog washes exist for much the same reason as car washes do. You might enjoy the convenience of a car wash - no unwinding and rewinding of the hose, endurance of low water pressure, or searching for elusive supplies. You can drive into the car wash, do your business, and leave in a matter of minutes, without the headache.

Today's self-serve dog washes come equipped with all the dog grooming supplies you will ever need including large tubs, sprayers, drains, lead clips to keep Fido in place, dryers, shampoo, and other amenities that vary by location. Some are operated in conjunction with a grooming business, while others are truly self-serve, coin or bill operated, 24-hour facilities.

If you'll be workin' at the dog wash, try to plan your trip on a weekday, to avoid a long line of dirty doggies.

You can expect to pay from $10 to $20 per wash. If you have a large dog, a hairy dog, or a dog that likes to...let's say...express himself during baths, it just might be more than worth it.

Ear Cleaning

Huh? Whadya Say?

Any dog can fall victim to ear problems, but our floppy-ear'd friends, especially those that swim, are the most susceptible. Why? Because most of the nasties found in a dirty dog ear flourish in damp, dark places. Bacteria, yeast, and fungus like to live with the curtains drawn.

We've discussed that ears should be cleaned with clear water and a washcloth during bath time, but it's also important that ears be checked and cleaned weekly. Wax buildup can lead to population of the sinister villains mentioned above, and can in turn breed a nasty infection, or even a hematoma resulting from all of the dog's head shaking.

The best indicator of a problem in your dog's ears is a nasty smell. And believe me, once you smell it, you won't forget it! Couple that with head shaking, and you'd be wise to get on the phone with the veterinarian.

Your dog's ears should be inspected every week for sore spots, foreign material, and excessive build-up of any substance.

How to prevent infections? Keep those ears clean.

Start with an ear wash specially made for canines. If your dog has a history of ear infections, his veterinarian may prescribe one that contains a drying agent. Wet a cotton ball and wipe out the inside of the ear flap. If your dog wants to shake, allow him. This will help to loosen the wax and expel the excess fluid. Use a Q-tip to clean the valleys inside the ear flap, but do not insert either the cotton ball or the Q-tip into the canal. You may see the veterinarian do this - but as with any stunt, do not try this at home.

If your dog's ears sport their own hairdos, they will need to be trimmed before cleaning. Never pluck or trim hairs deeper than half an inch into the canal. Hair removal will allow you to see any abnormalities, and to more effectively clean the ear. Once again, ask your Vet if you have any concerns.

Dog Nail Trimming

Pedicures not Reserved for the Prim.

Many pet owners shy away from cutting their own dog's nails, but if you know what you're doing, it's not just a breeze - it's a wind storm. You may have heard nightmare stories of owners who have cut the quick of the nail and been plagued with flowing blood and a distressed dog for days. Okay, maybe they're being a bit dramatic, but we'll go with it. Here, we'll discuss how to know where the quick starts. We'll also cover what to do if the quick is cut.

A number of nail cutters are available, including the guillotine and pliers types. The guillotine, or Resco, style is constructed much like a cigar cutter, and the pliers...well, like a pair of pliers. A file or rotary tool designed for smoothing rough edges after the cut can be used...if you can get your dog to sit still that long. Sharp edges normally wear down on their own within a few days. A walk on concrete or blacktop does a great job of this.

It's recommended that nails be cut every 2 to 3 weeks, to avoid complications from overgrown ones, like split or ingrown nails, and even lameness.

The quick is a bundle of blood vessels and nerves. And it has the potential to quickly complicate your dog's pedicure experience. If the quick is cut, it will cause your dog a great amount of pain, and the bleeding can be difficult to stop.

If your dog is lucky enough to be blessed with light-colored nails, the quick is visible as a dark or pink area that runs up the center of the nail. Its end is obvious, and that's important, because you don't want to cut into it. For these fair beauties, nail cutting instructions are simple: Cut the nail at a flat 90 degree angle, 2 mm from the end of the dark-colored quick.

More common dark nails are also more complicated to cut. The quick is not obvious, so it's best to snip small amounts of the nail at a time, rather than all in one slice. With every cut, look into the interior of the nail. With the first snip, you'll see the light-colored core of the nail. Cutting into this part is not painful. Continue until a second interior, gray or pink, area is visible. This is the beginning of the quick, which means...quick...stop cutting! Ideally, you'll want to cut the nail 2 mm from this area in the future, and the more often you cut Poochie's paws, the more familiar you will become with his unique nail anatomy.

What to do if the quick is nipped? First, there will be no mistaking the cut. Your dog will let you know. Second, understand that it's not uncommon for an injured quick to bleed rather profusely. If it happens, don't panic, and cover the bleeding with a towel. Then submerge the nail into a cup of flour or cornstarch, and keep it there for a few minutes. This should slow or stop the bleeding. You may rinse the excess cornstarch or flour from the dog's paw with warm water. Other commercial products, such as styptic pens, quick-stop, clotting powders, and clotting solutions are also available. Bleeding should stop within 10 minutes.

It's important to be cautious and precise when trimming your dog's nails. If a quick is cut, he may be shy about having it done again. Any dog will naturally be anxious about the whole process. If you introduce him, as a puppy, to paw-handling and the tools you will use, anxiety will be reduced and he will have a quick and successful pedicure. If you're nervous about trimming your dog's nails you can always take him to a professional groomer. After watching a professional carry out this procedure a few times, you will most probably be ready to give it a try yourself.

Dog Toothbrushing

That Stink Means More than you Think.

Have you ever fallen victim to the dreaded "dog breath" of the canine kingdom? Much like doggie ear odor, if you smell it once, you'll never forget it. Brushing of a dog's teeth should not be used simply as a remedy for halitosis, but as a preventative measure. By the time Fido's breath is bad enough to make your flowers wilt, he's probably already developed periodontal disease, which affects not only his dental health, but his other major body functions. When infection sets into the gums, Spot's antibodies rush to the site, allowing other conditions throughout the body to exacerbate.

Daily toothbrushing really does deliver when it comes to maintaining your dog's health. And, it's relatively easy to get your dog to submit. Meat flavored dog toothpastes make it seem more like a treat than a chore.

First day - offer your dog a little bit of the toothpaste on your finger. If he likes it - great. If he doesn't like it, passify him with a treat that he does love and buy a different flavor of toothpaste tomorrow.

Second day - apply a small amount of a toothpaste that he loves to your fingers and explore the inside of his mouth. Rub his front teeth and gums. His tongue will likely be going crazy, chasing your fingers and making it difficult to get to his teeth, but this is a great sign. It should tell you that he's having fun with the flavor, and not stressing about the fact that someone is brushing his teeth.

Third day - use a toothbrush, finger tip brush, or dental sponge to rub the toothpaste onto the teeth and gums. Start with a few teeth at a time, and increase the number every day, until you're brushing the exterior of every tooth every day. Concentrate on the outside of the teeth, especially at and under the gum line. Applying the toothpaste to the teeth's surfaces is more important than a scrubbing action. The enzymes in the paste will work on the plaque without intense scrubbing.

Go ahead. Give kisses. Share biscuits. With poultry-clean breath, your dog will be as fresh as a spring morning. And you can rest easy, knowing that you're completing an important step in the maintenance of his overall health.

Clipping Your Dog

From Hurly Burly Curls to Short and Simple Merles.

As with any quality job, the finished product is usually in direct proportion to the quality of the tools used. A superior, high-speed dog clipper is a must, especially for those dogs that have a heavy, or heavily matted, coat.

Wahl Moser Arco SE Platinum Cordless Clipper

Wahl Moser Arco SE Platinum Cordless Clipper

The ergonomically designed Wahl® Moser® ARCO SE Platinum Cordless Clipper weighs less than 10 oz. and measures 6-1/2"L, is German enginee and runs for 45 minutes on one battery pack (this kit includes one extra battery pack). The powerful ARCO SE clipper produces a 1-3/4" top quality professional cut and is easy to clean. The detachable blade adjusts to five cutting lengths (from #10 to #40). Clipper Kit includes two NIMH battery packs, 4 attachment combs and a charging stand. Wahl® Moser® ARCO SE Platinum Clipper Replacement Blade is also available (#191434).


Nearly as important is the maintenance of those quality dog grooming tools. Before using your new clipper, oil the blade with a blade oil recommended by the manufacturer. General use products, like WD40 or petroleum jelly will leave you lamenting the loss of your new investment - don't give into the temptation.

Clean your clipper's blade after every cut. Can-of-air or a compressor hose works nicely for blowing dirt and hair from the crevices. Or, a stiff-bristled paint brush works, too. After cleaning the blade, oil it, wrap it in a cloth, and place it inside a plastic bag. This will prevent rust and corrosion of the blade. Either of these villains will warrant a new blade purchase - negating your home grooming money-saving efforts.

Clipper blades should be sharpened every few cuts by a professional, in order to keep your dog's hairdo clean and cut to precision. You can find one in the yellow pages under "sharpening". Attempting to sharpen the blade at home never ends well.

Always bathe and dry your dog before clipping. Dirt, powders, and foreign objects can destroy a clipper blade and will always compromise the quality of the finished do.

Blade cuts range in length from 1/125" to 5/8". In other words, you can strip your dog bald or give him an all-over trim. You can experiment with different blades to create a unique look that will be next year's rage, or keep your dog in uniform with a cut described by his breed standard. Skip tooth blades work well for a quick, coarse cut, and for the removal of a mass of hair or "unwelcome mats". Full tooth blades offer a smoother, finished look. They cut more slowly, and are generally used on shorter hair, or as a finisher after the skip tooth blade. Blades are classified by numbers. The higher the number, the shorter the resulting haircut will be. For instance, a #9 will cut the hair to 1/16", while a #4 will cut the hair to 3/8".

Most breed standards dictate a standard clip, necessary for showing, and sometimes adhered to, well...just because it looks spiffy. For instance, your Irish Terrier's standard calls for a #5 blade for the body and tail, and a #10 on the head, ears and throat. Your West Highland White Terrier's standard begs a #3-3/4 or #4 and scissors all over, and a #10 or #15 for the tips of her ears. If you choose to adhere to your breed's standard clip, consult the breed standard and purchase the blades necessary for that particular cut.

Your mixed breed or other dog for which standards are not of any importance is only subject to your taste and your veterinarian's recommendations. For instance, sanitary spots, like the genital and anal areas, are best clipped with a #10 blade. A #15 blade works well for hair between foot pads. Matted fur responds well to a #5 - #7 blade, with #7 being best for the worst mats. Dense coats will require a minimum of a #7 blade, and legs and the tops of feet will need little more than a scissors cut.

As a standard, face, foot, genital, and anal fur should be kept short for optimum health and hygiene. And, bear in mind that shorter fur dries faster and doesn't mat. Just a friendly hint.

Not every dog will need clipped. Short to medium-coated dogs, like Dalmations and Labradors require little or no clipping. While others, like the Shih-tzu or Silky Terrier can turn into unrecognizable bush boogies if neglected. Looking cute is great, but foremost, remember that an unkempt coat can lead to painful "unwelcome mats", or worse.

Finding the Perfect Dogstyle

My barber displays a plaque on her mirror that says, "I'm a Beautician, not a Magician."

I can't help but think that the same principle applies to our dogs' hairstyles. You're not going to be able to make your Rottweiler look like Rod Stewart, but you might be able to make your Terrier look like Tina Turner. Bows and beads don't belong on a Golden Retriever, but will smarten the look of your Shih Tzu.

The number of dogstyles available is dizzying. For instance, a poodle's traditional Lion Trim (the only clip allowed for showing) comes in four different varieties: The Puppy Clip, the Continental Clip, the Modified Continental Clip, and the English Saddle Clip. I would suggest that you research the standard clips available for your dog's particular breed.

Dog Grooming Tables

Here, I've listed a few of the most common dogstyles. The list is far from exhaustive. Your groomer or a good dog grooming book can guide you through a more comprehensive list of styles. Show clips vary by breed and are generally the most intricate. If you plan on showing your dog under any of many organizations, his look will be subject to particular standards. Advise your groomer of any special requirements. An experienced, knowledgeable dog groomer will know exactly what you're looking for.

The puppy clip is generally about 1.5" all over, but can be adjusted to your taste. Many pet owners find it practical and easy to manage. It allows for plenty of dog activity and prevents matting.

A utility or kennel clip is accomplished by using a #5 or #7 blade over most of the body for a resulting 1/16" to a half" coat. The face, head, and tail are hand-scissored.

For the fluffy look, a teddy bear clip is recommended. This completely scissored style is a half" all over.

Lamb clips are accomplished by cutting the midsection and neck to a quarter" to 3/8", while scissoring the head, legs, and tail. When finished, the midsection dons the shortest fur, and the legs sport the longest hair.

Hand stripping is a technique in which the groomer uses a stripping knife to remove dead hair from single-coated breeds, improving the look of their natural coat.

And finally, there's the creative cut. For this one, use your imagination (or give your groomer liberty if you feel completely comfortable with his or her ability). Use colors, braids, gems, beads, shaved and scissored areas to punk out or primp up your dog.

Whether you choose to fashion your dog in a break-out style, or keep him in uniform so that his friends don't pick on him, the choice is up to you. Keep his hygiene at the forefront of your mind, and the rest is only as limited as your imagination.

Dog Grooming - Get Schooled

Interested in turning your love of dog grooming into a career? Want to make over Mountain Dogs or beautify Bishons? The good news is that it's more attainable than you may have imagined. And the most important job requirement? An extraordinary love for our four-legged friends, coupled with a desire to contribute to their hygiene, health, and happiness.

The first, and most simple, way to introduce yourself to dog grooming is to search out an apprenticeship. Visit the dog grooming facilities in your area and speak to the owner or manager about a job. In most states, you can do this at the tender age of 16, or even earlier with an Early Worker's Permit.

You can earn a dog grooming certification or a degree online. A groomer's certification will help you to attain an apprenticeship, while a diploma affords you the right to own and operate your own grooming shop. If you choose to surf the web and jump onto the virtual bandwagon, consider the limitations. Potential employers may not smile brightly upon a certification or diploma obtained in this manner, and you're going to have a bit of trouble finding test subjects. This might, however, be a good option if you're already employed as an apprentice at a grooming facility, and simply looking to earn your certification or diploma.

There are currently 52 state-licensed dog grooming schools in operation in the United States, offering instruction with live instructors and real dogs (as opposed to online courses). Each school offers programs that range in duration from 2 to 18 weeks with both written and practical exams, through which students are given the opportunity to earn the title of "National Certified Master Groomer". If you're hoping to own a business and oversee other groomers in the future, this particular certification will prove invaluable.

Your first job, without certification, in a groomer's shop will likely be as a dog bather, and you will probably make $7 to $10 per hour. In the next step up, as assistant groomer, you can expect to make $10 to $15 per hour, and then $25 per hour as a master groomer.

Make Dog Grooming Great!

Whether you decide to employ a professional groomer, perform your dog's grooming at home, or take the steps to become a profession groomer yourself, enjoy it. If you see grooming as a chore so will your dog. Make it fun for Fido, and you're going to have fun, too.

To purchase your dog grooming supplies online please visit my store - Dog Grooming Supplies For Sale.

You may also be interested in my detailed Dog Health Care pages

Finally, you can check out PetGuide's Dog Grooming section as they tend to have great up to date articles, and tips and tricks on how to care for your dog.


More articles we recommend: 

Please consult the services of a Professional Dog Trainer, Behaviorist or Veterinarian before implementing any of the advice contained on this site.