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A guide to puppy grooming
Read time: 7 minutes

Just like a good diet and plenty of play and exercise, grooming is an essential part of caring for your puppy’s overall health and wellbeing. A spot of regular TLC goes a long way to keeping your puppy clean, comfortable and healthy, and our handy guide is here to answer any questions you might have on grooming the new addition to your family. From when is the right time for puppy’s first groom to what you can expect at one of our Groom Room salons, read on for some great puppy grooming tips.

The benefits of grooming

Pet owners sometimes think of professional grooming as a luxury rather than a necessity. But grooming is an essential part of a dog’s life, from puppyhood onwards, because there are so many wellbeing benefits. As well as introducing air to the coat and boosting healthy hair growth, regular grooming also promotes good blood circulation and helps to prevent a build-up of grease and dandruff. When too much grease builds up within a dog’s coat, it can block pores and cause sebaceous cysts, which can be very uncomfortable and painful for the dog.

Grooming is also the perfect opportunity for you to check over your pet to ensure they are fit and well. Nowadays, most dogs live indoors and will moult more quickly, and more often, than their wild counterparts, which can cause the loose hairs to become matted. If not brushed out regularly, a heavily matted coat can become tight and will feel very uncomfortable when your dog moves. It can also lead to skin problems.

How old should a puppy be to get groomed

We recommend introducing your puppy to grooming at 10-12 weeks old, after their second set of vaccinations – even short-haired or smooth-coated puppies. Waiting until later in life could mean that grooming becomes a very stressful experience for your pet.

Home grooming can start earlier than this, but only gentle brushing. It’s important to use the correct brush for your pup’s coat type, so speak to one of our groomers in store for advice if you’re unsure. For more information on why it’s so important to start grooming from an early age, visit our advice page on this theme.

Also, why not check out our dog breed pages to give you more information about what sort of grooming routine is best for your puppy’s coat type. Most groomers will offer an introductory Puppy Package, where the groomer spends time with your puppy, and helps them to get used to being bathed, blow-dried and brushed out.

Qualified groomer advice

Professional groomers won’t cut your dog’s coat at this stage, as the hair is still growing, but time spent with the groomer will also help your pup to get used to standing on a table and being handled by someone other than yourself. As a new pet owner, it’s vital that you regularly spend time brushing your puppy, using the correct equipment; this includes short-haired or smooth-coated breeds. It’s also very important to know what type of coat your particular puppy has, or will develop when it becomes an adult dog.

A qualified professional groomer can help you choose the best grooming kit for your dog’s particular type of coat. When grooming your dog at home, be as calm and as patient as possible because your dog might become upset at first. Again, a qualified groomer will be happy to recommend different handling methods and brushing techniques. Some owners love grooming their dogs and can be a bit over-zealous about bathing! But it’s important not to over-wash your pup as this can strip the natural oils away and cause the skin and coat to dry out.

The result is a lacklustre coat and potential skin irritations. It’s best to bathe your puppy every two weeks using a pH-balanced puppy shampoo (not a human baby shampoo). If your puppy regularly gets mucky when playing outside, a thorough rinse with warm water should remove any excess mud.

When should puppies get their first haircut

We recommend that your new pet has two to three puppy grooming sessions before experiencing a full-service groom – this could also include a haircut, depending on your dog’s coat type.

Generally, a puppy has its first haircut at around six months old. With a combination of regular grooming at home and sessions at your groomers, your puppy should be in tip-top shape for their first trim.

If your puppy has not been regularly groomed, it may need a shorter cut to get rid of knots and matting – this will then make the brushing and grooming process more comfortable.

Good groom planning

From this stage in your puppy’s life, it’s recommended to have your pet professionally groomed every six to eight weeks. In between professional grooming, you also need to brush your dog’s coat regularly. At around 10-12 months, your puppy’s coat will change and their adult coat will start to come in.

At this stage, a dog’s coat can begin to matt more heavily and the regular haircut your pup has been receiving may no longer be appropriate. In fact, many young dogs often need a shorter cut at this stage to get rid of the matting and puppy hair, and let the adult coat grow through smoothly. Of course, for some pet owners, regular grooming at home isn’t always practical.

Professional grooming help

In this case, a good professional groomer will explain what will be the most practical haircut for your dog, to help make your pet’s quality of life easier and more comfortable. At each grooming session, your groomer should also check your dog’s eyes, mouth, ears, paws, skin and fur for any problems.

Some owners don’t realise that a matted coat can cause skin problems which can, in turn, make your pet feel depressed and lethargic. So, don’t wait too long between grooms, and choose a haircut that is practical for your lifestyle and your dog’s wellbeing. A good groomer can identify unwanted visitors such as fleas and ticks that may have escaped your own eagle eye, and make your dog look fabulous, whatever length its coat is!

Grooming in later life?

As your adult dog gets older, its grooming needs change again. Your mature dog is likely to become less agile, and may not be able to stand on the table for as long as they used to. Your groomer may recommend a shorter, more practical haircut to make your dog feel more comfortable from day to day, and to keep the professional grooming experience as stress-free as possible.

Dogs can also start to develop skin warts, and lumps and bumps, with age. Regular grooming will help to identify these in case they need to be checked by a vet, and your groomer may also spot signs of other health issues, such as skin or coat conditions and eye or ear infections, and recommend further investigation at your vet’s practice.

Behavioural changes and developing a routine

A good groomer will keep records of your dog’s health and will observe changes in your dog that you may not have noticed yourself. Your dog’s behaviour while being groomed may also change – due to joint discomfort from arthritis, for example. This is all completely normal and an experienced dog groomer will be able to deal with these life changes effectively, and help your dog to feel safe and comfortable during the grooming process.

Even if you adopt a dog later in life that has never experienced grooming before, don’t worry. A professional groomer will help you and your new pet to develop a regular grooming routine, and will ensure that your dog feels as comfortable as possible during the grooming process. So, no matter what life stage your dog is at, don’t forget that grooming can help to keep your pet healthy and happy.

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