Whether you’re a first-time dog owner or experienced pet parent, chances are you’ve asked yourself, “how often should I groom my dog?”
This can be a tough question for a few reasons. For instance, our canine friends are similar to humans in that their hygienic needs can vary greatly. What works for some dogs (like frequent baths or regular haircuts) may be harmful to others. A dog’s coat type, breed, size, and even temperament can all impact how they should be groomed.
Notwithstanding these variations, there are general guidelines you can follow to make sure you’re correctly grooming your furry friend. Continue below to read up on everything you need to do for dog grooming, and how often.
What is Grooming?
The first step in knowing how often you should groom your dog is making sure you know what grooming means.
Dog grooming is the process of ensuring proper canine hygiene. This includes regular practices for sustaining health, preventing disease, and maintaining cleanliness. More than anything, grooming is essential to the well-being and happiness of your doggo.
Typical grooming involves regular brushing, washing, and cutting of the fur or hair (if needed). It also includes consistent nail and teeth management.
Some of the most important reasons for dog grooming include:
- Maintaining general cleanliness (including smell)
- Avoiding matting of the fur
- Monitoring for parasites, bugs, or infestations on the skin
- Forging a closer bond between human and dog
- Managing shed around the home
- Detecting early signs of illness or health problems
- Improving the quality of life for your dog
Everything You Need To Do
When learning to groom your dog, remember these three parts of essential canine hygiene: hair care (including cutting, brushing, and washing), nail care, and teeth care. Each part requires a different frequency, but all of them should be kept to a regular schedule (more on this down below).
Once you’ve got the main parts of grooming down, it’s important to start researching the specific needs of your dog. Most dog breeds have standards of care that vary depending on their type of coat and recreational tendencies. If you have a mixed breed dog, doing such research might be a little more difficult. In either case, observation and trial-and-error are the most effective measures for determining what is right for your dog.
If this sounds overwhelming, don’t worry—we’ve got all the basics covered to help you get started.
How Often Should I Groom My Dog?
The first stop for grooming should be your dog’s coat. This can sometimes be the trickiest part, as dog fur is extremely diverse. Coat length, texture, and quality all impact how they should be groomed.
If you don’t already know, take a moment to identify your dog’s coat. In general, we can break down coat types as follows:
- Short Hair, Single Coat
- Short Hair, Double Coat
- Long Hair, Double Coat
- Curly or Wavy Coat
- Silky Coat
- Wiry Coat
Once you know what coat your dog has, you can begin to ask yourself these two questions: how often should I brush my dog and how often should I bathe my dog.
Short Hair, Single Coat
Short hair dogs have—you guessed it—short hair. Their fur sticks close to their body, and they usually shed quite a bit. Common short hair, single coat dogs include:
- Great Danes
How Often Should I Brush Short Hair, Single Coat Dogs?
The great part about short hair dogs is that they only need occasional brushing. These dogs won’t get mats in their hair, but brushing can help evenly spread out oils and improve shine. Additionally, brushing can remove dead hair and skin cells. Aim to brush short hair, single coat dogs at least once a week.
How Often Should I Bathe Short Hair, Single Coat Dogs?
A good rule of thumb for these dogs is about every 4-6 weeks, or when they start to stink! However, watch out for signs that you may be overbathing. Brittle hair, increased shedding, or dry skin are all indicators that you are bathing your short haired dog too much.
Short Hair, Double Coat
Dogs with this coat are different in that they have a longer, coarse topcoat with a softer bottom coat underneath. The topcoat helps repel dirt and parasites while the inner coat helps regulate heat. Popular short hair, double coat dogs include:
- Labrador Retrievers
- German Shepherds
How Often Should I Brush Short Hair, Double Coat Dogs?
Due to the inner coat, these dogs need more regular brushing than their single coat cousins. Brush them at least 2-3 times a week to remove any dead undercoat and spread out natural oils. Of course, more brushing won’t hurt either; just make sure to not cut or shave your dog’s coat. Dogs with double coats are made to self-regulate heat, and shaving their fur may actually cause sunburn, heat exhaustion, or heatstroke.
How Often Should I Bathe Short Hair, Double Coat Dogs?
Double coated dogs need to be bathed less than single coats. Aim for once every two or three months, adjusting as necessary to your dog’s unique needs.
Long Hair, Double Coat
Most double coated dogs are also considered long hair. Due to the increased hair length, they are at greater risk for matting. Common long hair, double coat dogs are:
- Golden Retrievers
- Bernese Mountain Dogs
- Australian Shepherds
How Often Should I Brush Long Hair, Double Coat Dogs?
Many of these dogs have “feathers”, or long tufts of hair, around their feet, bellies, legs, butts, and ears. These feathers require occasional trimming, and are prone to matting. Daily brushing ensures that mats don’t appear.
If your dog does develop mats in their hair, it’s best to take them to a professional groomer to have them removed. As mats are often close to the skin and cause a lot of discomfort, you could easily end up hurting your dog if you try to remove it yourself.
How Often Should I Bathe Long Hair, Double Coat Dogs?
Double coated dogs should be bathed every 2 or 3 months, depending on how messy your canine gets.
Curly or Wavy Coat
Curly or wavy coats are usually long and add a lot of texture and definition to the dog’s coat. Personally, I like curly and wavy coats the best—they can be quite beautiful (but also quite a bit of maintenance). Popular curly or wavy coat dogs include:
- Poodles and “designer poodle mixes”
- Bichon Frises
- Cavalier King Charles Spaniels
- Portuguese Water Dogs
- Bedlington Terriers
How Often Should I Brush Curly or Wavy Coat Dogs?
Curly or wavy haired dogs are the most likely to mat. Therefore, consistent and regular brushing is critical to their health and happiness. Prepare to brush them at least daily, if not twice or even three times in a day. The more consistent you are with brushing, the better.
In addition to daily brushing, these dogs really do need to see professional groomers regularly to maintain coat health. Aim to visit the groomer every 4-6 weeks in order to prevent mats and keep your dog at maximum hair health.
How Often Should I Bathe Curly or Wavy Coat Dogs?
Unsurprisingly, curly or wavy coat dogs also require more bathing than other variations. Aim to bathe them about once a month, and always be sure to brush them before and after. While these dogs’ coats take a lot of work, the payoff of a beautiful coat is definitely worth it.
Dogs in this category have a single coat of fine, silky hair that continuously grows. They must be trimmed periodically. Common silky coat dogs include:
- Cocker Spaniels
- Afghan Hounds
- Yorkshire Terriers
- Irish Setters
How Often Should I Brush Silky Coat Dogs?
Silky coat dogs are prone to matting and should be brushed regularly. This is particularly important for those with longer coats.
These dogs also need regular trims to properly manage their coats. You should be visiting a professional groomer every two or three months for a good cut. If you prefer a longer hair length on your dog, you will need to visit even more frequently to maintain the right length.
How Often Should I Bathe Silky Coat Dogs?
Silky coat dogs should only really be bathed by professionals. They are the most sensitive (and prone!) to dry skin and brittle hair. You should get your dog bathed whenever they visit the groomer.
Perhaps the most unique coat of all, wiry coat dogs have thick, coarse hair that is fairly low-maintenance. Popular wiry coat dogs include:
- Wire Fox Terriers
- Border Terriers
- Irish Wolf Hounds
- Miniature Schnauzers
- Wire-haired Jack Russells
How Often Should I Brush Wiry Coat Dogs?
As these bristly coats are designed to protect from thorns and branches, matting is much less common. Occasional brushing should suit these dogs just fine—perhaps two to four times a month.
Importantly, these dogs do have a unique grooming requirement. Since they typically do not shed, these dogs need to be “hand-stripped”. Hand-stripping is the process of pulling out old dead hairs from the coat. It should be left up to a professional groomer.
How Often Should I Bathe Wiry Coat Dogs?
Wiry coat dogs do not need frequent baths. Their naturally brittle hair can quickly dry out and break if you over-bathe. Once every three or four months should suffice.
A Note About Brachycephalic Dogs
There is one type of dog that requires special grooming in regards to their coat: brachycephalic dogs. These dogs are known for their short, broad skulls and typically have folds on their face. Common brachycephalic dogs include:
- Boston Terriers
- Lhasa Apsos
These dogs need special care with their facial folds. These folds must be cleaned daily to prevent skin infections. Be ready to give extra attention to their grooming needs, as these dogs are also prone to many health complications surrounding their hygiene.
How Often Should I Clip My Dog’s Nails?
Nail care for your dog is usually a lot more straightforward than coat care. Animal claws wear down naturally during normal activity, and your dog is no exception. Similar to humans, most dogs need their nails clipped once or twice a month.
You can tell if your dog needs their nails clipped by whether they touch the ground when your dog walks. If you hear a ‘clicking’ sound on your floor when your dog runs over it, chances are that their nails are too long.
There are several reasons why clipping your dog’s nails is important. Failing to do so can lead to:
- Painful overgrown claws
- Infections on the paws
- Ingrown nails
- Improper walking gait
- Reduced exercise
How to Clip My Dog’s Nails
Many people are intimidated by clipping their dog’s nails. Each nail has a blood vessel inside of it, commonly called “the quick”. If you are not careful, you can cut the quick and cause pain and bleeding for your dog.
Because of this potential fear, many owners leave nail cutting up to the professionals. If you prefer to do it yourself (or just want to save on some of the costs), you can definitely learn how to avoid cutting the quick. Some experts recommend using a dremel or nail grinder. This tool slowly shaves off the end of the nail, so you can have more control.
Alternatively, regular walking on course ground (like asphalt or pavement) can help naturally trim back your dog’s nails.
How Often Should I Brush My Dog’s Teeth?
The third piece of dog grooming is dental care. Just like us humans, dogs require healthy and strong teeth to eat and play. As a general rule, you should be brushing your dog’s teeth at least once a day. Many pet stores sell pet-friendly toothpaste.
There are also many dental treats that your dog can chew on to help clean their teeth and prevent cavities. However, these should not be used to replace brushing, but rather in tandem with a regular brushing schedule.
While your dog may at first resist having their teeth brushed, remember that the more exposure they have to it, the better. Get in the habit as soon as you can for brushing their teeth, or else you might be surprised with an expensive dental bill later on.
The Value of Regular Grooming
While grooming needs vary between dogs, one thing is the same for all: regular, consistent grooming is essential.
More than anything, work on establishing a regular schedule for brushing, bathing, clipping nails, and brushing teeth. Doing so may seem like a lot of work at the front end, but this type of care can prevent a myriad of health issues. Grooming is an important part of preventative care and will ensure both a healthier dog and a happier home.
What are some of your own grooming tips, tricks, and hacks? Let us know in the comments below!