Grooming Your Doodle
As a breeder of both poodles and goldendoodles, I have also become an expert groomer. I have learned through countless shavings and hours of mat removing that it is VERY important for you to know how to tackle their coats. If you want to keep a longer doodle coat, you need to expect and prepare for daily home maintenance, especially if the coat gets wet. This includes brushing AND combing, every SINGLE day. It also includes a grooming every 6-8 weeks. So in this blog I will help you understand the importance of coat maintenance.
DO NOT BE DECEIVED
Your doodle’s coat may look brushed out and flowing. So you take him into your groomer and are proud of your brushing/combing skills. But alas, your groomer says, I’m sorry but I will have to shave Shiloh down this time. He has too many mats that I cannot remove safely. You don’t believe it! How? How can his coat flow freely in the breeze and yet have hazardous mats?! It happens. A doodle’s coat is very thick. If you are not combing the root, you are missing mats. If you feel lumps in your doodle’s coat, yet his top coat is flowing, your doodle has a skin mats. If you cannot see your doodle’s skin in one area but can see it in another your doodle has a severe skin mat. These are very hard to remove, so a groomer will shave your beloved doodle.
BRUSHING…THE TOP COAT
Brushing is the first step in coat maintenance. Using a slicker brush is the fastest way to break up matting. However it does not remove the mat. The mat is like a parasite, it does not want to leave its host and will hang on at any cost. So just brushing is not going to remove it. The top coat may seem mat-free while the root of the coat is completely matted. But, he feels so soft. Yes, it’s true the coat does feel soft after a good slicker brushing, but feel down by the skin, you will feel a thicker chunkier clump of fur, this is the mat. Go ahead and try to get it with the slicker brush…it won’t release. Because the slicker brush is only designed to break it up enough for your most powerful tool…the comb.
COMBING…THE ROOT OF THE “MAT”TER
Combing is a MUST, You must do it. The comb gets to the heart of the mat. It is your “parasite” remover. The mat cannot remain with the proper use of the comb. When used properly, a comb will remove the mat and your goldendoodle will be restored to a soft flowing coat. The secret to using a comb effectively is how you use it. You must go all the way from the root to the tip.
BATHING…TANGLED WHEN WET Extreme caution should be taken here. FIRST make sure that prior to bathing that you have brushed and combed your doodle. DO NOT BATHE if you have not done this. Remember in the opening paragraph…“especially if the coat gets wet.” Water is not the friend to your doodle’s coat. It is one CAUSE if not the main cause for mats. Water allows the hair to clump together. Which allows the coat to get entangled.
Bathing Tip: Bathe every 3-4 weeks. Unless your doodle decides to get dirty in between baths. It is important that a dog’s own PH levels and oils return to his coat and bathing too often can disturb the balance.
Water is so vital in helping to maintain a soft, manageable doodle coat. Water, shampoo and conditioner keeps it clean from debris and dirt, but water can be a hazard too. If your doodle’s coat gets wet unplanned or unintended, matting can and will occur if you do not handle it properly. If your doodle’s coat gets wet, pat or towel squeeze it dry. NEVER rub it dry. Towel rubbing is another cause for matting. You can also allow it to air dry. After it dries, it MUST be brushed and combed. Period. Things like heavy dew in the morning potty break, a sudden unexpected rain storm, plunging into a lake, river, pool, etc. all call for a good brushing/combing after the coat dries.
CONDITIONER…OH YES PLEASE
A doodle’s coat is definitely a coat that requires conditioner. If you are home bathing, I would recommend that you check out or FAQ page and look at FAQ #12. Here you will find the conditioner that I recommend for a doodle’s coat. It is so very important because it helps with the tangles that will occur after a good cleansing bath.
SHEDDING…WE ALL DO IT A goldendoodle, as well as a poodle, as well as a human being sheds. It happens to all of us. Shedding is a fact of nature. The amount of shedding and how each mammal sheds is different. The poodle sheds more like a human, the hair is not typically seen unless you are brushing or washing. Since the poodle has a curly coat, this means that their hair sheds into their coat. This also goes for the majority of doodles. Especially the ones that have more poodle in their genetics. Like the F1b and the F1bb. So like a human, if their hair is not brushed daily it will tangle. Like a human if you never brushed your hair your hair would mat. A doodle sheds into their coat. They need a daily brushing/combing.
BUT… I’m too busy. I’m tired at the end of the day. Do I really need to brush him every single day? Depends. It depends upon your doodle’s coat. Your groomer will help you with this. She will advise you as to how often it should be brushed and combed. More often than not, a daily brushing/combing is recommended. Puppy coats change and your doodle’s coat will become his adult coat around six months of age. Some coats can get away with brushing/combing it every three days. But why not just make it part of your routine? Like brushing your teeth. There is one exception for the daily brushing or every three day brushing (depending upon coat of course) and that is water. ALWAYS wait for the coat to dry and then always brush the area that the water soaked.
MY GROOMING EXPERIENCE:
The comb is my tool of choice. It is the ultimate mat buster. I have been grooming for over 30 years now and I have a ton of experiences with mats. I do not use the slicker brush first, I use the comb. However for my clients, I will always recommend using a slicker first, then the comb. It is easier on the dog especially if you are inexperienced with mat removal. I have groomed all types of dogs. Some are entirely more sensitive to the grooming experience, than others. If a mat is extremely thick and close to the skin, a groomer will shave your doodle because mats can be very difficult to remove. Many are just too close to the skin to remove with a comb safely and shaving is in order. The best way to avoid a shaving by the groomer is to keep your doodle brushed and combed.
Combing Out A Difficult Mat: Use the tip of the comb to reach in a mat and help to break it up. Hold the mat at the base and put the tip of the comb as close to the base as possible. Begin moving in a short picking motion Make sure you help ease the pain of removal but holding the mat firmly as you use the comb to break it up. You can also use a pair of sharp scissors opened wide to “cut” into the mat. Do not do this if the mat is too close to the skin and you cannot pinch it in your fingers. Mat too close to the skin are extremely painful to remove safely and you can injure your dog.
AREAS THAT MAT OFTEN
Ears: Your doodle’s ears EASILY mat. The ears can get mats very close to the ear skin. Be particularly watchful to the back and inside of the ears. A slicker brush followed by the comb is the best and easiest way to remove tough mats here. Normally dogs are not extremely sensitive with their ears, but there are exceptions to the rules.
Beard: for the obviously reason this area mats. Your doodle uses his mouth for eating, playing, and drinking, so because of the constant use and water exposure, this is an area that you MUST brush daily. This area is sometimes sensitive and sometimes not, this just depend upon your doodle.
Neck: Your doodle’s neck especially under the ears, and under the beard will mat. This is a semi sensitive area for your doodle. Just depends about the severity of the mat and if you are doing regular brushing, this should not be too terribly bad.
Rear End: Because a doodle bites at their rear from time to time, this area can mat easily. This area is comb country for sure! This area is sensitive to most dogs.
Under Front Legs: VERY SENSITIVE area. This area mats because it is often over looked and the hairs here are rubbed together due to walk, running etc. Make sure you check this area often. A slicker bush will usually keep this area mat free if brushed often. This area is hard to shave because it is technically your doodle’s arm pit.
Belly/Inner Thigh: Like the rear end, a dog will lick his belly. I always shave this area for my dogs. It just keeps those tiny knots from forming and creating a painful combing experience. A slicker bush will usually keep this area mat free if brushed often. I recommend keeping this area shaved or cut very short.
Tail: Those happy go lucky doodles and their tail wagging! Yep, if not brushed regularly the tail can get very matted! Thankfully they are not as sensitive about their tails as they are their bellies, inner thighs, and under front of legs.
SHORTER COATS TO LONGER COATS:
For the benefit to you and your doodle, I recommend having your doodles clipped in a very short coat during the summer months. Since I live in the south, I will clip them in their summer coat beginning in April. They will get their summer clipping every 6-8 weeks. The last summer coat clip is in September. This not only keeps them cooler, it keeps me from having to brush/comb out their full coat daily and it allows for my doodle to stay cooler.
After September they get to have their full coat. I do have a lot of brushing/combing that I do every other day from October - March (Since, I am experienced at grooming so I can skip a day). I will do a sanitation clip in the winter, but I rarely bathe or do a full clip. Their sanitation clipping is every 6-8 weeks, but their touch up (feet and head) can go every 8-10 weeks. If I have been vigilant with their brushing/combing I do not clip their full coat until April. Then I remove their full body coat, leaving their beard, head, ears, and tail.