Grooming is a very important aspect of owning a doodle or poodle. These dogs need to be groomed their whole lives. It is extremely important that they are desensitized and comfortable with the process from a young age.
Different generations of doodles have different coats. F1 doodles tend to have a looser wavier coat, while F1b and other generations tend to have a curlier coat. This grooming guide covers information for either coat type.
We desensitize our doodle puppies by brushing them with an electric vibrating toothbrush so they are comfortable with the sensation of an electric clipper when it comes time for them to get their first professional groom. It's a great practice, and is something we recommend you continue to do at home after getting your puppy. We also recommend taking your puppy to the groomer at about 16-18 weeks of age and after all vaccinations have been completed. There are so many new sights, sounds, and sensations in a salon that your puppy needs to be desensitized to. Make sure you choose a grooming salon that has good customer reviews, so you can trust them with your dog. If you have a certain style in mind for your dog's groom, it's a good idea to bring pictures along to show your groomer.
It is very important to understand that although most doodle owners take their dogs to get professionally groomed, the owner still has to take the time and effort to keep their dog's coat mat free. As a responsible doodle owner you will need to know how to brush your dog, bathe your dog, trim nails, and clean ears at a minimum. This page will help outline a guide for what you need to know to care for your puppy.
BRUSHING YOUR DOODLE
Most puppies have their puppy coats until they are about 8 months old. Puppy coats are relatively low maintenance. As their adult coat starts to come in, they may start to mat so around 8 months is a good time to get them shaved so they have a clean slate and a coat that can be maintained easily.
We recommend purchasing a slicker brush and a steel comb for brushing your doodle. A great slicker brush is the Chris Christensen Big G and Big K Slickers. Yes, they are expensive but worth every penny and they have a lifetime warranty. The Chris Christensen slicker brushes have extra long pins that reach all the way to the skin to prevent matting. The pins are polished so they aren't scratchy like some other slickers. Remember, you want your dog to enjoy being brushed. The Chris Christensen Ice on Ice Detangler is also great for grooming poodle and doodle coats.
The teqnique for brushing a doodle coat is called line brushing. There are many helpful videos on YouTube that can demonstrate this method for you. You want to part their coat and work through the hair in sections at a time. Follow with a metal comb to double check the coat for any mats. If your dog is matted, do not get them wet! Wetting a matted dog will only make it worse. If it is just a small mat, try to work it out with cornstarch and a comb. Clippers are best for removing larger mats.
You may also want to do maintenance sanitary trims on your puppy. Sanitary trims, sometimes called “potty cuts,” keeps heiny hair free of tangles, mats, and traps for urine, feces, dirt, associated bacteria and odors. Besides the ick-factor, these things not only spread around your environment, but also leave your dog at risk for developing irritation and infection if left unchecked. Luckily, it’s easy to safely give your dog a sanitary trim at home. If you purchase a small dog clipper, you can do it very easily yourself.
When clipping a male dog's belly area, always trim from back to front. Lightly clip the hair, being extra careful of skin folds and body parts. Trim up to about the male dog's naval, and a bit down the inner thighs. For a female dog the process is similar, but there is no need to trim as far up as the naval. When trimming your dog's backside, use one hand to hold the tail up and out of the way. Use your clippers to very lightly trim away the hair, working from the outside-in, from each direction toward the bum. We also recommend trimming the underside of the base of the tail, about an inch, to further assist in keeping the area clean and sanitary. While it's not technically part of a sanitary trim, cleaning up the hair on the bottom of your dog's paws will help keep your dog and your house cleaner.
OTHER GROOMING PRACTICES
It is important to expose your puppy to bathing at a young age. They will have had a bath or two before leaving us, but bathing is something that can become stressful for a puppy if you do not continue to expose them to it while they are young. Make sure a bath is a positive experience for your puppy and they feel safe. You want to be careful not to get water in your puppy's ears during the bath. Not only is it uncomfortable for them, but the moisture can lead to ear infections. Gently stuffing cotton balls in your puppy's ears can help them stay dry during a bath. Otherwise, just avoid spraying water into them.
Make sure you are choosing a trusted shampoo. Please avoid pet store flea and tick shampoos as they can be toxic to dogs. EarthBath is a trusted company that sells many great shampoos and conditioners for pets. Earthbath sells a great ultra-mild puppy shampoo that is wild cherry scented. If your puppy has white fur, it may become stained in colour. A whitening shampoo can help remove these stains and keep your dogs coat a beautiful white.
Although not necessary, a high velocity dryer can be a helpful tool. There are many affordable high velocity pet dryers on amazon.
Goldendoodles and Bernedoodles have long floppy ears that trap moisture. Any time your dog swims or is bathed it is a good idea to dry and clean the ears. Damp ears breed yeast. If your dog gets an ear infection please take them to the vet. The Zymox Blue label ear cleaner is great for maintaining healthy ears and preventing and treating yeast. You can find Zymox on amazon. We love it so much that we always have it on hand.
Poodles and some doodles may need their ears plucked. They might have an excess of hair growing in their ears that can trap moisture and cause ear infections. Your groomer can pluck your dog's ears for you, but if you choose to do it yourself it is an easy process. Get an ear powder, and sprinkle it on your fingers. It will help you grip the hair. Only pull a few strands at a time. If you try to pull to many hairs it can be painful for your dog. Some people will purchase a hemostat to help grip the hair instead of using their fingers. This is usually unnecessary, but can be helpful.
Puppy teeth are very sharp. Don't give your puppy chew toys that are too hard and could break their puppy teeth. Around 12 to 16 weeks of age your puppy will start teething. You should get your puppy used to having you feel their teeth and mouth. By the time your puppy is about six months old or so, all of his/her puppy teeth should have fallen out, and his/her adult teeth should have grown in. If you notice any baby teeth remaining, make sure to let your veterinarian know as they may need to be removed. Now that your puppy has all their adult teeth, it is your job to keep them that way. By brushing your pup's teeth regularly, you can prevent or decrease the need for veterinary cleanings. To desensitize your puppy to teeth brushing, you can start by scrubbing the teeth with a finger brush. Later you can graduate to a toothbrush and toothpaste. Toothbrushes should be soft, and you can get appropriate dog toothpaste at the veterinarian. Also, certain foods, treats, and other products can help reduce plaque. Look for the seal of approval from the Veterinary Oral Health Council.
We never remove dewclaws on our puppies. We chose to keep dewclaws because they are essentially a fifth toe, attached by tendons. Dogs use them to climb, to avoid torque, and to hold things. Be sure to not forget the dewclaws when trimming nails. They can curl and snag on things, which could be very painful for your dog. We trim the puppies nails regularly while they are growing. We usually send our puppies with a small nail trimmer for trimming their small puppy nails. You will have to purchase a regular sized dog nail trimmer a couple months after bringing your puppy home. If you can hear your dog's nails clicking on the floor, it's time for a trim.