It’s an old story from many years ago that people still to this day are stuck in and believe.
The vets used to tell us to never bath our dogs or only bath them once a year and certainly never more than twice a year. The rationale was that bathing stripped the natural oils from the dog’s skin and thus the coat would dry out. Well, ok, I understand that IF we were using harsh chemicals on our dogs, and we did that 60 years ago.
The pet industry has come a very long way in the last 25 years, never mind the last 60. We have so many amazing and supportive products available to us that we just didn’t have back in the day. So we have learned, we have changed and it’s all for the benefit of our pets. So we are clear that bathing is no longer what it was once considered, that it is a bad thing. It’s a good thing, a very good thing, and here is why folks.
Importance of Bathing Your Dog
When your dog has length to his or her coat it can become a challenge to manage. Especially when it is dirty and full of oils. You brush and comb out the dog and the next day it feels like they are knotted and matted up again. Or it seems like you have to brush and comb more often. Or worse, you didn’t realize that since the coat is dirty, that you need to bump up your game even more. It is true, that the longer the hair, the more work it will be, guaranteed.
See, oil attracts dirt. Dirt in the hair creates matting and plenty of it. The longer the hair, along with little to no brushing and combing, the bigger the disaster. Add in tight curls on any of the Poodle mixes and you can guarantee you have a THIRD challenge to contend with. Your curly coated dog without a bath, followed by brushing and combing will start to be mighty “skanky” after about 6 weeks.
Maintaining Longer Coats
The longer the hair grows the harder it is to keep up with it. The more dirt and oil that the coat attracts, the harder it is to separate those knots and tangles. The matts tend to connect to each other, like magnets attracting. Before you know it, the matting in between the dog’s toes has now connected to the top of the foot. Wait a little bit longer with no bathing and brushing and in a matter of days the entire leg is matted up and into the armpit area.
This is one of the reasons why I do not do “brush outs only” if clients ask me. The coat has got to be clean, otherwise it is a complete waste of time and energy…..and their money. If I brush out and dematt a dirty dog, he or she will be matted up again before the end of the week. Especially if the owner doesn’t maintain the work I put in. Then it will turn south in the blink of an eye. The coat has got to be clean.
I also rarely pre brush when a dog is in for grooming.
I get the dog clean FIRST. When they are squeaky clean, have been dried PROPERLY, and the right products have been used…..beautiful things can happen. I have learned over the years that sitting with a dog on my table and trying to brush and comb out matts on a dirty coat is pointless. I have got to get them clean first.
So for the dog owner at home that is feeling frustrated and exasperated because they ARE brushing and combing and there are matts the next day? It’s likely because your pooch needs a tubbie. All you are doing is chasing your tail when you are working on a dirty coat.
After the Bath
Having said this, please, please, please hear me on this one folks. Do not bath your dog and then SKIP the brush and comb part. Don’t ever do that. You might get away with it once, depending on the length of the coat. But you will not escape serious trouble if you do it twice. Do it three times and you’re officially beat.
When you bath your dog, the knots and tangles can and will get tighter. You have got to, got to, got to, get in there post tubbie and fix that problem. So bathing often is a wonderful thing and I encourage you to get in there, and do it. Just realize that you are not finished when you pull the plug and the water drains.
Bath Routine of a Show Dog
One more thing to add in before I sign off. Before I was a groomer and I was bathing 20 plus dogs a day in a very busy grooming salon. Yeah, I know, forever ago. Anyway….the salon owners were dog show people. So during show season, which is essentially every single weekend from Spring until Fall, give or take…..Friday’s were “bath the show dog days.”
All the dogs going to the show for the weekend were in the salon every Friday for a bath and grooming. See where I am going here folks. Those dogs were bathed WEEKLY. Even when it wasn’t show season, those dogs we bathed at least twice a month. The skin and coat on those dogs were IMMACULATE! You would never show up at a dog show to be judged without your best foot forward. Those dogs had the best skin and coat that you could imagine. So that story right there pretty much sinks the notion that we shouldn’t bathe the dog too much.
Use Quality Shampoo
You do want to use a good quality professional shampoo. You don’t want to use dish soap or human products mind you. Just a good quality shampoo that you can buy at any pet store that sells grooming products. Here in my salon, we use many of the products made by Best Shot. That’s not to say that they are the ONLY supplier because there are plenty of others to choose from. I just know that someone will ask “what shampoo do you use Terrie?” So I wanted to go ahead and put it in here that we have more Best Shot shampoos and conditioners in the salon right now than the other companies out there.
So for those of you out there that are banging your heads against the walls trying to battle against the matts with a long coat on your dog…try this tip:
Get them clean, keep them clean, and your home grooming situation will turn around.
You will find your tools glide through the coat with ease. You will notice the areas that you have missed in your previous brushing and combing sessions. You will feel more confident in what you are doing, and that will make you happier about learning more.
Let me know how it goes for you. I would love to hear from people about how this one tip will change their grooming lives FOREVER.
Demo: Brushing and Combing Your Dog at Home
Watch some of these techniques in action in our latest video on YouTube. If you have any questions or comments please let us know. We are here to help you and provide support.
What are your grooming challenges? Drop me a comment below!
For more grooming tips, techniques, and answers to common challenges, hop on over to our Consumer Education page. I also share a lot of behind the scenes from my shop on both Facebook and YouTube. I’d love to see you there.