Learning how to groom a dog with long hair is important if you have a long haired breed, or will be getting one soon.
Some people like to take their dogs to groomers. But, when this isn’t possible, you can learn how to groom your dog at home.
Regular grooming can also help to keep shedding under control. So, it’s a great skill to have.
Let’s take a look at how to groom a dog with long hair step by step, as well as the best tools for the job.
- How are long haired dogs different to other breeds?
- Do I need to groom my dog?
- Do dogs like being groomed?
- Types of grooming
- Best grooming tools
- Brushing your dog – step by step
- Bathing your dog – step by step
- Trimming long fur – step by step
- Other areas to check while grooming
- Tips for how to groom a dog with long hair
Click the links above to jump straight to the section you need. Or keep reading to find out everything about how to groom a long haired dog.
How are Long Haired Dogs Different to Other Breeds?
Some breeds come in long-haired and short-haired versions. Long haired dogs tend to have fur that is a couple of inches in length, if not more.
Some of these dogs can have double coats. Some can even have wavy fur instead of straight!
There is a lot of variation, but length is the one thing that long-haired dogs have in common.
Dogs with long hair can experience knots and tangles that might be less common in dogs with shorter fur.
On top of this, they can also get dirt and debris stuck in the fur. Especially if they spend a lot of time outside.
Do I Need to Groom my Dog?
It is important to groom a dog with long hair. Grooming your dog can help with three main things.
- Keeping their coat clean
- Keeping their coat free of painful knots and tangles
- Staying on top of shedding
Knots and dirt caught in your dog’s fur can be painful for your pup. So, it’s good to remove these whenever they happen.
And if your dog is a heavy shedder, grooming can help keep your home clean!
Do Dogs Like Being Groomed?
As long as you get your dog used to being groomed from the time they are a puppy, your dog should enjoy being groomed.
Grooming can be a great way to bond with your dog. You can teach your dog to enjoy grooming by offering lots of treats and praise as you’re doing it – especially when your dog is young. This will create a positive association.
One study suggested that grooming can cause lower heart rates in dogs, potentially pointing to lower stress levels.
On top of this, dogs with long hair will likely be more comfortable and happy when their fur isn’t knotted and tangled.
Types of Grooming
There are three main types of grooming that you are likely to consider when you’re caring for your long haired dog.
These are: brushing, bathing, and trimming fur.
You won’t need to do all of these steps every single time you groom your dog. You are likely to brush your dog a lot more often than bathing or trimming his fur.
Some people choose to send their dogs off to a professional groomer when it comes time to trim their fur.
Best Grooming Tools
When learning how to groom a dog with long hair, you will benefit from having the right tools for the job.
This can vary depending on your individual dog. But, here are some different grooming items you can find, as well as their purpose.
Combs can be a great way of getting tangles out of the top layer of your dog’s fur. They come in wide or narrow tooth varieties.
Make sure the teeth of your comb aren’t too sharp though, as this could hurt your dog’s skin.
Use a comb to gently work through knots on the surface of your dog’s coat.
This tool is great for long haired dogs with wire coats.
Slicker brushes have wide, flat paddles covered in fine pins. This grooming tool will also help you work through knots in your dog’s long coat.
It can also be quicker than using a comb, and easier to hold for some people.
Some slicker brushes have a self-cleaning button, that makes it easier to remove loose hair from the bristles.
A detangling tool, such as a dematting rake is ideal for dogs with long hair that gets knotted easily. Detanglers are designed to remove and tease out tangles gently.
This is one of the most useful things to have if your long haired dog is prone to knots and tangles.
If your long haired dog is prone to heavy shedding, you will benefit from a deshedding tool.
These are most often designed to reach deep into your dog’s coat and remove any loose or dead fur that is ready to fall out.
This is a great way to keep your home clean from dog fur.
Undercoat rakes are great for long haired breeds.
This tool is designed to remove any loose or dead fur from your dog’s undercoat, without disrupting the top layer.
It can help to control shedding, but it only works after you’ve worked out those pesky tangles with a more suitable comb.
For dogs with long hair that are prone to really tough knots, a detangling or dematting spray is vital.
They are designed to soften your dog’s fur, making it less likely to tangle in the first place.
This is a great option if your dog doesn’t enjoy grooming, as it can reduce brushing time a lot.
As well as brushing, you need to think about tools for bathing your dog with long hair. You might want to get a specifically designed dog bath for this.
These can be used outside to keep your home as clean as possible. They often come with shower attachments.
However, you may find it just as easy to use your own bath or shower.
Dog Safe Shampoo and Conditioner
You will need to find a shampoo designed for dogs when bathing your dog with long fur. This is because human shampoos can be too harsh on sensitive doggy skin.
A dog-safe conditioner is also important to minimise tangles and keep your dog’s fur looking shiny and healthy.
Dog Hair Dryer
Most dogs can be dried with just a soft towel after a bath. But long haired breeds can take a little more effort.
You may need to invest in a dog safe hair dryer. These often come with various nozzles, a long hose to keep the actual dryer away from your dog, and filters to avoid hair clogs.
Most dog hair dryers are designed to be quiet, to keep it from frightening your dog.
Will I Need All Of This?
Don’t worry – we know it looks like a lot of stuff. Luckily, it’s very unlikely that your dog with long hair will need all of these tools.
When learning how to groom a dog with long hair, consider the type of fur your dog has.
How to Brush a Dog with Long Hair – Step By Step
Learning how to groom a dog with long fur may start with brushing. As we just said, this will vary depending on your dog – so some of these steps may not apply to you.
Or the tools you use may differ slightly.
But, here is a general guide for how to brush a dog with long fur.
Step One – Prepping Fur
Make sure your dog is comfortable and relaxed. A couple of treats might help!
Run your fingers through your dog’s fur to loosen any knots. If your dog’s fur is particularly knotted, you can generously spritz on a detangling spray.
Detangling spray at this point will help to loosen any knots, and minimize hair breakage.
Step Two – The Undercoat
If your dog has a double coat, you should start by grooming their undercoat. Use an undercoat rake or slicker brush for this.
A good rule of thumb is to groom your dog’s undercoat until there is no more loose fur on your brush. This will help you to keep on top of shedding.
Use these tools gently, otherwise you can hurt your dog’s skin.
If your dog doesn’t have a double coat, you may not need to do this step.
Step Three – Dealing with Tangles
Next, you can use a comb or detangling tool to gently work out stubborn knots. These will be found on the top coat of your dog.
It’s important to tease these out gently. Just grooming your dog all over at this stage could lead to painful pulling.
Teasing the knots out may take longer, but will make the whole experience much more pleasant and less painful for your dog.
Step Four – Difficult Areas
You can use a comb to deal with some of the harder-to-brush areas. This includes your dog’s legs and feet, tail, ears and face.
Tangles in these areas can be quite hard to reach with normal-sized brushes. But, a comb is great for gently working these places.
Remember to go gently, especially on our dog’s face. Be careful that you avoid your dog’s eyes – not just with your tools, but also with any loose fur.
Step Five – Brush for Shine
Once you’ve got rid of the tangles in your dog’s coat, you can use a slicker brush or bristle brush to groom your dog’s body.
This can help to stimulate natural oils in your dog’s coat, and will keep their fur looking shiny and healthy.
This final brushing step is a great way to give your dog’s coat a sleek finish.
How Often To Brush Your Dog
Dogs with long hair may need to be brushed at least once a day. And, this can increase during shedding seasons.
Every dog is different, so try to adapt this to your individual dog.
If your long haired dog is prone to knots and tangles, or is a heavy shedder, you will need to brush them more frequently than a dog that rarely gets tangles or sheds.
How to Bathe a Dog with Long Hair – Step by Step
When learning how to groom a dog with long hair, you will also need to consider bathing. As well as keeping your dog’s coat clean and shiny, bathing can help to minimise tangles.
So, it’s important to bathe your long-haired dog regularly. Especially if they get anything dirty or messy tangled in their fur.
Step One – Brush Your Dog
Brush your dog before you bathe them. You can follow the steps above for this.
This will help to get rid of dead and loose fur, but also to minimise tangles and knots.
If you dive straight in and bathe your dog without brushing them, you may get stuck around these knots and tangles. This can make the whole experience more painful and uncomfortable for your dog.
Knots and tangles can also hold more water than clean, brushed fur. So, it’s always best to start by brushing your dog.
Step Two – Prepare your Bathing Area
This step will differ for people depending on how and where you’re washing your dog. You may simply need to prepare your bath or shower in your house.
Alternatively, you’ll need to take your dog bath outside, fill a tub of water outside. This option is popular with people who don’t want their homes to get messy or wet!
Make sure you are using lukewarm water to avoid irritating or hurting your dog’s skin.
Bring your shampoo and conditioner to your bathing area, as well as a fresh towel, and their doggy hair dryer.
You may also want to lay down a few towels on the ground to keep water spillage to a minimum. Especially if you’re washing your dog inside.
Bear in mind you are likely to get wet. So, wear clothes that can get dirty, or cover them with a waterproof apron or poncho.
Step Three – Wet Your Dog
Once your bathing station is ready, you need to get your dog! Pop them in the bath or shower area and use lukewarm water to wet them all over.
Use your fingers to massage the water through their fur. Go gently in case there are any knots that you missed when brushing them.
Try to avoid going too close to your dog’s eyes. You can use your hands to get their heads, and any long haired muzzles, wet.
Make sure your dog’s fur is completely wet before applying any products.
Step Four – Shampoo
Once your dog is completely wet, it’s time to bring out the shampoo.
Lather up your dog with shampoo, working your way over his body first. Make sure to avoid getting shampoo near his eyes and mouth. Water alone should be fine for washing his face.
Use enough to remove any dirt on your dog, and don’t miss areas like his buttocks or hind legs.
Step Five – Rinse Thoroughly
Make sure that you rinse off all the shampoo with lukewarm water. It’s important to get rid of all the suds.
Stay careful to ensure none of the shampoo gets in your dog’s eyes.
If you aren’t sure whether you have rinsed all the shampoo, just keep rinsing. It’s better to take a little longer and be sure you have got rid of it all.
Step Six – Conditioner
If you have chosen to use a conditioner, this is the time to apply it.
Use it the same as shampoo. Lather up your dog well, and rinse thoroughly. You may need to leave it on for a couple of minutes if instructed on the bottle.
Conditioners won’t look the same as shampoo – it often doesn’t have suds. So, gently massage it into your dog’s fur, taking care to get it all over.
Step Seven – Dry Your Dog
Once all your shampoo and conditioner is rinsed out, you need to dry your dog.
They are likely to shake off the water as soon as you are done, so you might want to take cover at first!
Use a soft, clean towel to gently rub them down. It’s hard to completely dry dogs with long fur just with a towel.
So, you may want to break out your dog hair dryer. Remember to use it at a low heat, and not too close to your dog’s fur.
If your dog has a double coat, check that this is dry using your fingers. Make sure to check areas like their tail and stomach so you don’t miss anything.
It’s really important to ensure your dog is completely dry after bathing them.
Step Eight – Brushing
You may want to give your dog’s coat another quick brush whilst you are drying them. This can help to reduce any tangles from drying them with a towel.
Some people opt not to do this, but it can give your dog’s grooming session the perfect finish.
Importance of Drying
It is really important to ensure that your dog is completely dry after bathing, especially if they have a thick, long coat.
How to Trim Dogs With Long Hair – Step By Step
Many people choose to send their dogs with long hair to professional groomers. However, some like to do this at home.
If you’re choosing to do all grooming at home, you will need to learn how to groom a dog with long hair.
This will vary depending on the dog, so this step by step guide will not apply to every dog.
Step One – Get the Right Tools
The tools you need to groom your dog with long hair will depend on the breed and type of coat they have.
For instance, you may want to use professional scissors, shears, or clippers.
Step Two – Prepare for Grooming
Choose the area that you want to groom your dog. Some people prefer to buy professional grooming tables for this.
These tables often allow you to clip your dog on, which will stop him from running off and reduce the likelihood of him injuring himself on your tools.
Gather your tools in one place, and make sure you choose an area that is easy to clean afterwards.
Step Three – Prepare your Dog!
Most people wet their hair before getting it cut. But the same doesn’t apply to dogs! Dogs will need dry hair before it is cut or trimmed.
However, it does still benefit from being clean and knot free. So, at the very least, make sure your dog is well-brushed before you clip his fur.
Step Four – Dog Clippers
It is best to use clippers on your dog’s body. These will provide an even finish to your dog’s coat.
They also often have guards to protect your dog’s skin – which is the most important part of trimming your dog’s fur at home.
Step Five – Difficult Areas
Clippers won’t help when trimming difficult areas. You may need to use dog-trimming scissors.
However, this isn’t something to do hastily or without experience. One wrong move and you can end up really badly hurting your dog.
If you cannot go to a groomer, use scissors carefully. Use your hand to guard your dog’s skin so the scissors are only cutting fur. Only use the tips of the scissors for precision.
And, make sure no trimmed fur falls in your dog’s eyes.
If In Doubt
If you’re unsure about trimming your dog’s fur at home, the best option is to go to a professional groomer.
As we said earlier, one wrong move and you can really injure your dog.
Professional groomers will know how to work with your dog’s fur-type, but also how to groom delicate and difficult areas.
Remember, never try to cut out a knot in your dog’s fur. Use the steps above for brushing and bathing a dog if you are struggling with a tough tangle.
End with Brushing
After you’ve clipped your dog’s fur, finish by giving him another brush.
Other Areas to Check When Grooming
When learning how to groom a dog with long hair, there are some other areas you should also be checking.
Whenever you groom your dog, make sure to check that his ears are free of wax, and that his nails are not too long.
You may need to clean his ears and trim his nails during your grooming session, too.
How to Groom a Dog with Long Hair – Tips and Cautions
There are a few things to remember when grooming your dog.
Use grooming sessions as an opportunity to check over your dog’s entire body. Look out for any injuries, fleas, or ticks.
Groom your dog from a young age to ensure they are used to the experience. Dogs who are groomed as puppies will be much happier to get it done as adults.
If your dog is a heavy shedder, keep on top of grooming to minimise fur in your home.
And, if you aren’t confident in trimming your dog’s fur at home, you may want to invest in a trip to the groomers.
How to Groom a Dog with Long Hair
Grooming is an important process for dogs with long hair. It keeps their fur clean, and free of any painful knots and tangles.
If you have a dog with long fur, you will also need to either take them to a groomer occasionally, or learn how best to trim their coats.
It can be a lot of work, but it is worth it when you see your pup’s beautiful shiny coat!
If you have a dog with long hair, we would love to hear your grooming tips in the comments!
What products do you use? And how do you deal with those difficult areas when trimming their fur?
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References and Resources
- McGreevy, P. (et al), ‘The Reinforcing Value of Physical Contact and the Effect on Canine Heart Rate of Grooming in Different Anatomical Areas’, Anthrozoos (2015)
- The Kennel Club
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