Special Grooming Needs Prior to Bathing

All breeds should be bathed prior to trimming or stripping.


Before bathing, the nails should be clipped. (Only the Chihuahua can be allowed to have longer nails in the show ring.) With frequent clipping and filing, the nail will recede and the nail can be maintained properly. The hair between the toes is clipped with scissors. The anal sacs should be palpated and expressed before or during bathing. The ears should be plucked and cleaned. We use Epi-Otic® to clean the ears with a cotton swab. The eyes should be protected with a bland ophthalmic ointment. Tangles and mats should be removed before bathing.

dog nail structure



Following the above-mentioned items, the pet is placed in a raised tub to bathe. The pet is wet completely with warm water. Use a liquid flea shampoo or any other as directed by the veterinarian or groomer. The shampoo is lathered and applied to the back and topline of the pet to start the lathering.

Always be sure to secure your dog safely in the tub. If he jumps out, he may be hurt.

The lather is spread over the legs and underside and applied to the face with a cloth to prevent it from getting into the eyes. The coat may be brushed to dissolve any dirt or loosen debris or dead skin. Pay special attention to the ears, rectum area, and pads of the feet. Then if necessary, the shampoo is repeated. The pet is rinsed thoroughly. Thorough rinsing is essential. When rinsing, hold your thumb in the ear canal to prevent water from entering and keep a hand over the eyes to keep any soap from getting into them.


Irritation will result if the shampoo is allowed to stay close to the skin. Rinses are necessary to prevent drying of the coat by the shampoo. A rinse is applied to the coat after the shampoo has been removed to coat the fur and prevent drying. The coat should be squeezed to remove excess water. The coat is then toweled dry before grooming. Professional grooming salons may towel dry or use a pet dryer to dry the coat before grooming.

Dry Baths

To avoid the drying influence of water baths, dry powder products can be used, especially in long coats. The powder is applied then thoroughly brushed out. With a careful job, the coat is left clean and lustrous. Dry baths are used only for quick clean up and water baths are the most effective way to clean the coat.

Grooming Needs of Individual Coat Types

The Long Coat with Undercoat

Typical breeds include Newfoundland’s, German shepherds, collies, Old English sheepdogs, Siberian huskies, Samoyeds, and Welsh corgis.
Equipment includes:

  • Rake
  • Natural bristle brush
  • Slicker® brush
  • Regular and fine Resco® combs
  • Shedding blade
  • Nail clippers (heavy duty)

The dogs should be bathed a least twice yearly, in spring and fall. In many cases, the more frequent bathing (every three months) may be needed. A rake or shedding blade may be used to remove dead hair. The coat should be combed and brushed forward over the top and sides, backward over the flanks. A fine comb is necessary for the hair under the chin and tail and behind the ears.

The Non-Shedding, Curly or Wooly Undercoat

Typical breeds include poodles, Bedlington terriers, and Kerry blue terriers.
Equipment includes:

  • Oster® clipper and blades
  • Natural bristle brush
  • Slicker® brush
  • Fine, medium and coarse steel combs
  • Scissors

The three breeds above must be clipped every four to six weeks for perfect appearance. Expose the puppies to grooming at eight weeks of age so they will accept the clippers. Only the scissors should be used under the tail, as that skin is very easily irritated. Since dead and loose hairs from these coats are mostly secondary hairs that become enmeshed in the coat, neglect causes “felt” matting. All dead hairs must be completely combed out before bathing. The ears should be cleaned weekly.

The Silky Coat

Typical breeds include spaniels, Afghan hounds, Maltese and Yorkshire terriers, setters, Lhasa apsos, and Pekinese.
Equipment includes:

  • Slicker® brush
  • Medium and fine steel combs
  • Natural bristle and pin brushes
  • Oster® clipper and blades
  • Duplex stripping knife
  • Barber scissors

While all long coats require frequent brushing, silky coats in addition require frequent bathing to prevent mats and skin irritation. It may be necessary to use conditioners such as Humilac® or Alpha Keri® to keep the hair soft and manageable and to prevent breakage. To brush out these coats, the hair can be lifted with the hand and combed or brushed down until it is free of snarls to the skin. Spaniels grow two to three coats a year and need to be stripped or clipped at least every three months.

The Smooth Coat

Typical breeds include hounds, Retrievers, Dachshunds, Dalmatians, Beagles, Whippets, Doberman pinschers, Smooth terriers, and Boxers.
Equipment includes:

  • Hound glove or rubber hound brush
  • Scissors

Dogs should be bathed only as necessary for cleanliness. The scissors are used to trim the tactile hairs on the face, or shape fringes on the tail, ears or brisket. The coat can be rubbed to shiny sleekness using the hound glove, the hands, or towels.

The Wiry Coat

Typical breeds include the Wire-haired fox terrier, Welsh terrier, Airedale terrier, Lakeland terrier, Schnauzer, and Sealyham terrier.
Equipment includes:

  • Oster® clipper and blades
  • Duplex® stripping knife
  • Fine and medium steel combs
  • Hound glove
  • Barber scissors

Trimming the head, ears and tail should start on pups early. As adults, they require machine clipping every six to eight weeks or hand stripping every twelve weeks. Clippers should never be used on the bodies of dogs being shown, as this softens the coat by removing the coarse guard hairs. Unfortunately, this change seems to be permanent, and dogs such as miniature schnauzers may be ruined for future showing. Hand stripping should only be done when the coat is ready. New hair should not be stripped except to tidy up a bit.

The Corded Coat

The Komondor and the Puli, two Hungarian breeds.
Only mild shampoo, diluted 10:1 with water before application (so it can be easily rinsed out), a heavy-duty water spray, and heavy-duty dryer are required.
Dogs should never be clipped or combed. These dogs have a thick double coat that forms naturally into tassel-like cords described as controlled matting. Always use diluted shampoo. Squeeze it into the coat- do not brush or rub vigorously. Then thoroughly rinse with large volumes of water, spraying into the coat to lift and float out the dirt and shampoo. Do not rub dry with towels. Handle them like a good sweater. Squeeze out by hand and allow to drip-dry.

Special Grooming Problems


Mats can usually be teased apart and combed out if they are small. Very small mats behind the ears and under the legs can be cut off. Larger mats can be slit with a mat splitter and then teased with one or two teeth of a comb. Or, a Slicker® brush can be used to brush the mat up, then down, to tease it apart or loosen it. Some badly neglected, long-coated cats or dogs may have an almost complete covering of “felt” matting. These mats do not form close to the skin. Occasionally the mats need to be removed by close shaving under general anesthesia.

Tar and Paint

Tar or paint embedded in the coat can be difficult to remove. Small deposits should be allowed to harden and then cut off. Tar masses can be soaked in vegetable oil with a surfactant and bandaged if needed to soften the tar and then the entire mass can be removed with soap and water.

We have in the past used a combination of 50% mineral oil and 50% acetone to soften the tar, then followed quickly with a detergent rinse to remove the dissolved solution. This may be repeated as needed to remove most tar problems.

Never use paint removers, organic solvents, kerosene, turpentine, or gasoline to remove tar or paint.


Odors on or about the coat usually originate from places such as the mouth, ears, feet, or anal glands. These should be checked and washed carefully. The coat may have a bacterial infection that may be causing odor. The bacterial infection may be secondary to seborrhea that may need to be treated first. Many seborrheas may be secondary to allergies, hypothyroidism, or dietary deficiencies of the dog. Clorox® solution diluted to two teaspoonfuls per gallon water can be used to remove skunk odor. Oxyfresh® shampoo is a human-grade-cleansing agent that kills bacteria and is sold in the clinic for pet odors.

Comments on Grooming Cats

There are three types of cat hair in reference to grooming:

  • Short hair, single coat
  • Short hair, double coat
  • Long hair

Short hair, single coat

The short hair, single coated cats are typified by the domestic shorthair, the Siamese, Burmese, Havana brown, Rex, and Korat. These cats can be bathed in shampoo and water, quickly dried to avoid chilling, and brushed and combed against the coat to remove dead hair. Final brushing is with the nape of the hair. A fine metal comb and a natural boar bristle brush are all that is needed.

Short hair, double coat

The Abyssinian, Manx, Russian blue, and the American shorthair typify the short hair, double coat. These cats have two sets of hair – long guard hairs that give the coat the color and shorter, softer undercoat that provides warmth. These cats are groomed similar to the ones above but caution is employed to avoid over-grooming. Over-grooming resulting in loss of the guard hairs causes the coat to have a moth-eaten appearance.

Long hair

The long hair cats are the Persians and Himalayans. These kittens should be groomed beginning at four weeks of age. Several sizes of combs and bristle brushes are necessary and daily maintenance is necessary to prevent matting.

Special Feline Grooming Problems


A cat’s nails should be clipped only if necessary. They soon grow out again and are self-honed sharply. Soft Paws® may be applied to the nail caps instead of clipping.


A cat’s ears are less prone to infections than a dog’s ears, but they should always be checked and cleaned if needed. Young cats are especially prone to ear mites.

Stud Tail

The large gland on the top of the tail is a mass of hyperactive sebaceous glands that may cause trouble if neglected. Breeders call the problem “stud tail” although it occurs in both sexes. A waxy, unsightly accumulation builds up in the area if proper hygiene is neglected. This can be removed with a powder to soak it up or a fine oil to soften it followed by a shampoo to remove the dissolved wax.