Poodles have a curly coat that never stops growing, setting them apart from most other breeds of dogs. While they shed very little and can make good companions for people with allergies, the poodle’s coat also presents some unique challenges when it comes to grooming. They typically need to be groomed at least once every two months to prevent them from becoming matted and developing skin problems. Although grooming a poodle can be a challenge, especially if you’ve never done it before, there are ways to make it easier on both you and your dog, while still getting the results you want.
Puppies frightened by clippers may develop an aversion to them and be hard to groom; it’s best to introduce them slowly. Touch your poodle with the clippers while they are off, then turn them on and allow your dog to see and smell the clippers while getting used to the noise. Extra time spent while poodles are young can prevent trauma and make clipping easier for the rest of their lives. It is also important that you never use dull blades to clip poodles, since these will pull their hair and scrape their skin. This hurts and causes clipper burn, characterized by raw spots that turn into open sores when your dog scratches them. Sharp blades will keep your dog comfortable, prevent clipper burn and cut the hair much more efficiently than dull blades.
Very fine hairs grow way down inside poodles’ ears, and the hair must be pulled out so that it won’t hold moisture and dirt in. Removing the hair inside the ears helps to promote airflow and minimizes ear problems. This is important since a dirty or moist ear canal can lead to serious ear infections. It is best to ask a professional groomer or the technician at your veterinary clinic to perform this grooming task as it can be painful and cause inflammation and irritation for the dog if it is not done correctly.
Even if you brush poodles every two to three days, mats can sneak in and cause problems. Cutting them out or pulling on them with a brush or rake can cause pain to your dog and will certainly break the coat, possibly even leaving a bare patch. To coax the mats out without damaging the coat, part the hair as far down as possible and spray the mat with coat conditioner. Once the mat is dampened with the conditioner, use a flat metal comb held perpendicular against the dog’s skin and pick the mat apart with the teeth. If you are patient with this process it won’t hurt your dog or your dog’s coat. There are specially made mat removal tools for this purpose.
Poodles get that fluffy, full look to their coats from being properly dried. While you can simply use a drier to dry them or even let them outside on a warm day, blow drying is the only way to get the classic look that poodles are famous for. First, get them as dry as possible by rubbing them well with towels before you even start the drier. This will save you lots of time and tedious brushing, yet still give your dog the look you want. Run the drier on high and direct a stream of air at the dog, moving it across the body so that all of the hair gets separated and dried. Once the basic drying is done, but while the coat is still slightly damp, go back over each section and blow the hair while you use a slicker brush to brush it against the airflow, straightening the hair out and making your poodle’s coat stand out from the dog’s body.
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