Large Dog Grooming Tips To Keep Your Large or Giant Breed Dog Groomed and Clean

Large Dog Grooming Tips
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Keeping large dogs groomed is important for their health and worth the extra work. Here are some special grooming tips hand-picked for your dog's big paws.

Newfoundlands may be beautiful, but how will you get and keep all that fur clean? Keeping large dogs groomed is important for their health and worth the extra work. Here are some special grooming tips hand-picked for your dog's big paws. For more information on grooming, find out how to brush your dog's teeth and find the best grooming supplies.

Overall, frequent fur brushing (several times per week) is one of the best things you can do for your dog, but a few techniques will help keep them safe while getting clean. Make sure to use a recommended brush for large dogs for daily grooming.

Big dog bath time

Bathing is a special challenge for large dogs because they may not fit in your bathtub! It's important to start bathing young so that your dog learns the process and can be trained to behave. You may need to have baths outside, and keep your dog on a leash to avoid running. Look for a collar to use during bathing which will not bleed color onto the fur when wetโ€”you can return to the regular collar when they're dry. You can also try self-service pet washes at pet stores to access the proper tools and leave the mess behind.

Brush your dog thoroughly before a bath to remove matted fur before they get wet. Make sure that you use dog shampoo (human shampoo is too harsh for dogs) and if needed, dilute it with water before massaging into your dog's fur. Two rounds of diluted shampoo will be easier to wash out than one thick round. It's important to rinse out all the shampoo because leaving shampoo on your dog's skin can lead to irritation.


The added challenge for some large dogs, such as Newfoundlands and Great Pyrenees, is that they have a double coat, making bath time twice the challenge. It is difficult to get the soap into their fur and to ensure that you rinse it out completely, so use two diluted batches of shampoo instead of one big glob.

Drying on time

Some giants (especially those with double coats) may take all day to dry, and may need your help to speed up the process. You can start with a towel, but you may need to upgrade to an electric dryer. You can use a hairdryer, but make sure it is on the cool settingโ€”you don't want to burn your friend! For double-coated dogs, like Bernese Mountain Dogs and Newfoundlands, you may prefer a pet dryer to speed up the process and avoid burns.

Nail trimming

No one likes it, but every dog needs their nails trimmed to avoid damage to the toes or feet from long nails. Big dogs require special trimmers or clippers to handle their large nails, which should be cut just long enough to touch the floor as they walk, but not too short as to cut into the quick (blood vessel in the nail). This can be a tricky task, which is why it's better to take off a series of small slices and trim more frequently, ideally several times per month. Resist the dangerous urge to rush through the process by making one big cut on each toe.

To trim nails, get comfortable on the floor and have your dog lay on their side so that you can access all of their feet, or teach them to โ€œshow belly.โ€ Before trimming day, expose your dog to foot handling by rubbing your dog's feet, so that they can become comfortable with the experience. If you do cut too far and a toe starts to bleed, use styptic pads to stop the bleeding. If you or your dog don't like using clippers, try using a grinder instead. Training will help your dog stay during this process, and a nice meaty treat at the end will show your appreciation.

DIY Dog Grooming

Grooming at home can be a fun experience for both you and your dog, but many people underestimate just how essential it is that they are regularly bathing, brushing, and grooming their pooch.

What Does Your Dog Need?

The first step to proper at-home grooming is to consider what your dog actually needs. A terrier isnโ€™t going to need a shave and a poodle isnโ€™t going to need coat sheen. Determining what your dog needs can be quite simple, especially if you know their breed. A quick look online will tell you what is considered essential for the health of their quote.

During the summer, for example, a Saint Bernard or other long-haired breed may need a buzz to keep them cool. Meanwhile, a curly-haired breed is going to need special grooming to ensure their coat doesnโ€™t tangle, and they might also need a trim to help keep them cleaner and cooler for longer. A short-haired breed wonโ€™t need much in the way of razors, but theyโ€™ll still need some moisturizer applied to keep their skin and coat in good shape.

Determine what your dog needs based on their breed and coat, then come up with the right routine that will incorporate those things.

Your Grooming Checklist

Once you have the care plan figured out for your dogโ€™s specific coat type, you also need to put these essential tasks down onto your grooming checklist. These are things all dogs need to have done at regular intervals:

  • Ear cleaning. Cleaning your dogโ€™s ears will help prevent smelly (and painful) infections from becoming an issue. Ear cleaning wonโ€™t be necessary during every session, but you should check their ears regularly for dirt, debris, and signs of infection to keep them in their best shape.

  • Nail trimming. Overgrown claws will go โ€œtip tapโ€ when your dog walks across a wood floor. This means your dogโ€™s nails are far too long and they need to be trimmed down. Get some sharp dog nail trimmers to do it. When youโ€™re done, their nails should not touch the floor when they walk.

  • Dental health. You probably wonโ€™t be able to brush your dogโ€™s teeth every night, but it is still a good idea to keep a close eye on their dental health. Regularly lift their lips to check for healthy gums and any teeth that may be giving them issues. A doggy-approved tooth brushing once a month is essential to helping them fight plaque and gingivitis.

  • Seasonal care. During the summer, a short-haired dog especially is going to start turning pink on their belly and nose if allowed too much time out in the sun. Doggy sunscreen is in order for their snout and other exposed areas of skin. During the winter, moisturizing balm may be necessary for your dogโ€™s nose and paw pads.

  • Health check. Just like a certified groomer, when you have finished with your grooming routine, itโ€™s important you do a quick once-over to make sure your dog looks to be in good health. Are they gaining weight? Losing some? Do they have any bumps or wounds that need to be addressed? Your weekly grooming session is a good chance to screen your dog and make sure theyโ€™re in good health between vet visits.

Once you have written up your grooming checklist, the next step is to figure out how often your dog needs to be groomed. Depending on how much time they spend outdoors, and how tolerant you are of dirt and debris, some dog owners bathe and groom once per week. At minimum, you should groom your dog once a month and do everything on your checklist.

Grooming Tips

One thing that stops many people from grooming their dog at home is that some dogs just donโ€™t like to sit still. If you find that your dog doesnโ€™t like baths or doesnโ€™t like being brushed, work with them so that you can get to the point where you can groom them yourself.

You may see it as a hassle, but grooming is very important to your dogโ€™s health and happiness. Not only will you be keeping their coat clean and beautiful, you will be checking for important things too that will have a big impact on their comfort and health.

Most dogs wonโ€™t enjoy having their paws held to be trimmed or their lips lifted so their teeth can be inspected, but these are things youโ€™ll simply have to get your dog used to with time. Be patient, have a friend step in to hold them for you, and be sure that lots of treats and โ€œGood dog!โ€ compliments are involved in the process.

If you make grooming an enjoyable experience, itโ€™ll just be a matter of time before your dog begins looking forward to the process.

How Often?

If you have a long-haired dog or one that gets particularly dirty, grooming will be required more often in order to keep their coat in good health. Look up your dogโ€™s breed so you can get a better idea of how often their coat needs to be groomed.

Generally, your health and dental check along with an ear cleaning and nail trim can be done 1-2 times per month, but their coat type is going to determine how often you need to pull out the hose.

Depending on the season, environment, and your dogโ€™s breed, you might also need to give them supplements to support a healthy coat and, on occasion, topical ointments for any skin or coat conditions they may be experiencing. This will soon become a normal part of their grooming routine as you get in the habit of thoroughly checking them each time you work with them.

Happy grooming!

Small Dog Grooming

You might think that owning a small breed dog means less grooming, but in reality there are a wide range of small breeds from extra-tiny to medium, and their grooming requirements vary as much as their size. Itโ€™s true that some small breed dogs -- such as Chihuahuas, Beagles, and Italian Greyhounds -- are relatively low maintenance when it comes to grooming, but other breeds -- like Toy Poodles and Shih Tzus -- require a lot of upkeep. Here weโ€™ll look at some grooming considerations that apply to small breed dogs in general.

Train for Grooming

Many small breed dogs have big energy, and this can translate to impatience and fidgeting during grooming. This type of behavior is not only frustrating, it can also be dangerous when performing delicate procedures such as nail trimming or cleaning around the eyes. Train your dog from an early age to be comfortable sitting still. You can make the grooming area more pleasant for your dog by using a towel, blanket, or skid-free mat. Your dog should also learn to be comfortable having different parts of their body touched. In quiet moments with your dog, pick up a paw, rub their ear, gently slip a finger into their mouth, and touch their face. This way your dog wonโ€™t be so surprised when you reach for a paw or open their mouth during grooming.

Tiny Tools

In many cases grooming your small breed dog at home is completely doable, but youโ€™ll need the right tools. One of the trickiest parts of grooming is nail clipping, and for this very sensitive procedure youโ€™ll need a nail clipper that is sized appropriately for your dog. For many small breed dogs a pair of small pet nail clippers will work -- this is the same size used on cats. Always check the packaging of the product before using it on your dog. If you have a medium sized dog, you may need to go up a size or two. For fussy dogs who just canโ€™t stand the sight of those clippers, you can try using a dremel to sand down the nails instead.

Another tool that you need to get right is the toothbrush. Small breed dogs are more susceptible to dental problems because of their small mouths, so daily teeth brushing is a must. Never use a human toothbrush or toothpaste on your dog. For small breeds, you can find a small angled handheld brush or a soft brush that fits over your finger. Dog toothpaste comes in a variety of flavors including poultry and peanut butter. Your dog may end up liking this necessary grooming step.

Low-Maintenance Small Breed Dogs

All dogs need to have their nails clipped, teeth brushed, and get regular checks for fleas and ticks, but beyond that, many small breed dogs require little grooming. The following breeds have easy to care for coats and less grooming needs than other small dogs: Affenpinscher, Beagle, Boston Terrier, Chihuahua (short haired), Dachshund (smooth and wirehaired), English Toy Spaniel, French Bulldog, Hairless Chinese Crested, Italian Greyhound, Manchester Terrier, Miniature Pinscher, Papillon, Pug, Rat Terrier, and Toy Fox Terrier.

High-Maintenance Small Breed Dogs

Some small breed dogs need a lot of grooming to keep their coats healthy, clean, and free of mats. These breeds arenโ€™t for the owners who just canโ€™t put in the time, as in many cases daily brushing and care is needed. The following small breeds need some extra pampering: Australian Terrier, Bichon Frise, Bolognese, Coton de Tulear, Lhasa Apso, Havanese, Maltese, Miniature Poodle, Pekingese, Powderpuff Chinese Crested, Shih Tzu, Silky Terrier, Skye Terrier, Toy Poodle, and Yorkshire Terrier.

More on Dog Grooming

How to Groom a Dog: A Step by Step Guide
How to Trim Australian Shepherds
How to Clip a Golden Retriever for Less Shedding

This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.

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