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.
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 wet—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 setting—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.
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 “show belly.” 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.
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.