How to Groom a Golden Retriever at Home

How to Groom a Golden Retriever at Home

Golden retrievers make for amazing companions, but they do require a decent amount of maintenance. Because they have such lovely coats, grooming is a must. Brushing, washing, and trimming are all important components in keeping your golden retriever clean and healthy.

Can you groom a golden retriever at home? Grooming a golden retriever at home isn’t difficult. With some time and patience and the right tools, many golden retriever owners are able to groom their dogs at home regularly.  

 Golden retrievers are generally easy to groom at home, with the right materials and a little bit of know-how. A step-by-step guide, as well as recommendations for tools, make it easier. Keep reading for all of that information and to learn even more tips and tricks to develop a grooming regimen for your golden.

Why Groom Your Golden at Home?

The pros of DIY grooming, in most cases, outweigh the cons, so if you think you’re up for the challenge, why not? There are many advantages to doing this at home; here are just a few.

Save Your Coin

A major bonus of grooming at home is saving your hard-earned money. For a full-service grooming service, you can expect to pay anywhere from $75-$100. Sure, this price will get you most all of the bells and whistles, such as fresh breath and paw balm, but that’s quite a hefty fee.

Purchasing your own grooming tools will cost you about as much, but once you own them, you don’t have to buy them again.

Getting your own tools is a one-time fee but will save you tons. Think of it this way: once your tools are paid for, each time you groom your golden, you are saving nearly $100.

Less Stress for Your Pup

If you ever walk by one of the windows at the pet store and see a dog getting groomed, they always look slightly to majorly terrified. Some dogs stiffen up as soon as they realize where they are going and what’s about to happen.

Golden retrievers are very loyal companions, so being away from their owners can upset them. And who really wants to make their doggie sad. Grooming at home will give you and your pup more time to spend together.

You Can Start ‘Em Young

As with most things related to children and puppies, the earlier to you start, the better. Grooming is essential for keeping your puppy healthy and clean, so naturally, you’ll want to develop grooming habits young.

Starting to groom at home from an early age will be easier on you, but also, many groomers don’t accept puppies until they’re of a certain age.

This is usually due to the shots they’re required to have. Groomers don’t want to have unvaccinated dogs in their care for obvious health reasons.

Grooming your golden at home is easy when they’re just a pup, and their fur hasn’t grown into those lengthy golden locks yet.

Tools for Grooming Your Golden Retriever

If you’re planning on grooming your golden retriever, you’ll need more than just household scissors and some soap. Here’s a list of things you should have before you get started.

Clippers and Scissors

These are two of the must-haves for golden grooming. You can use whichever tool you and your pooch are most comfortable with. But, keep in mind, some parts of trimming are easier with clippers, while others are best done with scissors. These pet grooming scissors are inexpensive and easy to use.

For sensitive parts of your dog, such as the ears and the tail, you may want to use thinning shears, because they don’t cut out an entire chunk of fur at a time. They’re designed for thinning. They take a section of hair and remove just a layer. This pair is easy to use and less expensive than other models.

For help on what electric clippers to use, view the section below on grooming with electric clippers and choosing the right ones for your pup.

Non-skid Surface

A table or countertop with a mat that won’t allow your dog to slip and slide during the grooming process is absolutely necessary. There are several options out there; here is an example of what you need.

Paw Balm

Don’t neglect your pup’s super-sensitive pads on their paws. During the grooming process, you’ll want to make sure to pay extra attention to this area and be sure to apply some ointment specially made for paw pads.

Make sure you use a balm that’s made just for dogs because your dog will absolutely try to lick it off their paws. The American Kennel Club suggests using this Pura Naturals Pet Certified Organic Paw Rescue.

Brush

There are many, many different kinds of brushes that you can use to keep your golden’s fur looking shiny and tangle-free. Here are some of the options:

  • Slicker brush: this is great for a golden’s double layer coat. These are made of tightly packed, wire bristles, so it can gently remove dead hair and prevent further tangles.
  • Undercoat Rake: the head on this brush has bristles that are rounded at the tip, so it doesn’t pull to hard when removing whatever is buried in the undercoat.
  • Pin Brush: even though this brush is small, it can still get the job done. It also helps keep your pup’s coat shiny by stimulating the skin.
  • Bristle Brush: easy to find, easy to use. If you don’t want to get too fancy, this brush is the one for you. And, if you want a 2-for-1, you can use the pin brush recommended above.

 If you’re only going to use one brush, most groomers recommend a slicker brush. It helps thin out all that lovely fluff on your golden and minimizes shedding.  

Toothbrush and Toothpaste

As with other grooming supplies, human dental tools will not work for dogs. It could make them very sick. Human toothpaste is never meant to be swallowed, even for people. Since we can’t teach our dogs to spit after brushing, you can see why human toothpaste might pose a problem.

Mouth wipes are another option for you and your pup. These make it a little easier to access the teeth and to actually wipe them clean. If you think your dog might not appreciate you coming at them with a toothbrush, then you may want to choose some of these.

The Veterinary Oral Health Council (VHOC) has a complete list of approved products. Click to view their recommendations for toothbrushes and toothpaste, or even mouth wipes, that received the VHOC stamp of approval.

Nail Clippers or Grinder

When choosing nail clippers, a guillotine or scissor-style clipper will work best. There are many models to choose from, starting with the simplest design, to clippers that have a sensor that lets you know how short to trim.

When choosing the best set for your dog’s nails, it may help to check with your vet. Or ask a groomer. It’s important to get the right one for the right nail care, as well as the smoothness of your clipping session!

Styptic Powder

This is something that you can purchase at most places that carry medicines and first aid equipment, so it’s very easy to find. However, it’s best to have it on hand in case you need it, as it’s not something you’ll want to have to leave to purchase or wait on.

The styptic powder can be applied to your pup’s nails if you have a trimming accident and cut them too short. This will be incredibly painful for your doggie, and it most likely will bleed. The powder can be applied to the cut to aid clotting. It’s a great alternative to bandages since most dogs probably won’t keep one of those on their boo-boos.

Doggie Shampoo

Golden retrievers require a shampoo that works with their unique coat. You’ll want to avoid shampoos that have added fragrances, artificial dyes, and mineral oils. When choosing a shampoo for your golden, make sure it checks all of these boxes:

  • Hypoallergenic
  • Contains only natural ingredients
  • Moisturizing
  • pH balanced for dogs
  • Deodorizers

Although there’s a fair amount of trial and error that goes into finding a shampoo that works for your pup, these are a few that other Golden owners swear by:

Canine Blow Dryer

Dog dryers work a little faster than human hair dryers, but they’re also a little quieter. This makes them ideal for drying your pooch. Noise from loud dryers can impact your dog’s health, according to the United States National Library of Medicine. Using dryers that are made for dogs, makes them easier to handle according to this study.

Also, doggie blow dryers are specially made to reduce skin irritations and prevent fur from matting. Using a proper brush and drying in the direction of your dog’s coat will also help prevent matted fur.

Treats, Treats, and More Treats

It’s up to you what works best, but many groomers suggest tiny, healthy treats or a large distraction treat. Whatever route you choose, make sure that the treats aren’t messy, or they’ll counteract all of the cleaning and grooming you’ve been working so hard on.

Smaller treats can work well for reinforcing your dog’s behavior when he or she is being a good pup. Sitting still or laying down could earn your dog a little snack.

If you want to try a bigger distraction treat, you can pick a bone or rawhide that’s a favorite for your dog. Hopefully, they’ll gnaw on it while you do all the hard work of grooming.

Grooming Your Golden Retriever Step-By-Step

All of the steps are listed with a short description below for exactly how to groom your golden retriever. But there are a few great YouTube tutorials that might help you get an idea of what all of the grooming will look like. Try Golden Retriever Grooming Guide.

Step 1: Brush Your Pup

We know brushing often is important to get rid of tangles, matted fur, and any dead hair. Before bath time, this is extra important. Gently comb through your pooch’s hair, making sure that you’re taking the time to get rid of any and all tangles.

If you can, do this outside. This activity will stir up plenty of fur, so an outdoor space might be a good option, if at all possible. Brush your dog’s entire body at least once, twice if your pup is patient.

Step 2: Trimming the Fur

Once you’ve de-shed your entire dog, you can start trimming. You can use scissors or electric clippers. If you’d like to use clippers, scroll down to How to Groom a Golden Retriever with Electric Clippers to learn how to choose clippers and how to go about using them.

Also, to keep your Golden’s ears and tail trimmed in a more traditional fashion, you can read the guide below for How to Trim Golden Retriever Ears and Tail. Because the ears and tail are specific to the breed itself, I’ve included a few more tips to help you do this on your own.

Start trimming at the front of your dog, moving toward the back. Do one side, then the other. You’ll want just to make sure you’re trimming enough to even out your dog’s natural fur line. It’s best to work in this order, if at all possible:

  • Stomach Area: shave closer to the skin to avoid anything getting snagged in the fur while on walks or playing outside.
  • Neck and Shoulders: using the clippers or scissors, thin out the existing hair, being careful not to get too close to the skin.
  • Hind Legs: leave hair a little longer to maintain a traditional Golden’s natural cut.
  • Paw Pads: this is extra important because this fur is what comes into contact with the ground, making it extra dirty.
  • Tail: a Golden’s tail should resemble a flag, so be mindful when trimming and don’t take too much off the top.

Step 3: Tub Time

Your Golden needs to be washed every four to six weeks. Unless, of course, you have one of those extra active pooches that like to roll around and get dirty, then you’ll need to squeeze in an extra wash.

Bathing too often will irritate your pup’s skin and remove too many of the skin’s natural oils. This can also damage the coat. Keep this in mind when choosing a shampoo, as previously mentioned.

You can choose the bathtub or, if it’s warm enough, the backyard and hose. It’s up to you and the weather where your bath time will take place. Give your dog a rinse and start lathering up.

Pay extra attention to the face and the ears, but also be extra gently. Make sure to rinse all of the shampoos out when you’re done.

Step 4: Blow Out

To get your dog looking fresh out of the salon, use a canine dryer and a brush to remove any tangles that might have sprouted up during the scrubbing. Or, if you’re going to skip the dryer, a simple towel dry will suffice.

Step 5: Mani/Pedi Time

With the nails being slightly softer from soaking in the water, this is a good time to trim them. Use the nail clippers or grinder to very, very carefully cut back the nails. Start with just one nail, and don’t expect that you’ll get them all cut in one sitting. This can take multiple tries.

The ideal spot to cut nails is in a well-lit area, so you can make sure you’re not cutting part of the quick. That will really hurt your pup, but also cause anxiety for future grooming. However, if this does happen, pack some of that styptic powder into the wound.

How to Groom a Golden Retriever with Electric Clippers

If you do choose to go the DIY route and groom your pup at home, you can do so with electric clippers. In fact, this is, no doubt, the easiest and safest way to cut fur. However,  you’ll want to be mindful of the length that you’re going for, and make sure not to cut the fur too short.

Find a Photo to Use as a Guide

Remember when everyone would take a picture of Jennifer Aniston’s hair to their stylist and ask for “The Rachel” haircut? And nobody’s left the salon looking just like Rachel? That’s because haircuts and styles have to work with the hair you have. Doggies are no different!

Search the web and find a picture of a golden retriever cut. This will serve as a guide for you, but also, because it’s a golden retriever, you know the style will be functional with your own golden.

Choose Your Clippers

An important note here about clipper choice: the quieter, the better. Many dogs are upset by loud sounds, so using trimmers that are loud will make it easy for you to get close to your dog.

Stainless steel clippers are typically the best, as they last longer and are easier to clean. However, they do come with a steeper price tag. It’s also important to make sure that your trimmers are sharp.

It’s helpful to choose clippers that come with different guide combs. This will make it easier to cut a consistent length, but also will keep you from going too short. Here are a few popular models that work well with golden retriever coats:

Start Trimming

Make sure to go slow and don’t rush. Proper grooming takes time, so just know you’re going to be at it for a while. Going slow will ensure that you’re not missing any spots and that your trim will be even.

It’s important to go with the direction that your dog’s hair is growing, not against it. This can be tricky because dogs’ fur changes growth patterns throughout their bodies.

Start at your dog’s neck and work toward the back, sticking to one side. Again, going slow and not making any sudden movements. It might also help to hold onto your dog to prevent them from moving too much.

Keep Your Blades Cool

Trimming large breed dogs will take a while. The trimmer blades will heat up; it’s inevitable. So just know that this will happen and be prepared. It’s important to check the trimmer often so that you don’t burn your doggie.

When the blades do heat up, you can try one of these ways of cooling them back down:

  • Switch out the blades using an extra one, if your clippers came with more than one blade.
  • Use coolant to spritz the blade but be sure to rinse it off once it’s cooled, so the chemicals of the coolant don’t irritate your doggie’s sensitive skin.
  • Set the blades on a metal surface every few minutes, when your pup is getting restless. A cookie sheet works great. The metal will help to cool the blades down.

How to Trim Golden Retriever Ears and Tail

The ears and tail are two trademarks of a golden retriever, which is why many people turn to professional dog groomers that have experience in this area. Safety is also important, and professionals are trained to know all of the hazards and first aid protocols.

However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t safely and effectively trim your golden’s tail at home. You can use clippers, although scissors offer the most control. Because clippers come with guards, it’s a little harder to cut your dog when using these. So, if you do choose scissors, make sure to make little snips and go slow.

Tail

  • Hold the end of the tail in your fist, leaving just the hair poking through. The actual tail itself should be protected within your fist.
  • Trim the tail hair so that it’s even and straight, all one length across. Use your fist as a guide and cut the hairs so that they’re flush with your hand.
  • Take the end of the tail in your non-dominant hand and extend it as far away from the body as possible.
  • Cut the hair shorter at the end of the tail, leaving it longer as it gets closer to the body.

For visual learners, you may want to watch this short YouTube tutorial How to Trim Your Golden Retriever’s Tail.

Ears

  • Holding your dog’s ears flat, gently brush the outer ear hair upwards, so it’s standing up.
  • Using thinning shears to gently trim the ear hair, being so careful not to cut your dog’s ears.
  • Brush the ear hair back down in the direction of its growth.
  • Trim any rogue pieces that escaped the first round of cutting.
  • Lift your dog’s ear up, exposing the fur that lies underneath.
  • Again, gently trim this ear hair with the thinning shears, but not removing all of the hair.

If you’d like to see how it’s done by a professional without having to visit the groomer, you can watch this tutorial before you get started Trimming Golden Retrievers’ Ears.

Can You Shave a Golden Retriever?

Technically, you can shave a golden retriever. You can very easily take a pair of electric clippers and shave your dog. In theory, it sounds like a quick and easy way to trim your dogs’ fur.

But the question is really should you shave a golden retriever. And the answer to that is very simple: no.

Golden retrievers have a very complex coat, with two separate layers of fur. Together, the two coats work as a heating and cooling system, water repellent, and sunscreen.

Therefore, removing too much of this could upset the balance that your dog has to go on.

Although it may seem like shaving in the summertime will help your pup stay cool, it can actually cause an unhealthy balance in their coat and open them up to exposure to the sun.

Overall, shaving your Golden at home isn’t the best way to go about grooming. There are better ways you can keep your fur baby’s coat looking healthy and shiny, as well as helping him or her stay cool.