There's a lot to love about the Golden Retriever. This breed is loyal, affectionate, and a lot of fun. They're also great family dogs, as Golden Retrievers tend to get along well with children and other pets. It's really no wonder the Golden Retriever consistently ranks near the top of the American Kennel Club's list of most popular dog breeds.
Another thing that's great about the Golden Retriever? Their impressive coats. The Golden Retriever's coat of fur is long, flowing, and quite beautiful, and the way it shimmers while the dog runs is something to behold. It's one of the reasons that Golden Retrievers are often successful competitors in dog shows.
Because of that long coat of flowing locks, the Golden Retriever will need regular grooming. One option is to take your dog to a professional groomer and have your dog’s grooming needs taken care of for you. The other option is to undertake your Golden Retriever's grooming yourself.
Let's take a closer look at how to groom a Golden Retriever yourself and what you should be doing to keep your beloved pet looking and feeling their absolute best.
Brushing Your Golden Retriever
Grooming professionals and veterinarians usually recommend you brush your Golden Retriever a few times a week. Regular brushing keeps shedding under control, and it prevents your dog's coat from developing tangles or matting, which can pull on sensitive skin and result in discomfort and even infection.
First, it's important to understand the nature of your dog's coat to best know how to groom a Golden Retriever. These dogs have what is called a double coat, meaning it’s water repellent and consists of two layers: the fluffier undercoat and the smooth, shiny topcoat. When brushing your Golden Retriever, it's important to address both of these layers.
Golden Retrievers shed moderately throughout the year and shed heavily once or twice a year during seasonal shedding periods. For regular, light shedding, use a comb and run it through the entire coat (don't use a bristle brush, as it won't penetrate through your Golden's thick coat all the way to the undercoat). A comb also works for your dog's feathering, which is the longer light hair that flows from the Golden Retriever's tail and the back of the legs.
During heavy shedding periods, you'll want to use what’s called a pin brush or an undercoat rake, which is designed to get down to the undercoat and remove all loose hair, as well as any debris or dirt.
For more information on the dog brushes and other grooming tools you need to keep your Golden looking their best, consult your veterinarian or a professional groomer.
Bathing Your Golden Retriever
Another important part of your dog's grooming routine is bathing. It doesn't need to happen as often as brushing, and in fact, should not — bathing your pet too frequently can dry out the skin, leading to an increase in shedding.
Ask a dog groomer how often you should bathe your Golden Retriever. Some groomers recommend bathing your dog every few months, while some recommend doing it only as needed. And if your dog suffers from dry skin regularly, try supplementing their diet with omega-3 fatty acids to promote healthy, moisturized skin. Native Pet's Omega Oil is a great choice — it addresses irritated skin and reduces itching and scratching.
When bath time does come around, you'll want to use a good quality dog shampoo and conditioner. Start by wetting your dog thoroughly with lukewarm water. Use a washcloth or sponge to apply the shampoo and work it through the entire coat. Once you're done, rinse your dog's coat out completely. It doesn't hurt to rinse a second time to ensure all the shampoo and conditioner are removed, because shampoo left in the coat can irritate the skin.
Next, dry your dog as much as you can with a large towel, and then allow them to air dry the rest of the way. After your Golden is dry, brush out their fur again to smooth the hair and get them looking their most regal.
Trimming Your Golden Retriever's Fur
Groomers and veterinarians usually don't recommend doing any heavy trimming or clipping of your dog's fur. The reason for this is twofold: It's too easy to hurt your dog if you're not trained in dog grooming, and you don't want to remove too much of your dog's coat as they need it for repelling water and keeping their body temperature regulated. And you should never under any circumstances shave your dog's coat down to the skin.
With that being said, some light trimming of the longer hairs around your dog's body can be useful for keeping the coat under control. You can use a pair of thinning shears made for dogs to trim the long hair or feathering around your dog’s tail and legs. Just be sure to be very careful during this process, and only clip off the very end portion of the hair.
You may be wondering how to groom a Golden Retriever's foot hair. Hair grows at your dog's feet and, when it's allowed to grow too long, it can reduce your pet's traction on slippery surfaces. Plus, it tends to pick up foxtails, burrs, and other debris when your dog goes outside. Use a pair of scissors to trim this long foot hair or, if you don't feel comfortable, ask your groomer to perform the task.
It’s always good practice to consult a professional dog groomer or your vet to learn more about how to groom a Golden Retriever's feathering, foot hair, or other hair around the body.
Nail Trims and Ear Cleanings
Another essential part of your dog's grooming routine involves the nails. If your dog's nails grow too long, they can get snagged on carpets and other surfaces and tear. Keeping them short avoids this risk. Read on to learn how to groom a Golden Retriever’s nails.
If you choose to trim your Golden's nails yourself — a professional groomer or your veterinarian is happy to help if not — you'll want to pick up a pair of nail clippers made for dogs as well as a styptic powder. This product is used to staunch any bleeding if you clip your dog's nail too far. Use your nail trimmers to snip off the tips of your dog's nails about once a month or so, and keep the styptic powder on hand in case you clip too far. If bleeding doesn't stop after using it, tell your vet right away.
When it comes to your dog's ears, it's a good idea to clean them regularly (once or twice a month) to get rid of dirt and prevent ear infections. Purchase an ear cleaning solution made for dogs and use a cotton ball to swab it around your Golden Retriever's ear canals.
Does your dog get anxious when it comes time to trim the nails or clean the ears? Native Pet's Calming Chews may be able to help. These all-natural air-dried chews help to reduce general anxiety and even improve sleep. Try giving your dog one before that nail-trimming session or ear clean to help keep them calm.
How to Groom a Golden Retriever the Right Way
Brush your dog once or twice a week with a dog comb, and use a pin brush during heavy seasonal shedding. Bathe as necessary or once every few months with a shampoo and conditioner made specifically for your dog's skin. Trim the nails and clean the ears regularly with products recommended by your vet, and use caution if you choose to trim some of your dog's longer hair.
Learning how to groom a Golden Retriever isn't an overnight process. It will take some time and practice to get used to the routine. But when you follow the above grooming tips and seek the advice of your dog groomer or vet whenever you're unsure about something, you can keep your Golden looking show-ready from the comfort of your own home.For more tips on your dog's health and wellness, visit the Native Pet blog.