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Grooming your puppy

Grooming your puppy

Grooming isn’t just about good looks, it's also important for your puppy's health and happiness. In addition to a daily brush and the occasional shampoo, you'll also need to think about their paws, ears and teeth.

Get your puppy used to being groomed

It is important to spend time desensitising your puppy to grooming. Start while they’re young, and keep the experience short and positive. Even if they don’t have a coat that requires regular maintenance, getting them used to being handled is beneficial.

Paw and nail care

Your puppy needs to get used to having their paws handled, so that you, vets, and groomers can carry out inspections and paw care easily. While your puppy is young, spend time picking up, holding, and handling their paws. When you’re holding a paw, push down gently on each toe, then reward verbally and provide a treat. Don’t forget to turn each paw over gently to inspect the paw pads; also look between each toe.


  • Try not to start any sort of grooming session when your puppy is excited or hyperactive. Wait for a time when your puppy is calm or even a little sleepy.
  • Nail clipping needs to be done about once a month. Even if you only take off a tiny amount of nail, stick to the routine so that your puppy remains familiar with the process.
  • Ask your local Animates Vetcare vet or a dog groomer to demonstrate how to trim your pup’s nails using a proper nail clipping tool. It’s important to avoid cutting the growing part of the nail (the quick), which will bleed.

Ear care made easy

Your puppy needs to get used to having their ears handled. Start with touching and lifting your dog’s ears, followed by some gentle ear rubbing. Provide a treat and praise at the end of the ear session.


  • Some dogs need more ear care than others. Dogs with ears that fold over (like Labradors and Poodles) and dogs with hairy ears may be more prone to ear infections. Talk to your Animates Vetcare vet about how to look after your dog’s ears.
  • Ear wipes can be used to give the visible parts of the ear a gentle clean but avoid the inside areas. Never poke anything into your dog’s ear.



Doggy dental care

Your puppy needs to get used to having their lips lifted, gums inspected and teeth touched, so that dental care is easier for you, groomers and vets.


  • Start by slowly lifting your puppy’s top lip, then stop and immediately provide a treat and verbal praise. Repeat the process. If at any time your pup begins to resist, take a break and try again another day.
  • Once you can check your pup’s teeth easily, move to tooth brushing. Using a pet-safe toothpaste, start with using toothpaste on your finger. Progress to a puppy toothbrush when your pup seems to be ready. Always provide praise for good behaviour and a treat after cleaning their teeth (a dental treat would be best!).
  • At health check-ups, your vet will inspect your dog’s teeth and advise if a professional clean is necessary. Some dog groomers are also experienced with teeth checks and cleaning.

How to care for your puppy’s coat

What sort of coat does your dog have? While puppies are generally soft and furry when they’re little, it doesn’t take long for their adult coat to arrive. Whether your dog is destined to be smooth, fluffy, curly or shaggy, there will definitely be some grooming to do. Here’s a quick guide to all the different kinds of coats and their specific needs.


Smooth coat

  • Smooth coat breeds include Boxer, Greyhound, Whippet, Doberman, Chihuahua, Bulldog, Shorthaired Pointer, Dalmatian, Boston Terrier and Weimaraner.
  • A smooth coat is easy to keep clean, however smooth-coated dogs are inclined to have sensitive skin.
  • Smooth coats shed a lot, so daily brushing is important. Ensure you have a brush suitable for a smooth coat, such as slicker brush.
  • Dogs with smooth coats may need a sweater or jacket in cooler weather.

Short coat

  • Short coat breeds include Labrador, Pug, Rottweiler, Beagle, Jack Russell, Fox Terrier, Bullmastiff and Sharpei.
  • Short coats produce a lot of body oil, so expect a ‘doggy smell’, however don’t use dog or puppy shampoo more than once a month.
  • Shedding increases in warmer months. Use a porcupine bristle brush or rubber brush to remove loose hair.
  • Unless you live in a cold climate, winter clothing isn’t necessary for short-coated dogs.

Double coat

  • Double coat breeds include German shepherd, Siberian Husky, Corgi, Akita, Smooth-Coated Collie and Malamute.
  • A double coat has two layers – an under layer of short, soft hairs and topcoat of coarse guard hairs.
  • To avoid matting, a double-coated dog needs daily brushing with a pin comb or slicker brush.
  • Double coats should never be shaved or closely clipped. In their natural state they provide sun protection and body temperature control.

Heavy double coat

  • Heavy double coat breeds include Chow Chow, Collie, Pomeranian, Keeshond, Saint Bernard, Pekingese and Samoyed.
  • Heavy double coats should never be shaved or closely clipped. In their natural state they provide sun protection and body temperature control.
  • To avoid matting, a heavy double-coated dog needs daily brushing with a pin comb and/or slicker brush.

Combination coat

  • Combination coat breeds include Golden Retriever, Border Collie, Cocker Spaniel, Australian Shepherd, Papillion and Springer Spaniel.
  • This type of coat is long and silky in some places (back of legs, belly, tail, and ears) and short in other places (face, front of legs).
  • Regular brushing is important to avoid knots and minimise shedding around the house. A slicker brush is the best all-rounder for combination coats.

Long-haired coat

  • Long-haired coat breeds include Shih Tzu, Bearded Collie, Afghan, Maltese, Yorkshire Terrier and Chinese Crested.
  • Typically, long-haired coats are cut to specific requirements for the breed.
  • While long-haired dogs don’t shed a lot, daily brushing is important to avoid matting and knots. It also improves air circulation, which helps to prevent skin infections. Choose a brush with longer bristles.

Curly and wavy coat

  • Curly and wavy coat breeds include Poodles, Bichon Frise, Irish Water Spaniels, Portuguese Water Dogs and Soft-Coated Wheaten Terriers.
  • A short clip is OK for curly and wavy coats, to prevent knots and matting.
  • This type of coat doesn’t shed, but daily brushing with a slicker brush is still a good idea.

 Wire haired coats

  • Wire-haired breeds include Schnauzer, Griffon, Airedale Terrier, Australian Terrier, West Highland White Terrier, Scottish Terrier, Wire-Haired Dachshund, Wire-Haired Jack Russell, Wire-Haired Fox Terrier and Cairn Terrier.
  • These coats have a soft, dense undercoat and a topcoat of wiry guard hairs on the face, body, legs, ears and tail.
  • Be cautious when you’re brushing, because wire-haired dogs are prone to dry, sensitive skin. Brush in the direction of hair growth using short strokes.


Frequently asked questions about grooming


Can you tell me how to brush a puppy?

Introduce your puppy grooming brush slowly. Let your pup sniff the brush and provide a treat as a reward.  Positive experiences at this stage will help to make grooming a lifetime of fun. Once your puppy is used to seeing the brush, sit alongside them and begin brushing. Be gentle and use short strokes, especially if your puppy has long hair. After a few strokes, reward with a treat and verbal praise, and repeat. If your pup becomes distressed, end the grooming session, and try again tomorrow.

How do I get knots out of my pup’s coat?

If you find knots during a brushing session, hold the coat between two fingers at the base (near the hair roots) before trying to brush out the knot. As with human hair, if a knot is brushed without support, brushing can be painful. It’s helpful to use a detangler.

What sort of brush should I use on my dog?

Not all brushes are suitable for all coat types. A slicker brush can be surprisingly versatile across various dog breeds, depending on the bristle length and the spacing of the bristles. A pin-toothed comb is handy for long coat types. Ask the team at your local Animates or Animates Vetcare for advice on which brush, comb and puppy accessories are best for your dog.

I know nothing about bathing a dog, why is it necessary?

Dog bathing is usually done to remove dirt and excessive doggy smells. How often you bath your puppy depends on the type of coat it has. Always use a pet-appropriate shampoo. If you don’t have anything that will serve as a dog bathtub, check to see if your local Animates store has a DIY Dogwash.

Why should I clip my puppy’s nails?

Nail trimming helps to avoid ingrown nails and scratches on hard floors. Some dog’s nails take care of themselves. For example, lots of walking on concrete helps to grind nails down so they don’t need clipping as regularly. But if your dog spends a lot of time indoors or on grass, regular trims may be necessary.

My puppy’s ears smell funny, what should I do?

If you ever notice a bad smell coming from your puppy’s ear (or ears), it could be an infection. We recommend booking an appointment with your local Animates Vetcare clinic.

Why is professional tooth cleaning sometimes needed?

The cleaning that a vet will carry out is different to the preventative maintenance that you do at home with brushing. Sometimes there is plaque that can only be removed with a scale and polish, which is important, as keeping your dog's teeth clean helps to protect their all-round health.