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Every dog is unique and so are their grooming needs. How often they need their hair brushed, trimmed, and washed will depend on the length, texture, and density of your dog’s coat. Though grooming needs can vary within breeds, there are some reliable standards for different types of dog hair.
To help you keep your dog’s coat looking and feeling good, we talked with two professional Rover groomers about how often different types of dogs need to be groomed. In this article, we’ll cover grooming needs for short-haired dogs, long-haired dogs, dogs with thick undercoats, dogs with silky hair, terriers, and dogs with curly hair.
Unsurprisingly, short-haired dogs have fewer grooming needs than long-haired dogs. According to Angeon Booker, a Rover groomer in Washington DC, short-haired dogs don’t need haircuts unless there’s a medical imperative. Otherwise, haircuts can be harmful for short-haired dogs because the cutting happens so close to their skin.
That doesn’t mean your short-haired dog’s coat doesn’t need attention though. Regardless of the breed, regular brushing helps keep your dog’s skin and coat healthy by removing debris and distributing oils, according to VCA Animal Hospitals.
Janece Curtis, a Rover groomer in Seattle, suggests running a curry-type brush over short-haired dogs when they’re shedding (which can be any time of year for short-haired dogs, according to VCA). If your short-haired dog has an undercoat, Curtis recommends brushing them at least every other day because loose hairs caught in the undercoat can irritate their skin.
Curry brushes work best for dogs with short, smooth hair, like pitbulls, pugs, or Boston terriers, says Booker. If you have a Labrador retriever or German shepherd, you may need to invest in a Furminator, he advises.
Dogs with oilier skin types benefit from a good wash in the tub every 4 to 6 weeks, Curtis points out. Otherwise, dogs need a bath every 6 to 12 weeks, she says.
The short answer: every day. And if you want to keep your dog’s coat longer, twice a day.
Curtis swears by her greyhound comb for long-haired dogs. She claims it’s the best way to work out tangles that form close to the skin where they do the most damage. If those deep tangles go undetected, she warns, they’ll become painful mats that tug at your dog’s skin.
Long-haired dogs need a bath every 4 to 6 weeks, complemented by a haircut every 8 to 12 weeks, says Curtis. A good balance of both can be achieved with a visit from a groomer every six weeks. The more you brush your dog at home, Curtis notes, the longer you can go between visits from the groomer. If you don’t have time to brush your dog regularly, groomers will probably suggest more frequent visits to keep your dog’s skin and coat healthy.
Dogs with thick undercoats, like spitz breeds, need daily brushing and monthly baths to keep them healthy and comfortable, Booker advises. Curtis recommends using an undercoat rake with rotating tines instead of sharp blades because cutting the undercoat can disrupt the growth pattern and texture.
According to Curtis, a thorough undercoat removal by a groomer every 8 to 12 weeks will allow your dog’s skin and coat to breathe without losing functional insulation. These dogs are best served by a tidy trim (no more than half an inch), she says, because excessive haircuts can alter undercoat regrowth, which can take up to two years to re-establish.
In Booker’s professional opinion, dogs with silky hair are best served by daily brushing and combing. Curtis recommends using a greyhound comb. The frequency of haircuts depends on how long you want to keep their coat, but Booker suggests every 4 to 8 weeks for these breeds.
Curtis notes that silky-haired dogs tend to have little to no undercoat and oilier skin, so they need to bathe more frequently. For top-notch care, she suggests adding some baking soda to the bath water to help balance pH.
Terrier coats are best maintained by daily brushing, hand stripping, and tidying outlines, says Curtis. She recognizes that most people don’t have time to deliver that regimen themselves, so she recommends bringing in a professional groomer or opting for a shorter cut.
Booker says how often your terrier needs a haircut really depends on the terrier because there’s a lot of variation in their coats. Smooth-coated Jack Russels generally don’t need haircuts, he explains. Yorkies, on the other hand, have long, flowing coats, so they need a visit from the groomer every month or so. Airdales are somewhere in between, he says. A haircut every 4 to 8 weeks should do the trick for their wire-haired coats.
Get ready for some heavy grooming—these dogs’ coats need more attention than any other. Daily brushing is a must, says Curtis, perhaps even two or three times per day if you like to keep your dog’s coat long. She recommends having a groomer visit every 3 to 4 weeks for baths and 6 to 8 weeks for haircuts.
As a professional groomer, Curtis tries to meet the individual needs of every client and says it can take up to a year to identify a regimen that works well for the dog and the family. That time and energy are more than worth it, though. Finding a routine that really works for the dog and the owner makes her feel good as a groomer. And when a dog runs to her with joy—that’s truly the best part of her job, she says.
Does your dog need a fresh trim? A groomer can now come to your house! Rover offers dog grooming in Seattle, Austin, Washington DC, and Denver. Learn more about Rover grooming here.