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Golden Retrievers are known for their beautiful, thick coats ranging in color from light English cream to deep brown-red. As some of the most popular dogs in America, Goldens are one of the best dog breeds for first-time dog owners due to their loyal, fun-loving nature and intelligence, making them easy to train. Ranging from 55-75 pounds and standing up to 24 inches tall, these dogs have a lot of fur that requires regular grooming.1
Whether you're a Golden Retriever pet parent or wondering how much work goes into caring for these beautiful golden dogs, you've come to the right place. This article will discuss everything you need to know about Golden Retriever grooming, what a Golden Retriever haircut looks like, and more.
- Importance Of Grooming Your Golden Retriever
- What Kind Of Grooming Does A Golden Retriever Need?
- How To Groom A Golden Retriever
- Final Notes
Importance Of Grooming Your Golden Retriever
There are many reasons you should groom your Golden Retriever, but the most important is that it will help maintain their health and quality of life. Bathing, brushing, trimming, ear care, nail care, and dental care are all crucial to your dog's health, especially as they age. Golden Retrievers are prone to several health conditions, some of which can be managed or avoided completely by proper grooming and care.
Additionally, grooming your dog will make them more pleasant to be around. No one wants to spend time with a stinky dog, so bathing and brushing them regularly to remove odors, dirt, and bacteria will allow you to spend more quality time with your pup without worrying about their smell.
What Kind of Grooming does a Golden Retriever Need?
Even though they have a fun-loving personality, Golden Retrievers are relatively high-maintenance dogs because they require regular brushing and shed a lot. They can also develop matted hair, so they need grooming to keep their coats and skin healthy. Additionally, they're prone to certain health issues that can be prevented through regular grooming activities like ear, eye, nail, and skin care. Here are the different types of Golden Retriever grooming needs:
- Brushing: The fluffy Golden Retriever sheds a lot, but you can reduce the amount of fur on your furniture and clothing by brushing them regularly. They have dense coats that can easily get matted, so brushing is essential. As a Golden Retriever pet parent, you'll need to brush them at least once or twice a week. This is especially important when your Golden sheds their coat for the summer.1
- Skincare: Golden Retrievers are prone to hot spots (skin infections) because they have thick coats. While hot spots are more common in warm, humid environments, and after running through the sprinkler or swimming, they can happen any time of year since the fur traps moisture on the skin.1 Hot spots can become uncomfortable quickly, causing scratching, biting, and licking, but they can be prevented and treated. Additionally, many Goldens have atopic dermatitis, in which the skin becomes itchy and inflamed and may result in dog hair loss. Typically triggered by environmental allergens like dust or pollen, this skin disorder can lead to secondary infections, so it must be treated year-round to prevent complications.1
- Eye Care: Many dogs, including Golden Retrievers, have eye discharge that can result in tear stains. You can use tear-stain formula pet products or wipe their eyes with a damp washcloth to remove these stains. Monitoring your dog's eye health is especially important as they age, so if your dog's eyes are cloudy, you'll know when to take them to the vet.
- Ear Care: Knowing how to clean your dog's ears is important because Golden Retrievers are prone to ear infections. Consider the shape of their ear. Goldens have floppy ears that trap moisture. In addition, these dogs are prone to allergies that can cause ear infections as a secondary issue. They also love to swim, and getting water trapped in the ear can create a breeding ground for bacteria and yeast.1 Because Goldens are prone to ear infections, they should have their ears cleaned regularly, at least every two to three weeks.1
- Nail Care: Nail care is essential for all dogs because when their nails get too long, they can become uncomfortable and force the dog to stand and walk in a different posture, increasing the risk of joint problems. Additionally, long nails can crack or grow into the paw pad, leaving the dog susceptible to infection. You should try to teach your dog to tolerate having their paws touched as soon as possible and give them rewards when using the nail clippers at home.2 How often you trim your dog's nails depends on their lifestyle. Golden retrievers that spend most of their time on soft grass will likely need their nails trimmed more than those that walk on pavement because pavement acts as a nail filer. Of course, some dogs simply have nails that grow quickly, so how often you trim your dog's nails depends on how fast they grow. If you can hear your dog's nails clicking on the floor or pavement outside, they're too long.
- Oral Care: Grooming your dog involves taking care of their oral health. Not caring for your dog's teeth can lead to periodontal disease, so brushing their teeth as often as possible is important. Ideally, you should brush your dog's teeth every day with a dog toothbrush and toothpaste.
How To Groom A Golden Retriever
When grooming a Golden Retriever, the key is to remove mats and shorten out-of-place or grown-out hair. Your Golden should have a trim every 8 to 10 weeks around the ears, feet, neck, and tail. The most important part of Golden Retriever grooming is to brush them twice a week. However, depending on their lifestyle, they may need regular baths at least once every two months. Since Goldens are fairly large dogs, you may not have enough space to bathe them at home, so you may have to find a local groomer who can do it for you every two months. Having a groomer you can trust is important if you don't want to do any type of grooming at home, including baths and nail trimmings.
Here is how to groom a Golden Retriever the right way:
Bathing a Golden Retriever
As mentioned, you should bathe your dog at least once every few months or when they get dirty or smelly. Since your dog may love playing in dirt and mud, you may have to bathe them more frequently. Some dogs tolerate baths, while others are more resistant, so you should be prepared to make the experience as relaxing as possible.
If it's nice outside during the summer, you can fill a kiddie pool with water and bathe them outside. However, you may choose to use the bathtub during the colder months. If your dog struggles with baths, you can wipe peanut butter or spray cheese on the wall to distract them while you bathe them.
When you're ready to bathe your dog, you'll need to wet their coat using lukewarm water and apply shampoo, paying special attention to the areas that are the dirtiest, such as the long fur on the belly. If you notice any mats or your dog's fur feels or looks a little dull, you can use a coat conditioner to help remove mats and moisturize dry skin and fur. When you're ready to rinse everything off, you can use the water at the same temperature you'd use for a child. Ensure you rinse the shampoo and conditioner completely to prevent possible skin irritation.
When you're done, wrap your dog in a bath towel to try to remove as much water as possible. Pay special attention to the ears, and avoid getting water in them because it could cause an ear infection. Once your dog is mostly dry, you can let them air-dry by running around the house or lounging in the sun outside. However, if it's cold out, it may be better to use a hair dryer to dry them completely.
Brushing a Golden Retriever
Once your dog is clean and dry, you can brush them. Of course, you should brush them at least twice a week whether or not they've had a bath. Brushing your dog is the best way to remove dirt and debris in their fur, untangle mats, and remove dead fur to prevent excessive shedding inside the home.
You can use several types of brushes for your dog, but it's mostly a matter of preference and what works best. If you hit a knot of fur, you may have to use scissors to snip it out, depending on how dense it is. Once all the mats are gone and your dog's fur is free of tangles, you can gently brush the rest of their body, including the dog's tail and around the ears.
How to give a Golden Retriever a haircut
Golden Retrievers do not need full haircuts like other breeds. Because they're double-coated, they need their fur to regulate their body temperature, so a full haircut isn't necessary. Instead, you may choose to give your dog a light trim to maintain their appearance. However, in most cases, brushing is all you'll need to worry about to avoid mats and keep their fur healthy.
- Steel comb
- Wire brush "slicker brush"
- Hair clippers
- Grooming Table or yoga mat on an old table that can support your dog's weight
- Begin with a washed, clean dog: Bathe your Golden Retriever and condition their fur to remove mats. You can trim their fur wet or dry, but it's typically easier to do it once they've dried off. If your dog isn't afraid of blow dryers, you can use one to speed up the drying process. Always use a brush before grooming the dog to remove any tangles in their fur. Brushing beforehand will also remove any dirt and debris.
- Start with the ears: Use your clippers to gently trim the dog's ears, brushing after each pass. You may need to repeat this process, but don't remove all the hair. Instead, the goal is to thin it and make it all an even length.3 Hold the dog's ears forward to protect them from the scissors' sharp edges. When you're done with the back of the ears, you can move to the front, toward the face. Most dogs won't need much trimming here, and you should never trim the inside of the ear bare. Remember, the fur around the ear is meant to protect it from debris, so you should only trim anything that's longer or out of place.3
- Groom the back: When you're ready to move on from the ears, you can go to the dog's back. However, most Goldens don't need their back fur trimmed as it will mostly lay flat on their bodies. If you see any out-of-place fur or mats you missed during brushing, you may have to use your clippers to cut it out.
- Then the tail: A Golden Retriever's tail doesn't need to be trimmed frequently. These dogs have full tails, so there's no reason to dramatically cut the fur on their tail. Instead, you can trim the tail up to the length of the hock, the joint located on the back leg below the knee.3 You can use clippers on this area to give the dog's tail a more natural appearance.
Avoid overly-shaved Golden Retrievers
You should never shave a Golden Retriever. Instead, they should have a feathery coat underbelly, elbows, and tail, to keep their look. A Golden Retriever shaved will not have protection from the elements during hot or cold weather. Remember, your Golden Retriever has a double coat that helps regulate their temperature and protect them from the elements. Shaving your dog will not reduce its chances of getting fleas or ticks or reduce shedding. Additionally, if you shave the coat too short, you can damage the hair follicle, so the coat will never properly grow back. Instead, you should groom them with clippers only.
Clipping your Golden Retriever's nails
When your dog's fur is trimmed, you can move on to nail clipping, as long as they're being tolerant. Depending on your dog's attitude toward grooming, you may have to trim their nails another day since all this attention can be anxiety-inducing for some dogs.
When you're ready to begin nail clipping, you'll need to have a set of nail clippers. There are several types of nail clippers to choose from, including:
- Guillotine Clippers: These clippers allow you to place your dog's nail inside the hole, and the blade comes across the nail like the blade of a guillotine. Unfortunately, these clippers aren't right for every dog because they can be dull and cause pressure that breaks the nail. Additionally, it can be difficult for you to get your dog's nail in the hole.
- Scissor Clippers: Scissor clippers are another popular choice because they work like scissors and are ideal for large dogs with thick nails. These clippers allow you to cleanly cut the nail, but they require precision.
- Nail Grinders: Nail grinders are another popular option if your dog doesn't like nail clippers. Grinders are safer than nail clippers because you won't risk cutting your dog if they move. Instead, they can safely grind away nails. However, one drawback of nail grinders is that the sound can be off-putting to dogs, so they'll need to get used to the noise and vibration of the machine. Additionally, shortening the nails takes much longer, so if your dog has long nails, you're better off using clippers to shorten the nail and grinders to maintain the nails once they're short enough.
Unfortunately, many pet parents find it difficult to clip their dog's nails at home, but knowing how to trim your dog's nails is still important because it can help you save money at the groomer's or vet's office. Still, your vet will be willing to do it for you for an extra fee if you need the help. Additionally, you can take your dog to the groomers, where they have tricks and treats to help dogs feel calmer while getting their nails trimmed.
When trimming your dog's nails at home, the most important thing to remember is to avoid the quick. Cutting too far into the nail can cut the quick, causing bleeding and pain for your dog, leaving them susceptible to infection. If your dog has dark nails and you can't see the quick, you can look at the underside of the claw and cut off a short portion of the nail.
Golden Retriever ear cleaning
Since Golden Retrievers are prone to ear infections due to allergies or wet ears after a bath or swim, it's important to clean their ears every few weeks. After the bath is a good time to clean their ears because it's possible you've accidentally gotten water in them, and cleaning will remove the water and dry up the ears to prevent infection.
However, even if you don't bathe your dog, you should plan to regularly clean their ears and monitor them for signs of infection. There are several types of ear cleaners on the market, so talk to your vet about the options best for your pet. Once you have an ear-cleaning solution in hand, you can pour a few drops into your dog's ears and massage it.
Your dog will then shake their head, so you might see wax or ear-cleaning solution fly out. Having a towel on hand will help you keep the mess to a minimum. Unfortunately, some dogs are sensitive about their ears, especially if they've had or currently have an ear infection. Ear infections are incredibly painful for dogs, so if you're trying to get drops in an infected ear, your dog may try to fight or avoid you.
Since all dogs need their ears cleaned regularly, you should get your dog used to ear drops as soon as possible. Reward-based training can help them associate the experience with something positive, making the process easier for everyone.
Dental care for Golden Retrievers
While you may think chew toys, dental sticks, and dry food will remove plaque and tartar to protect your dog from dental disease, that’s simply not true. While these items can remove some plaque, they're not as effective as regular brushing at removing plaque. Taking good care of your dog's oral health by brushing their teeth regularly can prevent serious illnesses. Unfortunately, most dogs don't like having their teeth brushed, so starting early in life is important to help them learn to tolerate it.
Luckily, you can try a variety of toothbrushes designed for dogs, including a finger toothbrush that allows you to massage their gums while brushing their teeth. Of course, in addition to daily brushing, your dog's teeth should be examined by a vet annually. Depending on your dog's oral health, you may also consider professional teeth cleaning to remove plaque and tartar to prevent dental disease.
Golden Retrievers are ideal family pets that make great companions. However, even though they have fun-loving and playful personalities, they still require proper care and grooming. Due to their double coat, Goldens are higher maintenance dogs than other breeds. However, all dogs need to be groomed to prevent serious health problems. Everything from brushing their fur to trimming their nails and cleaning their ears is necessary and can support their overall health.
Wondering how you can become a better pet parent to your Golden Retriever? Goldens are energetic dogs that require balanced diets and plenty of mental and physical stimulation. As a pet parent, you need an experienced vet by your side to ensure the health and wellness of your dog. Dutch makes it easy for pets to get the care they need from the comfort of their own home. Try Dutch's telemedicine for pets today.
“Golden Retriever.” PetMD, https://www.petmd.com/dog/breeds/c_dg_golden_retriever.
Gewirtz, Elaine Waldorf. “How to Groom a Golden Retriever: Keeping Goldens in 14-k Gold Grooming.” American Kennel Club, 25 June 2021, https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/how-to-groom-golden-retriever/.
“Grooming Your Golden by Joanne Lastoka.” Golden Retriever Club of America, 10 May 2016, https://grca.org/about-the-breed/articles/grooming-your-golden-joanne-lastoka/.