Puppy getting a haircut at the pet salon

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Grooming your puppy is not only important for their appearance, but also for their overall health, comfort, and development. Whether you’re seeking a professional groomer or want to bond with your puppy by doing at-home grooming, here are some guidelines, tips, and safety measures to ensure a positive grooming experience for you and your pup.

The Importance Of Grooming For Puppies

Here are some of the important benefits of grooming your puppy:

  • Physical comfort: Grooming helps your puppy’s coat remain free of tangles, mats, and debris. This prevents discomfort and potential pain caused by matted fur pulling on the skin. Grooming also helps your pup regulate their body temperature, which goes a long way toward keeping them comfortable when the weather takes a turn.
  • Skin and coat health: Grooming your puppy helps to stimulate their skin’s oils, which promote a shiny coat and helps to prevent dryness and flakiness.
  • Ear and eye care: Puppies are prone to ear infections and eye issues. Regular cleaning of the ears and gentle removal of tear stains around the eyes can help prevent these problems.
  • Dental hygiene: Brushing your puppy’s teeth regularly from an early age can help prevent dental diseases that can lead to pain and other health complications.
  • Nail health: Routine nail trimming ensures your puppy’s nails don’t become overgrown. Long, untrimmed nails can lead to discomfort, altered gait, and even joint problems.
  • Bonding and socialization: Through gentle touch and positive interaction, grooming your puppy helps them learn to trust and even enjoy handling. This all contributes to your puppy’s overall social behavior and development. Grooming can also strengthen your bond with your puppy.
  • Early detection of health issues: By grooming your puppy regularly, you can detect any unusual lumps, bumps, cuts, or signs of infection at an early stage. Early detection can let you know it’s time to seek professional attention for your puppy before the problem escalates.
  • Behavioral benefits: When groomed from an early age, your puppy will have a marginally increased likelihood to remain calm and cooperative for grooming.
  • Developing good habits: Starting a grooming routine early in your puppy’s life establishes positive habits that will stay with them as they grow into adult dogs. They often learn to accept grooming as a normal part of their life and enjoy it. Your puppy will also learn to associate grooming with care, attention, and positive experiences.

When Can A Puppy Get Groomed For The First Time?

Puppies can start their first professional grooming session around 8 to 12 weeks of age, after completing initial vaccinations

The timing for first time dog grooming can depend on several factors, including breed, coat type, and the individual needs of your pup. Your puppy can typically have their first professional grooming session around 8 to 12 weeks of age. This should occur after the initial round of vaccinating your puppy. Always consult your veterinarian before taking your puppy to the salon. 

How Often Should Puppies Be Groomed?

How often you need to groom will come down to your puppy’s individual needs, breed, coat type, lifestyle, and preferences. Grooming entails keeping your puppy’s coat maintained and healthy, so you can use your puppy’s coat length to figure out how often they need grooming.

  • Short-haired breeds require grooming sessions every 4 to 8 weeks. This schedule is typically sufficient to maintain their coat health, check for any issues, and help them become accustomed to the grooming process.
  • Medium-haired breeds may need grooming sessions every 4 to 6 weeks to keep their coats clean, shiny, and free of mats.
  • Long-haired or densely-coated breeds need grooming sessions every 2 to 4 weeks to prevent tangles, mats, dirt buildup, and overheating.

Most puppies only need a bath every 2 or 3 months, or as needed. Your puppy may require more frequent bathing if they like to get dirty, or if they have a skin condition requiring it. However, you shouldn’t give too many unnecessary baths, as that can cause your pup some skin irritation.

Trim your puppy’s nails every 2 to 4 weeks, if you can visibly see they’ve grown a bit long, or if you can hear them clicking hard on the floor.

Professional Grooming Vs. At-Home Grooming For Puppies

Unsure of whether you should groom your puppy at home or take them to a professional grooming salon? Continue reading to learn more about the pros and cons of each option.

Professional Grooming For Puppies


  • Professional groomers have the skills, experience, facilities, and equipment for grooming puppies safely, efficiently, and with expertise.
  • A professional puppy groomer can handle a temperamental or scared pup while performing services.
  • Professional groomers are more adept at spotting potential health problems or other issues.


  • Professional grooming certainly comes at a cost, especially if you have a breed that requires frequent grooming.
  • Your puppy likely isn’t accustomed to so much handling from strangers, which can turn into a problem, especially if the grooming facility has a lot of people or noise.
  • You may not have any professional grooming services close by, or you may have to schedule too far in advance.

At-Home Grooming


  • At-home grooming can save you money, time, and hassle. You don’t have to pay for the groomer’s fees, travel to the salon, or wait for your turn. You can groom your puppy whenever and wherever you want.
  • At-home grooming can be more comfortable and relaxing for your puppy, maybe even fun. Your pup can stay in their safe and familiar environment and take advantage of the best dog toys around them.
  • At-home grooming can give you more control and flexibility over how you want your puppy to look. Or, you may need or want to use specific products that you know your puppy likes or responds to.


  • Grooming a puppy isn’t easy. If you don’t have the necessary skills and knowledge, you run the risk of hurting your puppy, damaging their coat, or making them wary of the process.
  • Expect to make a mess when you groom your puppy at home. Also expect to spend a lot of time on the grooming process.
  • At-home puppy grooming may not give your pup everything they need from the process. Your puppy may need one of the services only a professional grooming service can provide.

Tips For Puppy Grooming At Home

If you decide to groom your puppy at home, here are some tips to help you do it safely and effectively:

Brushing And Coat Care

Choose the right brush for your puppy’s coat type. A bristle brush can work well for short-haired breeds. If you have a silky-haired puppy, then consider a pinbrush. You will find you need a combination of brushes and combs to deal with different grooming duties.

Use gentle brushing techniques while keeping your puppy’s discomfort to a minimum. You’ll want to brush down and out, front to back, one small section at a time. Follow the direction the hair grows.

If you have to deal with mats, don’t tug or get rough. Use detangling spray, conditioner, or a dedicated dematting tool.

Bathing And Drying

What to look for in puppy-safe shampoos

Use a puppy-safe shampoo. Use lukewarm water to start with. When it’s time for the bath, you can check your pup’s tolerance for the water by dripping a little of it onto their back.

Use a safe location. Have all the bath tools you need on hand.

Wet your puppy’s coat thoroughly. Apply the soap and massage it into your puppy’s fur starting from the neck, and working your way down.

Rinse or apply a conditioner, then rinse, and rinse well. Dry your pup with a towel or two. Use a hair dryer on the low setting, if you have a densely-coated pup.

Nail Trimming

Use safe nail trimming methods and trimming tools designed for the job. You can use scissors, clippers, or grinders. However, you’ll mainly want to use a grinding tool, as it’s gentler and more precise.

Avoid cutting the quick. That’s the pink part of your puppy’s nail that supplies blood to the nail and contains blood vessels and nerves. If you cut it, your puppy will most assuredly feel pain, and bleed as well. Stick to trimming the white or clear part of the nail to avoid the quick.

Trim one nail at a time while firmly, but gently, holding your puppy’s paw. Praise or reward your puppy after you finish each nail. If you have any doubts, speak to a veterinarian or vet tech first. They can put you on to the proper techniques for your pup.

Ear Cleaning

Choose a gentle ear cleaning solution and process. Use a commercial ear cleaner formulated for dogs. Avoid using alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, or cotton swabs as they can irritate or damage your puppy’s ears.1

Most solutions involve using a cotton ball or gauze soaked in the cleaning product, followed by gently wiping the inside of your puppy’s ears. You can dry your puppy’s ears with a clean towel or paper towel.

Do not insert anything into your puppy’s ear, especially not anything with a pointed tip. Items entering your dog’s ear can push debris deeper into the ear canal and cause infection. Completely dry your puppy’s ears, as leaving moisture can also lead to an infection.

Dental Care

Introduce your puppy to toothbrushing. Let your puppy sniff and lick the toothbrush without any toothpaste on it. Gradually move the toothbrush around gently and slowly for a few seconds and avoid poking gums. Your initial goal is for your puppy to become acclimated to the toothbrush, mouth handling, and time spent on the activity.

When choosing a toothpaste, look for a puppy-friendly one. It might take some time to find one your puppy accepts. When you feel it’s time, you can apply some of the toothpaste to the brush and gently brush your puppy’s teeth. Try to focus on the outside surfaces.

Common puppy grooming mistakes to avoid

Common Puppy Grooming Concerns

Common concerns puppy owners have when it comes to grooming:

  • Shedding and dealing with puppy fur: Puppies shed baby fur and grow their adult coat up to half a year in. To reduce shedding, brush your puppy frequently with a deshedding tool or brush. Also, use a vacuum cleaner or a lint roller to remove hair from your furniture and clothes. You can also take your puppy to a professional groomer for a deshedding treatment.
  • Handling resistance or fear of grooming: Some puppies don’t like some or all the aspects of grooming. In such cases, you must use positive reinforcement to help your puppy overcome their fears. Allow your puppy to become accustomed to the grooming tools on their own terms. Let them sniff them out or sit around them and always reward them for good behavior. Don’t force the situation. Stop if it seems like it’s too much for your puppy and try again later.
  • Sensitive areas to watch out for: Your puppy may have sensitive areas of their body more prone to irritation during grooming. Some obvious areas include eyes, ears, genitals, anus, and basically any soft spot. Make sure you use gentle techniques and show extra care when doing any type of grooming on or around sensitive areas.

Socializing Puppies During Grooming

You can use your puppy’s grooming experience to help with socializing your puppy. Make grooming a positive experience by using rewards, treats, praise, and playing. Always remain calm, and always practice gentle grooming. Start with the grooming tasks you and your puppy find easiest to do together.

Take it slow. From there you can increase the grooming challenges for your puppy. Always reward and reinforce good behavior. Combine these methods with your puppy training schedule. This gradual buildup of positive behavior and more exposure will help to socialize your puppy.

Ensuring Safety During Puppy Grooming

Here are some ways to ensure safety during puppy grooming:

  • Puppy-proof the grooming area by ensuring it’s clean, secure, and free of hazards. Remove sharp objects, electrical cords, toxic substances, and choking hazards before starting any grooming routine. Also, if you’re using the shower, tub, or sink, then employ towels or non-slip mats.
  • Use proper restraint techniques that promote both safety and comfort. For example, you should hold your puppy firmly but gently while grooming them.
  • Strictly choose tools and products suitable for your puppy’s age, size, breed, coat type, and needs. Follow the instructions and always use the tools properly and safely. Make sure you have all the tools you need on hand. You can use a puppy supplies checklist.

Puppy getting washed in bathtub at home

Final Notes

Grooming your puppy requires time, patience, and dedication, but it’s necessary and worth it. Grooming your puppy promotes their health, keeps them looking good, increases their level of comfort, helps them develop good behaviors, and increases the bond shared between you and your growing pup.

If you need extra guidance and want to speak to a licensed vet about puppy grooming, try Dutch. Dutch offers accessible and convenient online vet care that allows you to speak to a licensed vet at any time. Let Dutch guide your puppy toward better overall health.


  1. Burke, Anna. "How to Clean a Dog's Ears." American Kennel Club. 9 Jul. 2019, https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/how-to-clean-dogs-ears/

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Dutch is an online veterinary pet telehealth service, created by pet parents and board-certified veterinary specialists. We use a science-backed approach to provide pets relief for their everyday physical and behavioral health issues. Dutch connects you with licensed veterinarians over video chat and messaging to help you get care for your dog or cat quickly wherever you are — without the stress or expense of a vet visit. We also partner with pharmacies who can deliver prescription medication (in applicable states only) and over-the-counter treatments directly to your door. Dutch isn’t a veterinary practice or pharmacy, but a company that helps facilitate these services for pet parents to make veterinary care more accessible to all.

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