Let’s face it…long-haired dogs are downright gorgeous! Unfortunately, long-haired dogs are a bit more work when it comes to grooming. With all the beauty and fluff that comes with long-haired breeds, there is also an equal amount of shedding, matted fur, and odor. For all dogs, grooming is an essential part of a daily care routine, but for long-haired breeds, it is especially vital.  

Keep reading to learn more about how to groom long-haired dogs!

Lather, Rinse, Repeat!

Unlike some short-haired dog breeds, regular bathing is the cornerstone of a well-groomed long-haired dog. So, how often should you wash your dog? On average you should be bathing and grooming your dog once a month with 2 months being the absolute longest you go in between washes. Some dogs can be bathed every other week so long as you are using a gentle dog shampoo. Be wary of over bathing your dog as washing too frequently can result in dry skin which could create a whole host of problems for you and your dog.   

When bathing a long-haired and potentially matted dog, be sure to use plenty of pet shampoo and work from the head down. Starting at the head and then working down the back will allow you to lather the entire coat evenly and prevent you from having to go back to any missed areas. After you scrub the back and torso move on to spot clean areas like the belly, chest, legs, and tail. Rinse from head to toe and then let your dog shake off all the excess water. Especially with long-haired breeds, it is important to let your dog shake as it makes the drying process much more manageable.

Our spray-on foaming shampoo makes bathtime much easier and faster. With three different formulas to choose from based on your dog’s coat and also a medicated option, our shampoo is all you need to make sure your pup stays nice and clean! 

Shake and bake 

There are several methods for drying, including towel drying, air drying, and blow-drying before brushing. Air drying is the best for your dog’s skin but takes the longest and tends to leave your dog with a tinge of that “wet dog” aroma. Blow drying will leave your dog fluffy and shiny, but if your dog has sensitive skin or a propensity for skin irritation, it is best to avoid blow-drying. Towel drying is the happy medium wherein you can dry your dog 90% of the way and then let him air dry the last 10%. Even if you air dry, remember to wipe the ears and paws as these sensitive areas are susceptible to bacteria growth if left wet.  

Make with the fluffy

Brushing should be done directly after bathing to remove any excess dog hair that came off during the bathing process. While brushing should be a daily part of your dog grooming routine with a long-haired dog, it is especially important in the first few days after a bath. Bathing stimulates the skin and promotes new hair growth, and as a result, your dog will shed the most right after a rinse. It is crucial to help the regenerative process of hair growth by eradicating all the hair your dog is trying to rid itself of.

Nice haircut!

Light trimming is an excellent way to keep fur from growing too long and becoming tangled.  If you are new to trimming, try thinning out problem areas like an especially bushy tail or the thick hair on the backs of the legs. Once you get the hang of clipping, you can move into more sensitive and delicate areas like around the ears and the hindquarters. Electric trimmers are best for places where fur grows thick and is easily matted, whereas scissors are better for areas where precision is essential.  

If you are trying to go for a certain aesthetic, decide on the shape you are trying to achieve and then clip small amounts at a time to ensure you don’t take too much fur away. Clipping is one of the most challenging and potentially scary parts of grooming a long-haired dog, so remember there is no shame in seeking professional assistance.     

Don’t forget the ears!

Cleaning your dog’s ears is an integral part of grooming. The ears are one of your dog’s most sensitive areas, and the skin inside the ears is susceptible to nasty things like yeast infections and mites. After bathing takes time to clean the inside of the ears with cotton, or similar material that has been lightly covered in witch hazel. Be vigorous in your cleaning without being rough or obtrusive. It is essential to clean all the flaps and folds inside the ear but be careful to avoid entering the ear canal.

Wrapping Up 

The beauty of a long flowing mane and the soft luxurious texture of a well-groomed coat is enough to make you fall in love with your long-haired dog over and over again. Whether you are a first-time long-haired dog owner or just looking for some helpful hints, you don’t always need a professional groomer to get things done. These grooming basics for long-haired dogs is the perfect place to begin your journey of transforming your pup from shabby to chic. 







Dr. Melinda J. Mayfield-Davis, DVM, WCHP-AH, brings over 20 years of experience in veterinary medicine.  She is the Technical Services Veterinarian with Innovacyn, Inc., parent company of Vetericyn Animal Wellness. She received her DVM from Oklahoma State University and now resides in Southeast Kansas with her husband, two children, four dogs, and six horses. Prior to working with Innovacyn, Dr. Mayfield owned and operated the Animal Care Center in Columbus, KS.

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