How to Groom a Large Dog

Medium
1 - 2 Hours
1 Month

Introduction

If you have a a Great Pyrenees, St. Bernard, Great Dane, Newfoundland, or other large breed dog, his size can present a challenge when it comes to grooming. These dogs can weigh well over 100 pounds and up to 200 pounds or more in some cases. Daily grooming and brushing will require more time, as significantly more real estate is involved! The real challenge occurs when it is time to bathe or clip your large dog. Regular bathtubs and grooming tables may not accommodate a large dog easily, and some professional groomers do not like to groom large breeds as they take significantly more time and require specialized tools that add to their costs. Also, handling a large dog can be difficult, as manipulating the dog's heavy limbs or transporting them from bath to grooming table can require heavy lifting that is physically difficult and awkward. The job can be made easier with the right tools, techniques, and a little bit of planning to accommodate your large dog.

Dog's Perspective

When grooming a large dog, it can be easy for the dog to feel uncomfortable being lifted. Big dogs are not used to being handled this way, like small and medium dogs are. Also, if your large dog is lifted onto surfaces that feel unsteady or inadequate in size, this may add to his discomfort. Bathtubs can be too small and awkward as well. Large dogs often have orthopedic issues, and if they feel unsteady in their footing they may experience discomfort or fear. Using non-slip mats and ensuring equipment can safely accommodate a large dog's size will help your dog feel more comfortable, and secure.  

The Accommodate While Handling Method

Effective
0 Votes
Slicker Brush
Shampoo
Pin Brush
Nail Clipper
Towel
Step
1
Get help
Have an assistant to help lift the dog between table, and bath, etc. If you are a professional groomer, ask the owner to stay and help transport and lift the dog as necessary if an assistant is not available.
Step
2
Make accessible
You can use a ramp or stairs to allow the dog to access the table and bath instead of being lifted. This may also reduce stress on the large dog, as the dog does not feel he is trapped, since he accessed the table independently. This also saves the groomer's back from needing to lift a large dog.
Step
3
Use showers
Walk in showers may be more appropriate than bathtubs, avoiding the need for lifting. You can put on a swimsuit, and get right in the shower with your dog. Your dog may think this is great fun!
Step
4
Use non-slip surfaces
Use non slip surfaces, especially in the bath, so that large dogs do not slip and injure hips or back.
Step
5
Bathe outside
Bath your dog outside in a big tub or kiddie pool. Heat up water and haul it outside to a makeshift tub, or use warm water from an outside tap if available.
Recommend grooming method?

The Accommodate With Equipment Method

Effective
0 Votes
Slicker Brush
Shampoo
Pin Brush
Nail Clipper
Comb
Clipper
Dryer
Step
1
Use large tools
Use larger tools such as large curries and brushes and wider combs that cover more of the dog in a shorter time.
Step
2
Check table restrictions
Always check the weight that grooming table will accommodate. The table should feel sturdy to the dog, and adequate to support him.
Step
3
Use electronic lifts
Use a hydraulic or electric table that can be lowered to the ground and then raised automatically. Make sure the table is adequate to support the dog's weight. Electronic tables that can accommodate up to 300 pounds are available.
Step
4
Dilute shampoo
When bathing, dilute several applications of shampoo with water before spreading on a large dog in order to distribute the shampoo evenly.
Step
5
Use dryers
Large dogs may take all day to dry if left to dry naturally, if you do not have the time for this or if you want to avoid wet dog smell that can be associated with air drying, you can use a blow dryer on a low heat setting or a commercial pet dryer for large dogs.
Recommend grooming method?

Caution & Considerations

  • Large dogs are heavy!  Make sure you have assistance from another person before lifting to avoid injury to yourself. Use appropriate techniques for lifting heavy weights.

  • Use appropriate techniques for lifting dogs so as not to risk dropping or injuring a large dog.

  • Restrain large dogs in bathtubs or grooming tables, so they do not slip or jump out or off of equipment and injure themselves

  • Use non-slip surfaces to prevent the dog from slipping.

  • Be creative when figuring out how to handle and groom your dog; use kiddie pools, showers, etc.

  • Recognize a larger dog will take longer to groom. This may mean more expense at professional groomers, or more time on your part to adequately brush, bathe, and clip the dog, so make plans to accommodate this. Set more time aside so you are not rushed and more inclined to accidents.

Conclusion

Your dog may be more the size of a horse, or at least a small pony, than a dog! That doesn't mean he can not be safely and adequately groomed. Getting help, and/or investing in some equipment to make the job easier on your back and keep your dog comfortable will be well worth it if you have a very large dog. Remember you have more dog to cover then the owner of a small dog, so it is going to take a bit more time!

Success Stories and Grooming Questions

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