How to Groom a Show Dog

30 - 90 Minutes
4 Weeks


Before you groom your dog for any show, be sure you understand your dog's breed and what they typically look like and what show dogs, in particular, should look like within in the breed. The show judges will judge not only based on your dog’s skills but on how well your dog shows and is cared for. 

To meet the requirements of a show judge, you will need to understand what typical show dogs look like. Be sure you start this grooming process early, well in advance of the show, so any issues have been tackled long before the show. If you need to cut out huge knots or mats, you want to give those time to grow out. Also, if this happens to be your first show, you'll need time for any mistakes to be handled.

Dog's Perspective

If your dog is a fabulous show dog, then he probably knows this routine already. However, if this is your dog's first show, he may be a little anxious while trying to understand why you are suddenly poking and prodding at him so often. Before you begin a show dog’s grooming process, get in the habit of brushing him every day. Touch him, look in his ears, spread his paws, so he's used to being handled in such a way before you begin to groom him for the big show.

Caution & Considerations

  • There are certain things you'll need to have on hand the day of the show. Know that list well in advance and pack this bag with everything you might need on site.
  • Be prepared to brush your dog just before he goes on.
  • You will be offering your dog treats throughout the show. Make sure these are treats that are not going to leave your dog with poor breath offending any judges.
  • Don't skip out on any oral grooming processes. Make sure before showtime, your dog's teeth are brushed, his gums are beautiful, his ears have been cleaned out, and his nails are done.
  • Make sure you are grooming the potty areas when you groom your dog for show. Keeping this area clean will be important, especially during showtime.
  • Research your dog's breed and what show dogs within that breed typically look like.
  • Research as well what judges look for, not only within your breed but with all dogs they are judging.
  • In advance of the show if you can, research the show itself. Certain judges will run a circuit of shows. Some shows will be more stringent than other shows. Know as much as you can about the particular show your dog is participating in before you decide to participate.


If you want to create the perfect Best in Show dog, do your research and know what you're doing long before the show. Practice on your dog well in advance so your dog not only looks like Top Dog but wins Best in Show as well.

Success Stories and Grooming Questions

Grooming Questions & Answers

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
4 Years
0 found helpful
0 found helpful
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
4 Years

Hi Harvey goes to the groomers 4 weekly for a wash. I brush every other day. The code for Cavs is not to trim so I have tried to keep to this but his coat is very thick fine fluffy and wavy around his neck, he has long ears which are no problem I do not want him shaved as some people do. I have tried a furminator but it seems to cut his coat as well as taking out the dead hair would a rake be better or thinning scissors the hair on his legs is also quite thick, my bitch who is much smaller has more thinner hair, I would be grateful of your advice

Darlene Stott
Darlene Stott
Dog Trainer and Groomer
0 Dog owners recommended

Harvey is a handsome boy! I think the rake may be a good option for removing the loose undercoat. Some people also use a rubber curry brush which gives a nice massage at the same time. You can also use a pin brush followed by a slicker brush, using each one gently as I am sure you know. Ask your groomer for their advice or look at Cavalier King Charles Spaniel websites or forums to get the opinions of those who have the same dog as you. Thank you for the question and good luck!

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