5 min read

How Often Should You Groom Your Dog?


By Leslie Ingraham

Published: 11/07/2021, edited: 11/07/2021

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Grooming is a task that every pet parent knows is important. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of confusion out there about what needs to be done, how often, and how much is too much. Grooming needs vary depending on the breed, fur length, and whether the pup is a pet or a show dog. 

Then there’s the question of whether to do the grooming yourself or take your pooch to a professional groomer. The answers to these questions overlap and can make the confusion even worse. So we checked with veterinarians and other sources to try to sort through it all. Read on for some answers that may help.

Health benefits of grooming your dog

There are many benefits of grooming your dog, including strengthening the bond between you. Touching, shampooing, and brushing provide pleasant tactile sensations for both of you that are calming and anxiety-reducing, as well. But grooming benefits your dog's health in other ways, too, including:

  • Prevention of skin irritation
  • Prevention of painful hair matting  
  • Removal of dead and damaged hair, stimulating new growth
  • Removal of dead skin
  • Distribution of natural oils in the coat 
  • Early detection of bumps or rashes on the skin
  • Reduction of pain from split, torn, or curling nails
  • Prevention of ear mites and fleas

Professional groomer or DIY?

Reasons to hire a professional groomer

While some groomers can be expensive, think of the advantages of hiring one: They have tools like round scissors, clippers, and other professional equipment that make grooming easier and safer. In addition, they know how a given breed is supposed to look and can give you advice about style.

Groomers are experienced with how to handle dogs that may be old, aggressive, or extremely anxious and agitated. They also have a variety of skin and hair products that they can recommend once they’ve met your pooch. And their shops lend themselves to an efficient, easy-to-disinfect environment.

Reasons to do it yourself

There are some advantages to doing your dog’s grooming yourself, besides the stronger bond it creates. By grooming your dog, you’ll learn your fur-baby’s body, so you’ll recognize abnormalities such as tumors or skin problems.

It may take awhile to build confidence in your grooming techniques. As you do it more, both you and your pup will likely relax and learn to enjoy it. The ideal situation is perhaps to take the pupster to the groomer for periodic professional trims and other grooming, while doing the occasional bath and nail trim yourself. Only you can decide what works best for you and Fido.

What factors influence how often your dog should be groomed?

Various factors affect the decision of how frequently to groom any dog. These include hair and coat length and characteristics; the environment and climate; whether the dog is an inside or outside dog; and the dog’s activities and habits. 

Hair length

Long hair 

Examples of dogs with long hair include Lhasa Apsos, Yorkies, and Bearded Collies. These and other long-haired dogs need daily brushing, and they should be trimmed 4 to 6 times a year to maintain a neat look. Their undercoats should also be stripped every 2 to 3 months to avoid tangles and matting. 

Medium-length hair

Spitzes, Spaniels, and German Shepherds have medium-length hair that is somewhat coarse. These dogs shed quite a lot a couple times a year, and they need to have their undercoats stripped in the spring and fall.

Some dogs with medium length hair also need to have their hair trimmed every few months to keep it out of their eyes and to keep their bottoms mat-free. They should be brushed a few times a week to remove dead hairs and stimulate growth. Hair growing between their toes should also be trimmed to prevent ice balls, dirt, and insects from accumulating there. 

Short hair

Short-haired dogs include American Staffordshires, Labrador Retrievers, and English Bull Terriers. These pups need the least amount of grooming, at about 4 times a year, although they may need baths in between, especially if they spend a lot of time outdoors. Their nails should be trimmed about every 4 to 6 weeks. 

Environment and climate

The environment and climate play a significant role in dog grooming needs. In places around the world where it becomes or remains hot, pet parents may have to groom more often to keep pets comfortable. Often, dogs are shaved for the summer, then allowed to grow their hair back in cooler months. 

In places like Alaska and Siberia, Huskies and other long-haired, double-coated dogs stay toasty during frigid winters and are able to stay outside for many hours. In fact, many of them prefer being outside. Their coats need to be brushed several times a week to loosen dirt and get rid of the undercoat to keep them neat and reduce shedding. Baths may be less frequent if conscientious brushing is done. Many of these dogs, whether they live in the city or on the tundra, wear down their nails naturally, but they will still need trimming from time to time.

Budget and time

How often you take your pooch to a professional groomer will depend in large part on how much you can afford. As noted above, an annual professional grooming supplemented by at-home sessions may make the most sense for some pet parents. Regardless of the available resources, a solid grooming schedule will be helpful in keeping shedding to a minimum, along with a neat-looking, healthy pup.

Along with budget, time is a factor in how often grooming can be done. Those with little time to spare may find professional grooming a necessity rather than a luxury. Because professional groomers are equipped to manage the procedure in the least amount of time, they may be most convenient and time-efficient for pet parents. 

Can you over groom your dog?

While bathing too frequently can strip coats and nails of their natural, healthy oils, some other grooming can be done as often as dogs and their parents desire. Brushing, for example, can be done every day, even for dogs who don’t need it. Because it’s such a pleasurable activity, its emotional value can’t be understated.

Tips for successful grooming

  • Be sure you have the right tools for your dog’s coat. Natural bristle brushes work for every dog, but the longer the coat, the more spaced out the bristles should be.

  • Use pet-safe shampoos only (never shampoo made for humans).

  • Don’t use human nail clippers — because dogs’ nails are curved, human nail clippers may crack and split them, causing pain and bleeding.

  • Be sure to check the skin for parasites like ticks and fleas.

  • If you note skin or coat changes, contact your veterinarian.

  • Be aware that your pup may need extra grooming during a change of seasons.

  • Don’t forget your dog’s outer ears – check them for unusual or unpleasant smells, dirt, and skin irritation. Limit your inspection and cleaning to the outer ears only.

  • Teeth should be brushed daily. Only the outside portion of teeth need brushing. The dog’s tongue takes care of the teeth’s inside surface

Want more grooming tips for your dog? Check out our grooming guides!

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