Tips and Advice

How to groom a Spaniel

One of the most popular questions we get asked is how do I groom my dogs. Their grooming routines are totally different but I thought I’d talk you through Woody’s.

Woody is a Working Cocker Spaniel, so isn’t that fluffy compared to the hairier Show Cockers. His breed ideally should be short on the body, with a small skirt (a little bit of fluff hanging down from his stomach) and feathers (the fluff on his legs).

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Some may naturally be extra fluffy, but for Woody I presume he was neutered before his adult coat had fully developed. Not a problem at all, except he then has an excessive amount of ‘ginger hair’.

Some people may like the ginger highlights, and I absolutely love them as features but not all over. On his body they look dry and untidy. His liver coat turns ginger when it is dead, so this is all dead hair that needs to come out.

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Having worked in a groomers I do not see any reason to shave a dog, I believe there is always another way. Obviously if the dog is not brushed and is extremely matted, for the dogs welfare shaving is the best option to remove them from discomfort. Spaniels can either be scissored or hand stripped. I do a combination of both across his body.

Once you’ve shaved a dog their coat will never go back to it’s original condition. So I always advise hand stripping before shaving. If you don’t like it after trying it you can always go to shave, doing it the other way round the hand stripping will be much harder on a shaved coat.

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Here it had been a month since I had last stripped Woody

Another reason to strip out the dead hair is to help your dogs to regulate their own temperature. Removing that dead hair means that the air can flow through the coat, keeping them cool in summer and warm in winter. Shaving will restrict this air flow, meaning they can’t cool down as easily. A common mistake owners think is the shorter they shave the cooler their dog will be, meaning eventually the dog has none of that gorgeous fluff left.

On Woody’s body I use a Mars Coat king. I have a range of sizes because of all the different breeds I groom, but the best brush to start out with would be the 20 blade. All you do is brush in the direction of your dogs coat. Brush quite firmly as it won’t hurt your dog and they won’t feel any pain from the hair coming out. There are other products advertised to dog owners as taking out the dead hair, many of these also pull out the healthy fur and will damage your dogs coat. Groomers are very opinionated about these and advise against them.

The Mars coat king can be used all over the body. As a personal preference I leave the highlights on Woody’s top knot, ears and legs just because I love them but you can remove as much hair as you’d like. Brown is the perfect colour to demonstrate this with as the dead hairs are visible, but other colours will have just as much dead hair to remove, you just won’t be able to see it as well.

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On the left it had been 4 months since Woody was stripped.

After a couple of strokes you remove the hair from your brush with your fingers. The first time you try this you will have SO much hair!At certain times of the year I fill up our bird feeder with dog hair so the birds make super cosy nests. The more frequently you brush them with the Mars coat king the less hair that comes out.

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For the rest of his body I generally just comb through the fur to keep it matt free. However I always trim between his toes. To me this is more important than any other part of grooming, you must always check between their toes! I see so many spaniels with overgrown fluff on their feet. Not only does this mean that the fluff will matt and cause discomfort for them (It’s like you walking round with rocks between your toes) but it’s a heaven for grass seeds to get stuck and embed in yourdogs feet.

I’m sure all dog owners will have heard of the nightmare of grass seeds, but many still have dogs with fluff between their toes. By trimming the fluff it reduces the chances of grass seeds getting stuck massively, grass seeds will go in between their toes but have nothing to get stuck on. So no pain for your dogs, and no expensive vet bills for you! All I do is brush the fluff up against the flow of the coat, then trim in the direction of the coat. You do have to be extremely careful here as if your dogs don’t stay still you can cause an accident with sharp scissors and a wriggling dog. To save the worry many groomers would be happy to do a quick foot trim for you.

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I hope you have enjoyed reading about how I groom Woody.

These are all my personal opinion on how I like to groom my dogs, feel free to message me any questions but your groomers would also be happy to help if you phone them up.

I could do another post all about grooming Wilma if any doodle owners are interested. But it’s a lot harder than Spaniel grooming! I definitely do not recommend using the mars brush on doodles or other curly coated breeds, it is not for them!

Thanks for reading,
Megan, Woody & Wilma

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