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 as the dead hair is also what you find around the house.

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Having worked in a groomers I do not see any reason to shave a double coated 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 or 22 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. You can buy the Mars coat king easily on Amazon here.

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 have written a post about grooming Wilma if any doodle owners are interested click here. 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

38 thoughts on “How to groom a Spaniel

  1. Pingback: Mikki Pet
      1. Thanks for your advice and the pictures – really helpful. I wasn’t keen on getting our cocker spaniel shaved so i will definitely won’t now. Our cocker spainel is 7 months old. I don’t want to get him neutered until he is a bit older (if we can hold out!) would you recommend we don’t do anything to his coat until then. He has a thick coat, we do brush him, but haven’t clipped his paws yet!

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      2. His adult coat will come through at about 1. Once you think it’s completely changed then that’s the time to neuter him. I think Woody was neutered just a bit too early for him, even though he was 1 which made him excessively ginger! You’ll be able to use the coat king from now on, but you probably will the the best groom with it when he’s got his adult coat.

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  2. That was very useful! Would you recommend the 20 blades for a much less intense fluff? Jazzy only grows it very slightly on her sides and one of her legs (the liver one!) so I wonder whether the same tool will work as not that much to grab on to?
    Thank you!

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  3. Sent for the Mars after reading your blog and it has worked beautifully. Jack’s coat had gone ginger and he looked scruffy. Now it’s glossy brown. Thanks for the great advice

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  4. I ordered the Mars 22 after reading your blog. It is amazing. Lola’s hair was ginger and bitty and looked very untidy. She is now back to looking very glossy and brown. Thank you for the tip.

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  5. Hi, we have a brown field spaniel, Hebe, who is v fluffy at 8 months we are just using a standard brush but I’m thinking we need to go up to the Mars. Is 8 months therefore too early to start to remove the excess hair? it has become an annoyance to her on account of collecting burrs and trying to pull them out herself on walks. Thanks! Gareth

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    1. So as she is 8 months old this is her puppy coat growing out into her adult coat. You can strip it out with the mars just like you would later in life, but be careful not to do it too much because you could damage her new adult coat coming through.

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    1. Yes you can. It all depends on the dog and how their coat has changed. If they’ve been shaved regularly for years it can probably never be turned back, however less than that it can sometimes be saved! If you’re on any social media send me a photo to our account of your dog when their hair is longer and I’ll let you know what I think would work.

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  6. Thank you for creating this blog, its amazing and informative! I just got a 9 week old working cocker spaniel and had been wondering about how to groom him, the info you had given were clear enough, I now know what to do, I really hope my puppy will have a quiff as I think it is very cute. I also have 12.5 year old Jack Russell and they both got on well.

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      1. Thank you for your reply, yes, with the comments you had written to others, it’s best to wait until he’s old enough, I am currently gently using bristle brush on him so he can get used to being groomed & sitting. Although, he’s more interested in eating it!!!

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  7. Would this be ok for my 5 year old show cocker, she has never been shaved, I have trimmed her coat myself, and brush her daily,

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  8. Thank you so much for this post! Very helpful in guiding me towards the right way to groom. Woody looks just like my Meg so I’ll know what to expect!

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  9. Hi there, your site has been so informative, thank you. Our cocker Murphy is black and 9 mths old. His dad was a brown working cocker, like your guy😍. Murphys coat is definitely showing a lot of fluffy brown! though has the black between shoulders, tail, face. I’ve started to comb him with elastic band on comb and it does remove quite a bit of ‘fluff’ ….. I’ve considered getting the comb you mention but am unsure….. He will be neutered at the end of June.. Is this too soon, will neutering effect his adult coat?

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    1. Woody was neutered at 1 and it absolutely changed his coat. I’d wait until at least 18 months if you can, just to let his hormones settle and his coat fully develop. But the mars coat king will definitely help.

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  10. Thankyou so much for your really informative site. I’m getting my fourth wc next week and fully endorse what you say about neutering too early. Jeeves is a ginger and his coat is terrible now. I’ll try the Mars as I normally have him clipped in the summer when he’s become really bleached and woolly. Interestingly after I had his mother spayed her coat changed too. She was black but it still went that horrid ,thick woolly texture. Clipping def doesn’t help.

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  11. I have three working cockers, the black and golden are always smooth and shiny , but my chocolate bitch has a totally woolly coat. I hate it, but I’ve always been told that once I start clipping her coat would never be the same, so reading your blog was most helpful because I followed your recommendation to try the mars coat king and it’s game changing. Thank you!

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  12. Hi just read your grooming tips and they were a great help. Can I ask what you do about their ears, we get so many burrs etc and our dog hates having them removed, can you use the Mars on ears or would that be too harsh. Many thanks

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    1. Yes you can use it lightly on the ears, but I wouldn’t do too much. I like the highlights in Woodys ears so don’t do it much. But regular combing of the ears with a metal comb will make it easier to take the burrs out.

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  13. Hello, my wcs is 5 months but his glossy black coat has become very fluffy. I can see that there is a lot of dull fur. From reading the comments here, you think he is too young for the coat king, is that right? I’m dying to use it! What can I do to keep him glossy and to de-fuzz him until he is one? thanks.

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    1. So at the minute you’re seeing his puppy coat coming out and changing to his adult coat. The dull fur is the dead hair and underneath will be a shiny healthy coat. This will come out just as the dead hair will later in life. However I’d wait until 9-12 months to have his first hand strip or using the mars brush as I wouldn’t want you to damage his coat before it comes through properly. He can go to the groomers for an introduction and they may groom out some of the fluff to keep it manageable, you just ask for a puppy groom so he can get used to the noises and table

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