Beginner’s Guide to Dog Grooming

Did you just get a new dog?  Have you have been a dog owner for a while but still want to learn more about dog grooming and maintenance?  This guide explains some of the basics so that you can groom your own dog.

There are many different breeds, and obviously, a wide variety of coats and hair types. Have you wandered down the dog grooming aisle at the pet store and been intimidated by the wide array of tools and products? If this has happened to you, this is nothing to be ashamed of, as there are more tools than can possibly be useful! All those brushes, shampoos, etc make promise to make dog grooming easier, but the reality is that not all are meant for every breed.

Let’s get into the beginner’s guide to dog grooming!

This guide describes several tools and illustrates how they should be used. After that, we will go over the different coat types and what makes them different. From there I will discuss the hazards of shaving your dog and then finish by providing some tips.

Before we begin it is important to understand that there are several different coat types. The coat types referred to in this article are single-coats, double-coats, and short-coats. It is important to remember that each coat type has its own unique grooming style. Each type of dog grooming for specific coats requires different tools, products, and brushes. So before I go deeper into coat types, let us first go over tools.

Dog Grooming TOOL TIME!

The first brush is the “pin brush.” As noted on the resources page, this brush can indeed be used on all dogs. The brush works best in maintaining a coat that is matt-free and healthy. While a pin brush will Not hurt a short-coated dog, using it on a short-coated dog does not serve any real need.

A “slicker brush” is used on double-coated and long-haired breeds. The main use is to work through any tangles and break down any matts. Severely matted dogs should always be worked on by a dog grooming professional regardless of the brush you are using. Slicker brushes can be useful when used correctly, but can irritate or hurt if used too aggressively.

The “comb”, just like for humans, is incredibly useful in detangling and keeping your dog’s hair matt-free and healthy. It works by carefully separating the hair without breaking or damaging it.

Last but not least is the “furminator”.  The fuminator is fairly well marketed, but many dog owners do not know what breeds it should be used on. Furminators should not be used on single or short-coated breeds. However, it works perfectly for other breeds such as golden retrievers or Shetland sheepdogs, by removing dead hair before it sheds in your living room or overheats your dog!


Now that we have a greater understanding of the different brushes and tools, we can dive into the different types of coats and breeds and how to groom dogs.  The American Kennel Club is a  fantastic resource when trying to learn more about how to groom your specific breed. Look up your particular breed for an exact description of how to care for the breed. If you have a mixed breed, perhaps you can look at a combination of breeds to get an idea of how to groom your dog.  Additionally, in many instances the AKC has also illustrated the coat type so that you have some more information.

The best way to determine what type of coat type your dog has is to run your hands through its coat. If you can feel a difference between the top and undercoat then he or she has a double-coat. When the coat is all the same length and type then they have a single-coat. Short-coated dogs have just enough hair to cover their skin (example: German Short-Haired Pointer, Pointer, Pug, etc).

The difference in coats actually has to do with undercoats and the purpose behind each breed. For example, Siberian Huskies were developed as sled dogs and exposed to the elements for long periods of time.  Their coats have to be thick to withstand the cold and snow, able to protect from the sun, and shed when the weather begins to warm. This requires a double-coat with a thick undercoat to protect from the elements, and then a thick top-coat to lock in all that warmth.  Undercoat is the soft, insulating hair that sheds in the spring.


Another dog grooming topic worth mentioning as we head into the summer months is the topic of shaving your dog’s hair. With some breeds that have longer hair, it becomes tempting to want to shave them to the skin. However, we should stop and ask ourselves if we are actually accomplishing the goal we have in mind. If your dog has a double-coat, shaving them makes their top coat softer, but does not stop the shedding problem that most people find an annoyance.  The dog simply sheds smaller hairs instead of longer ones and then has a soft top-coat for an extended period of time.

Dog Grooming: Benefit of Double Coats

Double-coats help dogs keep an even temperature; building up coat for winter and shedding for the summer. In addition to that, their coat also regulate their temperature depending on the season; for example helping keep them cooler in the summer. By shaving them we (as in ‘humans’) actually deprive them of their natural protection from the sun and their cooling mechanisms. At the same time, a good motto is ‘everything within reason’.  You know your dog better than anyone else.  If your dog will be more comfortable with less hair, then by all means – go for it!  The key is to only clip their hair shorter and to not completely shave them.


Let’s get started grooming your dog now that you can properly identify your dog’s coat type and have the right tools! 5 dog grooming tips to help you as you embark on this new adventure of yours are:

  1. Always have some treats on you. This is a new experience for you and will be a new activity for the two of you together. Don’t get upset when your dog doesn’t stand still or starts to move.  Instead, praise them when they do well and give them treats for positive reinforcement.
  2. Make sure you have a spray bottle full of water (or if there are matts a detangle spray) to make sure that the hair doesn’t break or dry out.
  3. Hold the hair at the roots when brushing, especially if there are any tangles or matts, to ensure that you don’t pull too harshly on the skin.
  4. Make sure you groom your dog in an area you don’t mind getting hair all over, or where there is easy clean up.
  5. Make sure to get in a regular habit of grooming your dog, and it will not only get easier but an activity for you to do together.

County Comfort Boarding & Grooming hopes that you enjoyed our Beginner’s Guide to Dog Grooming, and never hesitate to ask us if you have any questions!  We’d love to hear from you.  In particular, we are thinking of offering a once a month Brush Out class.  Please comment with any questions.