Golden Retrievers are a work of art in motion. Whether you’re playing fetch or chasing one another around the yard, his beautifully soft yellow-gold coat flounces along behind him gracefully. It’s the picture of perfection for Golden owners, and something that spurs on photo opportunities, treasured memories, and some of the most delightful moments you’ll ever have with your dog.
Life with a Golden isn’t all perfection, though; these silly and playful dogs have a natural penchant for things like mud puddles, piles of fresh earth for the garden, and fresh-cut grass. All that rolling, jumping and playing can lead to some serious mats and a stained coat.
Whether your beloved Golden considers herself too reserved for activities like puddle play or she’s a dyed-in-the-wool digger, regular grooming can help to prevent and alleviate issues like mats, discolored fur, and skin problems. If you’re still learning how to care for your Golden, get in the know right here with this short, breed-specific guide.
Your Golden does, in fact, require a bath every so often for proper grooming maintenance. Fortunately for you, most Goldens take to the tub quite easily if you start at a young age.
Bath time should always start with you placing a rubber bath mat on the bottom of the tub before you add the water; this will provide your dog with traction underfoot and will reduce falls and potential injuries (human and dog alike). Next, add warm (but not hot) water. Don’t add bubble bath or any other human products to the water, as these aren’t formulated for your dog and will dry out her skin. Instead, use a good dog-specific formula like Neem Therapé Pet Soap or Bio-Groom Protein Lanolin shampoo. Both contain moisturizing oils that help to reduce irritation post-bath.
Add just a few inches of water to the tub; never fill it completely, especially for puppies. Use a measuring cup or scoop to wet your pup. A detachable shower head is very handy, too. Gently massage in the soap, taking special care to avoid the ears, eyes, and genitals, and then rinse off by pouring more clean, warm water over the sudsy areas. To clean the face, use a moistened facecloth.
Unless your pup is dirty or happens to get into something that necessitates bathing, a bath once every two months or so is likely plenty.
Brushing your pup shouldn’t be something you only do after a bath; rather, it should be a daily occurrence. Your Golden Retriever has a special double coat that changes throughout its life; in puppyhood, it’s fluffy, whilst in adulthood, the coat matures. This may change your approach when brushing.
So what exactly is a double coat? What this means is that her fur is effectively double-layered. The main goal of brushing is to free up impactions between the undercoat and overcoat. Brushing also removes dead under and overcoat hairs – something that can cause matting and other coat problems if ignored.
You’ll need a few tools in order to brush your pup effectively:
- Porcupine or boar-bristled brush.
- Slicker brush.
- Rake brush.
- Fine-tooth comb.
Start with the porcupine or boar-bristled brush for everyday basic grooming. Run the brush gently but firmly through your dog’s hair, starting at the back of the head and working down to the tail. Avoid the sensitive areas, like the stomach, genitals, ears, and face, as this brush can be irritating on sensitive skin.
Next, use the slicker brush in the same way, brushing with the hair and never against it. Take care to be extra-gentle. The slicker brush will pull out loose undercoat hairs and any hairs that are ready to shed. Don’t be surprised if you pull out several balls of fur if it’s been awhile since your last grooming session!
Use the rake brush to gently brush through the dog’s coat. This will pull out any remaining undercoat hairs, and will also straighten out your dog’s double coat.
If you hit a mat that’s heavily impacted, skip the rake brush and use blunt-edged grooming scissors to snip it out carefully. Only do this if you are fully confident that your pup will remain still; if you’re not sure, stop and see a professional groomer instead. Never shave your Golden at home; this interferes with her double coat and will increase the risk of temperature maintenance issues and sunburn.
Once you’ve worked out any mats, and you’re confident the main areas of your dog’s hair are tangle-free, grab the fine-toothed comb. Use this to brush through more sensitive areas around the ears, face, belly, and tail. Then, give your dog one final all-over combing. You’re done!
Some dog owners believe that dry kibble and dental sticks are enough to care for a dog’s mouth; nothing could be further from the truth. Taking care of your Golden’s teeth is a crucial care and grooming step that can prevent canine dental caries, mouth abscesses, and expensive dental surgeries down the road. All you’ll need for this step is a bit of patience and two tools – a dog-specific toothbrush and canine toothpaste.
Much as with bathing, starting to brush the teeth early in life will mean that later tooth brushing sessions are much less stressful.
Sit in front of your dog and begin by rubbing your finger along his or her gums. If your pup isn’t used to having you look in her mouth, you may find she resists the intrusion; if so, comfort her and keep trying. You may need 10 or 15 sessions of this before she’ll allow you to use the brush – if so, just keep trying.
Once she allows you to use the brush on her teeth, begin at the front and gently massage the teeth with it. Your first goal should be to simply get her used to the feeling; once she’s comfortable, aim to cover the teeth with the brush at a 45-degree angle. Work in a circular motion as you move down either side of the jaw, taking special care to get into all the nooks and crannies at the back of the mouth.
For the ears, use a good, high-quality alcohol-free ear rinse once every few days. Your vet can recommend the best brand for your pet’s needs. Use a cotton pad or ball dipped in a small amount of rinse to gently clean out the exterior ear, then gently swab the interior. Never use Q-Tips or put pressure on the inner ear, as this can result in injuries.
Grooming your dog doesn’t need to be a stressful experience; with a bit of patience and dedication, it can quickly become something you both look forward to. Crunched for time? Pick up that brush and run it through your dog’s fur when you’re relaxing at home around the television or cuddling up in bed. See a groomer for a thorough, full-scale cleanup every three to six months to get back to a good baseline level, and you’ll find regular maintenance even easier.Tags: grooming