If you’ve ever owned a doodle you know how hard it is to keep up with the long, amazing, and glorious doodle fluff. Most of us were probably drawn to the breed by their amazing locks but might have been unaware of the commitment it takes to maintain this type of beauty. So if you’re wanting this look in a dog, my question to you is how much time are you willing to put into your dog’s hair? If you’re like me and you say “100% long hair all the way, it’s amazing. I love it and can’t live without it,” then here are some of my tips to keep up with the doodle fluff.
BRUSH BEFORE YOUR DOG GETS WET
Water will tighten up any knots or mats your dog may have. If you’re able to, plan your brushing to happen before you head out to the beach or give your dog a bath. If you don’t have enough time to do a full brush, try to at least brush out their “trouble” spots.
There are spots where the fur rubs together or gets wet that will mat more quickly. I call these spots “trouble spots” because they are going to be the places you are going to have to spend more time working on. Trouble spots can be different for each dog and coat type. Some common trouble spot areas are behind the ears, on the neck where the collar rubs, under the chin, the underside of the tail at the base, the armpits, the chest, and between the toes. My dog doesn’t mat very often on her neck, chin, or underside of her tail but does mat on her chest, armpits, and between the toes.
KEEP EYES & BUTT TRIMMED
This is something easy to do so your pup can see and doesn’t get cling-ons. Some people are a bit fearful of cutting their dog’s hair, but if you’re able to start early or practice this often your dog will get used to the trimmings and you will get better and faster at them, too. When I’m watching puppies I like to cut their eye hairs as they are getting into sleep mode at the end of the day because they are much less wiggly then and tolerate grooming much better. If you are having a hard time keeping your dog still enough to trim their eyes, you can grasp their cheek hair as a way to hold their head still.
The more often you are able to practice grooming your dog the more comfortable they are going to be with grooming. If you have a dog that hates grooming and won’t sit still, start with a spot they are more comfortable with (likely the back or chest) and follow your brush with your hand so it feels like you are petting them. This can help them get used to the brush and will allow you to build up duration and begin brushing in areas they don’t like as much. As always, provide lots of praise and rewards as you get them used to the brush.
A slicker brush is key for doodle hair because its fine bristles will work through the knots best and get into the many layers of hair. And as a bonus, you can find these brushes for $5-15 on Amazon or Chewy.com (slicker brush!) You will also want a comb to be able to run through your dog’s hair after you brush a section to check if you missed any knots. I like to use a comb that has rotating teeth as I find that it doesn’t get caught in the hair as easily and can help with getting through small knots (comb.) Cowboy Magic Detangler is a life saver for getting through knots, especially in the fine hair. I will rub a drop of the detangler on each section of Mabel’s hair as I am working on it. Mabel loves it too because it’s like a little massage as I’m rubbing it in!
Getting a good set of scissors can make your life a lot easier when trimming the facial hair. I find the straight scissors are best for trimming the hair that grows from the snout and covers the eyes. Thinning scissors help keep the bridge of the nose tamed and curved scissors will help you keep your pups bangs under control.
HOW TO BREAK UP MATS
Mats are inevitable with this coat type. Regular brushing is the best way to prevent mats, but if your dog does start getting mats all hope isn’t lost. Before you chop those precious locks off try this tip: Use your scissors to break up the mat. To do this, open your scissors up and run one blade of the scissors through the mat (insert at bottom of the mat and use a sawing method to separate the mat.) Hold the base of the mat as you are using the scissors so that you aren’t pulling on your dog’s hair. Once you have broken up the mat, use a slicker brush to brush it out. I’ve found that starting at the tips of the hair and slowly working your way into the body of the mat works best.
STEP BY STEP GROOMING
Find a cozy and calm spot to set up for grooming. Some people like to have their dog stand up or use a grooming table to help reduce the wiggling. I personally like to have Mabel lay down on her side for most of her grooming because it gives me a good area to work with and keeps her head out of the way.
Massage your detangler into your dog’s hair starting with the first section you are going to brush out.
Starting from the foot, work your way up the leg by brushing small sections (about an inch worth of hair) at a time with the slicker brush. Make sure you are getting all the way down to the skin as mats can form right up against the skin. Part your dog’s hair to divide the sections as you go. This will help you to get through all the hair. It is helpful to brush in multiple directions to make sure you get all the tangles out (start by brushing in the direction of the hair and then brush over that area going sideways or at an angle.) Once you finish one section, part the hair an inch or two above and keep going throughout the body.
Use your comb to swipe through an area after brushing to determine if any mats/knots are left. If there are knots, return to using your slicker brush to brush them out. Continue doing this throughout the body.
When brushing the belly, chest, armpits, and underside of Mabel’s legs I like to have her lay on her back in my lap so I can easily reach these areas. The belly, armpits, and underside of the legs can be sensitive areas as the skin is more exposed and thinner here, so go gently and slowly in these areas.
*Tip for brushing armpits: while your dog is laying on their back, pull one of their legs across their chest and towards their head to get better access to this area.
When Mabel’s hair is long (about the length shown in these step by step pictures) I try to do a full brush once or twice a week. To put it in perspective for how long this takes us, I can typically watch a full movie during groom time. It can be a lot of work to keep up with the fluff, but I think its worth it to get to run my fingers through those luscious locks and snuggle up with my living teddy bear. I hope these tips were helpful, and good luck keeping up with the fluff!
How do you groom your doodle! Sound off your tips and tricks in the comments!