Grooming Tips

Grooming long coated dogs (indeed all dogs no matter what length coat) should become part of your daily/weekly routine AS SOON as the dog joins your household. If you commence as a puppy, your dog will enjoy it and you will reap the benefits of having a clean, smell-free, knot-free, beautiful to caress companion.

Pre-Wash routine

  • Before washing you should always make sure your dog is knot and mat-free and well brushed. If you wash before brush-ing you are much more likely to create matts and knots.
  • If you have a “professional dryer/blaster”, blast as much dirt and dust out of the coat as possible prior to washing. Make sure you blast near the skin so that the skin is clean and dirt-free.
  • Use the “pin brush” for the longer hair areas such as the “pants” “feathers” and tail. The fine tooth metal comb is for the long hair behind and around the ears.


Ensuring that your dog’s skin is clean is the most important part of bathing a dog. To enable this FORGET ABOUT simply filling up a bath and pouring warm water over your dog and as-suming that once you no longer see soapsuds the dog is rinsed!!! You need access to a high-pressure shower or hose nozzle.

  • Stand your dog on a non-slip surface (I prefer a low wooden garden table with a wet towel on top)
  • Soak your dog all over making sure that the skin is well watered. (Imagine you are washing your own hair and scalp)
  • Using a good canine shampoo, work the shampoo well into the skin. (Don’t be tempted to use human shampoo: the Ph level is quite different)
  • Rinse. You need to use as high a pres-sure hose/nozzle as possible and ensure that not only the coat is rinsed, but the skin as well. (It takes me longer to rinse my dogs than to shampoo. Rinsing is the most important part of washing. If the coat is not properly rinsed, it will be dull and irritate causing itching and scratching)
  • Drying
  • Towel drying a clean dog is okay. (don’t towel dry a dirty dog: eg. if your dog’s been in the park, full of sand/dirt and wet. All you are doing in those circumstances is rubbing the sand/dirt/grit into the dog’s skin: that will cause discomfort and irrita-tion).
  • Dog dryer/Blaster is the best way to dry both a clean and a dirty dog. The blaster does literally that. It blasts away water and dirt without damaging the dog’s coat with heat. Some blasters have no heat capacity; others have cold/warm/hot. The blaster also helps to keep knots/matting to a minimum.
  • Brushing
  • After towel drying (or blasting) ensure all knots are removed. Particularly note be-hind the ears, the pants, around the anus, under the “armpits”, the tail.
  • Start with the bristle brush brushing “against” the direction of the coat. Work your way from the head and ears down to the tail.
  • Once at the rear, brush the pants starting on the lower-leg ending up near the tail. Then brush the tail, making sure you brush under the tail and not simply on top.
  • After you are satisfied you have brushed “every inch” with the bristle brush, re-do all the long-coated areas with the “pin” brush. BUT BE CAREFUL: try the brush out on your arm first!!
  • Check around the ears: if there are any matts or knots, use the fine toothcomb.


Some dogs (like border collies) have fur that grows between the pads of their paws. This fur needs to be trimmed otherwise they can become foot-sore (eg caused by mud collecting on the fur and developing into little stones between the pads). The fur if left unattended can also cause the paws to become splayed as the fur spreads the pads apart.

If you have never trimmed a dog’s paw before, you should use “safety”/nose scissors. These can be purchased from any pharmacy. They have rounded ends ensuring that you don’t ac-cidentally cut your dog. You should make sure that your dog is relaxed and enlist the help of another to keep him still.


  • How often you need to groom your dog is a personal matter: it depends in part on your life-style and your dog’s activities.
  • To keep your dog knot and matt free, you need to brush and comb at least twice a week AND AS SOON AS you notice a knot or matt.
  • I wash my border collies whenever I show or trial them. When I am not com-peting, I wash them either when they roll in something disgusting, or every 3 – 4 weeks.
  • I “cold-blast” them every second or third day: it keeps their skin clean and coat knot free.
  • I trim their feet every second week. I clip their nails twice a week.

Julie Huber