This is a question I get asked a lot! Really there is no right or wrong answer. As a ballpark figure we (and most groomers) usually say every 6 – 8 weeks. There are however quite a few factors to consider when answering this question.
To determine an answer we need to look at certain contributing factors.
- How fast does your dogs hair grow?
- What length do you like to see your dogs coat at?
- Does your dog like/allow you to brush him on a regular basis?
- What lifestyle does your dog have?
- How old is your dog?
Lets look at these factors:
1. How fast does your dogs hair grow? – Some breeds like Poodles and Poodle mixes have hair that grows exceptionally fast whilst other breeds like Maltese or wire haired breeds don’t seem to grow as fast, other breeds like spaniels and spaniel mixes seem to grow faster in certain parts of their bodies like feet and ears than say their bodies, so the first factor is, what breed is your dog? or, what is the dominant breed of your dog? Poodles and poodle mixes need grooming approx every 6 weeks whilst some of the slower growing breeds can usually last out 8 – 10 weeks, spaniels will probably need their feet and ears taken care of every 6 weeks.
2. What length do you like to see your dogs coat? – Every dog owner is different in how they like to see their dogs coat, If you like to see it short and practical then usually every 6 – 8 weeks will keep the fluff off. If you like to see your dog fluffy or in a certain breed clip then this should probably be reduced to around 4 -6 weeks to keep your dog’s coat in tip top condition.
3. Does your dog like/allow you to brush him on a regular basis? – If your dog is in a short practical style then this is no longer a factor, however, if you like your dog fluffy then this is a massive factor! The longer the hair, the easier it will knot up and eventually matt. Once hair starts to matt it is very difficult and time consuming, not to mention uncomfortable for the dog to remove the matting (more on this subject in my short e-book Top Grooming Tips, free to download from my website). So if your dog enjoys being brushed and bathed on a regular basis then every 4 – 6 weeks should be ok, if not and you want to keep him in a longer fluffy style then 2 weekly visits would be recommended to keep the coat clean, tangle free and looking as great as it should look.
4. What lifestyle does your dog have? – This is an important factor for the comfort of your dog, if he is an active down the beach, charging around the dog park sort of dog then care of his coat is imperative. If he is a short practical dog like in factor 2 then other than regular bathing, 6 weekly grooming visits to keep the coat short will suffice. If his coat is long and fluffy then again this refers back to factor 3 where regular bathing and brushing is very important to keep his coat clean, tangle and matt free. If your dog is a couch potato, avoids puddles and mud at all costs then again it comes down to his length of coat and home grooming routine. The less you do at home, the more often he will need to visit the groomers.
5. How old is your dog? – This may seem like a strange question but quite important for your dog’s sake. Puppies need to be introduced to grooming slowly so they can build confidence in the grooming process (remember, grooming of our modern day dogs is not a natural process for them and will feel alien for a while) and so therefore i recommend grooming from the time they are fully vaccinated (although home grooming such as bathing and brushing should commence as soon as the pup has settled in) to as often as possible in the first 12 months to build their trust and confidence. Some smaller dogs can live up to 15 years old and will need grooming for most of that time so is it going to be a pleasure or a traumatic time for them each time they go the groomer? The more exposure a pup has to a kind caring groomer from an early age, the better the association and the more pleasurable the ongoing grooming experience. On the other side of the coin is the elderly dog. As arthritis and other medical issues set in, grooming can become uncomfortable for them, so at this point i would suggest that any fancy hairstyles are ditched and go with what is more practical for your dog, this in turn will mean less visits to your groomer and possibly less discomfort for them.
To sum up, as i said at the beginning there is no right or wrong answer, it comes down to how much home grooming you are prepared to do and how you like your dog look. Something to think about – If you did not wash or brush your hair for months at a time, how would your hair look? probably more importantly, how would your hair and skin feel? You need to remember your cute little maltese cross or poodle cross is as far away from the wolf as we are from the ape, and whilst certain genetics and instincts stay the same, the care of your dog needs to be adapted to this new modern breed of wolf.