As its name implies, the Golden Retriever is best known for its flowing, golden coat of thick, soft fur. It’s easy to keep the breed’s medium-length coat shiny and beautiful with regular grooming. In addition, this beautiful canine is also known for its loyal, easy-going temperament and love for the people who care for it.
Since Golden Retrievers are so easy-going, and their coats are so easy to care for, grooming a Golden Retriever doesn’t have to be a chore but instead can be an enjoyable bonding time for you and your canine companion.
Preparing Your Golden Retriever's Coat for Grooming
- Brush your Golden Retriever from head to toe. Pay close attention to each area, spending extra time on parts of your Golden Retriever’s body where the fur is thick or matted.
- To keep your Golden Retriever’s coat in good shape, brush it head to toe at least once a week, if not every day. This will help avoid matting and will also help decrease the amount of fur your dog sheds in your home.
- Remove matted fur that is too tangled to be combed or brushed out. If you are brushing your dog every week, the mats that develop should be minimal. In order to remove mats, cut them out with a sharp pair of scissors, being careful not to cut your dog in the process.
- Before cutting out a mat, you should try to brush it out. Hold the fur above the mat close to the dog’s skin in order to protect the dog from excessive pulling. Brush or comb the fur out gently, starting at the very tip of the mat and working your way in towards the skin.
- Bathe your Golden Retriever with warm water and a quality dog shampoo. There is some debate whether you should do this before or after you trim its coat. If your Golden Retriever is really dirty and smelly, go ahead and bathe it before you groom it. If your pup has been bathed recently, you can probably skip the bath or wait until after you groom the dog in order to get any excess fur off at the end.
- Lather the shampoo all over your dog’s body, rinse thoroughly and rub dry with a large towel. If you want a show-worthy coat, it may be necessary to blow dry the pup’s fur. Just remember to keep the heat low and move in the direction of the fur’s growth.
- While many Golden Retriever owners only bathe their pups when the dog is especially dirty, some choose to bathe them on a regular schedule, such as once every two months. The choice is yours.
- Brush or comb your Golden Retriever again after bathing. This will straighten out the coat and give you a good starting point for grooming. You might consider using an undercoat comb to get as much undercoat out as possible before you start to thin it with thinning shears.
Trimming Your Golden Retriever's Coat
- Avoid trimming your Golden Retriever’s entire coat. Golden Retrievers have a double coat, consisting of an undercoat and an overcoat. The combination coat is designed to keep the dog at a comfortable temperature in any season. It traps cool air between the coats on a hot day and traps warm air between coats on a cold day. If you were to trim the entire coat, it would inhibit this natural heating and cooling system.
- You should not need to use clippers to trim a Golden Retriever. A pair of scissors and a pair of thinning shears should be enough to do the necessary fur trimming.
- Trim the fur on your Golden Retriever’s feet and legs. You’ll want to trim the fur around the bottom to the feet first. The edges usually get a lot of fuzzy hair growth, so that needs to be cleanly trimmed away with scissors. Next, trim in between your Golden Retriever’s toes. Take your comb and brush up the hair between its toes. Then trim it away at the level of the top of the pup’s feet. Then comb it all back down. It should now be above the level of the dog’s pads.
- The fur on your dog’s feet should be short, around a 1/2 inch long, and should lay down smooth against the surface of the foot.
- Also inspect the Golden Retriever’s pads while you are focusing on their feet. Apply Vaseline if you find any cracked pads and decide whether your pup needs its nails trimmed.
- Move on to the legs. Trim the fur on the back of the dog’s legs with your thinning shears. You don’t need to remove all the longer fur that grows near their rear end, but you want the coat to look balance and symmetrical. Focus your attention on trimming off fuzzy and unkempt fur.
- The fur on the back of the legs will be longer than the fur on the front of the legs. The hair on the back of the legs should be a few inches long, flaring out a bit behind the dog, while the fur on the front will lay flat against the dog.
- Thin the undercoat around the Golden Retriever’s chest and neck. This is a location that can have a lot of excess hair growth. Begin by using your thinning shears around the dog’s shoulders if a ridge of hair has formed there. Then move your attention to the front of the dog, thinning the hair on its chest until it lies flat.
- The length of your dog’s fur will vary. A Golden Retriever doesn’t have a short, tight coat, but instead has some length to it. When trimming your dog’s coat, focus more on trimming fuzzy and unkempt fur, instead of trimming to a specific length.
- If you are unsure if you have removed enough hair, comb the coat out and see if the coat is lying flat. The goal is to have a nice flat coat that is balanced and symmetrical.
- As you trim, move the thinning shears with the direction of the growth.
- Using the thinning shears to trim the neck and chest will give the dog a more natural look.
- Trim your Golden Retriever’s ears next. Thin the fur around the front and back of the ears. This will be important to keeping your dog’s ears healthy. Then trim the fur on the ears, taking stray hairs off the top of them with the thinning shears.
- Trim the tail. Don’t make the tail fur too short. You just want to trim the length by tapering it from the base to the tip, using thinning shears to make it look natural.
Completing the Grooming
- Wipe your dog’s eyes and clean his or her ears. Golden Retriever grooming is not complete without paying close attention to these areas. You can use mineral oil and cotton balls for these specifics of dog grooming, being careful not to get it directly in your dog’s eyes.
- Cut your Golden Retriever’s toenails. This can be a delicate operation, as your dog needs to keep its feet still in order to avoid injury. Remember to take your time, use a good pair of dog nail trimmers, and avoid cutting above the quick, the live part of the nail.
- The length of your dog’s trimmed nails will vary, depending on the dog. The goal it to cut your dog’s nails below the quick but to take some length off of them. Nails that are too long can break, possibly causing infection or an irregular gait.
- Train your dog to associate good things with its feet being handled by giving it a treat whenever you trim its nails.