Border Collie and Golden Retriever Advice Sheets

Grooming your Border Collie or Golden Retriever - for health and comfort

Border Collie and Golden Retriever Advice Sheets - grooming your border collie or golden retriever

Groom in a comfortable, convenient place

Grooming is Important

Grooming your dog is a matter of health not appearance. Of course dogs that are shown at dog shows are groomed and trimmed to enhance their appearance because presentation is important in the show ring but basic grooming is about keeping your dog's coat, skin, nails, teeth and ears in good health. Every dog should be groomed regularly, how regularly will depend upon the type of coat, a smooth coated border collie will need far less grooming than a border collie with a long thick coat, a neutered dog or bitch may need very frequent grooming because neutering tends to produce a thicker more woolly coat. What ever type of coat your dog has some care will be necessary to keep it healthy, and nails, teeth and ears will still need attention. Apart from the principle purpose of keeping the coat in good condition the time you spend grooming your dog will fulfil three other very useful purposes. It provides you and your dog with time together to relax and enjoy each others company, it will gently reinforce your position as a good and caring leader (dogs only allow more senior pack members to groom them) and it will provide you with an opportuntiy to check you dog all over for parsites, cuts, sores, scratches, grass seeds, thorns, lumps and possible infection in feet, mouth or ears. Even if your dog has a smooth coat, spending time regularly checking him all over will pay dividends in terms of his health and your relationship with him.
If you are planning to bath your dog you will need to groom him first in order to make sure that his coat is free flowing and clear of tangles and dead hair, otherwise the water will tighten all the tangles and eventually matts will form causing discomfort and sometimes sores.

Border Collie and Golden Retriever Advice Sheets combs and brushes for border collies and golden retrievers

If your dog's coat is very matted a Matt Splitter
used VERY GENTLY will break up and tease out matts

Grooming your Dog

As with any activity with dogs get everything ready before you start, find a suitable place where you won't be disturbed by people or other dogs in the house. Some people like to use a proprietory grooming table and thid is ideal if you are grooming for a show or trimming but the nicest place to groom is on the floor with your dog relaxed beside you or in front of you, of course if your dog is moulting heavily you may need to brush him outside the house first. Put all your tools and preparations in easy reach then you won't have to keep disturbing your dog when he is relaxed.
Unlike bathing which most dogs don't enjoy, grooming should be a pleasure that reinforces the bond between you and your dog and leaves your dog looking and feeling better, this is time devoted to your dog so don't allow yourself to be disturbed or interupted.

Border Collie and Golden Retriever Advice Sheets grooming equipment for border collies and golden retrievers

A Matt Splitter parts the hair and has sharpe barbs
split the matt apart.

First with your dog on his side, brush through your dog's coat from his shoulders over his back and side and down to his croup and the top of his back leg, take your time, if you find a knot stop and try to very gently tease it out, if you can't remove it without causing discomfort to your dog, cut it out with a pair of blunt nosed scissors damaging the coat as little as possible. Whilst you are brushing run your other hand through your dog's coat behind the brush and check for any cuts or scratches, any parasites or bites that might indicate the presence of parasites, any unusual lumps, areas of flakey skin or sores. When you have brushed the coat until it feels free of tangles comb through with a wide toothed comb just to check and to bring out any dead undercoat, never pull at the undercoat with a comb, if the undercoat is loose it will come away immediately. Encourage your dog to turn over and do the same on his other side, by now he should be very contentedly asleep.

Border Collie and Golden Retriever Advice Sheets how to groom a golden retriever or border collie

Work systematically from shoulders backwards

Encourage your dog onto his back so that you can groom his underside, once again brush through the coat until it is feels free flowing then comb through, this time you can probably use a medium sized comb but take care not to snag him, his underside will be very sensitive. Gently work out any bits of mud and dirt and check very carefully in his arm pits for any matts of hair, work back from his chest over his tummy and towards his genitals. If you find any matts around your dogs testicles or your bitches vulva cut them away carefully with blunt nosed scissors, don't try to tease out, just remember to groom more regularly in future. Check your dog's testicles for irregularities or lumps or your bitches chest for any lumps around her mammary glands.

Border Collie and Golden Retriever Advice Sheets how to groom a border collie or golden retriever

A soft palm held pin brush is ideal for Golden Retreivers

Now groom out the tail, dogs don't like having their tails pulled about so be careful, lots of gentle brushing and testing for knots with a wide toothed comb and back to brushing until the tail is throughly groomed then move onto the feathering at the back of the hind legs. The tail and feathers usually take the longest to groom and demand the most patience and care, work steadily and remember to talk to your dog and tell him what a good boy he is being.

Border Collie and Golden Retriever Advice Sheets how to clip a dog's claws or nails

An unclipped claw is long and weak

When your dogs feathers are done comb out his back feet, dogs don't usually like having their feet touched but tend to be less protective over their back feet than their front feet so this is a good place to start. Use a medium sized comb first and move onto a narrow toothed comb as the hair becomes more free. Comb the foot on top and use your finger to lift the hair between the toes so that you can comb that too but be very careful not to pull the hair between the toes, if you find any hair clogged together with mud simply cut it out, it would be too painful to try and comb it out. If your dog is reluctant to let you touch his feet be firm but kind, tell him to lie still and hold his leg firmly but don't get into a pulling contest. You may want to trim your dog's feet and this is certainly something we recommend, it is healthier and more comfortable for your dog and definately cleaner for your floors! Repeat the operation on the front feet and then look closely at your dog's nails on all four paws.

Border Collie and Golden Retriever Advice Sheets caring for a dogs nails or claws

A neatly clipped claw is short and strong

The condition of a dog's nails are a good indication of his soundness, if one paw has longer nails than the other (at the back or front) this may be an indication that the dog is reluctant to put his weight on that paw when walking which may suggest injury or joint problems somewhere in the leg or shoulder. If your dog gets some of his exercise in hard surfaces such as pavements or roads he may never need to have his nails trimmed, border collies and particularly golden retrievers are fairly heavy dogs so they will wear down their nails on hard surfaces. If on the other hand your dog is exercised mainly or exclusively on grass or soil he will not have the opportunity to wear down his nails and they will need to be clipped. A dogs nails are the righ length when they just touch the ground when the dog is standing normally, any shorter and the dog;'s grip is reduced, any longer and the toes are being forced upwards away from the ground. Some dogs very strongly dislike having their nails clipped, so be extra careful because if you get it wrong and clip too short two things will happen, firstly the nail will bleed profusely and secondly your dog will not trust you near his feet again. A dog's nail is just like a human nail in that the "finger" extends a long way down the nail. If you do clip your dog's nails remember just to trim off the very tip, sometimes it is best to slice slivers of nail away gradually so that you can when you are near the "finger" or blood vessel, this is especially true if a dog has black nails. If a dog has white nails you can usually see the blood vessel by holding the nail up to the light.

Border Collie and Golden Retriever Advice Sheets trimming a dogs nails or claws

Parrot type Nail Clipper

With his feet done encourage your dog to sit so that you can attend to his neck, head and ears. Brush and then comb his neck and chest until the hair is free flowing then brush benieth and behind his ears, the hair here is often soft and woolly and tangles easily to form matts, be gentle and cut out any stubbon matts with blunt nosed scissors, use a meduim sized comb to check that the hair is tangle free then use the fine toothed comb to gently strip out dead hair and fluff, don't pull on the comb but tease out the hair. The rest of the head does not need much more than a wipe with a soft cloth or chamois leather to take off dust and improve the shine. Check the eyes for any soreness and as everywhere else inspect for signs of damage, parasites or irregularity.

Finally inspect the ears, they should smell clean and look clear of built up wax and dirt. To clean pour a little surgical spirit onto a ball of cotton wool and wipe inside the ear flap to remove dirt and wax, use a cotton bud soaked in surgical spirit to gently clear any stubbon spots but under no circumstances insert a cotton bud or anything else into your dog's ear. The only person with any business in your dog's ear canal is your vet, you are responsible for the inside of the ear flap only, if the ear smells bad or looks dirty further down take your dog to the vet who will prescribe appropriate ear drops.

Border Collie and Golden Retriever Advice Sheets caring for a dogs coat

All dogs deserve to be groomed and free to tangles

To finish, get your dog to stand up and give him a final brush to put his coat in place and give him lots of fuss and praise and something very tasty to reward him for being so good. Then wash your brush(es) and combs in accordance with their manufacturers instructions so that they are clean ready for next time.

You are now ready to bath your dog if you wish.

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