Some dog owners don’t have to worry too much about grooming. Short haired breeds can use the occasional bath and toe nail trim, but the effort required to care for them is much less. Golden Retrievers, on the other hand, require a bit more care to keep them healthy and looking good.
Proper coat care takes at least three steps: bathing, brushing and combing.
A Golden needs to be bathed at least every two months, approximately. Some live in cleaner environments and may get away with slightly less often. Some are outside rolling in the dirt at every chance and will need it as often as once per week. If that’s the case, however, a better solution would be to keep them out of the dirt!
Always use a dog shampoo, not baby shampoo or dish detergent. Commercial dog shampoos are designed with the Golden’s coat and skin in mind. They’re manufactured with the proper pH and contain mild ingredients to keep them odor free. Baby shampoo has not the proper pH and dish detergent is far too rough, disturbing the skin’s oil balance.
Golden Retrievers have two layers of coat, the top coat and the undercoat. Both need to be brushed correctly.
Grooming that long, thick, beautiful Golden coat is a continuing chore. It should be done at least once per week, more often if your pet tends to get collect debris from bushes and grass. Three instruments will help do the job with minimal fuss: a slicker, a Greyhound comb and an undercoat rake.
The slicker is used to brush the top coat, removing hair that has made its way to the surface. Goldens shed mostly from the undercoat, but much of that hair eventually travels outward. Firm, smooth strokes are good but take care not to get too vigorous. Avoid brush burn from forcible use of a slicker.
A Greyhound comb helps remove excess hair, both from shedding and that loosened by brushing. It’s also a great tool to use to check that your brushing has been successful. If you can comb the hair on the back, sides and chest without getting snagged then you’ve done a thorough brush. ‘No matting is good’.
The undercoat rake gets down to the lower layer, close to the skin. This undercoat helps keep the dog warm in winter and cool in summer, while the top coat helps protect from sun and friction from bushes. Goldens were bred to be game fetching dogs, much of which takes place in heavy forest and brush.
The rake is used to remove loose hair from shedding. Start at the rear leg and proceed gently forward. Lift and pull away from your body as you stroke the rake through the coat.
Nails should be trimmed as needed, generally about once per month at least. Tastes differ between the guillotine clippers and the scissor style. Use whichever suits you best, but be careful in either case not to snip the quick. That’s the tender, round vessel that delivers blood to the area. Cutting it causes pain and profuse bleeding. Wetting the toenails near the foot will make it more visible.
If you have an accident, don’t panic. Just have some styptic powder handy and daub some on the wound. Avoid allowing the dog run or jump for at least an hour. The wounds heal quickly, but can be re-opened.
Keep up with regular ‘maintenance’ and your Golden will be healthy, look good and feel great to the touch.