Grooming and Physical Care
While a Golden with a correct coat is relatively low maintenance, there are a few things that need to be done on a regular basis to keep your dog healthy and comfortable. Get your dog used to being groomed as a puppy and it will become an easy routine throughout their life. It can be a lovely evening bonding ritual. I can do a demonstration on one of my adult dogs to show you these techniques. If you intend to show, the grooming becomes much more precise and detailed. Joanne Latoska of Morningsage Goldens has an excellent tutorial on her website. http://morningsagegoldens.freeservers.com/Grooming.html
Slicker brush. I prefer the large ones with the fine pins and soft base pad
Pin brush. Get one with a soft base pad and pins with are smooth and rounded on the ends. Nothing that will snag or scratch! Plush Puppy also makes a nice one.
Straight comb. I like one with medium spaced pins of 1-inch length.
Gentle shampoo. I use Berry Clean by Tropiclean or Bark to Basics Sensitive Skin formula. The main thing is that the shampoo remove dirt, but not strip the natural oils in the coat.
Grooming spray. Just plain old water, or All-Systems Anti-Stat. Don’t overdo it! Avoid stuff with silicones as they can make the coat susceptible to breakage
Dry shampoo. Alexander’s Own is a great no rinse shampoo for quick touch-ups. It is blue and comes in a spray bottle.
Scissors. Get a medium length pair of straight scissors and if you want to try some of the more sophisticated techniques, a 42-tooth set of thinning shears.
Nail clippers. Get a good set of guillotine or cross cut type nail clippers. Do not use human clippers as they will shatter the nail. Spend the money to get quality here as they will work far more effectively. Mars is a good brand. The alternative is a rotary tool, with a sanding drum. The benefit of this is it creates a smooth, non-snag edge at the same time as the nail is shortened.
Styptic powder. Also known as QwikStop. Inevitably you will one day nick the quick when trimming a nail. This will stop the bleeding.
Good sources for all of these tools are Ren’s Pets Depot and dog shows. REn's has locations across Ontario and also offers online ordering. You can also go to a conformation show when one is in your area as there will often be vendors selling quality grooming supplies. The brushes and scissors for sale at most mass market retailers tend to be clunky and of poor quality. They will not hold an edge, or do not allow for refined enough cuts.
On a weekly basis, your dog should be brushed out with a slicker or pin brush to remove any tangles. Lightly mist the coat with water, or a bit of an anti-static spray such as All-Systems Anti-Stat. Do not brush a dry coat. Start at the back end of the dog and lift the coat with one hand while brushing in downward strokes as you release a bit of coat at a time by sliding the top hand up very slowly. Once you have brushed the entire dog, go through the coat with a straight comb. When the comb slides easily through the coat, you know you have been thorough enough.
Bathing is really not needed more than twice a year, unless your dog gets into a stinky, nasty mess. When a bath is needed, ensure the dog is completely combed out before the bath, otherwise any mats will become worse.
NEVER shave a Golden. The coat is designed to function at the length it grows. Shaving will cause the coat to grown in thick and wooly and be more unmanageable. Do not use the shedding blades being promoted now such as the FURminator. In addition to pulling out dead coat, they break off healthy top coat, making the dog’s coat coarse and rough.
The only areas requiring any trimming are the feet and possibly the end of the tail if the feathering is quite long. A pair of straight hair scissors will do the trick for trimming the hair between the pads level with the bottom of the foot. This will keep the dog from tracking more dirt into the house and make them more comfortable in snowy weather when ice balls can build up on this fur. If the dog has long fur sticking out between the toes on top, this can also be pushed down so it can be tidied up at the same time. If you get a pair of thinning shears you can also use them to trim this off in a more subtle manner.
To trim the tail, gather all of the feathering up (after brushed out!) by wrapping your hand around the base of the tail and sliding down until you feel the tip of the tail itself. Then hold the tail down against the back leg of the dog, and draw your hand down so that it is just below the hock joint. Bunch the fur up tightly and trim the fur to this length.
If your dog has really hairy ears you’ll also need a pair of thinning shears. These can be used in the very fine hair behind the ears so that mats do not occur there, as can happen in dogs with particularly soft and long ear hair.
I do not trim whiskers. My dogs hunt, and they need these sensory organs. Winter got his National Specialty JAM with his whiskers on, so I leave them on!
Trim nails at least once per week. Twice per week is recommended when your dog is young as the nails will grow so fast. The easiest way to see how much to take is to have pup on its back. Examining the base of the nail you will see a soft looking oval. Trim off any nail in front of this oval and you should not hit the quick. This works even for dogs with dark nails. If you can hear the nails clicking on your hardwood or tile floors they are too long!
Use an ear cleaner only if necessary. Take a sniff—your nose will tell you! Examine visually to see if there is any dark debris in the external ear canal. If so, use a gentle ear cleaner like PPP Ear Cleaner, or even just plain old white vinegar. Do not use alcohol as it is too drying and irritating.
Do not use a dental scraper. You can damage the enamel. Allow the dog appropriate chew toys to clean the teeth. You can also brush the dog’s teeth using a toothbrush and toothpaste designed for dogs. Do not use human toothpastes as the ingredients that cause them to foam are not safe for dogs.