In this quick episode, I will walk you through the best doodle brushes, tools, and techniques to get your doodle the look you want while also keeping them comfortable and healthy.
I answer doodle parents' top grooming questions including:
- What's the best slicker brush and how do you use a brush on a doodle?
- What is the best grooming kit for a doodle?
- How often does a doodle need grooming?
- Why do groomers shave doodles' coats and why do they find mats even if I brush daily?
- Which is the best detangler and when do I need to use it?
- Can my doodle air dry after a bath?
- What cut should my doodle get if I want to skip brushing?
- Is your doodle embarrassed after grooming?
- How to take care of a doodle's hair?
This episode is great for all people brushing and grooming goldendoodles, bernedoodles, labradoodles, sheepadoodles, aussiedoodles, cockapoos, cavapoos, yorkiepoos, australian labradoodles, cobberdogs, Portuguese Water Dogs, maltipoos, mini-goldendoodles, mini-labradoodles, and all poodle and poodle mixed dogs and puppies.
If you've had other dogs before that weren't a doodle mix, you might've wondered “What's going to be the big deal about their coats?!” Holy-moly! Doodle coats are a whole different ball game!
Today we are going to have an overview of the NEED to know details on how to care for your doodle’s coat. We’ll discuss the best tools, how to bath, if a summer shave is a good idea, and why groomers care so much about matting.
Coming with the non shedding, more hypoallergenic side of things comes a lot of maintenance on our end. The more furnishings, that means how much kink and curl is in your doodles coat, the less shedding, but the more maintenance that is involved. If your doodle has a mix between their other breed and the poodle, that can get matted a lot faster. So poodles can get matted, but they don't have a mix of an undercoat coat. There is no undercoat. If your dog has a looser, more likely to shed coat, that means flatter, less kink, you're not going to need to do as much maintenance. They're not as easily matted, BUT you still need to keep up with their coat. They're not going to just shed it all out. They still need to get regular trims. Their hair is like ours, where it just keeps growing. If you were to not comb or wash your hair for six weeks and wear a headband around kind of like a collar or a harness for six weeks- they’d have to shave your head too! So I want to walk you through the tools and the methods to keep your doodles coat a healthy and comfortable.
First, let me share the tools you need. I’m not sponsored by any of these companies, just want to save you time and your doodle discomfort by sharing the best. You can find a list of these in the show notes. The first is called a slicker brush. The BEST one out there is the Chris Christensen big g coral brush. When I first got our standard poodle Hershey, I saw the price of this, and I knew it was the most highly recommended by groomers and poodle parents alike. And I was like, there's no way I'm spending more than $50 on a brush. Well, I spent more than $50 trying a bunch of other brushes and still I bought this one. It's Chris Christensen, the Coral Big-G brush. This one's the large. If you're only getting one brush and your dog's more than 15 pounds, I would just go for the large. You can get the medium, if you wanted, for spots like under the armpits or on the legs or paws, but you don't really need a second smaller one. And your doodle will appreciate if you have the larger head on it so that it goes quicker. Now, let me talk you through a couple of reasons why this one's so great. If I rake it against my own hand, it doesn't hurt. And I don't have any fur coat on the palm of my hand, but The tiny little needles are able to rake down. Whether your doodle has an undercoat or not, it's able to rake all the way through. You're going to take sections at a time. First, you're going to use your slicker brush. Second, you need to have a greyhound comb. A link to a sample greyhound comb is in the show notes.
Now, luckily, these are cheap and it doesn't matter which one you get. A greyhound comb is a greyhound comb. You could buy the $5 ones on Amazon. The teeth on the greyhound comb are a little rounded. You just need to be able to comb through to the skin on your doodle. If you use just the slicker or another brush you might just get the top of the coat. There are tons of doodle parents who go to the groomers and say, “I brushed my doodle every day. They can't be matted!” When they go in the back, the doodle groomer takes one of these combs out, and tries to brush through to the skin. And if they can't, they're not able to just trim your dog.
Let me tell you a secret. So groomers use clippers, if you haven't played around with grooming clippers, it's just like you would see at a guy's barbershop where they have the guard covers on the top. And those guards have these teeth. If the clippers can't glide through the coat, down to the skin, they can't use the clipper with the guard, with the teeth.
And that means they have to go under the mat. Which that means they can't use the guard and leave length on your doodles coat. So if you want to test ahead of time to see if your dog is going to need to get the dreaded shave down, the greyhound comb is the key. You can work through some mats at home, and if you want to do so, you'll find those matts.
Now let's say you're going through and you do find some matts. You can use a detangler. I've done a trial run of the top two. The first is one is spray named Matt X by Arturo. And the second is a gel called Cowboy Magic. One of the tricks, if you have some mild matting, is to take the spray and spray it on your slicker brush. If you use a ton of detangler spray on your doodle, you're going to find that they get kind of greasy and just like us, if we have a lot of buildup on our hair, it's going to lead to more tangles and it's just going to start a vicious cycle.
But a slight spritz of this when you're doing a dry groom, when you're just maintaining their coat, not after a bath. Is going to make it more comfortable for your doodle. And it's going to make getting through any tangles quicker and easier.
If you have a grooming appointment coming up, use your greyhound comb to check for matts before their visit. If they aren’t bad, you can give your doodle a head start working through. You'll find really quickly the mats take a long time to work out in a comfortable way for your doodle. If your doodles are going to the groomer they are getting their bath, their high-velocity blow dry. They're standing on a table. They need to stand this whole time. AND they're going through a difficult, sometimes painful dematting? You can understand why when it's already a three hour groom, a groomer might say, it's not fair to the doodle to put them through that in all one session.
Now, some people like to do a “summer shave” where they just shave their doodle down once a year. As I described before, if you had hair on your head, and you didn't bathe it, condition it and brush it. And you had a headband on it all the time, and you just shaved it off once a year. Think of the infections on your skin that you would have underneath. Even worse, there's the added level of pain. So we're not really moving our scalp around as we're running and playing and laying down and stretching out. But with their coat over their full body, if a doodle has tangles in the hotspots, like their armpits behind their ears, on their belly, around their neck, under the collar, that’s different!. An analogy that I've heard is imagine you're a man with some thick 1970s chest hair,and you were to zip up your sweater really fast and catch the chest hair in the zipper. Well, then you're going to run around and go for a jog with the chest hair in that zipper. I don't have chest hair and it's not the 1970s, but I can only imagine and empathize with a man in that scenario or the doodle whose hair is caught really tight and tangled.
And every time they ty to run or stretch, then their movement is restricted. So when we're doing just that annual or semi-annual shave down, yes, we're not brushing their coats often. So it's saving all of us, some effort and labor. If it's a doodle that doesn't like their coat being brushed, you're saving them that, but you are letting them have those tangles that can really restrict their comfort during play.
Additionally, some really bad skin infections can occur under the matts because there's no air circulation underneath. It gets really pelted. So that's a difficult piece as well. If your doodle doesn't like getting groomed, or it's just not something that your family is able to fit into your schedule, you can do regular really short haircuts. You don't have to go for the long coat.
So that is another option. You just don't want to wait six months or a year to do so. That raises a really important topic of how often should I get my doodle in for grooming. Now, if you want to keep your doodles coat longer, if you love that shaggy teddy bear, look, you're gonna want to talk to your groomer. They will most likely recommend that you're there every four to six weeks.
I bring my cavapoo Nestle in about every five weeks. Sometimes six feels a little long. Sometimes four doesn't seem necessary, but we average around five weeks. I schedule our grooming sessions a year out in advance here in Denver, Colorado, especially with the addition of lots of pandemic puppies. A lot of groomers are filling up far out. So that's the ideal schedule
if you want to be maintaining their coat and you love that teddy bear, shaggier look. Let's say you want to go shorter. You can space it out more. It takes a while for the coat to get long enough to create those mats and tangles. So if you do a regularly, really short cut, that's great. Especially if your doodle loves playing in the water and you want to be able to do frequent baths.
That brings us to a point about bathing. So every time water touches a tangle, it's cements it into a mat. If there is a mat already on your doodle's coat and they get a bath or go swimming, now that mat is impossible to get through. So it's a lot of work to give a long coated, doodle a bath because you need to get through and brush all of the tangles first, before they get in the water. And then of course, it's pretty logical when you're giving the bath, you're not really rubbing in there. You're doing the massage and getting down to their skin, but you're not trying to create more tangles with friction or when you're drying them off. When you're done bathing your doodles coat, you have to use a high velocity dryer every single time.
When you have a coat that is long at all, unless it's kept super, super short, a high velocity dryer is a high velocity pet dryer. They just work so much better at blowing the coat out straight. Yeah, they look like floof balls and that's not usually the look that everyone likes. I got a secret for you on how to change that later.
But if you don't get the coat straight first grooming between now and the next time that coat gets wet is going to be a pain. If you can't get that coat straight from the down to the skin, then you're going to be brushing through tangles that develop quicker until the next time you are able to blow that coat out. Blowing your doodles coat outif you have a high velocity dryer can go pretty quickly and we can talk more about desensitizing them to the loud sound. There's tips like covering their ears, et cetera. So I don't take my doodle swimming at the lake, et cetera, very much because I don't always have time to do that whole process. And I do know that he's a dog who loves swimming.
So we make sure we make time, but we don't just throw him in the bath and let him shake it off. Because then I know that's a recipe for him to have those painful tangles and matts. And I want grooming to be comfortable and easy for him. So every single time I've given our doodle Nestle a bath, we always finish with the high velocity dryer. It comes out super fluffy, but we're able to have successful grooming from then until the next bath. Now, additionally, if you don't have time for all of that, but you love your dog being clean, you can drop your doodle off to the groomers just for a bath and blow dry. So it's almost like, I don't know if you've been to the Dry Bar for us humans, where they're not cutting the hair, but they're doing great shampoo and a beautiful blow dry for you saving your arm muscles, that work. It's similar to that. Some groomers will add things like a sanitary trim. That's just trimming up their privates. So things stay nice and clean around their eyes so they can see nicely and a nail trim. You can do that every two to three weeks, if you'd like. And that's also a great strategy if you're trying to grow the coat longer and you want to space out your grooming appointments more. They're cheaper and also keeps your doodles coat nice and healthy and free of tangles.
I mentioned a tip if you don't like when your doodle's coat is super floofy, after being blown out by the blow dryer, either at home or at the groomers,if you get a water bottle, do a mist onto the coat. The tips of the doodle's coat will kind of turn into those formed cute little coils or get more piecy while still staying loose to the skin. So you'll still be able to comb through easier, but you'll get the look that you like. Some people worry that their doodle is mortified when they pick up their doodle from the groomer.
If your doodle went in full of matts or just a really long coat, and they got shaved down or really short cut, they might look like they're embarrassed. I often joke when we see our doodle clients, “Your doodle looks naked!” which probably doesn't help things to their parent, but your doodle is not feel like their privates or their skin are exposed or that they look ugly.
They feed off of our reactions. So a lot of times when those doodles come out of the groomer, a lot of parents were like, “Oh no!” and they pick on the, up on that right away. But what's also happening is they feel a lot of new sensations. If they've had a really thick coat and now it's gone, they feel temperature different. They feel the breeze more.
All of those sensations are different. A lot of doodles, especially if they've had tangles that have been painful, silently painful, they get the zoomies when they get home and run around super free and happy. So doodles don't feel embarrassed when they get a haircut we don't like, but they might feel differently for a little while and they'll get used to it.
Just like if you get a really short haircut and you go to put all the shampoo in your hand, in the shower, and then you realize, oh, I don't need that much. This was a lot faster. Or you get your hair cut really short and you feel the breeze on your neck and you notice it. It's similar to that for our doodles.
I’ve listed these in the show notes but the must haves for your doodle’s coat are. The Chris Christensen, big G coral brush. That's a slicker, any greyhound comb and a detangling spray. I did a time trial between this Matt X and Cowboy magic and Matt X one worked the fastest without any bad residue.
I hope this helps your doodle have a more healthy and comfortable coat, saves you time in maintaining it, and leaves your doodle looking fabulous!