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Puppy grooming: your puppy’s first haircut

July 31, 2020

Are you ready to book your puppy in for their first haircut? Cheryl Greenhough from Country Canines Grooming shares her puppy grooming tips to help you prepare for your puppy’s first trim.  

Why use a professional groomer?

Whether you have a smooth haired breed like a Dachshund or a long-haired breed such as a Cockapoo, getting them into a grooming routine from a young age is very important. 

Puppies learn a lot in their early weeks, so it’s a good idea to get them booked in for a puppy groom early. Ideally about two weeks after they have had their second set of vaccinations. 

Your puppy may be a bit nervous of new people. But they may be very excitable and really keen to meet new people. Either way, your puppy’s first visit to the groomer is an important stage for them. It’s when they will get to know and learn to trust the groomer. It can also help your puppy to learn that brushing, bathing and combing can be a nice experience. 

These vital early experiences also go much further than the grooming table. For example, getting your puppy used to going to the groomers can help them feel more relaxed about going to the vets. 

What to expect from your puppy’s first groom

There will be lots of new things and different sounds for your puppy to experience at the groomers. This includes the sound of the hair dryer, the clip of the nail clippers and the sound of running water. It’s a great way to socialise your puppy to experiences they may not already be familiar with. 

When you arrive for your appointment, the groomer will usually ask you to fill out a customer care card. This will include details about your puppy’s health, what vaccinations they have had and the contact details for your vet. 

Next, the groomer will get acquainted with your dog.  In my case, this means getting down on the floor with a puppy to let them know you are someone they can trust. This usually involves lots of happy voices and cuddles.

The groomer will then explain what the puppy package involves and what service your puppy will get that day. In my salon, we give puppies a bath in a sensitive, all-natural shampoo. Then we follow-up with a gentle hand blow dry to fluff up their coat and remove any loose hairs. Finally, we give puppies a trim around the eyes and feet, a sanitary clip and clip the nails. This grooming process normally lasts around 60-90 minutes.

Leaving your puppy at the groomers for the first time

Just like leaving your child at nursery for the first time, you may be a bit nervous about leaving your dog somewhere new. However, you should try not to let your feelings show, otherwise your puppy may pick up on this and feel anxious too. The groomer will give you a call to come and collect your puppy when they have finished the grooming session.

If you stay calm, this will help to make going to the groomers an enjoyable experience for your dog. 

How often should you groom your dog? 

This comes down to what breed of dog you have and how much grooming maintenance you can manage at home. 

Smooth haired breeds such as Dachshunds, French Bulldogs and Pugs, can moult a lot more than you would expect. They also tend to suffer most with long nails. Their body shape and size means they can struggle to keep their nails short and smooth themselves. Bigger, heavier breeds will naturally push more weight onto their nails, which helps to keep them short. Smooth haired breeds tend to come into the salon every four to six weeks for a bath and deshedding treatment. This is done to remove loose, moulting hair. They also have their nails clipped and ears cleaned.

Longer haired breeds such as Schnauzers, Cockapoos, Cavapoos, Maltese and Shih Tzus should ideally be groomed once every six weeks. 

Your groomer will help you decide on the type of style that is appropriate for your lifestyle. If you take your dog for lots of long walks in fields and allow them to swim several times a week, a shorter teddy bear style may be the right option for you. If this is the case, your dog may visit the groomers every six to eight weeks for a short cut. 

However, if you take your dog on several short walks a day on hard pavements and can comb them for 20 minutes a day, then a full fluffy teddy bear style might be best for your dog. They will need to see a professional groomer every four to six weeks.

How to find a good groomer

It is quite easy to type ‘dog groomer’ into Google and come up with a long list of grooming salons in your local area. But how do you choose a good one? The best place to start is often with a recommendation from someone you trust. Then, make sure the groomer you choose is registered with the Pet Industry Federation (a governing body for grooming salons). 

It can be helpful to give the salon a call and see if you can pop in and have a chat with them about your dogs first visit. That way you can get a feel for the salon and the environment your dog will be going into.

Planning ahead for your puppy’s next visit

When you collect your dog from the grooming salon, they will be overjoyed to see you. They should be feeling relaxed and fresh, just as we do when we come out of the hair salon or spa!

Don’t forget to pre-book your next groom. Ask your groomer for advice about when your puppy should visit again. A nervous puppy may require a few weekly visits just to come and sit in the salon for an hour, have a run about and play. Other less nervous puppies may be able to go for four weeks until their next puppy groom.

Cheryl Greenhough is an award-winning dog groomer and owner of Country Canines Grooming in Staffordshire

Did you find these puppy grooming tips helpful?

Read our Dog Care Guides for more tips to help you care for your growing puppy.