Love them or hate them, we have to groom doodles. There is much debate over these dogs. How often should they be groomed? Is there a breed profile for these dogs? There are many different opinions out there, and I’m going to give you mine.
We see more and more doodles coming into the shop every day. These are active dogs who like to swim, hike and play. They have a variety of different coat textures. As groomers, it is our job to educate owners on proper coat maintenance.
For this article, I have chosen Fletcher, a one-year-old Labradoodle with a very thick coat. Fletcher is a daycare client of ours but has never been groomed at our shop. This article is my first experience grooming him and I hope to impress his owners and gain a client.
I recommend giving doodles a haircut every four to six weeks, depending on length of coat. Fletcher’s family prefers to keep his coat longer and has a professional groomer brush and bathe him every two or three weeks.
The haircut I’m giving Fletcher can be modified to shorter or longer lengths. Follow the same steps, just use a different size snap-on comb. A blade can also be used on the body and a snap-on comb on the legs.
Step 1: Brushing
Brush through the coat with a slicker brush to remove any knots.
Step 2: Nails
Clip nails to the quick before the bath. This way, if a nail bleeds from being cut too short, you won’t have to worry about blood getting on the fur. File or dermal instead, if that is your preference.
Step 3: Cleaning Ears
Pluck dead hairs from the ear canal and swab it out with ear cleaner. I prefer a non-alcohol based cleaner, because I find it is less irritating to the dog’s ear.
Step 4: Bathe
At our shop, we have a bathing system that helps with faster bathing and uses less shampoo and water then conventional washing. I use a deep-cleaning shampoo and a remoisterizing conditioner.
Step 5: Force Dry
I force dry Fletcher until his coat is 90 percent dry.
Step 6: Pre-clip
Before fluff drying, I choose to rough in the pattern with size C snap-on comb; the less hair you have to hand fluff, the better. Starting at the neck, I clip down the back to the tail, then from the neck, down the shoulders. Next, do the sides of the body and the belly, leaving no skirt. Starting from the chin, clip the chest into the belly. I clip the rear legs from the hips down the butt and the rear curve of the back leg. I also skim the outside of the rear leg to the ankle. On the front legs, I skim from the elbows to the ankle, all the way around the legs. Clipping the legs sets a length and saves time in scissoring.
Step 7: Fluff Dry
You can mist the coat with a stay-in conditioner or quick-drying spray. Using a slicker brush and a stand dryer set on warm, methodically brush and dry the coat. Brush where the dryer blows the coat and separates. This will straighten the coat and remove any remaining tangles. Comb through the coat to ensure all knots are out.
Step 8: Clipping Feet & Sanitary Area
Clip the pads with a 40 blade. Take care not to clip any hair from the sides of the foot. Clip the sanitary area with a 10 blade.
Steps 9: Final Clip
Re-clip the body and legs with the same snap-on comb used in the pre-clip. This is the final clip, so make sure to clip the coat smooth. Follow the pattern in step 6.
Step 10: The Head
Use thinning shears to thin the hair from the inner corners of the eyes. Comb the hair over the eyes forward and use curved or straight shears to trim a visor. Blend the back of the head into the body. Fluff the top of the head with a comb and trim the top of the head into a dome shape, shaping over the ears as well. Starting from under the ears, trim the jaw line into the chin. Comb the muzzle out and use thinning shears to make a rounder, softened look. Trim the bottom of the ears into a bell shape.
Step 11: Rear Legs
Round the foot while the dog is standing on the table. Pick up the foot and trim any long hair falling over the pads. Hold the tail in an upright position and set the rump, trimming a nice round butt. Continue shaping up the bend of the rear leg. Blend the hip area into the leg. There should not be a lot of cutting to be done in these areas, since the pattern was set with the snap-on comb. Trim the front of the rear leg. Trim the inside of the leg from the ankle down. It should be cylindrical. Starting at the bottom of the foot, trim into the top of the leg.
Step 12: Cleaning Up Stray Hair
Scissor any stray hair from the body, including shaping the undercarriage.
Step 13: Front Legs
The front legs should be cylindrical. Start by rounding the foot on the table. Pick up the foot and trim hair hanging over the pads from the sides. The snap-on comb has set the length of the leg already. Comb the hair up and out and scissor the remaining hair into a cylinder shape.
Step 14: Tail
Hold the tail away from the body. Comb the tail hair down and trim to the desired length.
Professional groomer Anne Francis is a grooming competitor and speaker. She works at The Village Groomer in Walpole, Mass.
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