Curly-coated breeds are some of America's most popular pups these days—and we understand why. They're chockfull of personality and make ideal snuggle buddies. But with all that beautiful hair comes some responsibility.
Frequent professional grooming is vital for curly-coated breeds, and not doing so can have significant consequences. We chatted with Tayler W. at Hair of the Dog Wash & Groom (follow them on Instagram @groomingbytayler.pdx) to understand all things coat maintenance when it comes to curly-coated breeds.
While it's true that some breeds don't require frequent grooming, there are many that do—especially breeds like poodles and doodle mixes.
"Your poodle mixes are going to be the breeds that need the most grooming," Tayler explains. "Their coats are the most high maintenance when it comes to grooming needs. When you breed 2+ breeds together that have different coats types, it really can create a mess."
It's important to understand the difference between fur and hair here, and what happens when those two are mixed together. Tayler explains that poodles have hair, which continually grows. Most breeds that are bred with poodles to create doodles tend to have fur, which means it grows to a specific length and is double coated. This mixture of coat types creates a dog that has a shedding undercoat mixed with curly hair, which is why it's so important for pet parents to not only keep a grooming routine but also to be brushing and combing at home.
Other breeds that need routine grooming include huskies, samoyeds, malamutes, and keeshonds, and any breed that has a double or triple coat.
"That undercoat can become matted and can be very time consuming to do since we cannot just shave them," says Tayler. "At the end of the day, it's important for every breed to be professionally groomed or bathed. We're the first ones to spot an ear infection, skin infection, abscess, hot spots, new lumps and bumps, or other medical issues."
Tayler explains that even short-haired dogs need a good scrubbing with high quality shampoos and conditioners—removing undercoat helps your dog's regulate their temperature so they can stay cooler during summer and warmer during winter. Regular nail and ear care are also vital to your pup's wellbeing.
"Paying the professionals to do it means less time your dog is mad at you for the bath!" says Tayler.
Poodle/poodle mixes have a wide range of needs since there isn't a standard.
"Keeping a doodle's full coat means professionally grooming every 2-4 weeks, and most doodles are on a schedule of every 4-8 weeks," Tayler explains. "A short haircut can help extend the length between full haircuts to every 8-12 weeks, but I do not suggest going longer than that due to the reasons discussed."
Tayler notes that for dogs who don't need haircuts but need to be deshedded, some clients prefer to get monthly baths as it reduces the amount of hair floating around their house—plus, they like clean smelling dogs! However, 8-10 weeks is a more common schedule with these types of dogs.
It's not only important to groom curly-coated breeds often, but it's also vital to start them early.
"Early grooming is extremely important, and starting as early as 10-12 weeks means you are able to give your puppy 2-3 introductory grooms before their first haircut at 5-6 months old," Tayler says. "Not setting this positive foundation can be detrimental to your dog, as they will need lifelong grooming. The process and tools can be really scary and overwhelming for puppies who got started late, as it usually means they are thrusted into a full groom without any desensitization and conditioning. They're brought to a new place with new people without their pet parents, being handled and manipulated in ways they have never been before, with other dogs barking and dryers going. Introducing puppies early helps create this scene as a normal part of their routine, instead of it feeling like a scary punishment."
Ultimately, Tayler explains, the consequence of not getting groomed often enough is a matted dog, and this can be difficult to fix and painful for your pup.
You may think skipping a few grooming appointments won't hurt, but the truth is that knots can build up quickly.
"You'd be surprised how quickly one knot can turn into a matted area," Tayler says, "Giving your dog a bath without fully brushing afterwards and letting them air dry can make knots tighten and the matting will start to spread. We see matting a lot during winter months due to dogs being outside in the snow/rain and then not getting brushed out—it can result in the same thing happening."
Tayler explains that if your doodle likes to swim in the summer, a short haircut will be beneficial as part of an after swimming maintenance routine—and not brushing it out afterwards can very quickly create a matted dog. This is why brushing at home is so important.
"Imagine never brushing your hair for 4-8 weeks, maybe washing it once or twice, and the mess that would create," Tayler says. "Expecting your dog to be forced through de-matting isn't fair because it's painful, and it isn't fair to your groomer, as that repetitive movement can destroy our shoulders, elbows, and hands."
The only humane and safe way to groom a matted dog is by shaving the coat down and starting over. This should absolutely be done by a professional, as the dangers of grooming a matted dog are much higher than grooming a dog who is kept in good condition.
"The matting can pull skin away from the body which can get nicked by the clippers," Tayler explains. "Dogs with thin skin or older dogs are even more likely to potentially get nicked."
Even for professional groomers, it can be difficult to avoid accidents when grooming matted dogs. This is just another reason why routine grooming is so important. If you haven't been trained in how to safely remove matting, you risk cutting your dog.
"I have seen ear tips and tail tips cut off, legitimate holes, because a pet parent tried cutting matting out with shears," Tayler reveals.
Besides professional grooming, Tayler says that pet parents should have a grooming routine at home.
"Brushing, combing, ear cleaning, and removal of eye boogers can be such a bonding experience," Tayler says. "Grooming in the animal kingdom is a way for animals to connect, and that isn't any different between humans and dogs. Your groomer will be more than happy to show you which brush and comb would be most beneficial for your dog's coat, and most groomers will happily show you how to keep your dog's coat maintained. YouTube can be another great resource to watch videos on line brushing."
If you have questions about grooming your doodle or curly-coated breed, reach out to the Pros at Pawp and we can point you in the right direction.