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Golden Retriever standing in a grassy field.

The Golden Retriever’s lustrous coat, ranging from liquid amber to a light red, matches the breed’s 14-karat loving heart. With soft, friendly eyes, this enthusiastic sporting group member, family companion, and therapy dog is completely devoted to its people.

Want to make sure your butterscotch beauty keeps the glam on?

Here’s an easy guide to grooming.

First Steps

“Begin by training your dog to let you touch its body, including the head, ears, mouth, and feet,” says Terri Becker DiMarino, President of the California Professional Pet Groomers Association.

Once your dog accepts handling, set up a regular monthly, weekly, and daily schedule when you won’t be interrupted.

“Keeping your dog in good shape requires a routine,” says DiMarino.

On grooming day, gather the tools before you begin. In addition to your favorite playlist to keep you company, here’s a list of everything you’ll need to groom a Golden:

  • Pin brush
  • Metal comb with medium to wide teeth
  • Quality canine shampoo
  • Canine conditioner or shampoo with conditioner
  • Towels
  • Canine cool air hairdryer
  • Canine bathtub or indoor bathtub or shower
  • Canine grooming table or outdoor picnic table
  • Canine thinning scissors
  • Canine blunt or sharp scissors
  • Canine nail clippers or Dremel
  • Canine toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Disposable dental wipes
  • Veterinary ear cleaning solution
  • Flea and tick medication

Regular grooming of a dog’s coat, feet, teeth, ears, and eyes will pay off in health benefits, too. If lumps or skin infections show up, you’ll spot them early enough to visit the veterinarian for a check-up.

Coat Care

The Golden’s thick, water-repellant double coat sheds moderately throughout the year and heavily once or twice a year. Regular brushing before and after bathing helps remove the old hair.

“For heavy shedding, brush with a pin brush once a day to remove the dead hair and keep it from landing all over the house,” says Nancy Talbott, Director of Education for the Golden Retriever Club of America. “With regular shedding, brush once a week, but don’t use a bristle brush as it won’t get through the thick Golden coat.”

With tangled tresses, Talbott recommends spraying the coat with water or using a coat conditioner to make the job easier. For a smooth coat, it’s okay to brush it dry. Use the comb on feathering behind the ears, chest, legs, and tail.

“Back brush the entire body with the pin brush to loosen the dead undercoat and collect debris, such as twigs or foxtails, then brush the coat in the direction it grows,” Talbott says.

Always brush before bathing. Goldens who participate in therapy work will need bathing, brushing, and nail trimming before every visit. Dogs who attend conformation shows are groomed before every show, while Golden home companions benefit from a monthly soaking.

“When bathing, wet the dog down to the skin before applying a canine quality shampoo and a conditioner,” says Talbott. “This reduces static electricity and the hair sticking up in all directions.”

Rinse the coat twice, as the Golden’s double coat retains the shampoo. Thoroughly towel dry.

“Give the dog a few minutes to run around and air dry,” says Talbott. “To make the process easier, put the dog on a grooming table. Use the canine hairdryer, which is cooler than a human hairdryer and won’t burn the hair. Blow the air up against the skin in the opposite direction the hair grows. Follow by brushing it the other way.”

Golden coats can be straight or wavy, but the texture is essential. As Talbott says, “The top coat protects the body from water and burrs in the field and should wrap around the body like a jacket.”

To preserve the coat’s purpose and appearance, don’t shave or clip it. Avoid clipping the dog’s feathers under the body, legs, and tail. For dogs who don’t go to shows, use thinning scissors to trim these areas.

Golden Retriever head portrait laying upside down in the grass.

Nails and Paws

Begin handling your dog’s feet as soon as you bring them home. This prepares them for future nail and pad trimming. Conscientious breeders pick up their puppies’ feet when they’re days old.

The Golden Retriever’s round, compact feet and paws don’t need special care, as outdoor exercise generally toughens up the paws. But the nails and the breed’s thick foot pads do require regular attention.

Keeping the nails clipped short reduces the chance they may snag and tear. Clipping once a month with dog clippers or a Dremel does the job, while show dogs’ nails receive a close trim once a week.

You can take your Golden to a professional groomer for nail care, but with practice and patience, you can learn to do this yourself.

To maintain the dog’s traction on slippery surfaces, the hair on the bottom of the feet between the pads needs regular trimming. Use the sharp canine scissors. Or, if you’re feeling hesitant about performing this task, choose the blunt-end scissors.

Check between the toes for any foxtails or grass barbs and promptly remove them.

“If you’d rather take your dog to a groomer for coat and foot care, schedule a visit once every four to six weeks,” says DiMarino.

Oral Care

Every dog requires dental care. Begin opening your dog’s mouth and touching their gums and teeth a few days after you bring them home. This helps prepare them for cleaning with a canine dental wipe or toothbrush and paste.

Brushing three times a week will help reduce tooth decay.

When you visit the veterinarian, ask when your dog might need professional teeth cleaning.

Ears, Eyes, and Skin Care

“The Golden’s coated and floppy ears are susceptible to ear infections,” says Talbott. “Check the ears once a week for debris and infection and clean if necessary.”

Goldens who like to swim will need more frequent ear checks, as the water gets deep inside the ear and makes them more prone to infections. After swimming, thoroughly dry the inside of the ears with cotton balls.

According to Talbott, Goldens are not susceptible to dry skin, but fleas will quickly produce allergies and hot spots. “Keeping your Golden flea-free is crucial,” she says.

Related article: The Most Popular Dog Breeds of 2020
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