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An Owner’s Guide to Grooming Curly-haired Dogs

Breeder Buzz

An Owner’s Guide to Grooming Curly-haired Dogs

You probably recognize a Poodle when you see one, but there are quite a few other curly-haired dog breeds too. There’s the wavy-haired Portuguese Water Dog, the heavily coiled Komondor and Puli breeds, and the wooly Lagotto Romagnolo, among others. These breeds all share one characteristic: high-maintenance fur.

If you’re considering a curly-haired dog, be prepared to spend a lot of time and money grooming your dog, depending on the coat’s texture, thickness and curl. Bichon Frises and Labradoodles, for example, have coarse, thick hair that’s the most difficult to maintain. But your reward is the cutest curls!

Start Early; Groom Your Puppy Often

If you’re willing to put in the time, you can care for any curly-haired breed. Start brushing your puppy when you first get him so he gets used to frequent grooming with a variety of tools. Puppy fur is softer and finer than an adult dog’s coat, so use a soft brush. Be careful not to tug at mats. Your dog shouldn’t show any discomfort.

Prevent Mats in Dog Hair With Frequent Grooming
As your dog matures, switch to a wire brush and comb, and groom at least every other day to prevent mats from forming. Mats pinch the skin and can cause painful sores: At Fitdog Sports Club, we once had a Goldendoodle -- a crossbreed of a Golden Retriever and a Poodle -- come to us with such terrible mats that his grooming took eight hours and cost the owners $275! Once mats form, they get progressively worse. They can be extremely painful and even life-threatening if left untreated.

Use a Professional Dog Groomer as Needed
Plan on taking your pet to a professional groomer every two to four weeks to ensure your dog’s hair stays healthy. Your groomer is the expert when it comes to baths, cuts and combing. For example, for dogs that mat easily -- or for owners who don’t want as much at-home maintenance -- she might advise a short cut.

It should come as no surprise that the thicker and longer the coat, the more expensive and labor-intensive the groom will be. At Fitdog Sports Club, grooming a poodle with well-maintained hair costs between $65 and $95. But a poodle with a poorly maintained coat takes more hours to groom -- and the cost increases accordingly. And if the coat is matted, it’s always best to shave the dog and start from scratch with a more consistent grooming regimen.

There is no such thing as easy maintenance when it comes to curly-haired dogs. That gorgeous coat comes with a lot of responsibility. If you want a lower-maintenance pet, consider adopting a shorthaired breed.

Exceptional Canine expert Elena Barton is a dog groomer at Fitdog Sports Club, a premier dog care facility in Santa Monica, Calif., that provides high-quality services that enable dog owners to create a healthy and active lifestyle for their dogs. She has been grooming dogs for more than 15 years and has extensive experience grooming both popular and uncommon breeds.

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