The Grooming Needs of Golden Retrievers

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The golden retriever, with their happy and gentle demeanor, may seem like a breed that requires minimal grooming. However, this assumption is incorrect. Golden retrievers do require regular grooming to maintain their beautiful coats and to combat their inherited susceptibility to skin issues. This blog covers the type of coat a golden retriever has, their specific grooming needs and their common skin problems. 

Understanding a Golden Retriever’s Coat Type 

Golden retrievers boast a dense, water-resistant double-coat which aided them when they were primarily hunting dogs. The outer layer is long and sleek, while the undercoat is soft and fuzzy. Together, they shield the dog’s skin from sun exposure, temperature extremes and moisture, offering insulation against diverse weather conditions. Golden retrievers undergo moderate shedding year-round, with more pronounced shedding occurring once or twice annually. 

Their coats exhibit either straight or wavy textures. Moderate feathering is observed on the back of the forelegs, while more substantial feathering is present on the front of the neck, back of the thighs and underneath the tail. 

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The Grooming Needs of a Golden Retriever 

Do Golden Retrievers Need a Haircut? 

Golden retrievers don’t need a full haircut. Instead, a simple trim in certain areas suffices to maintain their appearance. The objective isn’t to drastically alter their coat but rather to keep them well-groomed and natural-looking. Trimming the furnishings, or feathering, typically involves tidying up the hair behind the front legs, the rear end, the underbelly, chest, ears and tail, based on the preferences of the pet parent. Avoid using clippers to trim these areas. Instead, opt for thinning scissors for precision.

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Why You Should Never Shave a Golden Retriever

It’s essential to refrain from shaving or clipping a golden retriever’s coat in order to maintain its intended function and appearance. Shaving a double-coated breed can lead to severe skin problems and may hinder proper regrowth of the coat. As professional groomers, it’s our responsibility to safeguard the health and integrity of the skin and coat of each dog in our care. Therefore, we uphold a strict policy against shaving double-coated breeds like the golden retriever. To learn more about this, read here

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For golden retrievers, we recommend scheduling bathing appointments at a pet salon or bathing your pet at home every month. If you are bathing your dog at your house, it’s advisable to use high-quality shampoo and conditioner to aid in your dog’s coat health. Start by washing the dirtiest parts of the dog and kneading the shampoo into the coat to effectively clean. Allow both products to soak into the dog’s hair for approximately 2-5 minutes, depending on the shampoo and conditioner. Remember to rinse the coat thoroughly to remove all traces of the dirt and product. 

If you prefer taking your golden retriever to a professional groomer, try adding a facial to their bathing experience. Many pet salons like Smoochie Pooch offer facials that are aromatherapeutic and pH balancing. They can contribute to the relaxing environment of a grooming session and be a special treat for your beloved pooch. 

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Ensuring your golden retriever is thoroughly dried after bathing is crucial to prevent various issues. Leaving your pet with damp fur can result in skin irritation, matting and even bacterial or fungal infections. Additionally, in colder weather, damp fur can cause discomfort and make your dog feel cold. Make sure that your dog’s coat is completely dry before letting them outside in freezing temperatures.

Use a very absorbent dog towel to help soak up as much water as possible. Avoid rubbing vigorously as this may result in creating tangles. In a dog salon, professional groomers employ various methods to dry dogs effectively. This includes an absorbent towel, cage dryers and velocity dryers. If a dog is fearful of the dryer, groomers may utilize a “happy hoodie” to help keep them calm during the drying process. 

The duration for drying a golden retriever can vary depending on factors such as the dog’s size and coat thickness. Generally, it takes approximately 35 to 45 minutes to completely dry a golden retriever, but a compacted coat may require up to an hour for thorough drying. 

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A consistent grooming routine is essential to manage shedding in golden retrievers. Weekly brushing at home, combined with regular professional grooming appointments, helps remove dead and loose undercoat hair. Both before and after bathing, it’s important to brush out your golden retriever to eliminate old hair effectively. 

For brushing, using a slicker brush and a pin rake is highly recommended, especially for dogs with double coats like goldens. These tools are excellent for untangling knots and removing loose hair. Focus on specific areas prone to matting, such as the front, under the ears, legs, base of the tail and neck where the collar rubs. Begin by attending to these regions before moving on to other areas during the grooming session. To learn about brushing and preventing matting read here

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Deshed Treatment

Golden retrievers are notorious shedders, and deshedding treatments can significantly minimize the amount of loose hair that accumulates on floors, furniture, curtains and clothes. A deshedding service offers an active approach to removing the undercoat through a three-step bathing process. During this treatment, dogs undergo a specialized conditioning treatment, followed by shampooing and conditioning again. This is then followed by additional brushing  to effectively shed out the dead hair, potentially reducing shedding by over 50%. 

We recommend scheduling a deshed treatment every couple of months to maintain coat health and manage shedding effectively. It’s especially beneficial to schedule one during seasonal changes when shedding increases, such as transitioning from winter to summer and summer to winter. However, it’s important to avoid excessive deshedding treatments, as they can lead to balding. We advise against scheduling deshed treatments more frequently than once a month to ensure the health and integrity of your dog’s coat. 

Nail & Paw Pad Trims

Keeping a golden retriever’s nails clipped short is crucial. Overgrown nails pose traction problems, especially on slippery surfaces. Dogs may struggle to gain firm footing, leading to anxiety and fear, particularly in nervous dogs. This lack of confidence affects their daily lives and undermines their sense of independence and stability. 

Regular trimming of the hair between the pads of their feet helps prevent excessive feathering, which can hinder walking. It also helps during the winter time to prevent an excessive amount of snow and ice getting stuck to their paws. Even with shorter hair on their feet it’s important to check their paws after outdoor activities and clear any ice or snow to prevent irritation. 

If doing these tasks makes you nervous, bring your golden to a professional groomer. Trusted salons like Smoochie Pooch offer highly trained pet stylists who use high-quality nail trimmers and a Dremel to accurately cut and buff nails, making them short and smooth.

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Golden retrievers have floppy, coated ears that are prone to ear infections. Inspect their ears weekly for any debris and signs of infection. Since goldens love swimming, ensure their ears are thoroughly dried with cotton balls after water activities to prevent moisture-related issues and infections.  

Regular ear cleaning every 1-2 weeks is recommended to maintain ear health. To learn more about ear care for dogs, you can explore this blog. 

Anal Gland Expression

Golden retrievers, as a breed, typically don’t encounter frequent issues with their anal glands. Expressing their anal glands is usually only necessary if problems arise. Indications that your dog may require action include scooting their rear on the ground, emitting a strong odor outside of defection times, chewing the base of their tail or displaying a swollen area near the anal glands. Most large breeds, including golden retrievers, can often live their entire lives without needing their anal glands expressed. 

If your dog displays symptoms of an anal gland issue, it’s advisable to seek assistance from a professional groomer or veterinarian for proper expression. At Smoochie Pooch, we offer anal gland expression as an add-on service that you can request during your dog’s regular grooming session. 

Common Skin Issues for Golden Retrievers 

The golden retriever breed is prone to skin issues, particularly environmental and food allergies. Their dense undercoat traps heat and moisture, exacerbating skin problems that can result in hot spots. Regular grooming practices can help minimize allergen exposure, address infections, alleviate itching and support the health of the epidermal barrier. Read more bathing recommendations for dogs’ allergic skin here

Fleas reign as the most common culprit for causing skin issues in goldens. The thick coat on active, outdoor dogs provide an ideal habitat for fleas to thrive and reproduce. To combat flea infestations, preventative measures such as topical treatments, oral medications or flea collars are essential. Regular baths serve as opportune moments to really inspect the dog’s skin and coat for any signs of infestation. Additionally, the use of soap and water during baths can effectively eliminate fleas and their eggs. 

Caring for a Golden Retriever 

In caring for a golden retriever, understanding their coat type and grooming requirements is paramount. Regular grooming is needed, and grooming needs of golden retrievers extend beyond the walls of the grooming salon. Brushing is recommended to prevent tangles and matting, and nail trims help prevent a slew of physical complications, for example. Make it a priority to care for your golden’s skin and coat, and they’ll thank you! Bring your pet into Smoochie Pooch for their routine grooming needs today!

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