A poodle’s coat is more like a human’s hair than most other dogs. It will continue to grow and grow, so you need to know how to groom a poodle at home.
Grooming a poodle means:
- Bathing your dog with shampoo and conditioner
- Drying your dog completely
- Securing your dog for safety
- Clipping their tail and face hair with scissors
- Trimming their body fur with scissors and electric clippers
- Clipping their nails
- Brushing their teeth
Having some simple skills and a regular grooming day isn’t just a spa treatment to make your poodle dog feel and look their best. It’s also important for their health and to keep their fur from becoming matted, damaged, and even potentially falling out.
Poodles shed much less than other dogs, in general. But when their coat becomes overgrown, the small amount of fur lost to shedding becomes trapped in the poodle’s curls. That’s not a good look, and it can leave your poodle at risk. So here’s how to groom a poodle at home.
Groom a Poodle at Home: Supplies
To properly groom a poodle, you’ll need :
- Dog toothpaste
- Dog nail trimmer
- Grooming brush
- Grooming scissors
- Harness (if required)
Grooming a Poodle: Step by Step
Now that you have all your supplies gathered prepare a work area. Think about how you can make this grooming experience a fun experience for your fur baby. If you can teach them to enjoy grooming and to have your hands on them, it is an excellent way to make vet visits, professional grooming appointments, and other tasks into an activity your poodle enjoys.
So, think about lots of big fluffy towels, a favorite toy, some small treats for small rewards, and making things less clinical. Now you can get started!
Bathe Your Dog
Have or help your dog step into a tub or into your bathing spot outside. If the water is too hot or cold for you, it’s not comfortable for your poodle either. So make your water temperature pleasant. Apply a doggy shampoo and work it into their coat, building a bit of foamy lather, paying close attention to any matted spots or areas that are especially dirty.
Rinse them thoroughly, then apply your conditioner, and rinse them according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Dry Your Dog
For the best results, you’ll want to dry your dog with a big towel. Never let a poodle’s hair air dry, as it will get very curly and cause matting issues. Instead, consider using the towel to get a bunch of the water sopped up, and then use a hairdryer on the lowest heat setting to completely dry their coat.
Secure Your Poodle
In the next step, you’re going to use a pair of grooming scissors to trim your poodle’s fur. For safety, you may want to put your dog into their harness, so you can keep a strong grip on them. This is especially important for excitable puppies who may squirm around a lot or act unpredictably.
If your fur child is very easy to keep still, it might not be necessary, but that’s your choice.
You can always get a grooming table if you want to be super serious. Any of these grooming tables for Goldendoodles we reviewed would work.
Clip Their Tail and Face
The fur around a poodle’s face and on their tail is hard to clip with an electric razor. Instead, use a pair of sharp grooming scissors to trim off any hairs that are longer than the others. Holding the blades parallel to your poodle minimizes the risk of an accidental cut to their skin. You don’t have to groom closely here. Just trim the longest hairs. Take your time!
When you turn on your electric clippers, it may startle your poodle, just like any alien sound might. So, consider turning the clippers on a few times and even letting your dog get used to seeing them, hearing them, and feeling the vibration on the clipper a few times.
Then, you can use the clippers to trim their hair without making them panic. If they are anxious, try having them give you a paw to hold and offer a treat. Hold their paw and trim the fur with your clippers and reward them for going along with it. If they’re not so skittish, it’s a good idea to start grooming on their cheeks.
Trim the hair back closely, but not quite all the way down to the skin. It’s up to you how much hair you leave and where you cut closer. Your electric clipper should have adjustable blades, so you might want to trim lower in some places and higher in others, with a particular poodle style in mind!
Work your way down their neck, over their shoulders, and down the back. Trim slowly, but keep the clippers moving so they don’t buzz any one spot too aggressively. Work your way down their legs, and finally do each paw, being careful to trim a bit in between the toe pads.
Finally, get your poodle to lay down, so you can trim their belly hair, chest, neck, and any spots you couldn’t reach with them standing.
The last step to trimming is a quick brushing to remove any hair trapped in their curls.
Clip Their Nails
Many poodle owners don’t know how to trim their dog’s nails, and they end up taking them to the vet or the groomer a few times a year for a trim. That can get very expensive, so knowing how to do so yourself can save you some money.
It’s also a good way to develop a trusting bond between you and your dog. Trimming their nails with a nail clipper is safe and you can do it pretty quickly if your pup is calm enough. Just go slowly, don’t cut them all the way down to the quick, and make sure to stay calm, even if you cause a little cut that bleeds. Your poodle will be very sensitive to changes in your mood.
Check out our guide to trimming a doodle’s nails if you need more help getting started or don’t know what to do.
Brush Their Teeth
Dogs develop bad breath, plaque, and gum disease. Just like humans, regular tooth cleanings can go a long way in improving oral health and eliminating doggie-breath. So, put some dog toothpaste on your finger. Your dog needs to be comfortable with your fingers in their mouth, and so do you.
If you’re not, you need to work on bonding! If you’re both still feeling good, use your toothpaste-coated finger to work some paste onto their teeth. You can use a small finger brush or even a soft toothbrush, but your finger is fine too. Start at the gum line, and work your way down the teeth.
Stay away from the back of their mouth, and don’t use human toothpaste. Instead, make sure you use dog toothpaste, which often has a little bit of bacon flavor added for the dog’s enjoyment. Mint won’t be pleasing to them.
Doggy toothpaste is also safe to swallow (unlike some human pastes) , so you don’t have to worry about rinsing their mouth. If you felt a lot of buildup on their teeth, consider getting them a tooth-cleaning chew toy.
If you saw any signs of red or bleeding gums, black gums, cracked or crooked teeth, or your dog pulled away in pain during brushing, contact a veterinarian to have their mouth looked at.
Poodle Grooming at Home: Mission Accomplished
If you’ve made it this far, you have a happy pup that’s now running around looking good, smelling fresh, and not clicking their nails on your floor. You’re done grooming your poodle, so now it’s time to clean everything up and put it away for next time. If you have more questions, check out our extensive library of information on poodles!