Last Updated: May 27, 2017
Labrador Retrievers love being outside. They’re perfectly content running through fields, jumping in puddles and ponds and rolling in grass and dirt. Smelling like a dog will be ok with them, but it won’t be ok with you. Proper grooming for your Labrador is more important than most people know. Why? Well, because it will keep your dog healthy and free from unwanted diseases and skin conditions.
A clean Labrador is a happy Labrador
A clean dog is a happy dog, and Labrador Retrievers are no different. Think of it this way, if you had just run through the mud, wouldn’t you want to take a bath? That’s what I figured.
Dirt can make your Labrador itchy and uncomfortable, causing them to scratch and bite themselves. And while it may take a bit of getting used to, if you’ve never had a dog before, bathing is a necessary part of the Labrador Retriever grooming process.
Regular grooming is part of a Lab’s training
Most people don’t realize grooming is part of a Labrador’s training. Think about it for a moment, a dog that knows how to stand or sit still while someone grooms them can be trusted in any situation. And it’s a skill they must learn, not something they’re born with.
It’s vital, to ease into grooming, you touch your Lab puppy in the areas where it will be groomed. Once they get used to this, your Lab will be a lot more docile throughout the grooming process. An area that people commonly forget to touch is their paws. Dogs can be sensitive about their paws. Early training with paws will make all the difference when it’s time to trim their nails.
Important things to remember
Grooming a Labrador Retriever puppy
Be gentle! No dog takes well to aggressive grooming. And if you groom a puppy in an overly-aggressive manner, they may develop a strong resistance to being groomed and maybe a strong dislike of you too. You don’t want that, do you?
A good way to think about it is if you were the one being groomed, how would you like to be treated? Thinking of it that way will help you develop a better understanding of how to groom your Labrador Retriever. And, of course, you will learn their personal likes and dislikes over time.
Grooming an adult Labrador Retriever
Just like puppies, aggressive grooming is not recommended for adult Labs. However, sometimes adult Labs will need deeper grooming due to their thicker coat.
If properly trained at a young age, an adult Labrador will be a pleasure to work on. If they’re not trained…. well, we’ve all heard stories about three or more assistants having to hold down a Lab while the veterinarian clips their nails. You see, this is why it’s important to touch their paws regularly as a puppy. A little training goes a long way.
Using the proper tools
If you’re going to do your own grooming, investing in high-quality grooming tools will prevent frustration. Do not, under any circumstances, think that you can get away with low-quality grooming tools. The amount of money that you’ll spend replacing them will end up costing you more than just buying high-quality tools in the first place.
One of the most important (if not the most important) tools to buy is a grooming brush. This is necessary for keeping your lab’s coat clean and shiny. It also controls shedding and decreases your need to vacuum.
Shedding is seasonal. If you see a large amount of dog hair on your floor, it’s just a sign that your dog requires more brushing.
When to bathe your Labrador
Since Labrador Retrievers coats have oils that prevent dirt from sticking, bathing is not necessary on a regular basis. Bathing too much can actually remove the protective oils and make your Lab more susceptible to dirt. When you do bathe your Lab, use a mild shampoo designed for dogs and be sure to rinse well.
Fortunately, Labrador Retrievers love water and don’t mind being bathed. Just remember to be kind and gentle when bathing them. Areas that people frequently miss when bathing their Lab include behind the ears and other hidden nooks.
Also, if they’ve been in the woods or tall grass, it’s important to check them for ticks. Ticks are nasty little buggers that can get in small, tight areas, latch on and start sucking their blood. Ask your vet about flea and tick formulas for your Labrador.
Avoiding grooming stress
Stressing over your Lab’s grooming is not only bad for you, but it’s also bad for your Lab. It can cause your dog to get worried and stressed out when it’s time for brushing or bathing. In order to not stress-out over grooming, make peace with the fact that Labs are going to get dirty and they’re going to “smell like a dog” once in a while. But, it’s all part of their charming character.
Clipping your Lab’s nails
Many people think the most difficult part of Labrador Retriever Grooming is clipping their nails. And while that might be true, there’s no reason for you to stress about it. If you train your Lab when they’re young, you’ll have no problems clipping their nails in the future. The simplest way to do it is to touch their paws when they’re young. Simply pick up a paw and then put it back down while you’re petting them. Then, a little while later, pick up the other one and set it back down.
After a while your puppy will get used to it and shouldn’t have any resistance to their nails being clipped or their paws being touched. The funny thing is this technique will help them have a better relationship with their vet.
Happy and looking good
Even though Labrador Retriever grooming can sometimes be a bit of a dirty job, the results you get are beyond worth it. A Labrador Retriever with a clean coat is one of the most beautiful sights you will ever see. And in return for your hard work, your Labrador will reward you with that special Labrador love.