Are you struggling to move a regular dog comb through your Cocker Spaniel’s coat? You’re not the only one. Cocker Spaniels have thick, wavy coats that can be difficult to groom. According to the American Kennel Club, Cocker Spaniels require regular grooming.
If you miss a session, it’s hard to make up for it because the breed’s coat is prone to matting and tangling. That’s why you must know the proper methods and tips for grooming a Cocker Spaniel.
Here’s an in-depth guide on grooming your Cocker Spaniel. Remember these tips to keep your pooch looking and feeling its best.
The 15 Tips for Grooming Your Cocker Spaniel
1. Invest In the Right Tools
Before we discuss Cocker Spaniel grooming tips, you should know which tools you must have at home to groom your dog. Here are some necessities:
Slicker Brush: A slicker brush will help you remove loose hair and debris from your dog’s coat. The brush distributes the skin’s natural oils throughout the dog’s coat as you brush it. Do not use this brush when your Cocker Spaniel’s coat is shorter, as it has wire bristles and might hurt its skin. Also, don’t use it when your pet has skin issues, fleas, or broken skin.
De-shedding Rake: It helps remove loose hair and the undercoat easily. You can use it when you’re bathing the Cocker Spaniel. Wet your dog’s skin and lather it up with shampoo. Then, use this brush through the coat.
Steel Comb: Every dog grooming kit should have a steel comb since it helps detangle your pup’s hair.
Flea Comb: Your first action plan should be to ensure your dog doesn’t get fleas. But it’s always good to have a flea comb in the grooming kit for emergencies. Try not to get plastic flea combs because their teeth break easily.
2. Get Hair Clippers
There are two types of clippers you can get for your Cocker Spaniel:
Cordless Clippers: These can trim your dog’s hair without requiring an electric outlet or a cord. You’ll need rechargeable batteries for a cordless clipper.
Corded Clippers: A corded clipper needs to be plugged into an electric outlet. They offer steady power and won’t stop running until the job’s done.
Many dog owners prefer cordless clippers because they allow a better range of movement. You can choose a clipper based on your preferences and how likely your Cocker Spaniel is to stay still during grooming sessions.
3. Purchase Other Grooming Supplies
Besides the clippers and the combs, you also need the following grooming supplies.
Ear Cleaning Solution: You’ll need this to clean your dog’s ears. It’s best to consult a vet to find the right ear-cleaning solution.
Dog-Safe Soap: A dog-safe soap will help you clean your dog’s fur, especially sensitive areas around the eyes.
Toothpaste and Toothbrush: Dental supplies should also be pet-grade. Again, get help from a vet.
4. Comb the Fur Daily
It might sound like a lot, but combing a Spaniel’s fur daily is the best way to keep the coat tangle-free and soft.
If your dog has the ‘best in show’ or ‘traditional’ haircut, they will have a skirt of hair that picks up dust and dirt. Regular brushing will help keep this hair debris-free.
Keep in mind that Cocker Spaniels have two hair layers: an outer coat and an undercoat. You should comb through both of these coats.
Here are some helpful tips:
Start by brushing at your Spaniel’s neck and then go back to the tail and legs.
Brush in the direction of hair growth.
Section the hair for easier brushing since Cocker Spaniels are very hairy.
Cut the mats in the coat if they are too tangled to brush through.
Use a soft-bristled brush when brushing around your Spaniel’s ears and head.
5. Groom the Spaniel’s Fur Every 2 Weeks
Many Cocker Spaniels have the puppy cut. It keeps the hair short all over the dog’s body. But even with shorter hair, you need to groom your dog’s coat every 2 weeks.
But if your Spaniel is a show dog, you should get it professionally groomed. Make sure to opt for a groomer who follows the grooming guidelines of the American Kennel Club.
6. Shave Your Spaniel’s Head & Neck
Take the hair clippers of your choice and attach a 10-blade or 15-blade. Start shaving your dog’s coat below its eyelid and move down to the nose. Make sure you’re shaving against the hair growth’s direction. Hold your dog’s skin taut while shaving to prevent cuts in the skin folds.
Cocker Spaniels have large, floppy ears that can get in the way. Flop your dog’s ears back, holding them on the top of its head. Then, shave the ear carefully.
You should also shave the floppy part of your Spaniel’s upper lip since it can get dirty with mucus and debris. Also, shave around the eyes, being careful not to nick the skin.
If you need a closer trim to shave the head area, use a 3 3/4 blade. While saving, check if the blade gets hot. Let it cool down before going in again since a hot blade can damage your furry friend’s skin.
7. Shave Your Spaniel’s Belly & Back
Use a 7-blade to shave the tail, belly, and back of a Cocker Spaniel. Start shaving from the back of the head down to the tail.
Shave its hair toward the natural growth direction, following the coat’s natural hair wave. Do the same with the tail. After shaving, comb your Cocker Spaniel’s tail to see if any patches need trimming. Go in with a pair of scissors to clean up these areas.
Some dog owners use hair clippers to remove hair from their Spaniel’s feet. We’d recommend not doing this. Instead, use scissors. Here’s how:
Hold your Spaniel’s paw in your hand and comb its hair using your other hand. Comb in the direction of the hair growth.
Turn its paw over with the pad facing upward toward you.
Take your scissors and clip the hair all the way to the toenails.
Cut in a circular motion, being careful not to cut the paw pad.
Turn the paw over again so that the pad faces downward.
Comb the hair again to see if more hair needs to be trimmed.
Do not cut so far that there is no hair on the toenails. The best way to do this is to make a bevel shape with your pet’s hair.
9. Trim Your Spaniel’s Nails
It’s essential to trim your dog’s nails regularly—every 2 or 3 weeks. Clip the nails till the quick, which is the pink vein in the nail. Cut in small increments to prevent nicking the quick.
Cutting too close to the quick can cause bleeding, so it’s best to use nail clippers made specifically for dogs. Have styptic powder handy just in case you cut the nail too short.
If your pet’s nails start bleeding, dab some baking soda or styptic powder on the nail. It will stop the bleeding immediately. Always choose guillotine-style nail clippers for your dog. They do not squeeze your pet’s nails before cutting. That makes the nail-clipping process more comfortable and less painful.
If you’re worried you’ll hurt your dog, go to a professional groomer for nail clipping.
10. Get a Scratchboard
Nail trimming will become less of a chore if you teach your Cocker Spaniel to sand its nails. Yes, it’s possible to do that.
Get sandpaper or scratchboard to get your pup started on nail care. Start by introducing your dog to the scratchboard. Give them a treat or verbal praise whenever they interact with the scratchboard.
Hold the scratchboard in front of your dog. If your Cocker Spaniel is trained to shake hands, you can use the shake cue to get them to hit the scratchboard. Repeat this interaction a few times daily for a few days. Over time, your Cocker Spaniel will learn to scratch its nails on the sandpaper or scratchboard.
11. Clean Your Spaniel’s Eyes
The buildup around your puppy’s eyes needs to be cleaned regularly. A small amount of dog-friendly soap and water works wonders. Use a towel to dab the soap and water mixture around your dog’s eyes.
You can clean your dog’s eyes every time you give them a bath. Do not let shampoo enter the eyes, though. Instead, wet the towel with a soap and water mixture and carefully dab it on your dog’s skin.
You can also get a dog face wash. Ensure it contains no artificial fragrances, dyes, or ingredients that can harm your furry buddy.
12. Clean a Spaniel’s Ears Every Week
Cocker Spaniels are susceptible to ear infections due to the wax buildup in their ears. So, you should clean your dog’s ears every week.
If there’s a lot of wax buildup, get an over-the-counter ear-cleaning solution from your local pet store. Follow the instructions on the packaging to clean your dog’s ears. If you notice redness and other symptoms like head shaking, take your dog to the vet for a professional cleaning.
13. Brush Your Spaniel’s Teeth Every Other Day
You must brush your Cocker Spaniel’s teeth every other day to keep them clean. If your dog is still a puppy, start brushing its teeth as early as possible. Adult teeth erupt at around six months of age.
To brush your dog’s teeth, put a small amount of dog-grade toothpaste on a toothbrush or your finger. Your Cocker Spaniel might not be a massive fan of toothpaste early on, but you can get it accustomed to dental care slowly.
In some cases, it can take weeks to get your pup used to having its teeth brushed. Be gentle when you’re brushing your dog’s teeth. It can take anywhere from three to five minutes to brush its teeth.
The American Kennel Club also recommends using dog chews as an additional treatment. You can look for dog chews intended for dental health. Be careful when choosing a dog chew since some may be too hard on your puppy’s teeth, causing dental fractures.
14. Bathe Your Spaniel
A Cocker Spaniel needs to be bathed once a week. Overwashing can result in dry and flaky skin.
Do not use human-grade shampoo on your dog. Instead, use dog-grade shampoo, which is milder. Here’s how to bathe your dog:
Brush your Spaniel’s fur before the bath to ensure the shampoo can penetrate deep down.
Apply the shampoo and make it lather. You can use your fingers or a dog brush.
Spread the shampoo around your dog’s body, including its tail, armpits, stomach, and paws. Avoid letting the shampoo enter or around your dog’s face and eyes.
Rinse the shampoo thoroughly. Do not let shampoo residue stay in your canine’s fur, as it will clump together and create dark spots in your dog’s fur.
Apply the conditioner if desired, then rinse thoroughly.
Dry your Spaniel’s fur with a towel.
Use a blow dryer to dry your pet’s fur completely. Dogs with a single coat only need to be towel dried, but since Cocker Spaniels have double coats, blow drying is often necessary.
When blow-drying your Cocker Spaniel’s hair, work in small sections. Start at the back of the neck and dry downward. Do not move the dryer in a circular motion, as it will make the longer fur twist together to form knots. Instead, keep the dryer’s nozzle on one part of your dog’s body and move it back and forth to dry that area completely.
15. Try Husbandry Training
Not all dogs are patient and willing to sit still when you take out the nail clippers or grooming scissors. But with some husbandry training, keeping your dog comfortable and calm during grooming will become easier.sdd
Here are some ways to do it:
Accustom Them to Your Hands: If you plan to groom your dog at home, you should get them used to your touch. Touch your pet in different areas of its body, especially the sensitive ones. If you start with a pup, this will be much easier.
Introduce Them to Tools: You cannot simply get up one day and decide to use a clipper, whirring and vibrating, on your pet. You should introduce the Spaniel to these tools slowly. Place the tool against their hair and let them sniff it. Over time, your dog will get familiar with these items.
Reward Them: Positive reinforcement always works. Reward your dog with treats and verbal praise when it does well during a grooming session.
Grooming a Cocker Spaniel is a bit more work than other breeds. But once you get the hang of it, you won’t find it challenging to incorporate grooming into your routine. One way to make the process easier for you and your buddy is to use familiar settings every time. For example, use the same table for nail clipping and the same bathtub for every bath.
The more comfortable your Cocker Spaniel is with its surroundings and your touch, the less hassle it will be to get it to behave during grooming.
Featured Image Credit: MT.PHOTOSTOCK, Shutterstock