How To Groom A Golden Retriever (Illustrated Tutorial)


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With all the expensive trips to the vets and grooming sessions to add on top, I’ve been inundated with non-stop bills (nervous laugh). That’s what led me on to learning this stuff myself, and today I’m going to share how you can do the same too.

Today I will be teaching you how to groom a golden retriever even if you have never done so in the past. It’s not as hard as you think and with the right tools, it will be a walk in the park! By the end of reading this post, you’ll be saving yourself some big bucks that you can spend elsewhere this year.

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Tools that you’ll need

As the old saying goes “a mechanic is nothing without his tools”. And I couldn’t have put it better myself. When you have no tools you are essentially limited to what you can do.

So it is super important that you get the right set of tools first before you actually set out to groom your golden retriever. To make it easy for you I have listed out everything that you’ll need here:

  • Medium/fine tooth steel comb
  • Slicker brush (wire pins)
  • Good quality straight scissors (7 1/2″ size is good)
  • Blunt-nosed small scissors (for whiskers if you wish to trim)
  • Quality thinning shears 46-tooth
  • Toenail clippers, and or a Dremel tool for grinding nails or Oster Nail Grinder
  • Grooming table or rubberized matting on an old table
  • Cool drying blow dryer (would be an excellent investment)

Or you can just simply choose from the tools below:

Now I’m not going to say that you will need everything on the list. But the scissors and brushes are probably the most essential tools that you’ll need of the bunch.

Preparing your dog

First thing’s first, and that’s the fact that you need to make sure your golden is clean and dry. Now although you may not be attending any shows for your dog it is still important to follow the same steps in order to get them looking spick and span.

What I tend to do is make sure that they are nice and clean well bathed before taking part in any grooming.

Ears

As you may already be able to see there is usually a little bit of fuzziness behind your golden retrievers is. You basically want to just neaten this area up. A quick way of doing that is to simply trim the hair behind the ears whilst your dog’s ears are held upwards. 

After a few snips…

After you’ve made a few snips, you don’t want to put the air that down and brush any excess hair away. Check how it looks and if it’s not up to scratch and simply repeat the process until you’re satisfied.

Also, make sure to reward your dog with a little treat each time that you achieve the process successfully. This is just so they can make it recognition with the activity and enjoy the process opposed to disliking it.

I always do it with Bella and I use the best treats that she loves which are from Barkbox. Next, you want to trim this front hear from you’re golden retrievers ears. This is the part that is immediately exposed when you lift up your golden retriever’s ears.

Inner Ear

Using the thinning shears you want to get right inside of this area but make sure not to trim off too much as you can make your dog look aggressive.

Of course, if you have a dog with a lot more hair than you might have to take off a bit more than expected. Personally with Bella only takes about 3 times and I usually have the exact look I’m looking for.

Just make sure not to butcher the Look as it could easily go OTT if you know what I mean.

How To Groom A Golden Retriever and make it look natural 

You want this to look as natural as possible as that is the ideal look we are going for. So when I recommend that you are trimming down hear, I suggest that you bear that in mind.

Now you might be asking yourself the question, what exactly is a natural look? Well here’s the image to just get you into the initial idea of what I’m talking about.

golden retriever groomed

By no means am I suggesting that you will get the look as accurate as of the above image? But, of course, you can try your best to get it as close to looking within your natural ability. So that’s the image we need to have in mind when we’re trimming down.

Do you trim whiskers too?

I definitely would not recommend you trim any whiskers.  I have seen people do it. But whether I agree with it is a whole different story.

There are so many different things and reasons why you shouldn’t trim a golden retrievers whiskers. It’s an important part of their senses which can also help them in hunting retrieving or any other relevant activities. I personally don’t tend to do it but it’s completely down to you if you choose to do so. However, I will not be covering that inside of this blog post.

Let’s get to the Feet already!

TOOLS: Straight Shears, Thinning shears

PREPARATION: Trim the nails first!

You should always be holding your dog’s foot backward when you attempt to trim the hairs around their feet. This will help you to avoid any sudden movements which could potentially result in your cutting them.

Make sure to not trim any of the hairs in between or underneath the pads. But more focus on the front of the feet and around the front ranging up to the middle of the leg. These are the parts you want to be targeting in order to give you a golden the best look possible.

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Carefully does it now!

Remember to complete the task properly, you need to be brushing down their hair to see exactly how it looks after you trim. That way you can get a definite image of exactly what it looks like.

There are too many times I’ve made the mistake of actually cutting away here not brushing it and then cutting some more. As you can imagine me and my dog were not happy with the result.

I now call my procedure fail-safe, as it prevents things from going wrong when following the stops.  When you’re touching up behind the leg just above the pads you want to bend the legs back just a little. You can then use straight shears to target the hair around the underneath of the paw. Here’s an image to help you understand this better:

Therefore this process you can use to straight shares but I do suggest that if you are new to trimming that to use the thinning shears.

That is until you’re experienced and you can easily avoid things going wrong that way. The idea of the look that you’re trying to achieve is to basically take away any type of fuzziness that you see in the hair.

Trimming your goldens Nails

This is a very quick and easy process but you do want to be sure not to trim too short. I usually go for the guillotine type nail cutters which work very effectively but be careful as they are very sharp.

Make sure to keep a couple of treats around you to reward your dog for each step of the process. Of course, if they are following the steps…Also what you could do is talk to them in a very authoritative and calm manner.

This lets them know that everything is fine and under control. If you find that their nails are really and I mean really really long. Then you may have to trim off a little by little at a time just to reduce the nail, as opposed to just cutting it off.

That way you avoid bending or breaking and ensure that you get a nice clean cut. You can also use a grinder to actually grind on some of the nails. Make sure to only use it for a minimal amount of time because it starts to heat up causing pain to your dog. Once you’ve got them looking nice and short tennis time to move on to the next part.

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Tail & shoulders

TOOLS: Thinning shears

PREPARATION: Brush the tail thoroughly, making sure all traces of tangles or matting is removed. This is the part that always used to scare me when I first got started with home grooming.

I don’t know why but that’s just the Way It Is and there were a few things that help me to overcome. The first was just by doing the correct research in order to know what I’m doing. The second step was to simply follow the first step and stick to it.

Easy right….

No bearing in mind your dog is going to be wagging their tail around and around whilst you try and complete this process. So I suggest you spread this task out over a couple of days. That way you can take off a little by little around the tail each time that you trim some hair.

The goal that you should have in mind when you’re trimming your dog’s tail is to trim as close to the Hock as possible.

Do you know what a hock is?

A hock is simply the bone area that bends backward above a dog’s paw. it usually points the opposite direction to a dog’s head. It is very easy to see and can be easily identified by visually looking just above your dog’s paws.

Make sure to feel exactly where your dog’s tail is inside of its fur so you don’t cut in the wrong places. Now you will want to hold your dog’s tail down and then make the first cut horizontally around the area of the hock.

That will let you know exactly how long you need to trim. So then you can move onto the width. You sitting in chairs to target the side of the tail and make very subtle cuts along each side.

You do not want an abrupt looking cut along the side of your dog’s tail as that is not the look we are going for. Instead,  make the cuts look very subtle and nice as if it will almost cut with a soft pair of scissors.

If that makes any sense…I usually use a good measure of an inch off depending on how long my dog’s hair has grown. Any more than that and it can start to look a bit silly.

How To Groom A Golden Retriever

How to trim the shoulder

All your trying to do here is to remove some undercoat thickenings of the coat. We are NOT actually trying to make heavy cuts to strip your dog’s hair.

For this task, all you want to do is use the thinning shears to take away some of the hair around the shoulder area. Ideally, it would be great to have your dog sitting when you do this in order to see the finished look.

Remember to always trim in the same direction that the hair grows in. And then come each time after trimming brush down and look to see where you at.

It’s almost like a kind of evaluation or assessment before making a decision of whether to cut some more. Trimming should be really minimal around this area and I recommend you do it step by step may be over a couple of days.

Conclusion

I hope this tutorial has taught you everything to know about how to groom a Golden Retriever. Always make sure to just take a little off snip by snip. Then take a look and see if you’re happy with what you have done.

Remember! it’s ok to take away too little but it’s not ok to take away too much. Especially when you’re dealing with your dog’s nails as you do not want to put them in pain at any point.

Related Post: Best grooming tools for golden retrievers

Rachael Summers

Rachael Summers is the Founder and Senior Editor at Retrievers R Us. She is a lifelong canine enthusiast and adores dogs of all shapes and sizes! She loves iced coffee, hammocks, and puppy-cuddling!

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