It is short, dense and very waterproof
No tangles to comb out of ears
No fur balls to gather in their ’trousers’
But there are still occasions when your dog’s coat will need some attention. So we show you how to get your Lab clean, shiny and smelling sweet.
If you are looking for information on shedding and dealing with all that dead hair, this is the page you need.
How often should I bathe my Labrador?
There are Labradors that are bathed every week, and other Labradors that are almost never bathed.
If you want to give your puppy a bath, by all means do so. He probably doesn’t need one, but it’s a good idea to get him used to the sensation of being soaked in water and rubbed.
A weekly shower with lukewarm water, will make sure that when he really needs a bath later on, you won’t have a fight on your hands!
Go steady on the dog shampoo
It is not a good idea to shampoo your older Labrador regularly unless you really need to. Especially in the winter.
This is because the shampoo strips out the natural oils and reduces the waterproofing and cold repellent qualities of his double coat.
I tend to bathe my Labs when they get a bit smelly, or if they have rolled in something unpleasant – something which many Labradors seem to have a huge enthusiasm for.
What is the best shampoo to use on a Labrador?
I have used a variety of shampoos on my dogs including Johnson’s baby shampoo, which I have to say is laziness on my part because I happened to have some to hand. And it doesn’t quite get rid of that distinctive ‘doggy’ odour.
My favourite at the moment is the pink Groom Professional Baby Fresh Shampoo. It smells quite ‘girly’ though, so it probably won’t appeal to everyone.
The main thing is to avoid shampoos intended for human adults as they will sting like crazy if you get them in your dog’s eyes, and he’ll run a mile next time he sees the bath towels coming out!
Rolling in things
Many Labradors take a delight in rolling in disgusting ‘treasures’ that they happen upon during your daily walks.
Dead animals, and fox poo, are some of their favourites.
A good spray with the garden hose is sometimes sufficient to get rid of the worst, but you may also need to bath the dog in order to make him smell nice again.
Mud glorious mud
Labradors love mud. They will go out of their way to find some, especially if you have just bathed them, or had new carpets fitted.
Paddling around in muddy puddles and the edges of boggy ponds can result in a filthy and smelly coat, again a hose down may be sufficient.
But sometimes you’ll need the help of something more powerful than water.
How to bathe your dog
You can do this by standing the dog in the bath, or in fine weather, outside in the garden with your hose handy for rinsing.
The weather proviso is more for your benefit than his, Labradors don’t mind cold water.
Have a couple of large towels ready before you begin.
Because it is so waterproof, it is not easy to get a Labrador’s coat wet.
Do your best and work some shampoointo the coat. Then hose down again and repeat.
The second time will be easier as you have broken down the oils in the dog’s coat. Work up into a good lather and rinse very thoroughly.
Remember that dogs lick their coats so thorough rinsing is particularly important.
Booster baths and portable showers
If you suffer from a bad back, you may want to consider a booster bath for your dog.
You can buy a set of steps to go with the bath and teach your dog to walk up them so there is no lifting involved
Another useful product if your garden hose is not conveniently located, or if you don’t want to bathe your dog with cold water, is the Portable Pet Shower.
Drying your dog
Towel dry until your first towel has absorbed as much water as it can, then move on to towel number two.
Some people use a chamois leatherto get the initial water out before towelling.
You can use a hair dryer to finish off, if your dog doesn’t mind the noise and blowing air, but make sure you keep your hand moving through the fur in the area where you are directing the blast of air.
This will ensure you are not overheating the dog’s coat or burning him.
While regular baths aren’t really necessary, it is however, a good idea to groom your Labrador regularly
Brushing your Labrador
Grooming your labrador should be fun for both of you. Firm brushing with good bristle body brush will remove dried mud, sand and dust from your dog’s coat and help distribute the oils through his fur.
It may also improve the shine, and he will enjoy the ‘massaging’ effect of the firm strokes going through his fur.
Which is the best brush for a Labrador?
I like a plain body brush intended for horses for a quick daily ‘once over’ – they usually have a handle strap on the back and if you find one that fits your hand comfortably they are great.
For a more intensive brushing I use a slicker brush like this one from Amazon.
The slicker brush gets right into the coat and does a good job of removing dead hair on a daily basis.
However, sometimes the dead hair situation calls for a more assertive tool!
People often write to me asking how they can stop their dog moulting or ‘shedding, and the answer is, you really can’t. However, you can reduce the impact on your home, by using an efficient ‘rake’ on his coat during periods of severe moulting.
An ordinary brush quickly gets clogged with dead hair and you will struggle to make much progress without a special tool for loosening dead hair.
The most basic deshedding tool is a standard Undercoat Rake with spaced metal teeth.
You can also by a useful tool made by Kong. It’s called a Zoomgroom and comes in bright pink or blue.
The Zoomgroom is a great way to loosen the dead hair so that it falls away easily.
Somewhat more controversial, are special rakes with a blade incorporated.
These shedding tools can be very effective if used with care. Check out this article on the Furminator, and go carefully to avoid bald patches!
In the garden
Whether you are using a standard rake or a specifc shedding tool, you need to do this outside. You will be astounded at the quantity of fur that comes out of your moulting dog.
Wear something old and that hairs cannot easily get embedded into. Or you will simply transfer his coat onto your clothes.
You don’t need to groom your dog every day if you don’t want to, but if you make this part of your daily routine, your dog will get used to the process and benefit from the regular physical contact.
If you don’t fancy going into battle with dead hair during the worst of the moulting season, you can always treat your Labrador to a pampering at your local dog salon.
How about you?
Do you have a favourite grooming tool? Share in the comments box below
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