“What grooming does a Labrador need?” is an important question for all new Labrador owners. Labrador grooming is easier than some other breeds, but they still need regular brushing and bathing to keep their coats clean and healthy. Regular grooming will also help to control Labrador shedding.
Labradors need regular brushing, and may need brushing once a day during their heaviest shedding seasons. You will also have to trim their nails, brush their teeth, and clean their ears. And, Labs have a tendency to get quite mucky, so they’ll need the occasional bath!
What Grooming Does a Labrador Need?
Labradors have thick, double layered coats made up of a soft, warm undercoat and a water resistant top layer. Labs are generally quite low-maintenance when it comes to grooming. Especially when compared to their crosses, like the Labradoodle! But, their coats, teeth, paws and ears do still need regular attention. And, regular brushing and bathing can really help to control Labrador shedding.
In general, Labs should be bathed around once a month, or more frequently if they like to roll in muck and smelly things when they’re outside! They should be brushed (including checking paws, ears, and teeth) a few times each week. But, in heavy shedding periods, you may want to up this to once or twice a day.
Labrador Grooming Tools
Knowing what grooming does a Labrador need is one thing, but being ready for that grooming is another thing completely! So, it’s important to be aware of the tools you’ll need for the job. Before bringing your Lab puppy home, it’s a good idea to make sure you’ve got the following grooming tools:
- Slicker brush for a daily once over
- Wide toothed comb for stubborn knots
- Deshedding brush for heavy shedding periods
- Puppy/dog shampoo
- Pet shower head/hose to wash your Lab with
- Dog dryer or towels
- Nail grinder or clipper
- Dog toothbrush/teeth cleaning chews
These are the basics that all Lab owners will benefit from. To look at some specific tools we recommend, take a look at some of the guides at the end of this article.
When Should You Start Labrador Grooming?
We know what grooming an adult Labrador needs. But what grooming does a Labrador need during puppyhood? Puppies have a much softer coat than adult Labs. They will need less grooming than an adult, but it’s still a great idea to start appropriate grooming early. This way, your Lab will be used to brushing, nail trimming, and baths from a young age. And, when they’re older and bigger, it will be much easier to get everything done!
Many Labs will love the time spent with you during their grooming sessions, as long as it’s something they’re used to from a young age, and have rewarding experiences of. So, make sure you have all the tools ready even from the time you bring your puppyhood. Introduce them slowly, use lots of treats to make it a positive experience, and don’t force your pup to sit through it if they’re obviously stressed or scared. It’s important to make it a fun and enjoyable process from a young age, not something to be scared of!
Most Labs stay smelling fresh with a monthly bath. But, you may need to bathe them more frequently if they roll in something smelly or spend lots of time getting mucky outside! Many Labrador puppies won’t need bathing. But it’s a great idea to make sure your Lab is happy with the process from a young age!
Since the top layer of a Labrador coat is water-resistant, it can be a struggle to get shampoo all the way through. Make sure their coat is damp, then lather them up. Rinse thoroughly and repeat, working through their coat with your fingers. Use a dog-specific shampoo when bathing your Lab. Ones for humans are often too harsh on your Lab’s skin.
Rinse your Lab thoroughly before drying them off. This will stop your dog from ingesting any shampoo when their lick their fur after the bath! And, once done, dry them off either with a towel, or a dog-safe dryer that isn’t too hot on their skin! Bathing can help you tackle shedding fur, but also to loosen any stubborn knots!
If you’ve owned a Lab before, you’ll know just how much they can shed. Labrador Retrievers shed moderately all year round, and heavily twice a year in shedding periods. Regular grooming and bathing won’t stop your Lab from shedding. But, it can help you to control how much shed fur makes it onto your floors and furniture.
Use your deshedding tool, and a slicker brush once or twice a day for best results. You may also want to bathe your Lab more frequently during these heavy shedding periods! Massaging shampoo through their coat can help to loosen some of those pesky shedding hairs.
The answer to “what grooming does a Labrador need” is a little more complex than just brushing your Lab. In fact, during grooming sessions, you should also check your Lab’s paws, nails, ears, and teeth. During paw checks, you should check your Lab’s paw pads for cuts and thorns, and check their nails aren’t getting too long.
Unless your Labrador’s nails get ground down enough during their exercise outside each day, they will need to be trimmed regularly. Some owners prefer to use clippers, but others prefer grinding tools. Either way, this is something to get your Lab used to from a young age.
If you’re worried about cutting too much, or hurting your Lab, you can take a closer look at nail trimming in this guide. Or, you can book an appointment with your veterinarian or a dog groomer to show you in person.
Labrador Ear Care
Like all dog breeds, Labradors can suffer from ear infections. So, it’s important to check their ears during grooming sessions, particularly if you’ve noticed them scratching their ears or rubbing their ears against the floor.
Gently lift their ears and examine inside. If it is excessively waxy, you may need to clean their ears, or take them to the vet for a check up. For a more detailed explanation of how to clean a dog’s ears, take a look at this guide. This is another process that you should ensure your Lab is comfortable with from puppyhood!
Labrador Dental Health
A final area to note when grooming your Lab is their teeth. Good dental health is important for all dogs, no matter what their breed. And, there are a couple of ways to go about maintaining it. You can choose a dog-specific toothbrush and toothpaste. Brush their teeth gently during brushing sessions. Or, finish off grooming sessions with a dental chew, perhaps one recommended by your vet.
What Grooming Does a Labrador Need?
As you can see, Labs have quite large grooming requirements, despite their short coat. Owners must be ready to brush and bathe them regularly, especially during those heavy shedding periods. And grooming sessions involve more than just fur care!
If you’ve got a Labrador grooming question, and you’d like to ask thousands of other Labrador owners for their experience and advice, hop on over to our Labrador Forum!
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References and Resources
- McGreevy, P. (et al), ‘The Reinforcing Value of Physical Contact and the Effect on Canine Heart Rate of Grooming in Different Anatomical Areas’, Anthrozoos (2005)
The Labrador Site Founder
Pippa Mattinson is the best selling author of The Happy Puppy Handbook, the Labrador Handbook, Choosing The Perfect Puppy, and Total Recall.
She is also the founder of the Gundog Trust and the Dogsnet Online Training Program
Pippa's online training courses were launched in 2019 and you can find the latest course dates on the Dogsnet website