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Grooming your puppy

Grooming your puppy is an essential part of their routine, and whether you take your pup to a professional or maintain them at home , it can sometimes be a nerve-wracking experience for puppy and owner alike. 

That’s why we’ve put together this guide with everything you need to know about grooming your puppy, from what needs doing to helping them get used to being handled.


Keeping your pup’s teeth in tip top condition is important to avoid gum disease in later life. Your puppy gets their adult teeth at around 12 weeks, and you should aim to start brushing their teeth at around the same time. 

Try to brush your puppy’s teeth every day, or at least once a week. Always use a dog specific toothpaste and get them used to the sensation early on in their life. There are lots of tricks you can use to get your puppy used to having their teeth brushed:

  • Start by getting them used to having their mouth touched.
  • Rub a little yummy dog friendly toothpaste on their front teeth with your finger. Go slowly to avoid getting bitten in the process. 
  • Once they are comfortable with having their front teeth rubbed, move backwards to their molars.
  • If your dog is reluctant to let you see or touch their teeth, see if they will hold a toy in their mouth – you can then lift their lips and apply toothpaste with your finger.


For most dogs, nail trimming is an essential part of their grooming routine. It’s also one of the most disliked. Get your puppy used to having their paws handled early on and get their nails trimmed regularly to keep them healthy, comfortable and to avoid them splitting.

When trimming your puppy’s nails, follow these steps to make it a pain free and easy process:

  • Hold their toe firmly and move any fur covering the nail out of the way
  • If they have white claws, you should be able to see a pink area. This is the quick – it supplies blood to the nail. You need to make sure you don’t cut the quick, so go carefully. If they have dark nails, you’ll want to trim small amounts at a time.
  • Using dog specific clippers, trim a little off the end of your dog’s nail at a straight line.
  • If your puppy is uncomfortable or starts to wriggle, take a break and come back to it when they are calmer.
Vizsla giving paw


You should aim to check your dog’s ears at least once a week, especially if they are prone to infections. 

Luckily, checking their ears is simple and easy to do. Looking into their ear canal, you’ll want to check for:

  • Strong odours
  • Discharge
  • Blood
  • Redness
  • Inflammation

If you notice any of these issues, pop down to the vets so they can take a proper look.

Your puppy’s coat

When your puppy is born, they have a single-layer coat of soft, downy fur that is great at regulating their body temperature. However, cute as it may be, it doesn’t last long. Between four and six months old your puppy will start to lose their puppy coat and grow their adult fur.

You’ll want to start grooming your puppy regularly from the time they come home. This will help them get used to being handled and brushed and make grooming a doddle in the future. If they are likely to need regular visits to a dog groomer you may also want to book them in for short puppy sessions, so they are used to the environment.


You don’t want to bathe your puppy too often if you can avoid it. The chemical in soaps strip the natural oils in their coat which can lead to skin problems if it is done too regularly. Often, rinsing your puppy down without using any soap can do a good enough job that will prevent mats from forming.

  • Pop your puppy in the bath before you turn on the shower. 
  • Turn on the shower, making sure the temperature is manageable – not too hot and not too cold.
  • Rinse them down but avoid getting water in their ears or around their face – instead, use a wet flannel to wipe down any dirty marks there.
  • Use a gentle dog-specific shampoo to clean their fur. Follow the instructions on the bottle to make sure you use the right amount. Lather it up and make sure you get it through their coat, including their paws and legs – a challenge with some long-haired and double-coated breeds!
  • Finally, rinse them off and gently towel dry before letting them loose.
wet spaniel

Top tips

  • Tomato ketchup can work wonders for getting rid of the smell of fox poo on your dog’s fur.
  • There are walk-in outdoor baths available for dogs who don’t like getting in a normal bath.
  • Keep them occupied with a lick mat that will stick to the side of the bath – just spread their favourite treat on and watch them go.
  • Use bath time as an opportunity to thoroughly check them over for any marks, soreness or inflammation.


Regular brushing helps prevent mats and keeps your puppy looking their best. You can start brushing your puppy as soon as you get them, and it’s good to get them used to the sensation early on in their life.

Until they get their adult coat, your puppy only needs gentle brushing. Once their adult coat starts coming through, they may need a more rigorous routine, particularly if they have a long coat.

  • For puppies, use a soft-bristled brush and brush in the direction of their fur. Start along their back before focusing on their rear and belly.
  • For adult dogs with short hair, use a rubber brush to pick up dead hair.
  • For adult dogs with medium or long hair, use a de-shedding brush or a comb to remove dead hair and detangle, as well as a soft brush to provide softness and shine.
  • Always pay attention to the areas with longer hair and those areas that get particularly muddy (such as their rear and belly.)

Professional grooming and clipping

If your dog has particularly long or curly fur, you may wish to get them looking neat and tidy with a clip. For most people, this is best managed by your local dog groomer who will have had professional training.

If your puppy will be making regular visits to a groomer throughout their life, it’s best to get them used to it from day one. Most groomers will be happy to do a ‘puppy groom’ for you. These are usually much shorter than a full groom and include plenty of pleasant experiences for your puppy.

Groomers will typically offer a range of services including:

  • Bathing
  • Coat brushing
  • Clipping
  • Gland cleansing
  • Teeth brushing
  • Nail trimming

Top tips

  • Discuss the style of clip you want with your groomer beforehand. This is particularly relevant for dogs like Shih Tzus and Yorkshire Terriers where there are a range of options for their coats.
  • Never request or allow your dog to be shaved if they are a double-coated breed.
  • Some wiry-coated breeds, such as Border Terriers, will benefit from hand stripping once or twice a year. 

When it comes to grooming, getting your puppy used to the experience is the most important thing for them and will make life easier for you both in the long run. It allows you to spend quality time together and gives you the opportunity to give them a thorough check-over on a regular basis. 

A healthy, shiny coat is just one of the many benefits for dogs who are fed PitPat Food. Plus, it’s so tasty that 87% of dogs love it! Why not give it a try?

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