One of the major benefits of Labradoodle ownership (other than their amazing temperaments & loving nature) is their coats, which are typically fleece, wool, or a combination, and non-shedding. This does mean however, that your dog requires regular clipping to keep the coat trimmed and free of knots and matting. This is important for the dog also, as their coats can get very heavy and hot and matted coats make them very uncomfortable.
I’d recommend brushing your dog ideally 2-3 times every week, but if you don’t have time for that, even once each week will help keep your dog’s coat in a reasonable condition. It will really depend on the length you want to keep your Labradoodles coat as to how much grooming you will have to do.
The benefits of regular brushing include:
The ability to keep the coat longer (assuming you’re keeping the matts and knots under control)
The more regularly you brush your dog, the easier it becomes – some dogs even get to like it!
It’s a great opportunity to check your pet for skin irritations, ticks and fleas, and remove debris and knots in the coat.
What do I need?
Wide toothed metal comb
2 pairs of scissors (1 x large sharp pair for knots & 1 x small blunt pair for trimming around their eyes and face)
Pocket pet trimmer
Brush the coat from the skin outwards using a slicker brush, or as the hair gets longer, a wide-toothed comb. Hold the skin taught to protect from any discomfort, especially where you come across a knot, or matts. Like in human hair, work knots out gently, or cut through them with scissors or a matt breaker. Knots are quite common around the ears, jaw, and collar as well as behind the tops of their legs. If they wear a harness regularly, you may find matting from this too.
Trim around their eyes and across the bridge of their nose between their eyes regularly – you can do this with blunt scissors, or use a little tool like the Wahl Pocket Pro, which is a little battery operated trimmer.
How often you need to bath your dog will depend on your dog’s lifestyle. If it is mainly an outside dog, exercises a lot and/or swims a lot then bathing will be more frequent.
Most of the time labradoodles don’t have an odour and the oils in their coat make them fairly resistant to dirt. Over bathing can reduce the oils and damage the coat. I usually bathe my dogs every 3-4 weeks.
It is important to use a good quality pet shampoo – dogs have a different PH in their skin to humans, so regular shampoos is not suitable for use on your pets. There’s so many pet shampoos available, and ultimately it will be your personal choice. Fido products are expensive, but I find them very good and this is what I use on the puppies, and my own dogs.
If your dog’s skin is a little irritated or dry, you could try a hypoallergenic shampoo like Aloveen, or if your dog is suffering from a skin condition or allergy to something, a medicated shampoo such as Maloseb is a good option until the condition is resolved.
Be sure to brush your dog’s coat before you bath them, this helps to strip out any loose hair and makes it easier to identify any problem areas you may need to work on.
Floppy-eared dogs such as Labradoodles don’t get too much air circulation in and around their ears and this can lead to problems such as yeast or bacterial infections. These are uncomfortable for your dog and also for you, as they’re often accompanied by a rather horrible smell.
Check your dog’s ears regularly – the reduction of hair and waxy build-up will assist in reducing the chance of this occurring. Some vets will advocate regular plucking, others may suggest trimming the hair, but regardless, keeping the hair minimal, and the ears clean, with the use of an ear cleanser or a drying agent will reduce the risk of problems. You pop the solution into each ear and massage it for 15-30 seconds and then wipe it out with a tissue – never use ear buds! Whilst this isn’t something your dog is likely to appreciate you doing, it’s a lot less unpleasant (and costly) for everyone if done regularly. Check with your vet for tips on hair removal and which solution to use.
Dogs nails grow, much like humans, and will need clipping - especially if they don’t regularly walk on rough surfaces such as concrete paths. Your dogs nails should be done each time they get their coat trimmed and this is a service most dog groomers usually do as part of their clip. You can of course, choose to trim your dog’s nails at home. If you choose to do this, be sure to get your groomer, or your vet to show you how to trim the nails correctly.
How frequently you choose to get your dog clipped will depend on lifestyle, how long you want their coat to be and, your regular maintenance regimes. If you want to keep your Labradoodles coat longer, then I’d recommend considering getting them clipped every 6-8 weeks, with regular brushing in between. If you’re happy for keep your ‘doodles coat a lot shorter (which is especially great during summer) you can probably push this out 8-10 weeks or even longer, however your dog will likely have a lot more knots and matts the longer you leave it, which can cause discomfort for them (and be a challenge for your groomer). It is an impossible ask to expect a groomer to maintain a longer coat on a dog that isn’t frequently brushed and clipped.
The Labradoodle Clip
“Don’t poodle my ‘oodle” is a popular statement that many dog owners over the years have shared with their groomer, and Labradoodles are no different – most Labradoodle owner are not looking for a traditional poodle cut when they take their dogs to the groomers.
However, don’t assume all groomers will know what a labradoodle cut looks like.
Let your groomer know you’re looking for a teddy bear clip – ie a clip that closely follows the shape of the body. Take photos along to your groomer to show them examples what you’re looking for and discuss with them the length of the coat you’re hoping to have before they start. (note: remember that they aren’t miracle workers and cannot be expected to keep a matted and knotty coat long).
Puppy’s First Hair Cut
I’d recommend for your puppies first couple of haircuts, that they have a trim, rather than a full clip, with their first full clip happening around 6-8 months of age, as their adult coat begins to grow in. Think of a puppy trim as a tidy up – it’s an easier visit to the groomers their first time, or you can do this at home. Besides you want to enjoy that adorable puppy shagginess for a little while!
The Puppy Trim
Trim between their eyes so they can see
Fringe should be cut so there is an inverted"V"above the nose. If the fringe is thick, it can be neatened with thinning scissors.
Trim the ear length back to about 1 cm following the shape of the ear leather.
Neaten the face, especially if the beard is long.
Trim hair in and around paws so the pad touch the ground
Clip their nails
Remove any knots, brushing through, and scissor splitting to gently work the knot apart
Belly coat can be shortened slightly, but the rest of the coast shouldn’t be cut, just brushed or combed through
Trim around private parts to keep them clean and unmatted.
The Full Clip
Trim the ears, following the edge of the ear leather. To gauge the length – pull forward to the nose. The length of the ear should be just short of the nose. Taper the tip of the ear. Hair on the outside of the ear should be layered on the to about 3cm, and the tip of the ear tapered. Trim back any thickness behind the ear. The underside of the ear should be shaved or cut very short underneath to allow good air flow. Trim hair inside the ear canal.
Top of the head
The top of the head should be natural, and cut long enough that it parts naturally by itself. To trim, pull the hair forward and up and trim to around 5-7cm.
Above the eyes, trim the top of the head above the eyes at an angle (like in inverted “V” ) It’s best to make the hair above the eyes shorter, allowing for good sight. You want to be able to see the dogs eyes easily. Leave the eyelashes long – it helps to keep hair out of their eyes.
Below the eye at the muzzle, trim the top of the muzzle short at an angle just under the eyes so they can see easily. This makes it easier to clean around the eyes also.
The beard and moustache should be layered and trimmed into a circular shape, rather than blunt - aim for around 3-4cm in length.
the body can be trimmed to whatever length suits the lifestyle. Tail should be evened up. If the body is left long, the tummy can be trimmed shorter, or even shaved in summer to keep the dog cool.
Legs, Feet & Tail
The leg coat should be slightly longer than the body coat length and look tubular, coming down to a rounded foot that doesn’t show any nails. Trim the hair between the pads, so the pads touch the ground. Trim the nails.
Taper the hind quarters to the tail gradually. Brush and trim the tail to a natural length, and trim underneath. Don’t shave the top of the tail.
Shave or trim close the dogs private area to keep clean and free from matting and any dags.
Here’s a couple of resources
Video on grooming an Australian Labradoodle – this is a pretty good visual example, though personally, I would prefer to trim the eyes more. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bWkJcGe8dUo
Grooming care tips https://www.wala-labradoodles.org/grooming-care