Brushing your new puppy.
Young pups coats are very easy to take care off and maintain, if you do it right - so let's brush that pup! Puppy coats are generally not yet as tight and kinky as an adult poodle coat, and especially in the darker colored poodles – virtually non-matting if you keep the pup clean and well bathed. Some of the white, champagne and light apricot colored pups tend to have more of a cottony texture hair – and these will benefit from shorter hair styles, and better than average shampoos and conditioners. Brushing your new puppy is a great way of bonding and getting it used to future beauty treatments at the grooming parlor!
If you are owned by a rambunctious youngster, it is often of advantage to take the pup for a good romp and play [and a potty break] prior to brushing to help wear it out and settle it down.
A tired puppy is a good puppy!
Brushing on a smaller poodle pup takes all of 5 minutes or less and can be done during watching TV on your lap, as long as it is small enough to be comfortable held, turned and rotated there and can turn into a gentle cuddle + smooch session afterward for reward.
As your pup gets a bit bigger and the hair gets longer, I'd recommend brushing on a comfortable surface – a table would be the right height, or perhaps on top of the washer or dryer [put an old bath mat with a slip resistant backing on it, so the pup has better stability and won't slip and slide all over the place. If you are younger and flexible – you can sit on the floor and do it there. Your pup needs to have good balance when you lift legs to brush them out and turn it from side to side, so you can get to all body parts, so avoiding for it to slip all over the place will be helpful. You will also need to be able to take a step back to look over the pup, without it being plastered to your face. I tend to get more hugs and face licks during brushing than at any other time, LOL and they always manage to stick their tongue into my nose or ear! Make sure it will stay and not attempt to follow you or try to jump off and injure itself when you step back for an overall picture of how you did!!!
Depending on how wriggly your furkid is, start with the topknot and ears and work your way towards the back and tail, or start with the body and leave the head, topknot and ears until the end [some desensitizing and settling into the brush session will go a long ways to avoid facial/eye injuries].
If you are using the slicker brush, be sure to try it out on your arm first, to see how much pressure is painful for you and use it with according firmness with the pup. You will need to use the slicker brush when the coat is kept a tad longer, during changing seasons when the dog is releasing coat or going through coat changes. It will help to remove the dead hair in the coat, and avoid matting. On dogs with “big heap hair” I always use a slicker, as it is more thorough than a pin brush, and you'll only brush the surface hair with a bristle brush and not get through to the skin or remove tangles.
Use the pin or hard bristle brush for short clips and dogs that get brushed regularly. It more or less “sorts” the hair and not so much removes it, although it does that to a certain extend as well, though not as thoroughly as a slicker brush.
Finish up the first round by picking up each leg and give it a thorough brush out, once with the grain and then against the grain, in order to loosen any mats or tangles on the legs. Thought you were done? Not yet!
An older pup that is going through the coat change [usually around 4-5 months, but can be slightly sooner or later, subject to the weather and your location], needs to be combed out with as well, if it is still in a full coat. Same for adults in longer clips.
Go over the entire puppy, with the steel comb.
It will get the final tangles and mini knots that you loosened with the brushing, but that haven't come out yet. There will be some tugging and pulling – this is another reason why you want the pup on a sturdy surface, as you will need 2 hands to minimize discomfort and pain for the pup and cannot support the pup as well.
The more often you brush, the less tugging and pulling there will be.
Another word of advice – use a quality shampoo and conditioner – it will do wonders for coat manageability, and blowdry instead of air dry! If you blowdry, brush out the coat simultaneously.
Above: a 5 month old pup that has been clipped short @ 4 mos, now showing the adult coat emerging - see the tight curls?
If you do not want to deal with the work a longer coat requires – the puppy can have its first full body clip between 3.5-5 months of age – again depending on the coat quality and amount, and your local weather/season. Don't shave down a 4 month old pup going into winter. Ask the groomer to leave some hair on – a #4 blade will work just fine. Be sure to ask the groomer what shots are required for service – some are very strict, others trust you to have the good sense to properly protect your puppy and have the correct immunizations done.
My suggestions: a minimum of 2 sets of shots prior to going to the groomer, possibly 3 if you are planning to have 3 sets, and rabies around 4-5 months of age.
Left: This blue merle girl is preggy and has been put into an easy to maintain and keep clean maternity clip. This is a very versatile clip that works for all occasions, ages and sizes and still lets your poodle look like a poodle.
Poodles in a short clip get by just fine with a brush out once a week – you are mainly paying attention to the longer remaining hair of the top knot, ears, tail and bracelet if your pup is styled that way and that just takes a minute or two and a quick stimulating once over with a bristle or pin brush.
Right: This girl is in a modified Continental, minus pompoms on the hip.
Kept long in the front with a top knot long enough to tie up [like a fluffy fur jacket with tight pants, also often referred to as a lion clip in other breeds], and conveniently short around the back with bracelets on the back feet. Still quite a bit hair to work through, but just on half the dog.
Poodles in a medium to longer or slightly sculpted clip, should get a thorough brushout 2 or more times a week.
Left: this blue merle poodle boy is in about 2" of hair, this much coat does require thorough brushing at least twice a week, in order to avoid excessive tangling or ruining several months of growth by becoming matted.
It will be easier done + maintained using a premium shampoo and conditioner.
A showcoat has easily 2-3x the length of hair and needs much more care...
Poodle in a long or show clip, often need to be banded or otherwise brushed daily and bathed at least once a week.
This is usually beyond the scope of the normal pet owner and will require help of a show groomer with weekly baths required, unless you already have experience with that.
A banded poodle still needs to be “undone”, brushed and rebanded regularly in order to remain in coat. They also need to be most thoroughly blow dried and stretched, you cannot air dry a poodle in a show clip and not lose coat.
Lotsa work, many months if not years of hair growth and a lot of moola at the groomer – more power to you – send me photos of our pup if she is in a full clip!!!
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