How to Brush and Comb a Poodle: A Complete Guide to Grooming

If you have a Poodle, you will know that combing and brushing is an important part of their grooming routine. So it’s important to know how to properly brush and comb their fur. This includes knowing exactly which tools should be used and in which order.

Why Brushing and Combing a Poodle is Important

Regular brushing and combing of your pupper is crucial for maintaining their coat’s health and well-being. Neglecting to do so can lead to a host of problems, including: matting, skin irritation, and even infection.

By regularly brushing and combing your doggo, you can remove tangles and mats that can cause discomfort and pain. Brushing also helps to distribute natural oils throughout their coat, keeping it shiny and healthy. Regular grooming also provides an opportunity to check for any skin irritations, bumps, or lumps that may require veterinary attention. By catching these issues early, you can ensure that your poodle receives prompt and appropriate care. 

Another important aspect that may be overlooked, is that regular grooming also provides an opportunity for bonding between your doggo and you. Take that time to cultivate a trusting and special bond between the two of you. This will not only bring you closer to your pooch, but allow them to complete the necessary grooming ritual in a safe and loving way. This will create positive lasting effects, especially when they then transition to regular groomer or veterinary appointments. 

Brushing also helps to remove dirt, debris, and loose hair, which can reduce shedding. This also helps to reduce  the amount of loose hair and pet dander within your home; thus reducing the increased risk of exposure for allergy sufferers. 

Poodles have thick, curly double-coats. With poodles, the biggest challenge is matting and tangles in their curly coat. For standard poodles, you’ll want to brush daily. For miniature and toy types, you’ll want to brush every other day. Depending on the coat length, it will also determine how often you brush.

  • Long coats- daily brushing.
  • Medium length coats- 2-3x/week
  • Short length coats- once a week

What You’ll Need

Before you start brushing and combing your Poodle, make sure you have the following:

  • Brush Types
    • A pin brush with widely-spaced metal pins with rounded tips
    • A boar bristle brush with closely-spaced natural bristles (synthetic bristles usually increase static, causing increase in tangling)
  • Comb Types
    • A poodle comb
  • Other Tools
    • A mat table or high surface
    • A detangling/conditioning spray
    • A treat to reward your poodle for good behavior

Preparing to Brush and Comb a Poodle

It is important to start the grooming process as early as possible. For pupper up to 4 months of age, you should brush several days a week with a metal pin brush in order to begin to establish a grooming routine. Always make sure to remain patient and gentle when completing. Place the puppy on an elevated surface with a non-slip mat such as a dog grooming table in order to complete the grooming routine (brushing, combing, teeth, and nails). Get them comfortable lying on their side and standing while on the higher surface. Just make sure you grab all the necessary equipment required prior to placing your pup up high, and if you have forgotten something then lower them back down to the floor so as you’re making sure not to leave them on a high surface unattended.

Around 9-12 months, they will transition to an adolescent coat for both types (curly and wavy). They will need to be brushed more frequently. Matting will become increasingly difficult to combat during this stage. If severe, it will need to be shaved. The wavy coat type will transition quicker, and is at an even more increased risk for matting. The curly coat type will transition more gradually, and start from front to back. If your dog has white hair, then the white areas will be quicker to mat then other areas since it’s thinner.

Bringing them to a higher work surface will not only signal to your pup that ‘now it’s time for the grooming routine,’ but will also save your back. It will allow you to have proper body mechanics, which will become especially important as they become bigger and stronger. Also, please make sure to incorporate praise and treats prior to and after completing the grooming routine. This will not only help solidify the bonding experience, but will signal to your pupper that the grooming process is a safe and loving space for them. 

How to Brush a Poodle

  1. You should start by removing all mats, dirt, debris, and loose hair from their coat. Attempt to use your fingers firstly, by gently pulling apart small sections at a time and working your way from outermost mat sections and moving closer to the skin. You can use your comb or metal rake to assist, trying to work the tangle out delicately and in small sections at a time. And a detangling spray is always a good option in order to ease the tangles out more freely.
  2. You will use a pin brush. You can use a slicker brush on their thick, curly coat. Make sure you are a professional or expertly trained on how to use a slicker brush, as these can be very painful for your dog if not used properly. 
  3. Avoid brushing your poodle’s fur when it’s dry, as it can cause breakage and damage. You’ll want to use a conditioning spray on each section prior to brushing.
  4. Keep the brushes soft, as poodles usually have sensitive skin in general. Brush all the way down to the skin, being careful not to scratch their skin. Be mindful not to apply too much pressure as you’re brushing as this could cause pain. Brush in short strokes, and brush in the direction of the hair growth.
  5. You’ll want to use a pin brush with widely-spaced metal pins with rounded tips, and use a line brushing technique. This is when you systematically brush through each section prior to moving onto the next section. You can hold the brush in one hand and press the fur up with the other, creating a line in the fur. Be sure to brush in small strokes, brushing downward section by section. Be gentle, but be sure to penetrate both the topcoat and undercoat.
  6. Start at the neck and work your way down the body with a pin brush, using short strokes. Be sure to brush in the direction of hair growth to prevent any discomfort. Make sure to wet with a detangling spray prior to brushing each section.
  7. Then move to the body. You can brush the back, working your way closer to the spine. Remember to brush section by section, and in the direction of hair growth.Continue to use a conditioning spray before moving to the next section. When brushing, always work your way to the skin, being especially gentle the closer to the skin you get. Be extra gentle when moving towards the chest, as this is usually a sensitive area. 
  8. When brushing the legs, they can lay on their back or in standing; whichever you prefer and works best for you and your pupper. If laying on their back, you can hold the leg up in the air. When brushing the legs, lift the top leg and brush the underside of the bottom leg and repeat until all four legs are brushed. Start at the intersection where the leg meets the body. Brush in small sections. Pay special attention to the armpits, as this area is prone to matting. Make sure you brush to the skin with every brush stroke, but be mindful not to scratch the skin. 
  9. For the tail, you will start at the base and work your way to the tip. Remember to be gentle, as this is a sensitive area.
  10. Gently brush the face. Pay special attention to the eyes and ears, making sure not to get too close as it could be painful if you accidentally poked them in the eye. 
  11. For the topknot, gently brush the hair upwards and backwards. Then, use a comb to smooth out any remaining tangles. Be sure to brush the ear feathering downwards.

How to Comb a Poodle

  1. You will use the same line brushing technique when combing.
  2. Start with the head, using a poodle comb. Start at the bottom of the chin and work your way up the face. Remember to comb in the direction of hair growth.
  3. Next move to the ears. Comb down vertically in the direction of the hair growth.
  4. Then the chest, starting at the closest point to the chin and working your way down. Continue to comb down in the direction of the hair growth. Make sure to be gentle around the sensitive belly area. 
  5. Then the sides, while alternating laying on each side. Remember to comb in the direction of the hair growth.
  6. Then the front legs and then the back legs, starting at the furthest most point of the toes and working your way up to the thigh. Pay special attention to the intersection where the legs meet the body, as this area is prone to matting.
  7. Lastly, the tail. 

Finishing Touches

  1. You can then use a boar bristle brush with closely-spaced natural bristles at the end  for a finishing touch. It’s good for aligning curls and straightening. It is intended for dogs with short straight hair, but actually works quite well on trimmed poodles.
  2. When you’re done with the finishing brush, you can opt for a leave-in conditioner to finish off the look and keep your poodle’s coat shiny and healthy.

Tips for Maintaining a Poodle’s Coat

To keep your doggo’s coat healthy, you should brush and comb it regularly. Here are some tips:

  • Brush their entire coat several times a week up to daily, depending on coat length
  • Always use a conditioning spray prior to brushing, as brushing dry will damage the coat
  • Use a pin brush or *slicker brush to remove tangles and mats. (Slicker brushes should only be used by professionals, because if used incorrectly, it will be very painful)
  • Use a comb to remove loose hair and debris.
  • Be gentle and avoid pulling or tugging on the coat.
  • Pay special attention to areas that are prone to tangles, such as behind the ears and under the legs.
  • Always give a treat and praise for good behavior. 

By following these tips, you can maintain your Poodle’s coat and keep it looking healthy and shiny.

As long as you are able to maintain regular brushing, shedding will be minimal.

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