How to Brush and Comb an Irish Water Spaniel: A Step-by-Step Guide

If you have an Irish Water Spaniel 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 for a more appropriate technique.

Why Brushing and Combing Your Irish Water Spaniel is Important

Regular brushing and combing of your doggy is imperative for maintaining their coat’s health and appearance. If not groomed properly, it can lead to a host of problems, including: matting, skin irritation, and even infection.

By regularly brushing and combing your doggo, you can prevent painful matting. Brushing also helps to distribute your dog’s natural oils throughout their coat, keeping their skin and fur 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 Irish water spaniel receives prompt and appropriate care by a specialist if needed.

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 pupper, 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 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.

It is recommended to brush your Irish water spaniel at least 3 times a week.

What You’ll Need

Before you start brushing and combing your Irish Water Spaniel, make sure you have the following:

  • Brush Types
    • A pin brush
  • Comb Types
    • A wide-tooth comb
    • A mat separator
  • Other Tools
    • A mat table or high surface
    • A mat separator
    • A treat to reward for good behavior

Preparing to Brush and Comb Your Irish Water Spaniel

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 for just a couple minutes at a time. You can use a coarse scrub brush such as a natural bristle brush with long, soft, and widely-spaced bristles 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.

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 Your Irish Water Spaniel

  1. You should start by removing all mats, dirt, debris, and loose hair from their coat. The bichon has a double-coat that is prone to matting, since the undercoat will shed and get trapped by the topcoat.  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. Pinch the tangle between your fingers so as not to pull on the hair. Start working the tangle at the tip of the hair and work your way closer to the skin. And a detangling spray is always a good option in order to ease the tangles out more freely. You can look to using a mat separator if there are extremely hard tangles to remove. Use with caution, and be sure to be gentle. 
  2. First, you will use your pin brush to brush against the direction of hair growth before brushing with the direction of hair growth. You will want to start at the tips and move your way closer to the root. Remember to brush with a more gentle touch the closer you move to the skin. 
  3. Starting at the head, you will brush the top knot. Lay it forward at the top of the head, and brush against the direction of hair growth. Then you can place it back down and brush in the direction of hair growth. 
  4. Then, move to the ears. Continue to brush against the direction of hair growth. Once brushed, flatten back down and brush in the direction of hair growth. This will help to smooth down and straighten the brushed hair. 
  5. Now the legs and feet. One front foot by the elbow, and brush against the direction of hair growth. Then brush down and back, in the direction of hair growth. Continue until all 4 legs have been brushed. Be mindful of the intersection where legs meet the body, as this area is more prone to matting. 
  6. Now the body. Brush the neck, tail, and belly last as these can be sensitive areas. Continue the process of brushing against the hair growth and then in the direction of hair growth. 

How to Comb Your Irish Water Spaniel

  1. Now you will be using a wide-tooth stainless steel comb. Start with the face and ears. When combing the head, comb towards the nose. 
  2. Next move to the belly, sides, and legs. You will want to make sure you are brushing up and out.
  3. Now move to the back and tail. You will want to comb up towards the spine. Continue to brush up and out. 

Tips for Maintaining Your Irish Water Spaniel’s Coat

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

  • Brush their entire coat at least a couple of times a week
  • 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.
  • If you encounter a mat, use your fingers first. A detangling spray and/or dematting tool or
  • scissors to carefully remove it are also options.
  • Always give a treat and praise for good behavior.

By following these tips, you can maintain your Irish Water Spaniel’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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