Should you give your dog a bath before giving them a groom? The answer is dependant upon what grooming you are planning to do, the condition of the coat, and what type of dog it is. In most cases, you need to do any preparation work before the bath. Once the dog is clean and fully dry you can do the finishing groom.
If you ask several dog groomers do you bathe a dog before grooming you will get different answers? Some groomers will clip and fully brush out a dog before washing them. This approach will prevent damaging your equipment and may give a slightly better finish. However, it is more time-consuming.
Other groomers will bath almost all dogs before grooming except if they are severely matted. They find that it is easier to brush tangles and knots out of a clean coat. In addition, the blow dryer helps to loosen and lift the knots.
The approach I would recommend for the DIY at home groomer is to follow the procedure described below. This will save time and make the work easier.
Standard grooming procedure
The standard procedure for grooming a dog is generally as follows for a non-shedding breed such as a Bichon, Maltese or similar.
- Do a pre-clip or rough clip. The pre-clip doesn’t have to be 100% perfect as you will be reclipping the coat after the dog has been bathed and blow dried. The coat will fluff up when it has been blow dried so you will actually take more coat off anyway.
- Brush out any areas that have not been clipped such as the tail and head as best you can.
- You can do a sanitary clip (clip the groin and around the anus) and clip under the paws and armpits at this stage.
- Clip the nails. Some people like to clip the nails after the bath as they are a little softer.
- Bath the dog. For more on how to bathe a dog see here.
- Dry the dog as much as possible with an absorbent towel. Alternatively, you can wrap the dog in a towel and leave them to sit in a crate. This will save on blow drying time.
- Blow dry the coat. It is well worth investing in a small pet dryer if you don’t have one. See pet dryers on Amazon.
- Fully brush out any areas that are not going to be clipped.
- Do the finishing clip.
- Do any scissoring work such as around the paws, legs, and head
For more on DIY dog grooming see here.
For a double coated breed that sheds such as a German Shepherd or Golden Retriever, it will depend on if there is any matting and how much under they have. If they don’t have any matting and the dead undercoat to be removed is minimal they can go straight into the bath. The bath will help loosen up the undercoat. The blow dryer will also help to blow out a lot of the coat saving you time and effort.
Otherwise, it pays to give them a good brush before going into the bath. For more on how to brush a dog see here.
When should you start the groom before bathing
- The coat is long and you are wanting to take a fair amount off the length. This will save time when blow drying them.
- If the coat is matted and needs to be clipped short.
- If you are wanting to keep the coat long doing a reasonable brush out first is recommended .
- When there are matts in the coat that need to be removed. Washing a dog with matts in will make the matting worst. The matts will absorb water and become tighter.
- In the case of a double-coated breed that has excessive undercoat or matting.
When you can bathe dog first before grooming
- The dog has been groomed reasonably recently and isn’t too long to start with.
- You brush your dog regularly and they have no tangles.
- For a double coated dog with minimal undercoat and no matting.
This video gives a good example of how to do a rough clip prior to bathing.