Grooming - My Favorite Products

**This is not a promotional post. I am not receiving any compensation, either monetary or otherwise, from any of the products mentioned. These are simply the items I use and prefer.

Some of you who are familiar with our household know that we not only have our two Newfoundlands, Sherman and Betty, but we also have Hannah, a long-coat German Shepherd, and Mongo, a pug. Suffice it to say, life with four dogs who shed, three of whom blow their coat twice a year, means there is A LOT of brushing, bathing, and HAIR CLEAN UP that happens in this house!

Now - there is no avoiding it - your Newfie is going to shed. That's just a fact of life. While they blow their coat twice a year, there is still day-to-day shedding that happens, so just be prepared! In my experience with our two, there was a definite "honeymoon period" where the shedding was not bad. Sherman and Betty are three months apart in age, and we got both of them at eight weeks. I really don't think I noticed an increase in the dog hair around the house until the fall after they both turned one. Obviously they go through a shed of their puppy coats as they mature, but it just wasn't so significant that I was really feeling it until they were a little older.

Your grooming needs will also vary depending on the coat of your puppy. Betty has a thick, silky, stick-straight coat. Sherman has a more fluffy, downy coat that is wavy, and is more prone to mat if not brushed. With the puppies, I can definitely see differences in their coats already, but I can't tell at this point which parent they will take after!

I'm going to break my list of favorites into two sections - the must haves, and the nice to haves.

Must Haves:

  1. Slicker Brush: This is the item you will absolutely spend the most time with. They come in two different types - self cleaning and non-self cleaning, and there are pros and cons to each. The self clean feature does make clearing the hair from the brush easier, but sometimes the "teeth" get stuck in the cleaning portion, and it just ends up being a headache. I have both - and these aren't expensive, so maybe give them both a try and see what you prefer. This will be what you use to get out most of the loose coat, and there are days that you'll feel like you've brushed until your arm is going to fall off - and there is STILL more to get out! This is definitely the "work horse" of your grooming tools!

2. Line Comb

The Line Comb does a lot of the fine detail work, getting in behind the ears where you can't really use the slicker brush, and helping to work through any mats that do happen. And mats, no matter how careful you are, WILL happen! I have multiple line combs, but a thicker metal comb, with both a fine tooth and wider tooth end will be what you need. The wider tooth end will help pull out the loose undercoat, while the finer tooth end helps get through downy mats! Also, keep in mind dogs have something like four times the pain tolerance we do, but they do still have tender skin. Just like it hurts us to comb out a tangle in your hair, it CAN hurt them too, so definitely be gentle, and use products to help get through mats if needed. When in doubt, if you have to cut out a mat, it WILL grow back, and faster than you think!

3.) Mat Rake

Mats happen. It is a reality of life, that no matter how careful you are and how much you brush, your newfoundland will probably, at some point, get a mat. My absolute favorite thing to use for that is this mat rake. It has small, curved blades that allow you to get in between the skin and the mat, and break the mat up.

4.) Nail trimmers

Newfies, at least black newfies, have black nails. If you've ever had to trim dogs' nails before, you know black nails are the worst! It's difficult to know where to trim, but if you stay on top of it, you shouldn't have too hard of a time with this. Also - both Sherman and Betty really don't make a fuss about having their nails trimmed. I do it while I have them on the grooming table, and it's completely drama free! Now - we do have a grinder, and when the puppies first needed their nails trimmed, we tried to use that, but in the end it was easier just to trim them with a small nail clipper! When you get them for your newf, you will want the Large.

5.) Good Scissors

Scissors are one of those "if you are comfortable" types of items. For those comfortable with doing all of their grooming at home, you will use these to trim/even out ear hair, trim the hair on the legs (furnishings), trim up the hair between the toes (unless you love the look of "grinch toes", and the hair on the bottoms of the pads. Depending on where you are located, that hair can either help protect the pads from hot or cold pavement, or it can end up being a nuisance as it causes them to track in more water/mud. I trim the bottoms of my pups' feet, around each foot, and the long hair in between the toes to give the dogs a nice, tidy foot, and I also prefer to do up 4" or so in the furnishings to minimize what gets tracked in. Scissors are available in blunt tip or pointed - go with what you are comfortable with, and just be careful! I can tell you from experience, you feel awful if you accidentally cut them! Also - the scissors I linked to are higher end scissors similar to what I purchased years ago when I was a groomer. For personal use with just one or two dogs, you probably don't need anything that high end, but these are nice because they CAN be sharpened if needed for years and years of use.

6.) Shampoo...or 2-in-1 Shampoo & Conditioner

I am a big fan of 2-in-1 shampoo and conditioner, but I will admit, even when I use the 2-in-1, I still condition separately. My one bit of guidance about dog shampoo is that almost ALL dog shampoos can be diluted 3:1 or 4:1 water to shampoo. Some shampoos, such as the Kelco brand shampoos (I use the Kick Ass Clean blue shampoo) can be diluted 50:1. I bought a gallon of that shampoo 2 years ago, and we've only used about 1/4 of the gallon. Now - while blue shampoo is meant to be used on white dogs to make them whiter, it still does a great job cleaning black dogs, and at a 50:1 dilution ratio, it is a definite bargain! The other brand I am a big fan of is Tropiclean's coconut scented shampoo, and those also come in a super concentrated gallon. I have an old dish soap bottle like you get at Costco/Sams. I fill it with warm water, up to about 3" from the top, pour in enough shampoo to get to the top, close it up and shake until it's mixed. That is usually enough to do at least 2 baths on a full-sized newf! Also keep in mind you don't need to do a full, big "shampoo commercial" lather. You want to work enough in to get through any dirt, and you do want to scrub their skin just as you would scrub your scalp, then rinse with warm water. Rinse until you think you have all the soap out, and then RINSE TWICE MORE! Just trust me. With the newf double coat, you'll think you have all the soap out, and get to the point of toweling them off, only to realize there is still soap in there, and you have to do the rinsing all over again. If you don't get all the soap out, it can be very irritating to the dog, and cause them a lot of discomfort and itchiness! And then depending on time, I will condition their coat. If you're boujee, go ahead and pick the coordinating conditioner for the shampoo you're using. If you're like me with 3 huge hairy dogs, pick up some Suave or V05 conditioner on sale for $.99! (Again, I'm partial to the coconut scent!) When I condition the dogs, I put the conditioner on while they are still pretty wet from the shampoo rinse. I brush through the conditioner in their coat to make sure it's spread evenly and through all layers of the coat, paying extra attention to the tail. I leave it on for a few minutes, and again, rinse with water as warm as the dog can tolerate. The warmer water really helps get the conditioner rinsed, but always keep in mind the warm water will feel very warm to a dog who is only ever (usually) in cold lakes or rivers! I don't condition every time, because it does add an additional 20-30 minutes between application, brushing through everything, and rinsing. But their coat looks AMAZING after!

7.) Cowboy Magic

There is no substitute. Cowboy Magic is THE BOMB for working through a mat without having to cut. They also have other products to help with shine, but the detangler is my go-to for tough mats.

Ok, from here on out, these are my "nice to have" grooming items!

A.) A grooming table. We built ours with a wood platform 2 1/2 feet up, with a ramp for the dogs to walk up, and cross bars up high to hold grooming stays. It works, but it's ugly, and it lives on our back patio out of the way...but it's ALWAYS there. You can find nicer looking grooming tubs and stands that either fold or can at least be put away, but the benefit this gives you is it raises the dog up so you're not bending over to do your brushing/washing, and it keeps them in one place. If you think you'd like to make your own, you can search online - there are lots of videos and blogs with ideas!

B.) A forced air dryer. I went about 6 months without a dryer - letting the dogs just air dry after I toweled them off. I would wash them in the evening (6 or 7 pm) and they would still be damp the next morning! I tried using a regular hair dryer, but they get too warm, so I ventured into forced air dryers with a 5hp forced air dryer purchased on Amazon for around $150. (Unfortunately I don't have the link anymore.) It worked ok, but didn't have the high velocity I was looking for, and it did also get a little too warm for the dogs. Last year, because I have so many dogs, I went ahead and purchased the "cadillac" of forced air dryers - a K9 III. The K9 III doesn't rely on heat, but on the velocity of the air forced out of the hose to blow the moisture off the dogs' coats. I will say it has cut the drying time DRASTICALLY, but it IS loud, and the dogs do not love when you use it near their head. With Sherman especially, I am lucky if I get his chest and shoulders dry, but he is fine with me doing the rest of his body. Also - forced air dryers are a GREAT way to blow out that loose undercoat. When they go through their coat blow, it looks like it is snowing black newf hair, which is why we ONLY use this outside! It is a pricey investment, but well worth it in my household.

C.) A Camp shower/portable hot water heater. This is a DEFINITE nice to have. It isn't always super warm out when I need to bathe the dogs, and this is actually more for my comfort than theirs, but this portable hot water heater, combined with a propane tank, make it possible for met o easily bathe my pups with nice warm water. Since I end up wearing a good deal of it, at least it's warm!!

D.) Clippers. I can't link to my clippers, because they are a hold-over from my grooming days. I actually have an old horse clippers retrofitted to hold regular Oster blades. The clippers do make it easy to do a quick "sanitary trim" if your pup is doing a lot of peeing on themselves, or if they just have a general "funk" about their privates. Also, Betty gets mats in her armpits, and Sherman has in the past gotten some mats near his testicles. I am NOT going to try and comb out a mat in an armpit or on a testicle! I mean, not having those bits, I can't say for certain, but I feel like that would probably be painful!

Ok - ALL of that said, I cannot recommend enough finding a good DIY dog wash in your area. Around here, they range around $15-$25 per use, and some have punch cards you can buy that bring that down even more. You use their facility, their shampoo/conditioner, their tub, their towels, their dog dryer, etc....but best of all? THEY CLEAN UP. go in, wash and dry your dog, usually pick up Treat-Os for your super clean doggo, and you vamoose! I LOVE this option when it is too cold (or hot) outside for me to bathe them at home.

Finally - about taking them to the groomer...I mentioned I used to be a groomer. Some dogs do FANTASTIC at the groomer, and this is a good option for those who don't have the time or the inclination to do the grooming themselves. In most cases, having your dog groomed will run from $75 on up, depending on any mats and how well behaved your dog is. For some people, this is a great option! Make sure that your groomer doesn't use a heated dryer on a kennel to dry your dog, as a newfoundland can easily overheat in that kind of scenario. Also, keep in mind that when your groomer takes a dog the size of a newfoundland, that is typically either half or all of their day. Groomers DO appreciate tips, so if they do a good job, and you want to continue having them accept your dog, tip well! If you can find a good independent groomer (Not part of one of the big box pet stores like PetCo or PetSmart), I highly recommend going that route, as it will minimize the number of other animals your dog will be around while being groomed, it's a much more calm environment, and the groomer won't have the same pressure from the store to meet quotas, allowing them to do a better job focusing on your dog! (Plus I love supporting small business!!)

One last thought - there are lots of videos on youtube showing how to groom your newfie. I watched HOURS worth before we brought our first newfie home, and I recommend you do the same. It is highly likely that, while you're in the puppy phase and working on crate training, you may have to bathe your pup more often. To whatever extent you can minimize washing with soap, that will help. There are also waterless shampoo and puppy wipes you can use for smaller messes, but sometimes, there's just no way around it!

As always, if you have any other questions, feel free to message me and ask!

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