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April 3, 2018

Groomer Writes an Open Letter to Doodle Owners About Their Care

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An Open Letter to Doodle Owners

There’s a conversation going on in the grooming world, and it’s one that I think our clients should be privy to. The topic? Doodles. And I’m talking labradoodles, goldendoodles, sheepadoodles, bernedoodles – anything that has been mixed with a standard (sometimes mini) poodle or already existing doodle. The truth is, the popularity of these dogs is on the rise but the education that potential owners are getting regarding them is dropping. This can be attributed to a few factors, ranging from a breeder spreading lies to sell a puppy, to a family so entranced by the cuteness of a fluffy puppy that they overlook the potential high maintenance of what they’re getting into.

So what I want to do is address these issues, include these owners in the conversation that’s happening in grooming salons all over the globe because as groomers we are frustrated! We are frustrated because so often we have to shave doodles due to matting, and those owners are frustrated because they don’t know what they’re doing wrong and like their dogs fluffy, and in turn get upset with the groomers, who are upset with the breeders for not giving out proper information to the owners when they take home a puppy! This can really hurt the rapport between a groomer and their clients, something we’d all like to avoid.

A highly-matted doodle dog has to get a shave down

The BIG untruth I’d like to address about these dogs is that they are low maintenance. This could not be further from the truth. If you are getting a doodle, you need to expect and prepare for daily home maintenance. This includes brushing AND combing, everyday. (With a slicker brush and metal greyhound comb). The end result should be the ability to get the comb from the root to tip of the hair. You always want to start with the slicker brush, as this will help break up any knots, and finish with the comb. Now, because doodles are not purebred (meaning they do not breed true, which is the characteristic of being able to predict and expect how the puppies will turn out) you may end up with a doodle that has a very thin and easily manageable coat, but you should always go in expecting the alternative. With all that being said, and this may seem counterintuitive, but what this routine should NOT include is baths at home. Without the proper tools, baths at home will only cause and expedite matting. Long coats need to be blow dried completely, and if they are towel dried and left to air dry and not brushed out, they will mat up. I will attach some pictures to show some examples of matting, because when you don’t use a comb and go all the way from the root to the tip, the top coat may seem mat-free while the root of the coat is completely matted.

In addition to this point, if you want your doodle to have that well-known long and fluffy coat, they should be at the groomer every 4-6 weeks. This is in addition to the daily home maintenance. Bringing them to the groomer will ensure that they are clean and thoroughly brushed/combed. You can get them full haircuts or just trim ups – the possibilities are many if the coat is well-maintained. The cost of grooming a doodle is not small. That’s the plain and simple truth of it. Doodle baths/grooms can range anywhere from $50 to upwards of $200. There are many things that are factored into this price. The type of coat the dog has, the condition of the coat, his/her behavior during grooming, and the time spent on the service. Many groomers have a base price for the breed, but this price will increase based on all of these factors.

The last thing I want to address is when breeders say that doodles should not/do not need to be groomed before they are a year old. When this happens, their first groom is almost always a shavedown, right to the skin. Introducing grooming at an early age is imperative! Most groomers will have a puppy special of some sort, which is offered as early as 8 weeks. This will typically include nail clipping, ear cleaning, a bath, and a trim around their face, paws, and potty areas. If you don’t want your puppy to have a full haircut, you don’t have to! But you will still need to bring them in every 4-6 weeks both to get them acclimated to the grooming process and to keep them in the best shape possible. Their coat changes around six months of age and transitions from light, fluffy puppy hair to their adult coats. Their adult coats can have a variety of thicknesses and textures, but this transition can often lead to matting which is another reason to establish a regular home grooming routine and to be in to see your groomer every 4-6 weeks.

The last thing a groomer wants to do is disappoint their client, we want you to love the work we do as much as we love it! That is why it is crucial to be fully educated about the maintenance of the puppy you are getting, to find a groomer with great reviews and have a conversation with them, learn from them, and take your pooch to see them often!

Attached you will see a variety of pictures, volunteered from my peers around the country, demonstrating different types of matting. Many of them don’t look matted in the before pictures, but as you can see, their coats come off in complete sheets. It is DIRE to add that when dogs are in this shape it is EXTREMELY painful for them. Quite often underneath the matting we find bruising, hematomas, skin infections, etc. There is no option other than shaving to the skin in those cases. Please note that this is fully avoidable with proper and regular maintenance!

I have also added pictures of a few of my doodles clients in longer coats, so you can see the other side of things.

Harvey the Goldendoodle gets a longer cut with good maintenance

*****Please note! I am in no way saying that you must or should keep your dogs in longer lengths. If your dog is active or you prefer them short for easy maintenance, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that! I am just trying to avoid any animal from becoming so matted that they face severe skin problems and injuries. And trying to prevent heartbroken or angry owners from vilifying their groomer for shaving what can only be shaved.

*** This information is not isolated to doodles! Any dog with a longer coat needs regular maintenance! Dogs with shorter coats that shed need maintenance! All dogs need their nails clipped/filed. Every breed and every dog has its own requirements, so please, do your research!***

Reprinted with permission from the author, Melanie Gilbert of Ragamuffin Grooming and the pictures of the matted dogs were volunteered by groomers across the country.

Featured image: Jaxx the Goldendoodle with the groom by Jessica Hujar.

Kim on April 3 at 3:25 PM said:

Excellent information, thank you! Many people are not aware of the maintenance required when getting a "Doodle" of any type. Also an unrecognized point is that for a "Doodle" to not cause allergy reactions to humans it needs to be a seventh generation dog - which means seven times poodle to one times other breed.
Denise N on April 3 at 6:16 PM said:

Very well said!
amy lewis on April 3 at 9:15 PM said:

Well stated!
Carol on April 4 at 5:10 AM said:

Very informative with a lot of common sense there. Thank you. I clip my toy poodle and do his nails etc. myself about once a month. He's never had any mats or sores from neglect. He will be 14 yrs old this year and doing fantastic. I feed him canned senior food as well as home cooked veggies twice daily and the vet is amazed with how healthy and active he is.
shana on April 4 at 9:57 AM said:

I spoke with my groomer bout this and she does not even take doodles anymore, the clients think that she is wrong for shaving them when they are matted as they cant see it. They also complain about the price but it is a huge undertaking to groom a doodle that is extremely overgrown. People must be educated about the dogs they buy these dogs end up in pain or in shelters for lack of knowledge.
Laura Palmer on April 5 at 10:51 AM said:

Thank you so much for this informative article!!!! I was well informed by the breeder (Smeraglia) as well as amazing groomers about the importance of daily maintenance. I want to post this article on Bonne Prince Harry's Facebook page for other doodle owners to read...I keep Harry's coat long. He is a therapy dog, and folks get a lot of benefit from petting his long, soft coat - so I strive to keep him clean and as matt free as possible.
JeffShoemake on March 21 at 9:24 PM said:

I try to brush Bo (Standard Poodle) everyday. But some days I just don't have time (30 minutes), or Bo just doesn't want to sit still that long. So we usually get groomed every 2 months. I focus on leaving the hair on the top of his head longer. I knew before bringing him home that his fast growing hair would be an issue we'd deal with. I'd love have him looking like a huge fluffy ball (6-8 inch hair) like several of the pics I've seen from Japan. But that would require 3+ hours each day of brushing and hair maintenance. Plus, it's so Hot where we live that from March til November he would would be miserable. Bo is very active, running 30-40 miles every week. So shorter hair is a must for him. Great article and information. Thank you.
Dreamydoodles.com on March 28 at 2:40 PM said:

Amen!! I breed Labradoodles and Aussiedoodles and I actually do let my customers know that while their puppy may not shed...that professional grooming is still nessesary and yes, every 4-6 wks!! I also recommend every Doodle owner own the Chris Christenson slicker brush and the Andis metal comb for daily/weekly maintenance. I have 5 Doodles and Poodles and we happily prance off to the groomer every 4-6 wks..and it grows back SO fast!! Doodles owners also need to find a caring groomer and be careful about the ones they choose. Not all groomers are great at cutting Doodles and Poodles..some Doodle breeders may not be super great at educating customers on grooming but some Doodle owners also might not be paying attention even when we do. Kinda uncool for Doodle owners or groomers even..to blame the breeder?? Is it really our fault when owners don't do their due diligence on the breed of dog they own or are buying? ANYWAY, great post and I will be sharing this with my customers and my Doodle Breeders group.
Wisconsindoodledog.com on March 28 at 3:55 PM said:

We breed goldendoodles and devote an entire page on our website to the necessity of proper grooming. We start the education process with the very first phone contact we have with any potential doodle family. Many good breeders DO provide the proper education. Please don't "throw us under the bus". (Sharing on our page too, just to reinforce the importance of this information.)
Hannah on April 28 at 9:49 PM said:

My sheepadoodle is 2.5 years old and after some experience I now bring her in for a professional bath every 2 weeks. This is the most frequent allowed, and it is expensive but it’s worth it. My dog has short to medium length hair, if I let her hair grow long she would be in the groomer at least once a week for a full brush-out. Doodles are HIGH MAINTENANCE and in my opinion absolutely worth the effort!!!
Valerie Jessen on July 6 at 3:55 PM said:

Thank You!! Thank You! Thank YOU!!! I am, and have been, a pet groomer for many years and can't get over what new "Doodle" walks in the door!! Always seems to be a mix with something that grows an undercoat that NEEDS to shed through the poodle coat that is curly or can become dreadlocks...hmmmm The owner wants to keep the dog long and fluffy yet they are clueless about how to brush/comb THEIR PET to the skin and on an, often, daily basis. I have one client whose FIRST EVER dog is a Newfie-Doodle!! They don't get why it needs to be kept on the short side(insert grimace emoji).
April G. on December 24 at 5:43 PM said:

Thank you so much for addressing this! I love the playful, loving temperament of doodles but their owners lack of knowledge/ability to maintain their doodle puts a huge dark cloud around grooming doodles. It's a constant battle- all day everyday...de-matting doodles while the owners take their frustrations out on the groomer (me). Research a breed before you get one....and brush your damn dog!!! It's heartbreaking having to carve dread locks off your dog because you like him to look "fluffy". FACT: matted hair is dead, dirty and harmful for your dogs health. It's not "fluffy". Humanity before vanity. And PLEASE get your doodle groomed early as a puppy. A woman waited until 8 months this week at my salon, dog is now "ungroomable" , has to be sedated at the vet now for grooming probably for the rest of his poor life. DOODLE OWNERS!!!!! EDUCATE YOURSELVES and JUST LISTEN.
Nana on January 9 at 1:46 AM said:

Beautifully written. I admire your tone.
Heather Haley on February 23 at 6:21 PM said:

Thank you for this insight! I am one of those owners who had NO idea of how much maintenance is needed to care for a long haired pup. So, we accept that our sweet pup will have to be shaved...again. What a learning curve!
Judy on March 3 at 7:07 AM said:

Great information! Wish I'd read it before I ranted to a few groomers. I rescued a 2-yr old labradoodle during a difficult time in my life...I was already caregiver to a terminally-ill family member, so grooming was not at the top of my priority list. After a year of doodle grooming frustration, I now GET IT !! I rescued her for my husband, but she ended up rescuing me. She deserves all the high maintenance she now gets!
Shelly on May 14 at 1:25 PM said:

My Doodle was being groomed every 4-5 weeks and now with the quarantine is very overgrown! I try to brush her and I’m not getting down to the skin. She has lots of tangles and mats. Her nails have been cut and ears are clean but her coat is a different story. It looks like maybe several more weeks before she can be groomed. What are others doing?
Marnie on May 17 at 9:21 AM said:

As a mom of two doodle with VASTLY different coats, the most difficult thing for me was having someone tell me what the proper tools were for home care. The greyhound comb was easy enough to find and purchase but when brushing at home with a "slicker" brush (which I do nightly) I was not informed that slicker brushes come in many shapes and sizes. Had I been informed of this from the get-go both my dog AND my groomer would have been thrilled. A short article on appropriate tools for the novice would be AWESOME! My doodle has (I guess you would call it) a double coat - short and curly close to the body and long and fluffy as well. I want to keep my dog's coat longer but really could use some professional advise. Great article!!!
Lisa on May 20 at 8:46 PM said:

Thank you....Some of us just didn’t know. Loved my matted fluff ball and still love my shaved down alien looking baby. Now I know. :-)
Nikki on May 21 at 3:30 PM said:

Wow! I have an almost 2 year old f1b goldendoodle and did not know all of this information. She was very easy to maintain until she reached about a year old. She has a very thick coat and became very hard to manage at that point but knowing now that I shouldn't have bathed her myself and have to do it differently this is probably where we went wrong! Plus she LOVES to play in water. I never get mad at the groomer. When taking my dog in, if I know she needs shaved, I'm the one who brings it up 1st. Shes only had to be fully shaved twice. My dogs wellbeing comes before her hair length and we love her either way! Thanks so much for the useful information!
Anne on June 9 at 8:37 AM said:

Finally an article by a groomer who treats the owners with respect. I am sick of being scolded by groomers online and spoken about like I’m an imbecile. We owners love our dogs and want what’s best for them.

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