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How to Groom Golden Retrievers (Why Your Dog’s Odor Could Be a Red Flag)

Keeping a Golden Retriever well-groomed is more challenging than it seems, leading to matting, unpleasant odors, and even health issues. With a variety of grooming tasks to manage, pet owners often feel overwhelmed. This comprehensive guide demystifies the process, offering step-by-step advice on everything from brushing and bathing to ear cleaning and nail trimming, ensuring your furry friend stays in top shape.
How to Groom Golden Retrievers

Table of Contents

Grooming your Golden Retriever is not just about making your dog look good. It’s also about keeping your pet healthy and happy. Imagine a coat that shines and a pet that smells fresh; that’s the outcome of proper grooming. This guide will walk you through all you need to know about grooming your Golden Retriever. We’ll cover brushing, bathing, ear cleaning, and even nail trimming.

Does a Golden Retriever Need Grooming?

The short answer is yes. A Golden Retriever has a thick double coat that serves various purposes like insulation and protection. However, this beautiful coat can easily get matted and tangled if you don’t take care of it. Imagine trying to comb through a big clump of knots; it’s uncomfortable for you and even more so for your dog. Neglecting grooming can also lead to skin problems like infections because dirt and bacteria can get trapped under those mats.

So, grooming is a must for this breed. Not only does it keep your dog’s coat clean and healthy, but it also provides you with the chance to check for signs of health issues like skin infections or parasites. Plus, let’s face it, a well-groomed Golden Retriever is just a joy to cuddle with.

Types of Grooming Tools You’ll Need

You can’t paint a masterpiece without the right brushes, right? The same goes for grooming your Golden Retriever. Here are the tools you’ll need:

  • Brushes: A slicker brush, undercoat rake, and a pin brush.
  • Clippers and Scissors: For trimming hair and snipping away mats.
  • Dog Shampoo and Conditioner: Aim for hypoallergenic and dog-specific products.
  • Ear Cleaning Solution: To keep those ears squeaky clean.
  • Nail Clippers or Grinder: For keeping those paws pretty.
  • Towels and Blow Dryer: To dry off your pup after a nice bath. You’ll want to use a blow dryer that has a “cool” setting to avoid overheating your dog’s skin.

All these tools are easily available in pet stores or online. You can measure everything in terms of your comfort; for example, brushes come in various sizes, so choose one that fits comfortably in your hand.

How to Brush a Golden Retriever

Brushing your Golden Retriever isn’t just running a brush through its coat. There’s a technique to it. Always start at the head and move toward the tail. Use your slicker brush first to remove loose hairs and then your undercoat rake for the thick undercoat. The pin brush is great for finishing up and making the coat shine. Remember to brush in the direction of hair growth.

Brushing shouldn’t be a drag for your dog. You can keep treats nearby to make it a rewarding experience. Keep sessions short initially and then extend them as your dog gets used to it.

How Often Should I Bathe My Golden Retriever?

Bathing your Golden Retriever too often can strip its coat of natural oils, leading to dry skin. On average, you should aim for a bath every 6 to 8 weeks. That’s about every one and a half to two months. You might need to adjust this depending on your dog’s activity level and the time of year.

Remember to always use dog-specific shampoo and conditioner. Human shampoo has a different pH level and can irritate your dog’s skin. After the bath, towel-dry your dog and use a blow dryer on the cool setting to fully dry your pet.

How to Clean a Golden Retriever’s Ears

Cleaning your dog’s ears is crucial to prevent infections. For this task, you’ll need a good dog ear-cleaning solution. Insert the solution into the ear canal and gently massage the base of the ear. This helps to break up any debris inside. Then, use a soft cloth or cotton ball to wipe the inside of the ear.

Your dog might not like having its ears cleaned at first. Just like brushing, you can use treats to make this a more enjoyable experience for your pet. Over time, your dog will get used to it.

How to Trim Golden Retrievers’ Paws

Golden Retrievers have hairy paws, and that hair can get dirty really quickly. The hair can also hide things like thorns or sharp objects. Trimming the hair on your dog’s paws is quite simple. All you need is a good pair of dog hair clippers or scissors. Carefully snip away the hair that’s growing between the paw pads. This is also a good time to check for any signs of cracking or infection in the paw pads themselves.

Remember, your dog’s paws are sensitive. Always be gentle and patient during the trimming process to avoid causing your pet any distress.

How to Cut a Golden Retriever’s Nails

Long nails can make walking uncomfortable for your dog and can even affect its posture. A nail clipper or grinder is your best friend here. Always clip away from the quick (the pink part inside the nail where the nerves and blood vessels are). If you clip the quick, it can be painful for your dog and cause bleeding. If you’re nervous about doing this yourself, it’s okay to ask for professional help.

Just like with brushing and ear cleaning, nail clipping is something your dog needs to get used to. So, take it slow at first and always reward good behavior with treats.

Does a Golden Retriever Smell?

Yes, Golden Retrievers do have a natural doggy odor, but it’s generally not overpowering or offensive. However, if you notice a strong, foul smell coming from your Golden Retriever, it could be a sign of an underlying health issue or lack of grooming. A sudden change in your dog’s natural smell should be a cue for you to dig a little deeper.

One common reason for a bad odor is skin infections, often caused by yeast or bacteria. This usually happens when the skin is dirty or moist for an extended period. Regular grooming, including baths and brushing, can go a long way in preventing these infections.

Dental issues can also be a source of bad odor. Just like in humans, poor dental hygiene can lead to bad breath in dogs. If you notice your dog’s breath smells foul, consider adding dental chews to their diet and brushing their teeth regularly.

Sometimes, your dog might roll in something smelly while playing outside. In such cases, a thorough bath is usually enough to get rid of the odor. If the bad smell persists even after a bath, consult your vet to rule out any medical issues.

If your Golden Retriever enjoys swimming, be aware that wet fur can also create an unpleasant smell. Make sure to dry your dog thoroughly after a swim. You can use a blow dryer set to a cool setting, but make sure to keep it at least 30 centimeters (about 12 inches) away to avoid overheating your dog’s skin.

So while Golden Retrievers do have a natural scent, proper grooming and care can ensure that your dog smells fresh and clean most of the time. If you notice an unusually strong odor, consult your vet to rule out any health concerns. Remember, it’s always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your furry friend’s well-being.

How Often Should a Golden Retriever Be Groomed?

Grooming is not a one-time thing. It’s an ongoing process. Aim to brush your Golden Retriever at least once a week. Baths can happen every 6 to 8 weeks, and you should check and clean the ears at least once a month. Nail trimming can be done every two to four weeks, depending on how quickly your dog’s nails grow.

DIY Grooming vs. Professional Grooming Services

When it comes to grooming your Golden Retriever, you have two main options: doing it yourself or opting for professional grooming services. Both approaches have their pros and cons, and the right choice often depends on your comfort level, time availability, and your dog’s specific needs.

DIY Grooming


  • Cost-Effective: Once you’ve invested in good-quality grooming tools, DIY grooming can save you money over time. There’s no need to pay for each visit to a professional groomer.
  • Bonding Time: Grooming your dog at home can be a great bonding experience. It helps build trust and strengthens your relationship with your furry friend.
  • Convenience: You can groom your dog at any time that suits you, without needing to book appointments or travel to a grooming salon.


  • Learning Curve: It might take some time to get the hang of different grooming tasks. While brushing is generally straightforward, things like nail trimming can be tricky and require a steady hand.
  • Time-Consuming: Depending on your skill level and your dog’s cooperation, grooming can take a considerable amount of time.
  • Risk of Mistakes: If you’re not careful, you could accidentally nick your dog’s skin while trimming hair or cut the quick while trimming nails, which can cause bleeding and pain.

Professional Grooming Services


  • Expertise: Professional groomers have the training and experience to handle a variety of breeds and temperaments. They also know how to spot signs of skin issues or parasites.
  • Efficiency: A professional groomer can usually complete the grooming process in less time than it would take to do it yourself, especially for more complicated tasks like haircuts or de-matting.
  • Comprehensive Care: Many professional grooming services offer extras like flea and tick treatments, anal gland expression, and even doggy massages.


  • Cost: Professional grooming can get expensive, especially if your Golden Retriever requires frequent visits.
  • Appointment-Based: You’ll need to schedule your visits in advance, which might not always align with your or your dog’s needs at the moment.
  • Stress for the Dog: Some dogs find trips to the groomer stressful, especially if they’re not used to the environment or the people handling them.

The Middle Ground

Of course, you can also choose a mixed approach. Maybe you’re comfortable brushing your dog and cleaning its ears but prefer to leave tasks like nail trimming to the pros. That way, you can save some money while also benefiting from a professional’s expertise for the more challenging aspects of grooming.

Ultimately, the decision between DIY grooming and professional services depends on various factors including your budget, skills, and your dog’s specific needs. Both options aim to keep your Golden Retriever clean, healthy, and happy, which is the end goal of any good grooming routine.


Grooming your Golden Retriever is not just about looks; it’s about maintaining a happy and healthy lifestyle for your pet. Regular grooming prevents mats, reduces odors, and allows you to check for signs of health issues. So grab those brushes and make grooming an enjoyable and rewarding experience for both you and your furry friend.