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Grooming your Cocker Spaniel

I am often asked for tips on grooming and coat care, so have decided to write a page on the basics of grooming, not trimming, this is really best left to an experienced groomer.

I start grooming our puppies from as early as two to three weeks old. The pups are handled daily, stroked and a small fine tooth comb gently combed through their soft fine coat. By the time the pups are around five to six weeks old i start to gently open their mouths to check their teeth, I examine their ears daily also and gently wipe around the inside with a soft cotton bud. This helps to get them used to handling and eventually (hopefully) teeth cleaning and ear cleaning as they get older, it is also a great help to your vet, as they will usually want to check your puppies mouth and ears, to make sure there are no problems when you take your puppy for his/her first injections. If your puppy wriggles about in the early weeks when you are checking ears, teeth etc. Wrap them up comfortably, but securely in a towel, this will usually help to keep them still, so that you can continue grooming without causing too much distress to your puppy, eventually as your puppy gets used to the routine, you won’t need the towel.

It is never too early to bath and brush your puppy, i am often asked ‘when should i bath my puppy’, the simple answer is, when they are dirty. Just make sure that your puppy is thoroughly dried and doesn’t become chilled after bathing. My puppies are all bathed at least once before they leave for their new homes, puppies walk through their food, often smear it all over themselves and their litter mates during weaning, they often walk, run through, or sit in something that you would rather they didn’t, this is usually unavoidable and we can’t put nappies or bibs on puppies can we, but they would have fun taking them off, chewing and playing tug of war with them!


Brush your puppy daily, i start by placing them on a level surface (grooming table) you could use any table really but make sure the surface isn’t slippery or your puppy will not be able to relax and won’t feel confident with the routine, you could use a rubber car mat placed on your table. I usually start off by lying puppy on his/her back to get them used to being groomed underneath, since these are the areas that will tend to matt and become uncomfortable as the coat grows. They will struggle at first as this is a vulnerable position for a puppy/dog to be in, but for the early days i make do with just gently stroking their tummy and talking to them in a gentle tone to reassure them that this routine is an enjoyable one, eventually they do start to relax and enjoy the routine. Using a soft brush and comb in the early days will suffice, but as your puppy grows older and the coat longer, you should start to use a bristle brush and comb or a slicker brush and comb. Brush and comb out well between the back legs, carefully to avoid painful tugging if there are any small knots or matt’s, then brush and comb gently, up towards their tummy and towards their front legs. I make sure to comb out well underneath the front legs and chest as this is where most small knots and matt’s if there are any, can be found. The fluffy and sometimes profuse puppy coat will matt very quickly and easily in these areas, even if your puppy isn’t a typical bouncy, rough and tumble Cocker! When the underneath areas are thoroughly groomed, sit your puppy up and start combing the head and ears, again gently to avoid tugging any small knots or matt’s that could be behind or on the ears. Cockers ears are generally used to trail through their dinner and water bowl to (even when you use a spaniel bowl sometimes!) sweep up the ground when they are outside exercising and used to bring home twigs, leaves, mud and anything really that will adhere to the ear feathering trailing along the ground. On the subject of ears, be very careful when exercising your Cocker, to avoid grass seeds, these will cling to your Cockers ears and sometimes get inside the ear canal, once this happens, you will have to visit your vet to have the grass seed removed, not nice for your dog and can cause a great deal of pain and discomfort until removed. Make sure to check your puppy/dogs ears and coat for these seeds after exercising. When the head, ears and front feathering of your puppy/dog are thoroughly brushed and combed, stand him/her up and continue brushing down the neck and back, whilst they are standing you can comb or brush the feathering on their tummy and legs. When you have finished grooming, praise your puppy/dog and take him/her down from the table. Your puppy/dog will soon get used to this routine and may eventually start to remind you that it is grooming time (mine do) as they enjoy this individual attention so much and they will feel good afterwards too, don’t we when we have just been to the hairdressers?


When your puppy is ready for his/her first haircut, at around five to six months old, or older, (depending on coat) he/she shouldn’t be distressed as he/she will be used to the handling and grooming routine and should be a pleasure for the groomer to strip/trim.

Below are some links, where you can find basic grooming products and much more, for your Cocker.

VioVet   Here you can buy ear cleaners, wormers and much more for your dog.