It’s no secret why the Labrador Retriever is America’s number one family pet. Their low maintenance and wonderful temperament make them a perfect family addition. When looking for a family dog, the amount of maintenance (i.e. grooming) is often a big consideration. Labs do not usually require trips to the grooming parlor once a month like many breeds of dogs do. You can take care of your labs grooming needs right at home using your own bathtub and tools, and not have to spend a lot of time doing it either!
Labs love to be brushed, although brushing doesn’t need to be done everyday. Usually once or twice a week will do. During the shedding season (fall and spring), you may want to brush three or four times a week. This will eliminate having hair everywhere! Brushes with nylon or natural bristles work best. During the shedding season, however, you may want to try a shedding blade, generally used for horses. The small teeth in flea combs also work great for getting all the dead hair out at anytime of year. Even if your lab doesn’t have fleas, you may want to try the flea comb trick for a real good brushing.
You should also give your lab a bath when he or she really needs it. Usually twice a month will do. Bathing your lab too much will dry out his skin. Most “doggie” shampoos do the trick for bathing. You may or may not want to use a conditioner on your dog. Usually a conditioner is not necessary. If your lab likes to get dirty a lot in between baths, simple water will work to get the dirt off, so not over bathe your dog. When you have finished bathing him; dry him off the best you can with a towel. Special hair dryers that attach to the outside of your dog’s crate can be purchased for the winter months.
When you give your lab a bath, you should check his eyes and ears. Look to see if there is any discharge or irritation in the eyes. If there is a discharge, you can take a cotton ball with boiled water on it, allow it to cool, and then carefully wipe around the eye to remove discharge. If you see irritation in the eye, you should contact your veterinarian. Your lab could have an infection that needs medical attention. The ears should be cleaned out with a dry cotton ball every time you bathe your dog. Simply wipe the dry cotton ball inside the ear. Don’t worry about getting deep into the ear. Only clean what you can see with the naked eye. If the ear appears red and irritated or has an odor coming from it, call your veterinarian. Your lab might have an ear infection. Because lab’s have ears that don’t get much air exposure, they are more prone to infections.
Last, but not least, you should trim your dog’s nails. This only needs to be done every three to five weeks. You should use a large breed dog clipper. Take off just the end of the nail where it starts to curl under. If you cut too much the nail will bleed! If this happens, you should use styptic sticks to stop the bleeding. These are available in most pet stores. By trimming the nails often you will train the quick in the nail to recede. By training the quick to recede, you will have less of a chance of making your lab bleed. Also, walking your lab regularly on pavement will help keep the nails short.
So, as you can see, labs are fairly low maintenance. You can make your lab look great by grooming him yourself right at home. Grooming does not require that much of your time either. This leaves you and Rover time to do more important activities, like fetch!!