Drying dogs is a skill every groomer needs to perfect. While the technique may vary from one coat type to the next, developing a drying routine will ensure you don’t miss anything and improve your time grooming.
With that in mind, it is important that every groomer understands the proper steps to dry and prepare a coat for the finish groom. Below, I’ll share tips on taming different coat types using techniques designed for healthy, regularly groomed dogs.
Of course, step one is making sure you have the right equipment, so every groomer should be sure to have a high-velocity dryer and a “fluff” dryer. I use a free-standing dryer or a human handheld dryer with a device that holds it for fluff drying, as I am a firm believer in needing two free hands to finish drying correctly.
I find it easier to dry, de-shed and detangle clean hair under the dryer, so I go directly to the tub with regularly scheduled clients. After the bath, I always place a towel on the table, as well as keeping one in my spare hand to catch the water blown out of the coat. Also, I put a Happy Hoodie on the dog to protect its ears, as well as using ear protection for myself. PB
Short/Medium-Haired Dogs (e.g., Pugs & Golden Retrievers)
Step 1: Start with a high-velocity dryer at the rear of the dog, so it can get used to the sensation and noise. Holding the nozzle close to the skin to blast water and loose hair out, work your way up towards the front of the dog.
After using the high-velocity dryer to get the coat as dry as possible, I have the luxury of putting the dog into a cage dryer with no heating element. However, this does not render the dog finished.
Step 2: I put the dog up on the table and, even if I think it is dry, I use the fluff dryer to methodically go through the coat completely.
Step 3: I use a variety of brushes and tools, depending on which works best to remove all the dead hair.
Natural Backs & Hand-Stripped Coats
Step 1: Using the high-velocity dryer close to the skin, I move the nozzle from side to side while slowing working towards the head. This helps “set” the coat to stay flat.
Step 2: I run a brush through the coat to make sure it is all lying flat and in the correct direction. You can invest in drying jackets, but I find a towel and some large pins can work just as well. This will keep the coat flat while you dry the dog’s furnishings.
Long-Haired Dogs (e.g., Maltese & Bearded Collies)
Step 1: Using a high-velocity dryer on dogs with long hair takes some practice. If you aren’t paying close attention to what the air is doing with the hair, or if you’re moving the nozzle around too fast, whip mats will occur and result in more work. I like to direct the high-velocity dryer toward the feet of dogs with this type of coat. I keep the dryer on the low setting and hold it away from the hair to get some of the wetness out of the rest of the coat.
Step 2: Using my fluff dryer and brush, I start at the left rear foot and move up the leg. I also dry the inside of the right rear leg. The dryer separates the hair, showing any tangles. Always brush where the air is directed at the dog. The brush separates the hairs, allowing air to reach the base of the coat. Move up one side, turn the dog and repeat the same steps on this side. I dry the head last.
Step 3: Finally, check through the coat completely with a comb to ensure everything is dry and tangle free.
Curly Cats (e.g., Poodles & Bichons)
Step 1: I use the high-velocity dryer with the nozzle close to the skin to get the coat 99 percent dry. I never cage dry curly coated dogs unless that is the desired look. It is very hard to uncurl a dried coat.
Step 2: Stretch drying or fluff drying gets the coat as straight as possible, thus allowing for a plush look after scissoring or clipping. Getting the natural curl or wave out of the coat is done with the fluff dryer using warm air and brush. The heat will set the hair, keeping it straight.
I follow the same routine of moving around the dog. Remember to only apply air to the area you are brushing. I follow my routine of starting at the left rear leg and drying the inside of the right leg, working my way forward and doing the same to the front legs. Turn the dog to the other side and repeat the routine, drying the head last.
Step 3: Check with a comb.
Professional groomer Anne Francis, CMG, is a grooming competitor, speaker and Andis educator. She works at The Village Groomer in Walpole, Mass. Is there a breed or cut that you’d like to see featured in the Grooming Table? Send your suggestions to email@example.com.