Golden Retriever Grooming – Cuts, Trimming, and Styles

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Written by Teresa Eckert

Golden retrievers are known for their beautiful, long, dense coat. This density is largely due to the fact that they actually have two coats or a double coat.

The purpose of the double coat is to trap air between the top coat and undercoat so that your Golden is warm during the cold months and cool in the warm months.

Once or twice a year, your golden will shed it's undercoat. This process helps your golden switch from their winter coat to their summer coat and vise versa. This seasonal shedding is also known as “blowing their coat”.

With all that hair, thoughts about shedding, grooming and even possible health issues are logical concerns.

 To Cut or Not To Cut?

Okay so there is a reason that golden retrievers have a double coat. But cutting it or even shaving it couldn’t hurt – right?


Think again – the consensus for shaving a golden retriever is a definite NO! Your golden needs both two coats since they are designed to keep your dog comfortable in all types of weather.


You can take your golden to a groomer or trim their hair yourself.


There are no dramatic styles needed – your golden is already beautiful why tamper with something that is already perfect!  


It is best to just get your golden's coat trimmed rather than shaving them. This would include trimming their feet as well as their ears and butt. These are areas that often get tangles or mats. 


Groomers more or less follow the flow and lines of your golden’s coats while trimming the long feathery fur, making sure that everything is neat and clean.  If you have a consistent grooming routine, not only will the groomers job be easier but your golden will feel pampered.

Grooming Routine

Let’s start at the beginning with your new golden pup.  Grooming your pup is no different than grooming an adult dog.  The most important thing is to establishing a routine early so that your pup becomes familiar with the process. And it will allow them to grow comfortable with the tools used to groom them.


Here are a few tips to help get them comfortable:


  • Introduce them to the hair dryer - This will help them get used to the sound so when they go to the groomer they won't be freaked out by the sound of their dryers.
  • Touching their paws frequently - By playing with their paws it gets them used to it so when they get their nails trimmed they will be OK with it. 
  • Frequent brushing will help prevent mats and tangles - This will lessen the amount of time it takes to groom your golden.This will also teach them that brushes are not chew toys but will be a favorite event when it is used. 

Steps To Grooming Your Golden:


Bath - This should be the first step included in your grooming routine. Depending on how active and/or dirty your golden gets will determine how often you bathe them. You don’t want to bathe them too often because it can affect their coat and lead to other skin issues.

Drying - You should dry your golden thoroughly and use a hair dryer to make sure they are completely dry.

Brushing - Give your golden a good brushing, making sure that its coat is tangle and mat free. You won’t need to cut or trim your pup until he is older but the daily brushing will prepare your dog for future grooming, cutting and/or trimming.

Groomer or Do It Yourself?

If you have grown up with goldens, raised or bred them, you may feel comfortable grooming and trimming them yourself.


If you feel that your expertise only covers bathing and brushing, then seeing a professional groomer would be in your golden’s best interest. 


If your goldens doesn't like to sit still, then it may also be a good idea to take them to a groomer to get groomed as they have the expertise to get them to sit still while grooming. 

Grooming Tools

Let’s look at the tools needed to maintain your Golden Retriever’s luxurious coat.

These are the tools recommended by professional groomers:
Thinning Shears

Slicker Brush - removes knots and tangles. It also smooths the fur for a shiny coat. It has fine wire bristles with protective nubs to protect the skin.

Bristle Brush - are great for smoothing hair and distributing healthy oils in your dog's hair. This brush can be used on goldens but better suited for dogs that have shorter coats.

Undercoat Rake - These help remove the undercoat hair and prevent matting. This is great for dogs that shed their coat in clumps. The wide set of teeth will pass through the top coat and pull out the dead undercoat hair.

Greyhound Comb - essential tool for fluffing, detangling, and removing dead hair from medium to long-haired dogs

Scissors - a good pair of dog grooming scissors is a must. They are used for trimming around their delicate, sensitive paws and face. Make sure they are straight and have a blunt end.

Thinning Shears - The will help remove small amounts of hair to lessen the bulk of hair on your golden

Blow Dryer - This is nice to have to make sure your golden is completely dry. Some use a dryer similar to a human's blow dryer and others chose to use a professional dryer. 

Step 1 - Bathing

There are different ways to begin your grooming process. Some prefer to bathe the dogs first before trimming, while others prefer to bathe them after the trim. Either way, here is what you need to do to give your dog a bath.


  1. Completely saturate your dog’s coat until water reaches the skin
  2. Use a dog approved shampoo
  3. Apply the shampoo in circular motions, the same direction that the hair grows.
  4. Leave the shampoo in for 5-10 minutes
  5. Rinse thoroughly and repeat
  6. Make sure to rinse your golden really good. You don't want to leave any soap on their skin as it may cause an irritation.

For even more complete how-to bathe your golden, be sure to check out our full how to guide

Step 2 - Drying

Some people choose to let their golden dry naturally. However, to make sure they don't have any issues, we recommend drying your golden all the way. 


  1. Towel dry your golden to remove as much water as possible. Since they have lots of hair, you may need to use more than one towel.
  2. Next pull out your blow dryer. Try using it in advance to make sure your golden doesn't have issues with you using it.
  3. Use the lowest heat setting as well as the lowest blowing speed. Make sure to keep the blow dryer moving and don't stop in one spot for to long. Doing so may cause an issue with your golden's skin.

 As much as we love our Annie, we don't want to share her wet dog smell. It is a good idea to have a dedicated towel for your golden. And just so we know which one is hers, we bought her a couple of special towels. Here is the towel we have. 

Step 3 - Brushing

Brushing your golden should be an enjoyable event for your pooch. I know my golden puppy very seldom sits still. However, when the brushes come out she is all about holding still. 


A routine for brushing should include the following:

  1. Daily - Use a slicker brush on your golden to remove any tangles as well as to keep their coat nice and smooth. This will also help prevent any mats that may occur from tangles not being removed. 
  2. Weekly - Use a de-shedding rake to remove any dead hair from your golden's undercoat. This will help prevent tangles and mats.

For even more complete how-to handle removing mats and what brushes are the best for this, be sure to check out these articles.  


How To Remove Mats

Best Golden Retriever Brushes

Step 4 - Clipping Nails

Clipping your golden's nails is an important part of grooming. Keeping their nails trimmed helps prevent issues with their toes or with their leg joints.

How often to trim their nails varies by each dog. A good rule of thumb is that if you can hear their nails clicking on your floor it is time for a nail trim. If your golden spends a lot of time indoors on carpet, they may need their nails trimmed more often than a dog who is walking on hard ground or hard surfaces all the time. 


Steps to Clipping Nails:


  1. Make sure you have a hold of your golden. Keep them calm so that you are not trying to clip their nails while they are moving. 
  2. Start with the hind legs then move to the front legs. It is less likely for them to have issues as they are sometimes less sensitive than the front legs. 
  3. With one paw in hand, put a small part of the nail in the clippers and cut from the bottom side of the nail. Do this quickly as this will prevent your golden from moving mid-clip.
  4. Typically, cutting at a 90 degree angle is easier and should keep you from hitting your dogs quick. Hitting this will cause bleeding and pain for your pooch. If your pooch has black nails, it is best to cut a little at a time since it is hard to see the quick.
  5. If you do by chance cut the quick, you should treat the bleeding. To do this have styptic powder on hand if you cut your pooches nails. Put some of the styptic powder on a cotton swab or ball and hold on the bleeding nail. This powder will help stop the bleeding. 
  6. Make sure you get all of their nails including the dew claw if it hasn't been removed.  
  7. Once you are done give your pooch lots of love and a treat for doing such a good job. 

For even more complete how-to on clipping or grinding your dog's nail, be sure to check out our full how to guide


Also be sure to check out which clippers and grinders are the best for your golden here

Step 5  - Hair Trimming

Trimming your golden's hair will help keep then clean and neat. It will also help prevent tangles mats. Tangles and mats are not fun to remove from your golden's hair.  


There are a few areas that you can trim to make sure your golden is neat and free of mats/tangles.

Paws

Keeping your golden's paws need will help prevent any issues with mats/tangles as well as mud clods attaching themselves to their feet.

  1. Hold your golden's paw and start with trimming the hair on the bottom of their paw even with the pads. You can do this with scissors or with a clipper.
  2. Trim the hair in between their pads. Do not cut it all the way down to the skin. This hair helps protect the skin between their pads.
  3. Trim the hair on the top of the foot. Using your thinning shears, trim the hair so that it is nicely shaped around the foot. 

Tail

Keeping your golden's tail neat and tidy will help prevent mats and tangles. 


  1. Make sure you have brushed thru the tail and removed any mats/tangles. 
  2. Grab the tail and bring your had down to the end of the tip of the tail bone. Put your index finger and thumb right above the tip. Trim off any hair that is above your fingers. 
  3. Grab the end and make a pom pom with the fur. Using your thinning shears, trim around this area to make it rounded and not pointed.
  4. Next take the tail and hold it out straight from your golden. Using the thinning shears trim off any straggly hair that is on the tail. Make sure to keep your shears parallel to your golden's tail. 
  5. Trim the hair at the base of the tail near your golden's anus. Make sure that it blends with the feathers off your golden's tail. 
  6. Hold the tail out again and make sure that their tail is rounded and not pointy.

Ears

Keeping your golden's ears trimmed up will help prevent mats/tangles. This is the most common place for golden's to get tangles. 


  1. Start by using your thinning shears vertically on the fine fuzz behind your golden's ear. Cut 3-4 times with the thinning shears. Brush the hair out and take a look at your work. It the hair lays down on the neck then stop trimming. if not, repeat this step
  2. Next trim the hair on the inside bottom of your golden's ear. Moving from the farthest away from their head to their face. Make a few cuts with the thinning shears. Brush it out and take a look again. If it lays OK, then move on. If not, repeat. 
  3. Trim the hair around the opening of the ear. Make sure to not drop any hair into your golden's ear canal. 
  4. Trim the hair along the inside top of your golden's ear. This should only take one cut.
  5. Finally, use the thinning shears vertically to trim the hair on the outside of the ear. Do not take too much off as it will not be flattering to your golden. Trim a little at a time. Brush and make sure it is laying flat. 

Be sure to check out our article on taking care of your golden's ears and our post about the best ear cleaning solutions


Shoulders

Trimming your golden's shoulders will give them a neat and clean appearance. 


  1. Holding the thinning shears vertically trim with the direction of the coat. This is just to reduce the bulk of the hair in this area. It is best to take a little off and then brush it. Look at your work and determine if it is laying nicely or if you need to take a little more off. 

It is perfectly fine to trim and shape your golden's hair, but you should avoid shaving your golden retriever unless directed to for medical reasons. For more information check out our article on why you should not shave a golden


Once your golden has been beautifully groomed, get yourself a t-shirt and Party With A Golden.

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About the author

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Teresa Eckert

Teresa is a co-founder of Golden Retriever Love and is the fur-mom to Annie the Golden Retriever and Remi the Chocolate Lab. Teresa enjoys spoiling her pups and occasionally writing some great content for us on this blog!

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