Quality dog grooming tools are essential for grooming Cocker Spaniels to help give Cockers that professionally-groomed look!
If you plan to show your Cocker Spaniel, I recommend you have his coat hand stripped and lightly trimmed by a professional groomer.
However, before choosing your groomer, check that they have adequate experience of grooming Cocker Spaniels for showing purposes, and that they're experienced enough to hand strip your Cocker's coat.
This is very important for showing purposes!
If your Spaniel is your family pet, and you have no intention to show him, then, armed with a good selection of dog grooming tools and the determination to get it right, you should be able to keep your pet looking just as attractive as those in the show ring!
Brushing and grooming your dog is the easy part; it's the trimming and cutting that may prove a little tricky for the novice - however, practice really does makes perfect.
If you don't plan to show your Cocker Spaniel, you could very easily learn to do the basics yourself.
Rather than jumping straight into it, you may like to consider taking him to a professional grooming parlour for the first time.
If you stay with him you could watch each step and make plenty of mental notes. In fact, your breeder will probably be more than happy to show you what to do.
Don't be afraid to ask questions if you're not sure of something.
Having watched your pet being groomed, you may feel comfortable and confident enough to attempt it yourself next time!
There are a variety of grooming equipment available on the market.
The items you are likely to need for grooming Cocker Spaniels are listed below:
If you're grooming a Cocker Spaniel puppy you'll only need a few basics at first - for example, a small, soft bristle brush and a metal comb.
When your puppy's coat begins to develop feathers, you can then move on to some of those items listed above.
Brushes may have widely or closely spaced bristles and, in general, can be used on any coat.
However, the bristle brush may not be strong enough to penetrate deep into the Spaniel's long coat, but if it's used along the back of your dog, it will create a beautiful shine.
A soft bristle brush is an ideal piece of dog grooming equipment for puppies as it is very gentle. Using a soft bristle brush on your puppy each day will help to acclimatise him to the different brushes and combs that will be used during the grooming process.
The metal pin brush is an ideal grooming tool for the Cocker Spaniel. The pins on this brush will penetrate deeply into the longer coat and will help to remove any dead or loose hair as well as the undercoat.
I recommend you use a metal pin brush with rubber tips to avoid accidentally scratching your pet with the metal tips as a result of over-enthusiastic brushing.
The rubber tips will also help to improve your pet's blood circulation below the skin.
Probably the most popular of the dog grooming tools is the slicker brush.
Slicker brushes have very thin metal wire tines which are slightly hooked over at the ends.
The tines are set into a foam or rubber base to allow them to give a little, which is ideal as it's very easy to exert too much pressure on the brush.
Even so, when using a slicker brush on your Cocker, always brush gently to avoid scratching your Cocker's skin and giving your pet slicker burn.
Slicker brushes are great for helping to untangle knots and matting, for removing dead hair, and if used regularly, they can help to reduce shedding.
The slicker brush can also be used for smoothing the coat after grooming with a pin brush.
The slicker may be used on any coat; however, they work better on longer-haired coats, and curly or silky coats; that's why they're ideal for grooming Cocker Spaniels.
Steel combs are another popular grooming tool, and are available with varyingly spaced and sized teeth.
A wide-toothed comb is ideal for helping to remove the undercoat from Spaniels, which if left behind, would cause matting.
Use the wide toothed comb first, then follow up with a closer toothed comb to pick up any dead hair that may not have been removed.
The de-matting comb is ideal for teasing out mats in your Cocker Spaniel's coat.
This is an invaluable tool for breaking up those mats that can't be combed out with a de-matting comb.
The mat breaker slices the mat into strips so that each section can then be worked on with a comb or slicker brush.
If you don't have a mat breaker, you could simply cut the mat into strips with a sharp pair of scissors - just be careful not to cut right up to the base of the mat as you may cut your pet's skin.
A grooming glove is a brush that you wear on your hand, like a glove, for grooming your Spaniel. It has soft rubber bristles on one side, and has short wire bristles on the other.
The rubber bristles loosen the dead hair and the wire bristles remove it.
If you're hand-stripping your Cocker Spaniel's coat, you'll need either a rubber glove, or rubber thumbs (as seen used in banks to help count notes). The rubber thumb will help you to grip the hair between your finger and thumb to aid hand-stripping.
If you're not going to use the finger and thumb method of hand stripping to remove the excess of soft hair on your Cocker's head, you could use a stripping comb to give a smooth finish.
The Cocker Spaniel coat may show cut marks where ordinary scissors or clippers have been used. These marks can be greatly reduced simply by using a stripping comb.
Dog fleas and ticks not only cause your Cocker (and you!) much irritation, but they can also affect his health, that's why it's very important to check his coat regularly for signs of fleas.
Flea Combs have very closely spaced teeth and are used to detect and remove fleas in the coat. However, you may not need to use a flea comb if you regularly give your pet flea treatment as recommended by your vet.
A good pair of cutting scissors, around 7 or 8" long, may be used to keep your Cocker's hair under and around the ear canal neatly trimmed.
You can also buy shorter scissors with rounded ends for trimming areas on and around the face. The rounded edges won't harm him should he move suddenly.
Another useful grooming tool is the thinning scissors (sometimes known as thinning shears) which are used primarily for thinning out heavy coats in summer to help your pet stay cool, but they can give a smooth hand-stripped appearance.
Thinning scissors can be used to thin out excess hair on the neck under your Cocker Spaniel's ears, which needs to be kept neatly trimmed if matting is to be avoided.
When thinning the hair on ears, take care not to nip the sensitive folds of skin at the top of your Cocker's ear.
Now that you're familiar with some of the dog grooming tools available, it's time to put them to work and learn more about brushing your dog.
Photo Credits - In order of viewing:
1. Birgit Reitz-hofmann at http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photography-dog-brushing-tools-image5794132
2. Mihail Syarov at http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photography-pets-comb-image5390302