11 essential dog grooming tools to help you keep your Cocker Spaniel in tip-top condition and looking gorgeous!
Learn what's available and how and when to use the different brushes, combs, and other dog grooming equipment to help you groom your pet so that he looks like he's just left the groomer's parlour!
If you plan to show your Cocker Spaniel, I recommend you have his coat hand-stripped and lightly trimmed by a professional groomer.
Before choosing your groomer, you should check that they have enough experience in grooming Cocker Spaniels for showing purposes. You must be sure they're experienced enough to hand strip your Cocker's coat.
This is very important if you want to show your Cocker Spaniel!
If your Cocker Spaniel is your family pet and you have no intention of showing him, armed with a good selection of dog grooming tools and the determination to get it right, you should be able to keep him looking just as attractive as those in the show ring!
Brushing and grooming your dog is the easy part; however, trimming and cutting may prove a little tricky for the novice, but you can very quickly learn to do the basics yourself.
Rather than jumping straight into it, you may prefer to take your dog to a professional groomer for the first time.
Stay with him and observe each step. Make notes, and feel free to ask questions if you need clarification on something.
Having watched your Cocker being groomed, you may feel confident enough to try it yourself next time. And don't forget, the more you practice, the better you'll become at cutting and trimming - practice really does make perfect!
A wide variety of dog grooming tools can be picked up reasonably priced in most good pet stores. Here's what you'll need:
If your Cocker Spaniel is still a puppy, you'll only need a few basics, such as a small soft bristle brush and a metal comb.
When your puppy's coat develops feathers, you can move on to some of those items listed above.
Dog brushes may have widely or closely spaced bristles and can generally be used on any coat.
Whilst the bristle brush may not be strong enough to penetrate deep into your Spaniel's long coat, if it's used along the back of your dog, it will create a beautiful shine to his coat.
A soft bristle brush is the ideal piece of dog grooming equipment for a young puppy as it's very gentle.
If you use this type of brush on your puppy each day, it will help to acclimatise him to the different brushes and combs that will be used during the grooming process once he's older.
The metal pin brush is ideal for the Cocker Spaniel as the pins can penetrate deeper into the coat.
The pin brush helps remove dead or loose hair from the silky top coat, but it can also comb out the thick (almost cotton wool-like) undercoat simultaneously.
If you're going to use a pin brush, buy one with rubber tips so that you don't accidentally scratch your Cocker's skin due to over-enthusiastic brushing.
The rubber tips will also help to improve your dog's blood circulation below the skin.
The most popular of the available dog grooming tools is the slicker brush.
It has 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 too easy to accidentally exert too much pressure on the brush.
Even so, when using a slicker brush on your Cocker Spaniel, always brush gently to avoid scratching his skin and causing a slicker burn.
Slicker brushes are great for helping to untangle knots and matting and for removing dead hair. If used regularly, they can help to reduce shedding (if you're unlucky to own a Cocker that sheds a lot!).
The slicker brush can also be used for smoothing the coat after grooming with a pin brush.
This brush may be used on any coat; however, they work better on longer-haired and curly or silky coats; that's why they're ideal for grooming Cocker Spaniels.
Steel combs are very popular and are one of my favourites. I usually use this AFTER I've used a pin brush and/or a slicker to remove tats.
You can see the one in the photo has teeth that are evenly spaced, with a line of shorter teeth in between.
The wider part is used to remove dead hair on the top coat and for helping to remove loose and dead hair from the undercoat, which, if left behind, would cause matting.
The bottom, more closely set tines are for any dead hair that may have been missed the first time.
However, if you prefer, you can buy two separate combs: a wider-toothed comb and a comb with closer steel tines.
Use the wide-toothed comb first, then follow up with the closer-toothed comb.
The de-matting comb is ideal for teasing out mats in your Cocker Spaniel's coat. They break up matted fur and can help to thin out the undercoat and excess hair.
It can break a thick mat into manageable strips; the mat can then be teased out with a steel comb. Here's how:
If you prefer, you can use a coat conditioner to help loosen the hair.
De-matting tools work pretty much in the same way; they all help to break up a mat.
A de-matting comb is probably easier to use, but where it's not possible to comb out a mat, a mat breaker is an invaluable tool for breaking up 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 or want to save money, you could 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 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 in banks to help count notes). The rubber thumb will help you to grip the hair between your finger and thumb to make hand-stripping easier.
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 significantly reduced simply by using a stripping comb.
Dog fleas and ticks not only cause your Cocker (and you!) much irritation but also affect your pet's health. So it's essential to regularly check your dog's coat for signs of fleas.
Flea Combs have very closely spaced teeth and are used to detect and remove fleas in the coat. However, you won't need to use one 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.
can also buy shorter scissors with rounded ends for trimming areas on
and around the face so that the rounded edges won't harm him should he
Another useful tool is the thinning scissors (sometimes referred to as thinning shears). These are used primarily for thinning out heavy coats in summer to help your pet stay cool.
Thinning scissors can thin out excess hair on the neck under your Cocker Spaniel's ears, which needs to be kept neatly trimmed if any matting is to be kept to a minimum.
Keeping the fur trimmed here also helps to get the air circulating around his ears which can help to combat bacteria and ear infections.
And the good news is that thinning scissors can give a smooth hand-stripped look!