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Cockerpoodle crazy! (And other poodle crosses)

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Its becoming more than apparent that cockerpoos are getting more and more popular by the day! Infact I have more cockerpoos than anything else on my books! By far! As dogs go, they are lovely, cute and fluffy but if I'm honest they are the highest maintenance dogs from a grooming point of view I have any experience of! Even compared to the odd poodle that has passed by my scissors! With that in mind I have also noticed that lots of you struggle with basic grooming at home and may not necessarily have the right equipment, so I thought I would do a quick blog entry which hopefully will be helpful. Please don't think this is me being patronising, far from it. I wouldn't have had a clue either if I hadn't spent the last 3 years sussing out what works best! At one stage, before training as a dog groomer I quite fancied a cockerpoo.. if I'm quite honest I wouldn't now.. way too much work so hats off to all of you for committing! Firstly a quick overview.. the majority of cockerpoos are non shedding. That's half the appeal! But they are not non moulting, they still have a steady flow of dead hair that needs combing out. Maybe not much, but its there. If it doesn't get combed out it matts. Additionally salt water, mud, sand, food etc all gets tangled up in a longer coat and has to be removed. In the first 8 months or so of a cockerpoos life its puppy coat is pretty easy to manage. This is why I can do a fantastic first groom and pup looks amazing when they leave! Unfortunately at some point after 8 months the puppy coat moults and the adult coat comes through, if the puppy coat isn't groomed out it matts.. And this is why virtually every cockerpoo I have groomed comes in for its 2nd or 3rd groom and I have no option but to clip it off and the poor pup does the walk of shame out of the front door. The matts are impossible to penetrate humanely and many a coat comes off in a whole sheet of felted fur. I'm a little disappointed if I'm honest that many breeders don't seem to give new owners the heads up at all. £40 to £50 a groom is a lot of money.. and I would suggest more of a commitment than vets bills! And this is every 4 to 8 weeks ideally. And maintenance in between is no minor feat! Therefore I thought I would put my help list in writing, it will hopefully help keep your dog happy and comfortable and maybe even reduce your grooming bills :) The main thing is having the right equipment, essential gear are a slicker brush and a deep tooth comb. The comb in particular needs to go right through your cockerpoos coat to the skin. All over! The reason for this is to keep the whole length of fur tangle free. The groomer uses cutting blades on clippers, generally with a guard comb which controls the length of cut. The teeth of the guard comb need to get right through to the skin. If the fur is matted the only way round that is to use a short blade that slides under the matt. This will cut very close to the skin. Of course the odd tangle can be brushed out, that's not a problem at all. But if we have to spend too long taking out tangles it either adds to the price of the groom as it takes longer and if I'm honest is not a pleasant experience for the dog. Even when we try and do it gently its still a tugging feeling and I'm no vet but I'm almost convinced many cockerpoos seem to have quite thin skin. For small matts we can use a detangler which really helps but its not practical for large scale matts. On that note a detangler at home can really help with maintenance, not only does it help with combing out but the product can help minimise new tangles. There are lots of different ones out there. I use a professional product, Demelex, its not cheap but it does help! And I guess you do get what you pay for. The other thing that is really helpful is when your dog gets wet, don't rub with a towel.. gently squeeze a towel over them instead, or use a microfiber towel or chamois style cloth. Your adult cockerpoo will continue to be pretty high maintenance for the rest of its life, unless you have one which follows the spaniel line and there don't seem to be that many of those around. The best advice I can give is groom frequently at home and make it fun, use rewards, especially for feet, beards and tails which are often stressful. Paws in particular seem to be an issue for many and I think its probably because they feel vulnerable f they are held. I like to use treats but not all dogs will take a treat especially if they are stressed. Use a hairdryer on them from a young age.. even if they are not wet, the sensation and noise is quite scary if they have never felt it. Comb, comb, comb, with particular attention to legs and feet, and around the neck line where the harness goes if your dog uses one. Buy a cheap electric tooth brush and regularly run it over your dog, especially head and legs and feet, it mimics clippers. The other suggestion is find a groomer that suits your dog, they have a lifetime of grooms to cope with , I really think it should be fun, a whole 2 hours generally of full on fuss and one to one attention but sadly it isn't always like that. The more time you can spend grooming them as pups and making it fun the easier they will find it for the future. :) I fully agree that your dog groomer is there to make your dog beautiful and do what you can't, but with the best will in the world we cant brush through 2 months of matting. On a positive note though, please don't feel bad if your dog gets clipped off, I think 90% of cockerpoos go through it..infact the matts seem to appear out of nowhere at coat change! Put it down to experience and make the most of a fresh start :) :)

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