How to Groom a Labradoodle – Step by Step Instructions

As a Labradoodle owner, one of the decisions you will face is whether to groom your dog yourself or to send him for regular appointments with a professional groomer. If you choose to do this yourself at home, you will certainly save some money. Also, grooming your Labradoodle yourself is a great way of bonding with your dog and spending quality time with him.

When we talk about grooming, we can mean the day to day maintenance and brushing that is required or ‘the works’ – bathing, clipping, trimming, scissor cutting, and styling the coat. Daily maintenance brushing is quite simple and something that every Labradoodle owner has to do at home, but a full groom takes a little practice.


Let’s start with daily brushing. This is a relatively quick and easy process so long as it is done regularly to prevent matting and you have the right tools. It is also important with both types of grooming that you start from day one when your dog is a pup so that he gets used to it and stands calmly while you take care of his coat.

To keep your dog’s coat in tip-top condition you need three types of brush. The first and most important is a metal comb, preferably double-sided with wide teeth on one side and fine teeth on the other. Make sure you comb through the entire coat every day, paying particular attention to the ears, tail, furnishings, legs, and under the ‘armpits’ as these areas are the most prone to matting.

Once you have gone through the whole coat with your comb, finish with either a slicker brush or pin brush depending on the length of the coat. When using any of the brushes/combs it is essential to get right through the coat to the skin rather than just brushing the top layer of hair. It is common to hear groomers say that they regularly see dogs that appear to be well maintained only to discover that under the top layer of the coat the dog is terribly matted. This is why so many people take their dog to a groomer for a ‘trim’ and are horrified to find their dog has had to be completely shaved upon collection.

Steps for a Full Groom

Now we come to the more complicated part, how to give your Labradoodle a full groom at home.


The first thing you need to do is to make sure that your dog is matt free and has a clean coat. Clipping a dirty dog will dull your blades and possibly damage your clippers, and is painful for the dog. You will also obtain a much neater finish by clipping a nice clean coat.

First, brush the dog well following the steps mentioned above. You must always brush the knots out when he is dry as water makes the dreaded matts even harder to comb through (just as we always brush our own hair prior to washing).

Bathing and Drying

Give your dog a thorough bath and ensure his coat is thoroughly rinsed. Always use dog-safe shampoo and be careful not to get soap in his eyes. Start from his head and thoroughly soak him, working downwards, before you apply the shampoo. Work up a lovely lather and then rinse until the water runs clear.

The next step is to make sure the coat is thoroughly dry. There are two ways to do this, either allow him to air dry naturally (a good tip here is to bath the day before grooming if you are choosing this method) or dry the coat completely using a hairdryer or better still, a blaster. Blasters are quite expensive but well worth the investment especially during the winter months for Doodle owners. You can use a blaster to dry off after wet walks and to blow excess dirt out of your dogs’ coat as well as just at bath time.

Clipping and Trimming

Next, we come to the interesting part, the actual clipping and trimming. Again, the right tools are vital. You may choose to invest in a grooming table with restraining loops or simply use a collar and leash and groom your dog on the floor. If you are going to be clipping at home regularly a grooming table is a wise idea as many dogs stand better off the ground and your back will thank you too!

Professional quality clippers are an absolute must-have. The home grooming kits often purchased cheaply in stores are no match for a Labradoodle coat and simply will not do the job. I use Andis two speed clippers. Once you’ve groomed your dog a few times the clippers will have paid for themselves. You will need a variety of blades unless you are going for an all-over shave. I recommend a 3#, 5#, 7#, and 10# ceramic edge blade.

You will also need a set of dog grooming scissors containing thinning scissors, curved and straight edge scissors.

Putting it all into Practice

So, you are ready to start, you have all your equipment and your dog is clean, dry, and secure. Start by clipping the body using a 5# or 7# blade depending on your chosen coat length (I like to use a 5# as this leaves the coat a little longer and fluffier).

Begin to clip from where the base of the skull meets the neck and clip with the lie of your dogs’ coat. Clipping against the coat will give a shorter and less even finish. Follow down the spine to the top of the tail and stop at the top of the thigh on the back legs, and the elbow on the front legs.

Next, clip the throat and chest holding your dog’s muzzle up and clipping in a downwards motion away from the head. Clip the belly by holding each front leg up and forward in turn and clip the underside towards the dog’s back end.

You may find you have to run the clippers over the same area several times to obtain a nice even clip with no clipper blade marks (remember the coat grows quickly and any minor errors will be un-noticeable in about a week).

Clip under the tail from the anus down towards back legs and down the inside of the thigh. Now we come to the legs. If you prefer the legs left a little longer and fluffier you can change the blade to a 3#. I usually continue with the 5# as the legs and feet get the muddiest and wettest. Carefully clip down each leg towards the paw and across the top of the paw. Clip the front and outside first followed by the back and inside.

Once you have clipped all four legs change the blade to a 10# and very carefully clip the underside of the paws and between the pads. Finish by trimming around the paw, with the foot firmly on the ground (a good tip here is to hold up the opposite leg with one hand to keep the dog’s weight on the paw you are trimming) with your curved edge scissors to give the rounded teddy bear look.

Finally, we come to the head. First clip the underside of the ear with your 10# blade. Be very careful here as the ear flaps are easy to nick by mistake. Change your blade to a 3# or if you prefer you can use a 10# with a comb attachment to leave the hair at your desired length.

Start from the brow and clip towards the back of the head blending with the neck. Hold the ears carefully and clip the outer side of the ear in a downwards motion while holding the ear securely. Then holding the ear up, clip the jaw beneath the ear also using a downward motion.

For the area around the eyes and the mustache, I prefer to use thinning scissors to avoid blunt edges and cut carefully a little at a time until I achieve the desired look. Finally, trim the bridge of the nose and between the eyes very carefully using the curved edge scissors and holding the muzzle firmly, trim the edge of the mustache also with the curved edge scissors.

Many people prefer to leave the tail full but if you like the trimmed look hold the tail by the tip and trim the fringing that hangs down with your thinning scissors.

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Doing it Yourself

Is it best to take your Labradoodle to a professional groomer or do it yourself? This is a matter of personal preference and there are pros and cons to each.

The biggest advantage of home grooming is to save money of course but some people (myself included), find that they come to enjoy grooming their dog and of course it is a way of spending more time with him. You may find initially that the finished look is not quite as you would hope but you will soon become proficient and may even find that grooming yourself is the best way to achieve the look that you prefer. No more shock and disappointment when you collect your dog from the salon and have to pretend you love his new ‘hairdo’ when in reality you can’t wait for it to grow out.

The disadvantages of home grooming are the time that it takes, the initial expense of buying equipment, and of course having to clear up the aftermath yourself.

How Often Should it be Done?

This depends on how fast your Labradoodle’s coat grows and how short you choose to clip him but on average, to keep him looking his best, you will need to groom your dog approximately every 6-8 weeks. Again, personal preference comes into play here. Some people choose to go for a shorter clip three or four times a year allowing the coat to grow out in between and others like to keep on top of it by grooming regularly.

A point worth mentioning is that the longer between grooms, the longer grooming will take. Some owners prefer to keep their dog groomed regularly to avoid the ‘shock factor’ when their fluffy Doodle is transformed into a neatly groomed dog. They can indeed look like a completely different dog after a full groom.

Other Maintenance Procedures

In addition to grooming your Labradoodle’s coat, it is also important to keep his nails and teeth in great condition.


Nails should be checked and if necessary, trimmed regularly to prevent them from becoming overgrown. You may find that if your dog walks on concrete surfaces a lot his nails wear down themselves and don’t require trimming. If not, you will need to trim them yourself or ask your groomer to do so.

If you choose to trim the nails yourself, you will need a pair of nail trimmers and a pot of styptic powder just in case you do accidentally cut the quick. This is easy to avoid if your dog has light-colored nails as the quick can easily be seen but is extremely difficult if your dog has black nails. In this case, only remove the hooked part of the nails.

If you do accidentally catch the quick be warned, they do bleed alarmingly. This is where you need the styptic powder. Firmly press the nail in the powder and hold for a few seconds taking care not to panic and alarm your dog. This will quickly and effectively stop the bleeding.


There are two ways of cleaning your dog’s teeth. The first is to give a raw bone (never rawhide or dental chews) once or twice a week. This will naturally keep his teeth in tip-top condition.

The second is to brush his teeth several times a week using a special toothbrush and toothpaste for dogs. Many dogs will not tolerate this, so it is important to start from an early age to teach him to accept it. You may need to put him on the grooming table or secure him with his collar and leash to enable you to hold his mouth open with one hand while you carefully brush his teeth with the other.