Grooming My Golden Retriever – A Love (Hate) Story

Until Honey came to live with me, I never did much dog grooming. A little brushing to get rid of dead hair. An occasional bath. But no real grooming.

But Golden Retriever coats don’t do well with that kind of neglect.

And so begins my love hate relationship with grooming my Golden Retriever.

Honey the Golden Retriever sits in the mist of Ithaca Falls.

The mist from the falls brings out my naturally curly hair.


Grooming My Golden Retriever – Love It; Hate It

I love how cute Honey’s feet look with little tufts of fur growing out between her toes.

I hate having to continually trim them so she doesn’t slip and slide on the wood floors.


I love the way the wavy hair behind Honey’s ears forms cute kinks when she gets wet.

I hate the mats that can form if I don’t comb them out every day.


Honey the Golden Retriever loves rolling on the grass.

Give me one more second. I don’t have all the dead bird smell and grass stains I need to make my coat soft and luxuriant.

I love how her belly is so furry I can’t see an inch of skin.

I hate wading through a forest of fur looking for ticks after a camping trip.


I love how relaxed Honey gets when I brush her.

I hate when she lies down right as I’m working on her belly.


I love how shiny her coat looks after a good bath and brushing.

I hate how ragged Honey looks when she needs to be groomed.


I love the way the long fur on her tail swishes from side to side.

I hate trying to pull a comb through all that fur without hurting her.


I love how Honey’s toenails help her grip the icy sidewalks in the winter.

I hate trimming toenails that never wear down although when we walk on pavement every day because she’s too dainty to put much weight on them.


Honey the Golden Retriever lies down on the chair.

You sure have let my feet get furry. I’d better stay right here so I don’t slip on the floors.

I love the way grooming gives me an excuse to spend time with my sweet pup.

I hate that I could ever think of grooming as anything but a gift. After all, what’s better than being close to a fuzzy Golden Retriever?

Thank you to Human Rescues Dog for inspiring this morning’s post.

Your Turn: How does grooming work in your house? Does your dog need grooming? Do you do it? Or does someone else?

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  1. goldenrescue says:

    Hint for goldens’ tails: Comb through when they are lying on their sides (I have them on my bed so it’s up fairly high). It seems to bother them much less that way.

  2. Ah, Honey is so sweet! The fur between her paws sounds adorable!

    Del doesn’t need much grooming, although we groom more often than not because he sheds so much! Summer is a nightmare- I spend most of it with a vacuum in hand. I constantly feel like I’m fighting a losing battle with dog hair- roll on winter!

    Oh, and Del HATES baths- he won’t go near water! So getting him all clean and shiny takes a LOT of patience and strength. But I wouldn’t have him any other way :)

  3. Julie Blackwelder says:

    I’ve been around dogs all of my life, been grooming since the late ’80s and boarding since the early ’90s. Some of my best clients for grooming and boarding are the beautiful and sweet Goldens. Before my COPD and allergies got so bad, many of them used to sleep on my bed because the human’s bed is where they sleep at home. Anyone around Goldens much knows about the coat and shedding. Almost all of them got a good brushing as soon as they were dropped off, before they entered my house. If time or circumstance did not permit, then I knew the next morning the vacuum was getting a work out.

    But, that all changed after I went to a seminar by John Stazko. I found his coat conditioner and never again has any dog’s coat been a problem, even the Goldens, Chows, Shelties, and Huskys just blow dry and then follow with 5 minutes of combing and you’re done! I originally balked at the $50 a gallon price, especially when you have to use it full strength. But, once I used that fine mist over a dense coat and then watched the blow dryer, and then the force dryer, blow out hair that would have taken me hours to comb out, I was sold. (The instructions for use are on the bottle.) I’ve used it for years and my arthritic hands are most grateful, but the dogs are too I am sure. They stand (of course some lie down most of the time) on my groom table while I sit in a chair and blow the loose hair out. It’s easier on both of us.

    Because all of the loose hair comes out during grooming, there is almost no shedding between groomings, and a quick comb out once a day produces very little hair. It make take 2 or even 3 groomings to get the hang of blowing out the coat, blowing out loose hair, blowing out tangles, instead of brushing and combing, but I swear it works like magic and I am never without it.

    You may have to do some online searching to find a supplier, but I promise you that you will think it worth the time and effort once you use it!

    • Callie, Shadow, and Ducky's Mom says:

      Julie, about this conditioner of which you speak: Does it have a name? I would like to get some to try it on my Golden Girls (Callie and Shadow). Thanks! Sue

      • Julie Blackwelder says:

        It’s called “Stazko Conditioning Spray”. If you go to the site, at the bottom of the page is a link for “Distributors”.

        The comments on the Stazko site about cutting brushing/combing time in half are very conservative. I found that even the very heavy coated Sheltie, that used to take 2 hours of brushing and dematting to get the undercoat out every spring is now very easy to do. (The owner is elderly and her combing and brushing over the winter is sporadic and not thorough.) After I get through cage drying for about 30 minutes, then blowing the coat dry and blowing out all of the loose hair and mats, it takes about 10 minutes to comb out, and that includes the mat balls behind his ears. It’s about the same procedure on Chloe, one of my groom client’s very heavy coated golden.

        The more often you use the spray, the easier the comb-outs will be and the shedding is a lot less! It’s like WD-40 for hair. Slick and smooth, and nothing sticks to it, even shed hair slides out easily, and dirt doesn’t seem to stick as much either. I love the smell too – nice but not overpowering. I hope you find it to be as effective as I do!

  4. Callie, Shadow, and Ducky's Mom says:

    Oh, Pamela, you and I think alike when it comes to grooming our Golden Girls! But, I’m not strong enough to lift mine into and out of the bathtub; and we don’t have a shower stall inside or out, so it’s off to Auntie Andrea’s shop we go when the big girls need a bath. In between, I do the brushing-out. And, the hair tufts between their toes grows so fast that I bought one of those rechargeable trimmers. I love it! It’s easy once you get the hang of it.

  5. We hate baths, grooming, the groomers, having a trim and lord forbid you try and brush our teeth. We only out up with it when we really have no choice. Have a tremendous Thursday.
    Best wishes Molly

  6. I went through all of that with Bruno my Flat-Coated Retriever (1st cousin and foundation dog of the Goldens)…well, except the dainty part…Bruno did a pretty good job of grinding his nails on the sidewalk…dainty was not a descriptor for him…It’s different with Gizmo…I could strip him (or get it done the first time) and then if I maintained it grooming wouldn’t be a chore, but I really like him scruffy…it so fits his personality…so I come and unsnarl and he’s learned to enjoy our grooming times together

  7. While corgis don’t get mats, they are double-coated. So there is always plenty of hair stuck beneath the longer top layer that needs to be brushed out. Wilson hates to be brushed, Jimmy loves it. They shed pretty much non-stop so brushing doesn’t do much to save the house from tumbleweeds, but it does help their appearance and I imagine keeps them a bit cooler in the summer. If you don’t like dog hair everywhere, do not get a corgi!

  8. I love how Sheba’s paws look when I’ve trimmed down those crazy tufts of fur! I’m guessing everyone with a Golden Retriever (or other long haired dog) can relate to this post, and totally agrees with it all (unless they take theirs to a groomer). When we had two….well, just imagine that times two. Friends of ours have 4….I cannot even imagine. Moses loved being groomed, but Sheba does not like to sit still for anything. I cannot get her completely groomed in one sitting, I have to do it in bits and pieces! Thank goodness the Beagles are low maintenance.

  9. Let’s just say that I am a constant work in progress. I dislike being groomed so we do a little here and a little there every day. My sister is the one brushing a week type. Mom would love to spend a couple hours getting my coat all stripped and other things done but I won’t stand for it.

  10. Carol Ann says:

    We have two goldens and call the paw that need trimming “grinch paws”!

  11. I’m BJ, a mixture of Bichon, Carin Terrier, and something else. My head and legs are curly and my back is kind of straight. I hate baths, brushing my teeth is a no no. Brushing is sometimes oaky. I wonder if this miracle conditioner would work for me. If it is I may try to find someone in NYC who wants to share. I’m small and don’t use much conditioner.

    Hugs and Licks, BJ Pup

  12. I have a love hate relationship with grooming my Golden too. I do it because I have to do it often, and I’m happy that Luna will just lay there happily for me when the time comes. I will take Luna to get a professionally groomed a few time a year – and that makes a huge difference with her very fluffy coat.

  13. I checked Stazko’s website. The have three sizes for the products. 8 oz., 16 oz., and the gallon.

  14. Honey is so beautiful! All that brushing turned into a work of art.

  15. I used to have a family of Shelties, 6 of them at the same time. We used to live on 40 acres of hilly country and that was where we did all our walking. The tracks got muddy in the winter and every day after a walk I would give all 6 Shelties a ‘half a bath’. They all got put in the bath and the mud washed off. It wasn’t fun, it wasn’t bonding, it was a chore. The fun and bonding was on the walk and was worth the work afterwards. But I will never have a long coated dog again, lol!

  16. I’m a dog groomer. I have 3 dogs, and they’re all…chihuahuas. 😀 For grooming I mainly just tidy their nails and brush their teeth.

    Thank you to Julia for that spray. I’ll see if I can get some to try out. :)

  17. Great list! I love the fluff between Pierson’s feet too. It didn’t occur to me to trim underneath so that he doesn’t slip on the wooden floor. I always felt the hair was a protection, say for when we have to cross the hot paved streets. I also hate how Pierson sits when I try to brush his fluffy butt and tail. But overall, I enjoy grooming my dogs and cutting their nails. They don’t enjoy it much, but they don’t hate it either.

  18. I’m not really a fan of being groomed. Hate having my nails trimmed, will submit to brushing for a bit but I get bored of that and I’ve learned to survive the B-word, as long as there are lots of treats

  19. I’m so touched that you gave me a shout out :) I’ve spent half an hour this afternoon grooming Hannah – she looks like a dream now! And those pesky mats behind her ears – I finally got rid of them ; I might be imagining it but I think she looks much happier. Hannah loves being groomed. The hardest part is trying to trim her tail-hairs when her tail is wagging wildly at the prospect of the grooming !

  20. So glad you have all those “loves” listed too…
    Personally, it is one of the reasons I don’t have a golden. Before we got Meadow, a family member had to re-home one, a really sweet one, and I nearly took him…but I couldn’t get past the thought of all that work. Grooming dogs is just not my thing, sadly, because he was a really nice dog. But just not the breed for me.

  21. Aw… I have a feeling that the love list outweighs the hate list by a little bit? Personally, I’d take any excuse to hang out with Honey. However, I tend to choose low-maintenance breeds, so maybe I’m subconsciously avoiding the grooming!