How to Groom a Golden Retriever

A golden retriever's ear fur grows in fluffy wisps.
golden retriever blond, fond noir image by ricky_68fr from

The American Kennel Club describes the golden retriever as an intelligent and eager-to-please working dog that is reliable, friendly and trustworthy. Golden retrievers serve as hunting companions, guide dogs for the blind, hearing dogs for the deaf and even search-and-rescue dogs. Golden retrievers have dense golden coats of heavy, water-repellent fur that requires weekly if not daily attention to keep shedding to a minimum in the house. Due to the ruffs of fur that grow on the backs of the legs and under the body, the neck and underside of the tail, your golden retriever will need trimming to maintain a neatly groomed appearance.

Step 1

Brush your golden retriever three to five times a week with a bristle slicker brush. Start running the bristle brush over the dog's dense coat, starting near her head, and slowly work your way down toward the tail. Run the brush over her neck, throat and behind the eyes, over the top of her head, and brush in the same direction as her fur grows, not against it. When you've brushed properly, the fur will not be lifted up and ruffled but slicked down toward the body. A firm yet gentle touch with the brush will ensure that the bristles evenly comb through her fur and pick up any loose fur from the top coat. Slowly work from the neck to the shoulders, paying close attention to the fur around the dog's 'armpits' and hips to check for mats as you work. Run the brush from the belly up over the ribcage and onto her back. Take care when brushing her tail, as it is sensitive.

Step 2

Brush out any shedding or loose fur from the golden retriever's thick undercoat with an undercoat rake. This will reduce the amount she sheds and prevent her hair from matting.

Step 3

Comb out the fur where it becomes delicate and feathers on the backs of her legs and her tail with a dog comb.

Step 4

Remove any mats that you find by gently teasing and combing them apart with your fingers or with the dog comb. If the mats are large and close to the skin, insert the comb underneath the mat to rest between the matted fur and your dog's skin. The comb will act as a scissor guard and prevent accidental cutting of her skin. Carefully hold up the mat. Position the blunt-ended scissors at an angle at the bottom of the mat, above the comb, with the ends pointing up, and slowly cut the mat out at an upward-facing angle to remove it.

Step 5

Hold the golden retriever's tail down against the hock of a back leg. Set your thumb on the tail near the hock; this is the length that her tail needs to be cut back to. While still holding the tail fur, trim the fur up to where you are holding the tail with your thumb with thinning shears. Cut straight across the tail fur. Cut the bottom end corners of her tail fur up at an angle to blend in the fur. Cut the tail feathering on the round as you slowly trim about 1 inch off the bottom of the tail.

Step 6

Thin the undercoat on the collar of fur -- the longer fur from the shoulder to the neck area on the front of the dog. Make the cuts by following the line of the dog's shoulder. Insert a scissor blade under the coat with the ends pointing up, and cut up in the direction of the coat growth. Do not cut the top coat, just the thicker undercoat of the dog. Brush out the fur and continue making one cut at a time along the top and bottom of the shoulder line until the fur is even and does not appear to make a heavy collar.

Step 7

Trim the feet. Golden retriever fur will grow in fuzzy tufts up between the toes. Push the fuzzy fur down through the dog's toes so that it sticks out from the under side. Hold the foot backward in a position that's natural for your dog. Set the shears flat against the foot pads so they run parallel to the pads and the nails of the foot. Carefully cut the fuzzy hair that is sticking out from between the toes. Trim the fur around the outer side of each foot pad with the thinning shears. Push the remaining fuzz back up through the toes to the top of the foot and make it stand straight up. Clip the fuzz off with the thinning shears. Brush down the foot fur. Set the scissors flat against the back foot pad, facing up toward the pastern of the leg, and trim the fur with one cut. Let the dog stand up. Set the tips of the shears on your work surface and trim the fur around the nails.

Step 8

Brush the fur from the foot to the hock. Cut a vertical line off the leg fur and shorten it down to 1 inch in length with the thinning shears.

Step 9

Trim the ears. Hold the opposite side of the head and set the thinning shear against the back of the ear, where the fur turns feathery or fuzzy, with the tips of the blades facing up, lying parallel to the skin. Cut the fur and brush it out. Lift the ear back to reveal its interior. Hold the scissors with the ends pointing up and carefully trim the fur lining the bottom interior of the ear. Hold the ear back and up, and cut the fur around the base of the ear. Brush the fur between each cut to ensure that you do not trim too much off.

Step 10

Pluck out hair that is growing around the ear opening with forceps -- do this carefully and do not let hair fall into the ear canal, where it can cause irritation. While still holding the ear up, cut the fur lining the top of the ear with the scissors. Hold the scissors with the ends facing the tip of the ear. Cut the same area again with the end of the scissors facing toward the nose of the dog.

Step 11

Pick up the fur on the exterior of the ear and hold it with two fingers that are facing straight up. Trim the top part of the fur you are holding, which will form the shape of a triangle and leave the rest. Continue to trim in this manner to make an even, blended cut. Work in 1/4-inch sections as you cut to ensure that you do not take off too much.

Step 12

Pick up the dog's paw and hold it backwards in a natural position so that you can see the bottom of her foot. Her nails naturally curl down toward the bottom of the foot and will need to be trimmed so they are even with the bottom of the paw pad. Hold the nail clippers at a 45 degree angle facing the same direction as the dog's toes. Make several small cuts and take your time while trimming the nails. Stop when you see a black dot or pink vein running down the center of the nail when looking at the end. This is the quick of the nail. If it is cut, the quick will bleed. If you accidentally cut too close to the quick and the nail bleeds, dab a small amount of styptic powder onto the nail to stop the bleeding.


  • Always hold your dog's legs in natural positions; this will be more comfortable for your dog and cause less stress for her while she is being groomed.

  • If you cannot get a cut nail quick to stop bleeding, take your dog to the veterinarian for treatment.


  • Praise your dog while you groom her to reassure her as you work and to make grooming a pleasant experience for her.

  • If you aren't comfortable with cutting mats out of your golden retriever's fur, run a mat comb, which has blades that are sharp on one side and dull on the other, through the mat to cut it off.

Items You Will Need

  • Bristle slicker brush
  • Undercoat rake
  • Dog comb
  • Blunt-end scissors
  • Thinning shears
  • Forceps
  • Dog nail clippers
  • Styptic powder


About the Author

Alexis Rohlin is a professional writer for various websites. She has produced works for Red Anvil Publishing and was one of the top 10 finalists in the 2007 Midnight Hour Short Story Contest for Rohlin holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in English from Madonna University.

Photo Credits

  • golden retriever blond, fond noir image by ricky_68fr from