"Grooming Your Golden"
by Morningsage Goldens - Photos and Text - Joanne Lastoka Jan. 18, 2001
PVGRC extends thanks to Joanne Lastoka for her permission to
post these pages on Golden Retriever grooming on the club's web site.
Link to Joanne's web site is
The tutorial for grooming the ears is on this page. There are links which
will take you to two additional pages, one for grooming
shoulders and one for grooming
GROOMING TUTORIAL - EARS
Tool Links Open Small Window with Photo of Tool
Medium/fine tooth steel comb
Slicker brush (wire pins)
Good quality straight scissors (7 1/2" size is good)
Blunt nosed small scissors (for whiskers if
you wish to trim)
High quality thinning shears 46-tooth/serrated on one blade only (I would recommend Millers
Forge - Gold 7 1/2" as above) but NOT the "economy" MF or any other brand.
Expect to pay $45+)
Toenail clippers, and or a Dremel tool for grinding nails or Oster Nail Grinder
Grooming table or rubberized matting on an old table
Cool drying blow dryer
(would be an
Start with a clean and dry dog, if not already bathed, thoroughly brushed.
Actually for show grooming, I prefer trimming the dog before bathing, then doing
any touch-up work after the bath and blow drying. If you wonder how those show
dogs get those nice straight coats....it is from the blow drying. If you cannot
afford a blow dryer, it is considerably more difficult to straighten a wavy
coat, but it can be done by pinning towels snugly around the dog while they are
still dampish. The blow dryer also comes in really handy during wet weather,
after trips to the beach and yes, even "blowing" away all of that coat when the
dog is shedding!
This is a relatively ungroomed ear. See the fine
fuzzy stuff on the top (or base of the ear), as well as the long
straggly fluff behind the ear.
Start with the fuzzies behind the ear. Hold your
thinning shears vertically as shown, and get the blades under the fuzzy
stuff fairly close to the skin. Make about 3 cuts with the blades, then
stop, brush out and look. You will probably need to repeat this several
times, but note, we don't want to totally remove the hair, we just want
to thin it, & trim the straggly stuff so it will lay down nicely on the
neck. Normally, I would be holding the dogs ear forward & out of the way
while doing this.
Trim with thinning shears from the starting point
shown, toward the face. On most dogs, not much is needed here. You
do not want to trim the inside of the ear flap totally smooth and
short or you will create a very "hard look" for your dog. The
exception would be on a dog with extremely heavily coated ears
(inside & out), which usually means heavier or thicker ear leather
as well. In that case you may wish to thin quite well on the inside
of the ear flap.
Next trim the hair in front of the base of the
using the same method with the thinning shears; thin, brush, look,
repeat. The hair immediately around
the ear opening should be trimmed close, or plucked
with forceps, taking care not to have bits of hair
fall inside the ear canal. The hair under the
fulcrum of the scissors in this picture, actually
on the dogs neck, should also be thinned in
this way from about 2" below the ear,
up to the base of the ear.
Unless you have a dog with very heavily coated
ears inside, you will only need to make one "light" stroke with the
thinning shears here, at most one stroke this direction, and one
stroke close to the skin under the coat going the opposite direction
(towards the dogs nose).
Notice, by looking at your dogs ear, that the
hair naturally grows longer at the top, and shorter towards the tip.
When trimming the hair, we want to neaten and shorten, but in essence
keep the "natural effect". Take too much off, and again you will change
the "soft" facial expression of your Golden, to a very unbecoming "hard"
look. Notice the angle that the thinning shears are being held in
relation to the long hair on top of the ear held between my fingers. The
thinning shears are held so the cut will be shorter at the tip of the
ear (lower hand), and longer at the top of ear ( the actual base of
See the white, blue and orange markers, directing
the approximate lengths that the hair on the front of the ear is
trimmed. As a beginner, do this trimming in small increments over a
period of several days, in which time you have the opportunity to
look at your progress, without having "butchered" the dog.
First use the thinning shears underneath the longer hair on the top
3rd of the ear, close to the skin, and make a couple of strokes with
the thinning shears vertically across the width of the ear, and
Secondly: trim the length of the hair on the ear with the thinning
shears as in the picture above, but do so only about 1/4" (or less)
at a time; comb out, look and then do a little more. This is the
most critical part of grooming the ear, so work slowly, stop and
look at it for a day, then do a little more if necessary.
Trim the outside edge of the ear with quick
repetitive cuts with the thinning shears, all around the ear, from the
position shown, around the tip and up to about my thumb on top hand in
photo, and don't go any farther up the inside front of the ear. Holding
the ear out and away from dogs head do the same with the hair from the
fulcrum of the shears (left in this photo) and just above the thumb of
hand holding shears. Voila', you have successfully neatened the shape of
|Here we have a good example of a
"neatened", natural looking ear.
Note:The few long curls that run the length of the front rim of the
ear, take very little thinning and trimming. If you cut this short,
again you will spoil the soft expression of your dogs face. This
specific problem is not shown in picture form: I use the thinning
shears close to the skin, going vertically up under these hairs, and
trim ONE stroke or thinning cut only. Comb or brush it out, and
don't be surprised that you didn't take much out...that is what we
want! Then brush or comb these "decorative face framing hairs"
straight out from the ear, and angle your thinning shears so you
trim closer (shorter) at the tip of the ear and yet leave these
hairs longer at the top or base of the ear by the eye, just as it
grows naturally. Truly, I do very little here, for the reason I've
said, and these decorative hairs will lay down and look neat with
very little trouble.
Goldens may be shown "with" whiskers, and of course their whiskers are of great
importance in hunting and other performance activities, so it is entirely up to
you whether you wish to trim them, or leave them on. Or, you may do a
combination of trimming only the crooked or heavy whiskers, and leaving the
finer ones. If I were not showing the dog, I definitely would not trim them. If
you choose to trim whiskers, I prefer to do so with a small blunt nosed
scissors. Facing the dog, holding the muzzle with one hand, and using one finger
to pull the flews slightly towards you will make the whiskers stand straight
out. The dog cannot "hide them" with this method! Then you use your blunt nosed
scissors, very close to the skin and being very careful to go under the short
hair of the face, trim the whiskers from the back toward the front, each
individually. Really good lighting, or daylight is needed to see what you are
doing. The very fine whiskers around the nose, and under the chin are also
trimmed, but these may be trimmed carefully with your regular straight shears if
your dog is steady, otherwise continue to use your blunt end scissors. These
whiskers can be trimmed straight across and even with the coat (without doing
individually). Trim the whiskers along the lip line as well as by the throat,
eyebrows, and on the cheek near the ear.