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Angus & Archie are my first SPOO’s, and I’ve decided to groom them myself. (They are 3-yr-old rescues, and we have had them just since November 2019.) It is a bit of a job, and I agree with the others, that the right tools can make all the difference. I clip once a month to keep their coats manageable. I don’t do anything fancy, just a 5 blade over body (10 in sanitary areas), and then a fairly fluffy top not. I struggle with shaping the ears just right, and they absolutely will not let me shave their faces. I would venture to say they’ve never had it done. I’m thinking of buying a small set of clippers that maybe aren’t so scary for them (I have a large pair of ANDIS which work great everywhere else). Curved scissors are a must for the top not. Despite brushing 2-3 times per week, they have suddenly begun having tangles in their ears. How does everyone handle those without torturing the poor dog?
They are lovely boys! For the long areas on my dog I've found that getting the CC coral slicker really did make a difference. I used to struggle with adequately getting some spots on the ears but now I feel I'm getting them much more thoroughly brushed. I also think a good brushing spray helps a lot to prevent mats. I always coat my brushes in "The Stuff" and spray it on any areas of long coat after a bath before I start drying. It makes a big difference. If you already have mats, then dealing with them depends on the severity. You may be able to make some vertical cuts in the mat to help break it up, and then brush it out with a good detangling spray. If the mat is very hard, I would just snip it out. If anything you do seems to cause the dog pain or discomfort, it's better to snip the mat. You don't want to create lasting bad associations with grooming.

I also agree that a quieter cordless trimmer will help with their faces. Just take things slow and be prepared to do it in many very small sessions. I also find that my dog behaves much better when he is very sleepy. I usually shave his face late at night.
 

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Despite brushing 2-3 times per week, they have suddenly begun having tangles in their ears. How does everyone handle those without torturing the poor dog?
I use a little bit of Cowboy Magic Detangler and long slicker brush. I'm not crazy about the smell, but the Cowboy Magic really does have some kind of magic that makes mats slide right out. I brush ears almost every day so the mats don't have time to get tight. I know that they go to bed with mat-free ears and wake up with a mat on one side or another several times per week!
 

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Tangles in the ear may mean they are scratching their ears. Ck for infection or fungus. This is the season for such. Take a smell. I have learned..... .
 

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My hubs shaves our yorkipoo. He doesn’t shave them super often maybe once every 1-2 months. Our poodle was the same. He’d shave them super short and they honestly looked like rats the first week then they slowly fluff. The yorkipoo is definitely easier bc her hair is wavy and not as curly. It’s weird bc I feel like they’re different dogs when he does it! They aren’t but it’s always a laugh when they come out followed by a bag of hair. The first time he told my kids G2 was gone now. They ran in to a wad of hair and started balling. He of course showed them G2 was safe. I could’ve killed him for it at the time but it does make for a good laugh now. He felt bad after not realizing they’d believe him.
 

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I use a little bit of Cowboy Magic Detangler and long slicker brush. I'm not crazy about the smell, but the Cowboy Magic really does have some kind of magic that makes mats slide right out. I brush ears almost every day so the mats don't have time to get tight. I know that they go to bed with mat-free ears and wake up with a mat on one side or another several times per week!
Mane & tail actually makes an amazing detangler! the smell isn't bad. I actually found it at Burlington coat factory by us and before that I never knew they had one. I use it on both my kids and pets. My little girls got curly hair from their dad and it was a horrid mess until I found that. so I spray them and g2 usually once a day and g2 hasn't had any mats since and is super easy brushing. I love it bc most I tried prior would leave them oily or crispy and this doesn't do that. plus humans and pets can both use this one, so its a money saver for us.lol
 

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I will also say that if you home groom, you'll start to get very frustrated with any incompetent poodle and doodle owners you run into. You'll fight back the urge to lecture them
Haha, this, 100%. Once you start grooming, all you notice on other dogs is their overgrown toe nails.

I do a little bit almost every day. I'm slow and don't want to subject him to a 5 hours sessions, so it's short sessions all the time:
  • Nail grinding (he has short show nails, you probably don't need to do it weekly)
  • Ear plucking
  • Shaving the face
  • Shaving the feet
  • Shaving the back
  • Trimming the bracelets (usually I do the front and back on different days)
  • Trimming the tail
  • Trimming the rosettes
  • Trimming the jacket
  • Bathing and drying
  • Banding and wrapping
  • Re-banding a messy top knot
  • Sanitary
Especially during Covid, it was great to not depend on groomers. But for me it's also a fun hobby. I do the brushing instead of knitting.
 

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Wow, I guess I'll only know how I really feel about grooming when I get my poodle! I hope I fall in with the owners who love it, but good to know that poodles are worth it no matter what :)

If I can ask, before lockdown, what did your at-home grooming routine look like? Or were those trips to the groomer enough to keep things under control?
Oh no! I'm so sorry I missed this.

Yes, those trips to the groomer were enough for the most part. She did get terrible mats on her ears once between appointments, but because they were along the edge, they just felt like part of her ear. I didn't notice them until they were way beyond saving. The groomer ended up taking her ears down short after that, and we're just now starting to grow them back out.

Those mats were probably a combination of coat change and the fact that she loves playing in water. She will dangle her ears in the bath or even her water bowl, and then her hair dries and the mats tighten up.

To be honest, I must have been a little stressed when I wrote my initial response. If I'd known how long we'd have to wait to get her back to the groomers, I'd have shaved her right now at the start of quarantine and it wouldn't have been a big deal at all. The key is definitely to stay on top of it. And from what I've seen, if you're okay with keeping your poodle's coat short (including shaved face, feet, and sanitary), professional grooming every 4-6 weeks is probably fine.

All I really do in between is keep her eyes clean, but that's just a few swipes with my fingers, 2 or 3 times a day. And I've got a few different brushes and combs, which I use mostly to check for mats and to keep her comfortable with being handled.

But the shaved face, feet, and sanitary are key if you want a low maintenance poodle.
 
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