How to groom a Cockapoo and other Poodle mixes

Regular grooming will help keep your curly-haired cross in great condition and prevent coat matting – here's how to do it.

All dogs benefit from regular grooming, and those that have a Poodle for a parent need extra care and attention in this department. Poodles have a thick, curly, rather woolly coat that naturally sheds very little. This makes them a popular choice of breed for those with allergies (although no breed is truly hypoallergenic). But since their hair grows more quickly than it sheds, they tend to need a helping hand with hair removal. Most groomers recommend brushing a Poodle every day to remove loose hair and prevent matting, along with more thorough grooming and trimming sessions every six weeks or so.

How often to groom a Cockapoo or other Poodle mix

The coat styles of Poodle crossbreeds – such as Cockapoos, Labradoodles, Cavapoos, Maltipoos, Yorkie-poos, Goldendoodles and Pomapoos – will vary depending on their parentage. But if they take after the Poodle side of the family, with tightly curled ringlets, it’s a good idea to brush them daily. If their coat is relatively straight and sleek, as with smooth-coated Cockapoos, you’ll probably want to brush them at least two or three times a week. If you’re not sure how often to groom your Poodle mix at home, ask your vet or a professional groomer for advice.

Many Poodle mix owners opt to carry out regular brushing sessions at home and then take their dog to a groomer every few weeks for a full groom, wash and clip. An experienced professional will be able to do a thorough job of detangling and help achieve your desired Poodle mix grooming style – whether that’s a simple, one-length puppy cut or a short-all-over summer cut to keep them cool. They’ll also be able to carry out trickier maintenance jobs, such as trimming overgrown nails or shaving off matted fur, which tends to occur when a dog hasn’t been brushed frequently enough. Even if you intend to master the art of Poodle mix grooming for yourself, it’s a good idea to watch a professional work on your dog first to fully understand how it’s done.

Why do Poodle mixes need regular grooming?

Grooming ’Poos and ’Doodles isn’t just a question of giving them a tidy appearance. Without regular maintenance, curly and woolly coats are very prone to knotting, and the matted hair can tug uncomfortably on your dog’s skin. Dirt, debris and bacteria can also become trapped under the matting, which can lead to skin irritation and infection.

Curly and long-haired Poodle mixes also benefit from regular trims every few months or more to keep their coat manageable and tackle any areas of overgrown hair. If your dog’s hair grows in front of their eyes, as often happens with Cockapoos, Cavapoos, Maltipoos and longer-haired crosses, they’ll need regular trims of their fringe and nose area – using blunt scissors – to keep their vision clear and prevent eye irritation. (It’s a good idea to ask your groomer’s or vet’s advice before trying this at home.) Overgrown hair around their bottom may also need a trim to prevent poo getting clogged there – which is unpleasant for both you and your dog!

Getting into good Poodle mix grooming habits will also help to make the experience as routine and enjoyable as possible for your dog, especially if they’ve received positive reinforcement in the way of praise and treats to make it a good experience. But the longer you leave it between grooming sessions, the more uncomfortable it will be to detangle your Poodle mix’s coat, which could make them feel anxious about being groomed. And if their hair becomes severely matted, it may need to be shaved off by a professional groomer or vet.

Minimising matts

‘Excessive friction over a small or large area will cause hair to matt and tangle,’ says Pamela Campbell of Ayrshire Grooming Salon and Grooming School, the only National Pet College training school in Scotland. ‘Dogs can get knots behind their ears, tails, hips, groins and underarms, and this can be due to their ears moving or their tails wagging and rubbing on their legs and back.’

Pamela’s top tips for avoiding friction matts are:

  • Where possible, steer clear of jackets and tight-fitting clothing. If your dog needs a coat in colder, wetter weather, make sure it’s not too tight, and brush them (checking for matts) as soon as possible after taking it off.
  • When using a towel to dry your Poodle mix, pat them down instead of rubbing them.
  • Using the correct tools, brush and comb out regularly (see below), paying particular attention to the tricky areas of legs, underarms and hips.

How to groom a Poodle mix

When grooming your Poodle mix, start with a good all-over brush through their coat. A slicker brush with fine metal teeth can be a useful tool for this – although, as Pamela says, it’s always best to ask your groomer or vet for their advice on the right tools for your dog’s particular coat.

It helps to brush one small section at a time, lifting up that section of coat. Ensure you’re not just brushing the top of the coat, but brushing right through from root to tip (starting with the tips and working downwards if there’s any matting present). For more on dog grooming tips and tools to use, see our step-by-step guide and video.

If you can’t see all the way down to your dog’s skin when parting their hair, their coat needs more detangling. Once you’ve given them a brush over, use a narrower-toothed metal comb to gently work out any tangles that weren’t removed by brushing – or to tackle sensitive areas of fur, such as around their face and ears.

When grooming long-haired Poodle mixes, a long-toothed comb may be needed to get down to the base of the hair. A specialist detangling or dematting tool may also help with any knots. If you’re left with any hard, stubborn mats that can’t be combed out, these may need to be clipped out or shaved by a professional, as it’s very easy to cut your dog if using scissors. If you do want to try cutting out a mat with scissors, proceed with great caution. If possible, slide a comb underneath the matted fur, to protect their skin, before trimming off the mat. Always keep the scissors pointing up and away from your dog’s body, never towards it.

When to start grooming a Poodle mix

Although your dog may be several months old before their coarser, more tangle-prone adult coat starts to grow through, it’s always best to start grooming your dog as a puppy to get them comfortable with the sensations.

Looking after a Poodle mix’s ears

It’s a good idea to keep an eye on your Poodle mix’s ears, and use grooming sessions as an opportunity to check for any trapped debris, excessive earwax or discharge in their ear area. Some dog breeds, including Poodles, have more hair growing in their ear canal than others, and this trait can be passed on to Poodle mixes. Hair in the ears can trap moisture, dirt and earwax, increasing their risk of ear infections.

Poodle mixes with floppy ears, such as Cockapoos – which combine Poodle inner-ear hair with long Cocker Spaniel ears – require particular care and attention. Your vet may recommend routine cleaning of their ears, and regular trimming of excess hair in the ear area.

Getting into good grooming habits may take a little effort, but it’s a great way to keep your Poodle mix in top condition, keep an eye on their bodily health, and provide some valuable bonding time for you both.

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