Grooming Your Labrador
Oh, the joys of a wash and wear breed!! Of the many AKC recognized breeds, Labs are one of the easiest to groom. That is the good news. The bad news is that while their coats don't get matted, they do shed quite a bit.
Lab coats should never be trimmed in any way. But they do need to be brushed and bathed. Labs should be brushed a couple of times a week with a rubber curry comb only. Do not use metal rakes on Labrador coats. They break the coat. The curry comb massages the coat, and distributes the oils from the bottom of the coat, near the skin, throughout the coat. This gives a healthy glossy sheen to the coat. It also removes any dust, dander or dead hair.
Labradors should not be over bathed. Normally, you will only need to bathe your Lab quarterly. However, when they are shedding badly, you may want to give them a couple warm water baths. This will make the coat release the dead hair quicker. If you take your Labrador swimming in lakes or ponds, you will also want to bathe it more frequently to get rid of the odor and bacteria from the water. Use a little common sense here, if you wouldn't swim in it yourself, you probably shouldn't have your dog swimming in it either. One important tip, when you think you're done rinsing the shampoo out of the coat, you probably have 5 more minutes to rinse. Labs have a double coat, soap tends to hide in the undercoat. If you leave shampoo in the coat, it can cause itching and irritation that can lead to hot spots or moist dermatitis. When in doubt, keep rinsing! Also make sure that you dry your dog thoroughly after bathing. But don't over dry the coat with blow dryers, as they can get very hot and burn your dog.
Pay attention to ears in your grooming. All drop eared dogs are more prone to ear infections than prick eared dogs. Ears should be cleaned a couple of times a month, more so if they have an odor. If ears smell "yeasty", they probably need to be seen by your Vet to treat a yeast infection. We routinely use a vinegar and water solution (4 parts water to 1 of vinegar) to clean ears. This creates an inhospitable Ph for yeast to grow. However, there are several good commercial products on the market, as well. Use cotton swabs moistened with your cleaning solution, and don't poke into areas you can't see.
Nails need to be trimmed often. Letting nails get too long can actually cause structural defects during growing years. If you can hear them tapping on the kitchen floor, chances are they are too long. Ask you dog's Breeder, your Vet, or a Dog Groomer to show you the correct way to clip your dog's nails.