Grooming Your Cockapoo

One thing you may not even consider before purchasing an adorable shaggy dog is the commitment you are making to regular grooming.  Sure, many cockapoos shed so little that it is hardly noticed, which is a huge benefit but there is a flip side to that bonus.  The grooming must be part of your regular routine or you will have a dog who becomes severely matted, which can be very painful and difficult to remove.  Grooming takes time, commitment, and money.  Unless you are going to purchase your own clippers and become trained in the art of dog grooming, you will need to find a trustworthy groomer to keep your dog’s coat in good condition.  Most cockapoo owners visit their groomer every 4-8 weeks, with 6 being the most common.  If you go longer in between, you will need to be more persistent with regular combing, bathing, and upkeep.  These visits are usually not inexpensive but they are essential in keeping your dog in the best condition where they not only look their best, but they truly feel their best as well.

Cockapoos can look very different depending on the haircut they are given at the groomer.  If you choose to keep your dog in a longer or shaggier look, you will need to be committed to regular combing and brushing, possibly every day depending on the length and texture of your dog’s coat.  If you keep their body in a shorter style, it doesn’t require nearly as much attention from you in between grooming trips.   Make sure you choose a grooming facility that has glowing recommendations from others.  You are leaving your dog in the care of this facility and you want to make sure they are going to be safe while they are there.

It is also important for you to expose your puppy to early grooming and to visit your groomer while your puppy is still young, around 12 weeks, for a first initial “mini groom”. Your puppy will be more comfortable as an adult if you expose them to early grooming. The first appointment is likely to only involve meeting the groomer, a bath, having paws, ears, and nails trimmed, as well as having the sanitary areas cleaned and trimmed.  I also recommend that you expose your puppy to regular handling of sensitive areas, such as their paws, ears, and mouth, so that they are accustomed to being handled. Make the interactions positive and short so your puppy relates well to being combed and handled in this manner. A groomer has a difficult job. They want both you and your dog to leave their facility with a positive feeling and that will be much easier and more likely if your dog is comfortable being handled.

Pictured above: Left – A shaggy Charley is soon in need of a full groom.  Right – A freshly groomed Sophie is cut in the style we prefer; not too short, hair left on bridge of nose and a rounded muzzle with ear length in line with her chin.

We prefer a full, rounded face when our dogs are groomed.  Many groomer will shave the bridge of the nose to have a cleaner look.  We specifically request to keep the bridge of nose area furry and to keep the muzzle shape rounded, as shown in the above pictures.  Shaving the top of the nose will often make the dog appear to have a longer snout and will give a different look.  If you prefer the full teddy bear face as pictured above, take pictures to show your groomer and specifically request a rounded muzzle and no shaving on the muzzle or bridge of nose.

In between those grooming appointments, it is up to you to do the work.  You should keep your dog brushed on a regular basis or the hair may become matted. The hair varies from dog to dog, but brushing frequently will ensure that your dog always looks well groomed. As your puppy matures to an adult, he/she will gradually lose their puppy coat and a new adult coat will slowly be transitioned in.  During this transition, your puppy may seem to shed more.  An adult coat texture and color can be different from their puppy coat.  The texture, curl, and color can all change as they mature.

There are many different shampoo and conditioner varieties for dogs.  Use something that is gentle on the skin and around the eyes.  I do not recommend using adult shampoo.  It can irritate and burn their eyes and isn’t designed for a dog’s needs.  Frequency of bathing will vary depending upon lifestyle and your personal preference.  I don’t recommend bathing too often, as it can strip the skin of natural oils.  Also be careful not to use hot water, which can cause drying and irritation.  A water temperature a little warmer than room temperature is best.  In general, I usually bathe our dogs every 3-4 weeks.  This is easiest when you have a sink or tub with a handheld sprayer.  It allows you to direct and control the water and is much more effective in rinsing out the soap suds.  You need to make sure you thoroughly rinse your dog’s coat or they will become itchy and dry.  I always use my hand to protect their eyes from water and soap and I also tuck their ears closed when rinsing that area.  The eyes and ears are the sensitive areas where you need to be careful not to allow water or soap to penetrate.

If you dry your dog on a high surface, please make sure you are able to fully prevent them from falling.  I find that drying a dog completely helps to eliminate knotting.

Our most used grooming items are linked on our page, “Products We Love”, here on our website.  There are many options out there so feel free to experiment to find what works best.  I listed the things I have found work best for us  but there are lots of other good products out there.

Make sure to keep your dog’s nails trimmed on a regular basis.  I have our dogs clipped and groomed every 6-8 weeks and usually do not need to clip their nails in between visits.  If you decide to undertake nail trimming on your own and you have no experience trimming nails, please ask your vet or groomer to show you how to avoid cutting the quick, which can cause bleeding and pain.

You will also want to make sure that you keep the ears clean and dry.  Floppy eared dogs can be prone to ear infections because their ear can hold moisture and cause problems for your dog.  I use an all natural product that I place in our dog’s ears on occasion to help prevent any issues and so far, it has worked very well.  I provided a link for the product in the list below.  I also make sure I keep the ear canal as dry as possible during bathing and I wipe them out with a soft cotton swab afterwards.  Keeping the inner ear dry is important for cockapoos.  Grooming can help with this. Ask your groomer to keep the inner ear clean and plucked.  This helps with air flow and reduces moisture.

Many people also make sure that their dog has regular teeth cleanings.  There are several good dog toothpastes on the market and I have seen some great homemade recipes as well.  You don’t need a fancy brush, just a regular toothbrush or fingertip brush will work fine.  If you can get your dog used to regular brushing, it will become part of your routine.  Tartar build up can happen quickly and be expensive to remove. A once or twice a week brushing, focused especially on the canines, will prove to be very helpful in the long run. There is also a great dental spray I use in between brushing that helps with tartar build up and breath.

Our Favorite Grooming Products

** All products are linked under our “Products We Love” page.


Shampoo and Conditioner – “Plum Silky” –  this is great for giving your dog a well-conditioned, soft, and wonderful smelling coat.   A tip for making your shampoo last longer… buy a loofah like you use with body wash in the shower and apply a small coin sized dollop and lather.  This prevents you from over using and wasting.  One bottle should last quite awhile.

Leave in conditioner – “The Stuff” – I use this after I bathe the dog.  Spray over entire body, especially in areas which are highly likely to matte and knot, like that armpits, behind ears, and at dog’s hind legs and under tail.  Brush and comb through and then proceed to dry the dog.

Combs and Brushes

Soft bristle brush – I use this to brush while drying after a bath.  It helps to dry the hair faster and creates a smoother finish.

Knot Removing Comb – be careful with this tool.  It has sharp edges and can hurt your dog if you don’t use it in a thoughtful way.  This should only be used to help break up a knot that you cannot comb through.  Do no poke it into the skin.

Metal tooth comb – I use this for general combing and grooming.  This should be run through your dog’s coat several times per week to prevent knotting and to keep them comfortable with being combed and handled.  Even if you cut your dog’s coat short, continue to cob over them several times per week so they do not become sensitive to the grooming process.  The metal tooth comb will usually find knots before other brushes would so it is helpful in keeping the coat free of knots.

Slicker Brush – This is an essential here at our house.  If I am doing a comb through, I use this brush first, then follow after with the metal tooth comb.  It helps smooth out the coat and makes using the metal tooth comb much easier.

Pin Brush – I also use this for general combing and grooming.  This can be run over your dog’s coat several times per week to help prevent knotting and to keep your dog well groomed.

Dog Grooming Scissors – Rounded scissors are what I prefer when trimming hair away from the eyes and face.  You may find these helpful as new little hairs start to invade the eye area between grooming appointments.  I use the straight scissors for trimming above eyes, around legs and bottoms, and anywhere a straight cut is preferred.  Please use caution when you using any object in and around the eyes.  Also, some grooming scissors are extremely sharp and can easily cut your dog’s skin.  Always proceed with caution.

Other Items to Consider:

Dog Hair Dryer (cuts drying time down drastically), Dog Nail Clippers, Dog Grooming Table, Dog Toothpaste and Brushes, Dog Ear Cleaner

This may seem like a long list and a lot to purchase, but it is helpful to have most of it around.  Tools, such as brushes and combs, will last you for the life of the dog and for any future dogs you may own.  I would recommend you minimally start out with a good shampoo, a detangler or conditioner, a metal tooth comb, a slicker brush, a soft bristle brush, ear cleaner, toothpaste and brush, and a good pair of scissors meant for grooming a dog.