Puppies have soft, fluffy coats that make you want to cuddle them all day. Now that you’re a proud dog owner, it’s important to look after your puppy’s fur with regular brushing…
So, how often should you brush your puppy?
You should brush your puppy every day for the first few weeks to make him/her comfortable with being brushed. Once your puppy is happy to be brushed, start brushing your puppy as often as he/she will be brushed as an adult dog. This gets your puppy used to its adult brushing routine, which can be every few days but must be at least once a week.
Brushing your puppy is an important part of grooming and care, but brushing too little or too much can hurt your puppy or damage the delicate fur. If brushing is done the wrong way, your puppy might end up hating being brushed and fight with you or the groomer every time the brush comes out.
When deciding how often to brush your puppy, it’s important to understand your dog’s body language and know how often your puppy will have to be brushed as an adult dog.
How often should you brush a puppy
For the first few weeks, brush your puppy daily. Do this until your puppy is calm and happy to be brushed. A calm and happy puppy:
- Breathes normally, not too fast
- Has relaxed ears, not ears pointing backwards
- Sits relatively still (puppies cannot be expected to sit still for very long because they have a strong drive to move around and explore the world)
- Is playful but not aggressive
- Even shakes their bum and tail in excitement when seeing the brush
Once your puppy is comfortable and relaxed during brushing, you can start getting your puppy used to the timing between brushes and the grooming sessions that he/she will have as an adult dog.
For example, say you have a puppy that’s a dog breed with a long, smooth coat. You can use the table below to see that you need to brush a long-coated adult dog every 2 to 3 days for the best results. Once your puppy enjoys being brushed daily, start brushing your puppy every 2 to 3 days so your puppy can get used to this regular brushing routine for adulthood.
How often you will brush your puppy as an adult dog depends on two things:
- the length of your dog’s hair, and
- the type of coat your dog has
The following table shows how often you should brush your dog depending on your dog’s hair length and coat:
|Type of adult coat||Examples of breeds with this hair length and coat||Traits of this adult coat type||How often you should brush your puppy|
|Hairless dog (hairless dog breed or hairless from a skin condition)||American Hairless Terrier Hairless Chihuahua||– Very little hair in certain spots||Every 2 weeks|
|Curly coat||Bichon Frise |
|– Hair is wavy or curly||Every 3-4 days|
|Short, smooth coat||Pointer |
|– Short hair |
– Lies close to the body
|Every 7 days|
|Short, wire coat||Jack Russell Terrier |
|– Fur feels spiky and rough |
– Thick hair
|Every 3-4 days|
|Short, double coat||Labradors |
|– Top coat |
– Thin, soft undercoat
|Every 3-4 days|
|Long, smooth coat||Yorkshire Terrier |
|– Silky and long hair |
– No undercoat
|Every 2-3 days|
|Long, wire coat||Westie |
|– Straight or wavy top coat |
– Thick undercoat
|Every 2-3 days|
|Long, double coat||Shetland Sheepdogs (find out if Shelties shed) |
|– Straight, topcoat – Thick undercoat||Every 2-3 days|
Can you brush your puppy too much?
You can brush a puppy as often as you like, as long as you don’t push too hard and you use the right brush. If you see your puppy’s skin becoming red, dry or patchy, then you are probably brushing too often, brushing incorrectly, or using a brush that’s too rough for your puppy’s skin.
How soon should you start brushing a puppy?
Puppies don’t naturally love being brushed – they need to be introduced to brushing and learn to enjoy it when they are still young and open to learning new things.
The best time to start brushing a puppy is the day you bring the puppy home. A puppy can be brushed from the age of 8 weeks. Puppies learn most of their ‘life skills’ between 2 and 6 months of age, so this is a good time to help your puppy learn that being brushed is fun.
If your puppy has a positive introduction to brushing and learns to enjoy it, grooming and brushing will be a lot easier for the rest of your dog’s life.
How a puppy’s coat grows and changes
Puppies are born with a puppy coat – a fine coat of soft fur. This baby fur helps to protect their skin and keep them warm, though puppies are naturally cooler than adult dogs which is why it’s dangerous to bathe them too young and too often.
A puppy’s fur coat changes as the puppy gets older. Over time, this puppy fur is replaced by the dog’s adult fur. The new coat might grow longer, thicker, become shinier, change color, or become coarser and less soft.
All puppies have one coat of fur, called a single coat. But adult dogs can have a single coat or a double coat.
Double-coated dogs have two layers of fur. The first coat, closest to the skin, is short and woolly. This undercoat helps keep the dog’s body temperature stable. The second coat, the top coat, sits on top of the undercoat. The top coat hair is longer, and it’s there to stop dirt and water from getting through to the dog’s undercoat and body.
Every dog sheds its puppy coat and grows an adult coat. Most puppies lose their puppy coat when they are about 6 months old, but a puppy can grow an adult coat anywhere between the ages of 3 and 24 months. Some breeds simply lose their puppy coats earlier than others because they mature quicker (which is also why some breeds need to move to adult dog food sooner).
Shedding is a big change for a young, growing dog to go through!
You might not see much of a difference in a maturing single-coated, short-haired puppy.
If you have a double-coated breed, your puppy might look scruffy or patchy in this shedding stage, called the ‘puppy uglies’.
If your dog is long-haired, you may need to do more brushing for longer to get out knots and remove puppy fur trapped in the adult coat.
How often should you brush your puppy to prevent shedding?
Brushing does not prevent or stop shedding in dogs, but brushing a puppy that’s shedding at least two to three times a week lessens the amount of hair the puppy leaves lying around. Brushing this often removes loose hair before it can fall off. Shedding is a natural and healthy process, and no amount of brushing will ever stop shedding altogether.
Shedding is a puppy’s way to lose old hair and replace it with new, healthy hair or an adult coat. It’s also how your dog will grow a warm coat for winter and a cooler coat for summer.
Puppies that spend a lot of time indoors, where the temperature stays fairly consistent, tend to shed less than outdoor dogs of the same breed. This is because indoor dogs don’t rely on their coats as much to control their body temperature – they rely on heaters to warm up, and air conditioners and fans to stay cool.
It is important to stick to regular brushes every 2 to 3 days when your puppy is shedding, whether your puppy is indoors or outdoors, to keep the loose hair under control and manageable.
How long should you brush your puppy?
Start brushing a puppy for a minute or two at a time every day, then slowly build up to longer brushes that last no more than 10 minutes. This is enough time to give the puppy’s coat a proper brush that removes knots and dirt. If your puppy is shedding, simply brush until there is no more loose hair showing on the dog brush.
Give your puppy lots of praise and treats during the brushing and after, whether the brush lasts 1 minute or 10 minutes.
What type of puppy brush should you use?
Start by brushing your puppy with a soft, rubber-bristled or rubber-tipped brush that massages the skin, removing dirt and knots at the same time. Never use metal, stiff-bristled brushes or stripper brushes on a puppy’s coat as all puppies have soft, sensitive skin and a single coat that does not need stripping.
Here are some great soft brushes for puppies with a puppy coat that you can get on Amazon (affiliate links):
Bodhi soothing massage brush – use wet or dry
FURminator curry comb with rubber teeth
Puppy brushes are good for general upkeep, such as massaging the skin, keeping the coat clean and removing loose hair. Dog combs are better for small jobs in one area of the coat, such as getting out knots and removing fleas.
If you’re wondering, click here to find out where puppies can pick up fleas.
Once your puppy sheds its puppy coat and grows its adult coat, you can start using brushes designed for adult dog coats, like these:
Here are the best types of dog brushes to use on dogs with different coat types and hair length:
|Coat type||Best dog brushes to use|
|Hairless dog (dog breed or skin condition)||Soft brush on hairy partsDog grooming glove on hairless areas|
|Curly coat||Slicker brushWide-tooth comb|
|Short, smooth coat||Bristle brushDog grooming glove|
|Short, wire coat||Slicker brushMedium-tooth comb|
|Short, double coat||Slicker brushRakeMetal comb|
|Long, smooth coat||Slicker brushLarge-tooth comb|
|Long, wire coat||Slicker brushPin brushLarge-tooth comb|
|Long, double coat||Slicker brushRakeWide-tooth comb|
Should you brush a puppy with wet or dry hair?
It’s best to brush a puppy with dry hair. Soap and water soften a dog’s hair and skin, making the wet hair looser and weaker than when it’s dry. Brushing a puppy with wet hair can break the hair, make knots harder to comb out, or even cause bald patches where the hair is pulled out unevenly.
Because soap and water soften the skin too, brushing a wet puppy with a rough brush or with too much pressure can hurt the puppy and break the skin into sores.
In fact, just washing your puppy too often or too young can cause serious health issues – Click here to read the full story on bathing your puppy.
You don’t have to bath your puppy every time you brush him/her, but it’s important to brush your puppy before every bath. Doing so will remove loose hair and make washing your puppy easier.
Why you should brush your puppy regularly
Did you know that brushing your puppy has many benefits for both of you?
Brushing your puppy regularly with the right brush can:
· Get your puppy used to being brushed
It’s extremely important to get your puppy accustomed to being brushed and to even look forward to this important grooming time.
If your puppy never learns to enjoy being brushed, your puppy will be unhappy and probably run away to hide whenever you take out the brush. This could make grooming a struggle for the rest of your dog’s life.
· Remove knots and mats
Even though puppies have shorter hair than adult dogs, they can still get knots and things stuck in their fur. Regular brushing will keep knots under control, and make these knots less painful to brush out.
Very big knots and mats may need to be cut out rather than brushed or combed out, so you don’t hurt your puppy.
· Keep your puppy clean
Regular brushing helps to keep your puppy clean, so you won’t have to bathe your puppy too often (which can be dangerous for young dogs).
Brushing massages the puppy’s skin, removing dirt and debris from the skin and coat at the same time.
· Help your puppy grow its adult coat
All puppy hair goes through 3 phases: a growth phase, a rest phase, and a shed phase. During the final shed phase, the old hair leaves the hair follicle in the skin and falls off the puppy.
But sometimes this loose hair gets stuck in the puppy’s fur, especially if the puppy is growing a double coat or shedding a thick coat.
Brushing can remove a lot of loose hair from the coat to prevent matting.
· Help you pick up health issues early
When you brush your puppy, take some time to check your puppy’s skin and overall coat condition. Getting to know your puppy will help you pick up health issues, illnesses or growths, so you can get advice and treatment from a veterinarian if you need to.
Look for the following signs and symptoms:
- Marks, sores, or scabs on the skin
- Ticks, fleas or parasites in the fur
- Dry or flaky areas of skin
- Lumps and bumps
- The color of the gums and any changes in color
- Holes in or damaged teeth
- Any major changes in the appearance and feel of your puppy’s skin and hair
· Be a time for bonding between you and your puppy
Brushing your puppy and spending time with him/her is a wonderful way to bond with your pet and make you both happier and healthier.
Studies have shown that contact with animals can make you happier, release stress, and help you fight infections.
When you touch your puppy, you release a hormone called ‘oxytocin’, which is a bonding hormone. This hormone helps you build an even stronger bond with your dog and a deeper love for each other.
Feeling loved and looked after can also make your pet happier and less anxious. Find out all the ways dogs ask for help and what they’re asking for HERE.
What happens if you don’t brush your puppy?
If you don’t ever brush your puppy, your puppy won’t enjoy the many benefits that come with regular brushes (they’re all listed and explained above). In fact, some not-so-nice things might happen if you never give your puppy a brush.
Here’s what might happen if you never brush your puppy:
- Your puppy will leave more hair around your home. All puppies shed, which means all puppies lose hair. Brushing helps to remove loose hairs in one go and keep them under control. Without brushing, a puppy will leave more hair lying around.
- Dead skin and dirt may build up on your puppy’s skin, making your puppy smell bad and get health issues later on.
- Your puppy’s hair may get very knotted and matted, which will have to be cut off.