Pet Lovers

Do Labs need to be groomed?

Dear Pet Lovers:

I just inherited a family member’s black lab – I have never owned a dog before and am wondering about grooming. Do labs need to be groomed? And if so, what needs to be done?


Lucy in PA

Dear Lucy:

Labs shed. Yellow labs shed consistently throughout the year, while black and chocolate labs lose nearly their entire coat twice each year – in the spring and the fall. So some grooming is in order. The good news is you can do most of the grooming at home. Here are a few ways to keep your new pet in tip-top shape:

Brush brush brush. During shedding season, you will have to brush your lab every day. For the rest of the year, once or twice a week will suffice. Use a special dog brush (ask your local pet store what they recommend for your lab) which will remove dead hair and help to distribute the natural oils all labs have in their fur. During high shedding season, you can use a brush designed for when labs are shedding their coat to assist in brushing off dead fur – do it outside because you won’t believe how much fur comes off.

Bathe during shedding season. When your lab is in the height of shedding season, a bath is the best way to hurry up the process. If you bathe her two – three times a week during this time, you can get the dead coat off quickly so the new coat can come in. It’s a good idea to head to a self-serve dog washing place (many pet store chains have them, like Pet Smart) so you can leave the mess behind. You can also do it at home – outside with a warm water hose is optimal. You can either use a dog shampoo or just water and work your fingers really thoroughly through her entire coat. Then you can speed up the process by blowing her coat dry with a hair dryer set on warm , while brushing the fur in the opposite direction of its natural nap to get rid of all the old fur. Warning – it’s a mess.

As for bathing the rest of the year? If you keep up with the once or twice a week brushing, you don’t really need to bathe labs unless they roll in something (which can happen often:-)). The natural oils keep their fur in good shape without regular bathing.

Nails. Labs’ nails grow fast so you can trim them yourself once or twice a month – but have an expert show you first as it’s very tricky to determine where to cut the nail without hurting your dog. We recommend heading to a professional - it’s relatively cheap – $10-$20.

Enjoy your new pet!

14 Responses to “Do Labs need to be groomed?”

  1. Mamaroonie says:

    Don’t forget to keep their ears clean. Floppy-eared dogs can harbor yeast infections in their ears since it is harder for their ears to dry. There are good natural products that can be used to help deter a yeast infection or to use daily to cure one.

  2. James says:

    As a groomer, yes labs do shed a lot, I would suggest doing a FURminator treatment on the dog. It is a specially formulated shampoo and conditioning treatment to help loosen the under coat, after doing this and getting the dog dry, use the special furminator tool to brush the dog out, it reaches in deep, and grabs the under coat to get it out. You will be amazed at the amount of fur you can get out of a short haired dog!!! You should bathe the dog about every 2 weeks or so, and brush it on a regular basis. You also want to make sure to keep the toenails trimmed, or you can even use a drimmel, to get them as short as possible, and this will keep you from quicking the dog and making them bleed. Also make sure to shave the hair on the paw pads, this will help keep the fur there from matting up, or getting things caught in it that can cause discomfort for the dog.

  3. I am not sure where to post this on the Rachael website. I know Rachael is an animal lover and I wonder if she could help bring light to this story. I have attached a link to an amazing story of a dog named Patrick. This story is spreading like wildfire on Facebook and we need all the support we can get to advocate against animal abuse. PLEASE take the time to read his story. Patrick represents all abused animals : )

    Thank you for caring,
    Ronda Bohnhoff

  4. lauryn says:

    I am also looking for a place on here to post Patrick’s Story! He needs some media attention Rach!! I know you are a pet lover, especially Pitty-boos. he is located in NJ and has a very sad story. he was abused and rescued and is now in good hands, however we want to shed light on the plight of abused animals and Patrick is becoming a symbol of this. please check out his facebook page at, and please consider doing a story about him on your show. the more media attention he gets, the more animal abuse will become an important cause in this country and we can hopefully get laws changed, so that people who commit these crimes against the innocent can pay!!

  5. I can’t believe that this dog survived!!!! he looks well,not good at first,omg! please rach you really should look at this! pit bulls as you know have a bad rep,and I know it doesn’t have to be thay way,and Patrick,(shaking my head over the survival)he should be the poster dog of abuse! he wasn’t a fighter ,just not wanted! This is the worst I personally seen,and ima rancher,no animal deserves this!!!! help bring this and others to light,cuz the animals need a voice too.

  6. Lily says:

    I have to politely disagree with James the groomer’s comment.

    As a Lab owner for many years, the last thing you want to do is to use a “Furminator” as a grooming tool. This will damage a Lab’s coat because it will actually remove their undercoat. Labs have an undercoat for a reason! It keeps them cool in the summer and warm in the winter. It also helps to repel water.
    The best grooming tool for a Lab is called a “Curry Brush”. This will help to remove the loose hair without damage and give the coat a healthy sheen.

  7. De says:

    I am a dog groomer. You should bathe every 6 to 8 weeks. Brushing daily if you can otherwise a few times a week. Labs shed more with the season changing but will shed all the time. DO NOT bathe 2 to 3 times a week like the article says, this will dry out the dog’s skin. You do not want to bathe more than twice a month if needed. The furminator Lily is a good tool to use, but not that often. A soft slicker brush is good but for a lab the Zoom groom is the best to use most often. It will massage a bit but also more importantly get out that undercoat. The zoom groom brush, in my opinion is better than the curry brush. Basing that on experience. Check your local areas for dog grooming salons. Yes some undercoat is good, but to much can cause problems. Be sure to get the dog’s nails trimmed occasionally. Make sure you are feeding is good food. No table scraps, and make sure the first ingredients are meats and veggies. If corn is last in the first to first three ingredients, more than likely your dog will not be getting the nutrients it needs.

  8. De says:

    Another thing I do agree with James, the furminator treatment done right can work. Usually best to do this at a grooming salon for the best results

  9. dora says:

    My black lab has diabetis..I give her a needle twice a day since Sept 2010..She will be 12 this Sept.Also she is now going blind..she eats well and 2 short walks a day…Ive had her since 6mths old..Lady is my best friend and I find myself thinking about what has to be done in the not too distant future and the guilt that I will have when the time comes is sometimes very overwhelming for me,,,Im in my 60′s…I try too think of all the fun and joy she has given me over the years and that helps…I JUST needed to share this to help me thanks

  10. dora says:


  11. Katie says:

    My husband found a black lab at his work and we brought him home. He was shedding really bad so we gave him a bath with the Furminator shampoo and he had an allergic reaction to it….
    He was pretty much balding…our vet put him on medicine and it is finally better about 3 weeks later. Bus his hair was falling out in chunks poor baby :(

  12. Scarlett says:

    As soon as spring began my 2 yr old lab started shedding her hair in bunches then one day she was running around happy suddenly the next morning her legs gave up on her seems she just lost use of them, I know she is not paralyzed just cant use her legs. Nothing has helped. My poor baby.

  13. Cindy says:

    Hi, We have had Smokey a Black Lab for 12 yrs. When we first brought him home I was running the vaccum, and I used the brush attachment and ran it over him and got a lot of hair off of him. So now when I get it out to do my floors he lays down thinking I am getting it out just for him. Oh well he is our four legged son. Have to keep him spoiled like our two legged son. I was wondering if anyone could tell us why he’s getting big growths on him. He had one on his back leg and our son took him and had it removed. But it cost over 300.00 to have it done. The Vet said it was not cancer but never said what it was. Now he has one on he stomach area and it has a raw spot on it I have been keeping it clean and putting salve on it. I don’t think it’s healing very well. I called our Vet to see if they would take it off and I would pay them every month. They said they had to have payment at time of service. Which I can understand, I am on disability because of medical reasons (Smokey has been such a help with that he has had no training but when I have a small seizure he will lay his head on my leg until it passes. He stays with me in what ever room I am in.)He’s my little old man…LOVE HIM to pieces. Thanks for listening

  14. Yvonne says:

    This message is for Dora with the sick lab – it is a sad situation but I have been there 3 times. Just be positive and be thankful for every day you have with you special friend. Make her happy and love her – when the time is ready you will know. Thinking you you,


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