Grooming a Spaniel: How Do I Keep Them Clean?

Got a smelly Spaniel that could do with a tidy-up?

You don’t have to take them to a professional (and expensive) grooming salon.

In fact, you could give them a DIY groom at home; in a place where they’re most comfortable.

Getting into the habit of doing a groom at home will come in handy, too. Spaniels don’t think about where they’re playing. They’ll follow their nose wherever it takes them–which is why you’ll often find them in lakes of mud, or running through grass fields and getting seeds tangled in their ears.

So, how do you groom a Spaniel at home? This guide shares everything you need to know.

What grooming equipment do I need?

Remember that old saying: “A workman is just as good as his tools”?

It’s true when grooming your Spaniel.

You need to make sure you’ve got the right equipment to do a DIY groom. Otherwise, you’ll make it harder to get them neat and tidy–and there’s a risk of injuring your pet.

To do an at-home groom, you’ll need:

how to groom a spaniel at home

How to do a full groom at home

Ready to do an at-home Spaniel groom? You might need someone to help keep the pup still because they can be wrigglers.

One knee-jerk movement could cause an accident or unwanted snip, so it’s better to have someone keep them still (and feed them treats!) whilst you’re grooming them.

Once you’ve got them in place:

  1. Brush their fur in the direction it grows, including on their chest, around their paws, and under their belly. This will help remove any debris from their fur.
  2. Use the undercoat comb all over their body to thin their under fur and remove any mats.
  3. Brush their fur again, using the soft brush, to remove any excess on the surface.
  4. Pop them in the bath, or under a shower head, and wash their fur with dog-friendly shampoo.
  5. Delicately use the trimming scissors to tidy up any excess fur–such as between their toes, beneath their tail, or at the bottom of their ears.
  6. Use the nail clippers to trim their nails.
  7. Clean the insides of their ears by dropping some cleaning solution in, massaging the ear, and removing excess wax with a cotton pad.

Should I shave my Spaniel?

Notice how we didn’t recommend shaving your Spaniel? That’s because Spaniels have two layers of fur on their body.

They have the top layer which protects them and collects debris, and an undercoat which helps keep them cool in the summer (and warm in the winter.) Air circulates around this undercoat and is superb for temperature control.

Here’s how it works:

Shaving, also known as “clipping,” strips their undercoat. This means they won’t have the fluff underneath to cool air–which can actually make them hotter in summer.

That’s why we don’t recommend shaving your Spaniel at any point. Not only will you remove their undercoat (and actually make them hotter in summer), but it’s unlikely their fur will grow back the same once the undercoat is stripped.

Instead, use the undercoat brush to maintain that layer of fur without removing it completely.

(I can say this from personal experience. I got Hugo clipped before knowing it ruined their undercoat, and although his fur has grown back to the same length, it’s not as fluffy and soft as it used to be.)

How often should I groom my Spaniel?

There is no golden rule to how often you should groom your Spaniel.

It all depends on how often they’re walked, how dirty they get, and how fast their fur grows.

As a general guideline, aim for a whole groom every 6-8 weeks. But if your Spaniel has a habit of running through bushes (and taking half of the twigs with them), you might need to do a full groom once a month.

However, it is worth noting that you should get your Spaniel used to being groomed from a very young age–even as a puppy. It’ll help them get used to being touched in awkward places (like their hind legs, paws, or tail), making the entire grooming experience much more comfortable for them.

How often shall I bath my Spaniel?

Bathing your Spaniel is part of the grooming routine, but you might find yourself needing to give them a quick rinse down without doing the entire grooming routine.

You should bathe your Spaniel whenever they’re:

  • Visibly dirty (like when they’ve rolled in fox poop)
  • Have been in dirty water (like the canal you had to fish them out of)
  • Whenever they’re generally a bit smelly

However, you shouldn’t bathe them too frequently. This can strip the natural oils in their fur and cause skin irritation. Once a month should be OK.

how to bath a spaniel

4 things to be careful of when grooming your Spaniel

Ready to do your first Spaniel groom?

Before you get started, here are four crucial things to be aware of:

1. Don’t trim their nails too short

Trimming your Spaniel’s nails is a key part of their grooming routine.

However, you should be aware that their nails can bleed if they’re cut too short. That’s because their blood supply continues into the nail itself. Cutting that too short can cut the blood supply, cause pain to your Spaniel and have a messy situation to clean up.

Here’s a great video that shows how to cut their nails:

You don’t always need to add this into your Spaniel’s grooming routine, though. If they frequently walk on pavements or concrete, the rough surface files down their nails naturally.

2. Be aware of matting behind the ears and armpits

Unlike other dog breeds, Spaniels don’t usually have incredibly long fur. That doesn’t mean they’re immune to matting, though.

In fact, you should be aware of the common places that a Spaniel’s fur can matt, including:

  • Behind their ears
  • Behind their hind legs
  • On their chest where the harness rubs

Make sure to trim each of these areas during your groom. This can prevent matting, in the first place–and help you remove balls of matted fur that could build up over the next month.

But if your Spaniel has serious matting behind the ears or armpits, an at-home groom might not be the best solution.

Cutting the matts out with scissors is dangerous because you won’t know where the skin ends and the fur begins. Instead, get a professional dog groomer to cut out the bigger matts, then stay on-top of it at home during your usual grooming routine.

3. Remove grass seeds immediately

Grass seeds are one of the biggest risks that dogs can have when they’re outdoors.

These innocent-looking seeds sprout during the Spring and Summer, and don’t look like anything to worry about when your dog has them intertwined in their fur.

However, grass seeds have a sharp end that can easily burrow into your dog’s skin, which can result in painful stems of grass growing inside their body that cause abscesses.

The most common places are on their paws, legs, ears, and sides of their body.

You should always check for grass seeds whenever you return from a walk. It’s a basic grooming pattern that can seem time consuming, but it costs the average dog owner £337 to treat grass seed-related illnesses. Needless to say, it’s not pleasant for your pup either.

dog grass seeds

4. Don’t force them into a full-on grooming session straight away

We’ve briefly touched on the fact that you should get your Spaniel used to being groomed from a puppy. You can do this by introducing a brush (and allowing them to sniff it), and teaching commands like “paw” to get used to their feet being touched.

But if you’ve left it too late and you’re grooming a 6+ month Spaniel, it’s crucial not to rush into your first groom.

Rushing into a groom, and forcing them through it when they’ve obviously unhappy, isn’t a good experience for anyone. Not only does it make your more at-risk of an accident happening because they can’t sit still, but you could give them a fear of being groomed.

A Spaniel that’s afraid of being groomed might snap, or cower away whenever you get your grooming supplies out.

So, take it slow and introduce each tool. Show them that it’s nothing to be afraid of, and start putting the tools where you’d use them on their body. Reward each time they don’t react to the item there.

(For example: You can use the brush on their back. When they allow you to do so, reward.)

Grooming a Spaniel is easier than you think

As you can see, grooming a Spaniel at home isn’t as complex as you might’ve thought.

Simply grab the grooming tools you’ll need, and have someone hold them still whilst you go to work.

Learning how to groom your dog is a valuable skill that you’ll get tons of use out of–especially when you’re living with a Spaniel who can’t help but get filthy.

So, get your scissors and go to work!

Sprocker Lovers is run by me, Elise--a first-time dog mum to my Sprocker puppy, Hugo. We also run the @SprockerLovers Instagram 🐶