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Golden’s love to play and explore – combined with that long, wavy coat and you have a recipe for a very dirty dog. Their long hair gets tangled that if left ungroomed turns into painful mats. Also, did I mention all that shedding?
As a professional groomer I need the right tools for the job, so here's a few of my personal recommendations for grooming at home, along with some of my favorite top-of-the-line brushes I use at the shop.
Quick Look: Best Brushes for Golden Retrievers
OUR #1 RATED
Coral Slicker Brush
Coral Slicker Brush
Incredibly efficient at removing mats and comfortable for your dog. This slicker is considered the absolute best by every groomer I've met (including me).
The A5III is a more affordable version of our #1 pick, but missing a few features. The pins are not as flexible and more prone to causing brush burn.
Steel Greyhound Comb
Steel Greyhound Comb
A long-pin steel comb is a perfect (and inexpensive) tool for removing deep tangles that a slicker can't reach. We recommend using this comb in combination with a slicker brush.
Golden Fur: A Tale of Two Coats
Golden retrievers have two layers of fur coat: a top layer called their Guard Coat. And a softer, lighter layer underneath called the Undercoat.
These two layers combined create a natural protective barrier against the elements.
Their guard coat does exactly that, it’s the first layer of protection that repels water, and guards your golden from dirt, debris, and harmful UV rays. However, their long "feathers" tend to mat and tangle.
Their undercoat is softer, lighter, and shorter than their guard coat. It acts as the insulator and keeps dogs warm in the winter, and cool in the summer.
If your notice a huge increase in shedding during spring and fall, it’s that undercoat shedding and preparing itself for the new season.
The Golden Rules of Brushing
We have a guard coat that tangles and gets dirty, and an undercoat that sheds like crazy, so how do we solve this dilemma?
The tried and true method of bathing and brushing is still king: but with a few essential tools.
The general rule of thumb is this: brushing every day is ideal, but aim for no less than once every three days.
Brushing Like a Pro
Saving You Money
Brushing helps with cleanliness, happiness, and health - but did you know it can save you some serious money?
Dogs not accustomed to being brushed may not enjoy being groomed later on, which makes for a miserable experience. Furthermore, matted and dirty dogs require a lot more time and effort from your groomer.
Put simply: More mats and cleaning + difficult dogs = More time and money spent trying to fix.
Five Minutes of brushing a day can save your dog a very uncomfortable trip to the groomer or vet, and it will save your wallet too!
Don't Use This Brush
Furmintators are great tools, but not for Golden Retrievers.
These types of deshedding tools will actually cut through their coats instead of removing loose fur. Doing this excessively will actually damage their coat and leave them looking very rough over time. I recommend you stick with a good brush and undercoat rake instead.
What To Look For In A Dog Brush
With all that thick coat to brush through - you’ll want something sturdy, comfortable, and that will last a long time.
High end brushes have very bendable and flexible pins, which is absolutely necessary to avoid irritating your dog's skin. When you brush your dog with a proffesional brush - the pins bend back, easing up on the applied pressure and stopping them from getting what we call Brush Burn.
Another common issue with cheap slicker brushes is their sharp pins, again we want to make grooming a comfortable and enjoyable experience for our Golden's, so we want a brush where each pin has been properly sanded and smoothed down.
Get a handle on things.
The handle needs to be comfortable to hold. When you brush dogs for living like I do, it makes a BIG difference. Ideally, you want a handle that won’t cramp your hand, and has a comfortable grip. But more importantly: you want it to hold itself together when it's inevitably dropped once or a dozen times.
Get a big brush!
You don’t want a tiny brush for all that dog, so get a brush with a larger surface area to save your arms from exhaustion.
Avoid the cheap imitations.
It's tempting to just buy a cheaper version of the same brush, and it's just a brush so they all basically do the same thing... right? The devil is in the details: the cheap brush will have sharp or inflexible pins that will hurt your dog, the handle will break, and bristles will break down quickly.
Buy the good one and you’ll massively improve comfort, and save money from constantly replacing broken brushes.
Best Brushes For a Golden Retriever
You'll only need 2 primary tools to manage a golden retriever coat: a slicker brush, and a greyhound comb. Here’s what I recommend for Golden owners brushing their dog at home:
1. A Slicker Brush
Your #1 tool is going to be the slicker brush. The fine bristles of a slicker brush penetrate into the guard coat and remove loose surface hair, dirt, and debris, while the dense pins separate individual hairs and dematts as it brushes.
The main issue with nearly all brushes on the market is brush burn. While you brush through their coat the sharp pins will irritate your Golden's sensitive skin. So you'll need a brush that is designed to make grooming comfortable with flexible and smoothed pins.
Chris Christensen Coral Slicker Brush
This slicker is considered the absolute best by every groomer I've met (including me). The cost may deter you, especially when other slicker brushes are so much cheaper, but every part of this tool is engineered to make grooming comfortable for your pup.
I have been using my Chris Christensen slicker on every single dog in my shop for 3+ years without worrying about brush burn, and it's a miracle de-matting tool.
My Second Pick:
Chris Christensen A5III Slicker
The A5III slicker is typically a more affordable version of the first recommendation, but while missing a few features. There's less flexibility in the pins, so be aware of brush burn and don't go over the same spot more than 3 times. Also, the pin density is slightly lower, but still effective at de-matting.
2. The Greyhound Comb
I call this my "seek and destroy" tool, I glide through their coat with a greyhound comb to find any left over mats I may have missed. It's perfect for finishing your dog and making sure they're 100% clear and free of tangles.
Andis Pet Steel Grooming Comb
There are a million replicas of this exact comb, but I prefer using Andis because the pins are stronger and the tips are softened to avoid hurting your dog. The long pins reach deep into their coat, unhinging any hidden tangles near the surface of the skin. An absolute must-have for grooming thick coats.
Whether it's for a client or for a dog show, we use all the tools listed above in our shop. I need my Golden's to look pristine in a short amount of time. But one thing we haven't talked about is how to quickly remove all the shedding hair.
For that we use is a high velocity dryer for maximum deshedding and fast drying.
To get our dogs dry quickly we use a high-powered air dryer. It also blows out all that loose hair trapped in their undercoat. We call this a deshedding treatment, and it severely reduces shedding for weeks afterwards.
SHELANDY 3.2HP Pet Dryer
While not quite as powerful as your professional commercial-grade pet dryer, this is a really great personal dryer that can most certainly get the job done (and is quite a bit more affordable).
By blowing out your dog's coat you'll release a shocking amount of loose hair, and you can massively reduce shedding for a few weeks. Not to mention it'll save you from making constant trips to your groomer.
Please Note: Use this outside if possible, or else you'll have hair or water stuck to every part of your room.