When it comes to bathing and drying, most dog owners will shampoo, rinse, and then towel dry. That’s totally fine for a quick home bath.
For dogs with longer coats or that need haircuts, a towel dry won’t be enough.
There’s a golden rule with professional grooming that I always tell my students:
The foundation of every good groom comes down to the bath and drying technique.
That’s why, when you visit a good groomer, your dog smells and feels so much nicer. We have some tricks we’ve picked up along the way, and I’ll explain everything.
Bathing – A quick Rundown
We covered how to properly bathe your dog in this article. But here’s a quick run down:
Quick Bathing Tips
- Don’t squeeze the bottle of shampoo down your dogs back. Mix shampoo with a bit of water in a bottle and apply as needed.
- Don’t forget to clean the paws.
- Ensure the crotch and bum are clean too.
- The body should be fully lathered and soapy.
- Do a thorough rinse! No shampoo left behind.
- Gently hand clean and rinse the face, ears, and neck.
Drying Your Dog Like A pro
This is the technique I use for every single dog that visits my salon, as it’s the fastest and most effective way to get them 100% dry before cutting hair.
Why is getting your dog completely dry so important?
- Wet hair clumps together – leading to an uneven haircut.
- Moisture breaks down clipper blades and shears faster.
- Prevents the formation of sores called Hot Spots.
- Effectively removes loose hair from double coated breeds.
Even for short-haired dogs that don’t need haircuts, the same technique applies.
Step 1 – The Shammy Dry
Here’s a big grooming secret: don’t use traditional towels when drying.
Get yourself a Shammy or an automotive drying towel (also called Chamois Leather). These are super absorbent towels used for drying off your vehicle quickly, and they work really well for dogs!
The Shammy Technique
- Prime your Shammy by first getting it wet (sounds weird, but this is a necessary step).
- Ring it out. It will still be damp which is fine.
- Drape it over your dog.
- Apply gentle pressure and slide your Shammy down your dog in the direction of hair growth.
- Ring it out again and see how much water comes out.
The idea is not to get your dog super dry yet, but to pick up the majority of loose water.
The next step is where we get your dog prepped for grooming
Step 2 – The Blow Dry
The blow dry is where the most technique comes into play.
It often takes between 30 minutes and up to 2 hours, depending on the size of the dog. The power of your dryer also has a big impact on dry time.
The High Velocity Dryer
Let me introduce you to one of the most important tools in a groomer’s arsenal: a high velocity dryer.
It’s like a vacuum cleaner in reverse, meant to blow a lot of warm air to dry hair fast, with more power than your average hair dryer.
It has a long hose and may have different attachments to increase or decrease the velocity of air.
For double-coated breeds like Huskies or German Shepherds, it massively reduces shedding hair by literally blowing it out.
For long-coated dogs, it helps get your dog dry and ready to be clipped and trimmed. If your dog is even slightly wet, it will make your haircut exponentially more difficult.
Drying The Face
We want to avoid blowing high-pressure air directly into the face of your dog. It’s uncomfortable and a bit scary for them.
What I do is remove the attachment from the hose so it’s blowing gentle, warm air. I then hold the end of the hose about 2 feet away from their face to ensure it’s a comfortable distance.
This will take another 10-20 minutes to dry.
Checking For Moisture
First do a visual check; you’ll notice that slightly damp hair clumps together, which is a sign that you have more work to do.
Feel with your hand around the legs, armpits, tail, and neck, as these areas are more difficult to dry.
Once you’re confident that your dog is fully dry, you’re ready to groom!
What if I don’t Have a High Velocity Dryer?
Here’s a few substitutions:
A human hair dryer is much too hot and will harm your pet, so make sure it’s on cool mode only!
Also, a human dryer has much less force and covers a smaller surface area. While not ideal for big dogs or long coated breeds, we can get away with using one for small breeds with shorter coats. Just know this takes much longer.
Regular cotton towels work if we just want to get the dog dry enough that they won’t drip water all over the house. Totally fine for most people, just don’t expect a quality groom if using clippers or shears on even a slightly damp dog.
Air drying is using a towel or shammy to get gather up loose moisture, and letting nature do the rest. This works for double coated or short coated breeds. But I don’t recommend this with longer coats or you’ll have a mess of thick tangles.
The danger of Matting when wet
We haven’t talked about matting yet, but it’s very important to watch out for when it comes to bathing and drying.
As hair follicles are introduced to moisture, they expand, and as they dry, they contract, making tangles even tighter!
Professional groomers will address this by applying dematting conditioner directly to the matted coat and gently brushing out as they bathe.
How to avoid matting
If your dog is prone to matting then you’ll be required to brush them out every day.
It only takes 10 minutes of your time but is absolutely essential.
If your dog is exposed to water (jumping in the pool, caught in the rain, etc.) then try and brush them out as soon as you can, as hair follicles will tighten if left to dry naturally.
Deshedding While Drying
If you own a double-coated breed like a Husky, Golden Retriever, or Labrador, high velocity drying is an amazing de-shedding tool. It will literally blow the loose coat right off your dog, and don’t worry, it’s quite comfortable for them.
My only bit of advice is to do this outdoors, as you will see clumps of hair flying in every direction.