Labrador retrievers, originally bred to assist fishermen in retrieving the catch of the day, have short but dense double coats that repel water and trap irritants. When you invite a Lab into your home, a few good grooming tools will make his coat care much easier.
Two types of slicker brushes can benefit a Labrador retriever's coat. Use a small slicker brush to gently smooth the hair on your pup's face and legs. This will remove flecks of mud, stubborn pieces of dirt, and bits of last night's chow. To preserve their natural skin oils, Labradors should not be bathed often, so the cleaning action of the slicker brush is helpful. A larger slicker brush is useful on the rest of the coat, particularly along your Lab's back, where the hair is coarser. A slicker brush separates the water-resistant hairs and promotes circulation in the underlying skin.
A narrow-toothed comb is another important part of your Lab's grooming regimen. Because of their dense coats, Labs are subject to hot spots, which can be started by various irritants, including fleas, allergies and mites. A lack of skin ventilation can promote hot spots, according to the Animal Medical Hospital. The comb will separate the hairs and allow the skin to breathe. Start at the back of your pal's head and work toward his tail, gently combing through each section of hair. This practice will also give you an opportunity to look over your Lab's coat and note any potential problems.
Bristle brushes are ideal for grooming Labrador retrievers, because they remove loose hairs and help spread natural oils through the coat that are vital to keeping it healthy. These brushes are gentle, and will not aggravate your pup's sensitive skin. Use the bristle brush at least once a week. Keep a plastic bag or trash can handy so you can collect the hair the bristles remove. If you also use a shedding blade or a slicker brush, use the bristle brush last for a sleek finish to your grooming ritual.
Labrador retrievers shed their undercoats, making a shedding blade particularly useful when your buddy is shedding heavily in the early spring. A shedding blade is a great aid for removing loosened fur so it doesn't wind up all over the house. Labs have sensitive skin, so use the shedding blade lightly to remove loosened undercoat. Do not press down too hard, or use it on your furry friend's stomach or legs. Each dog is different; you will soon learn how your Lab feels about different grooming tools. If he shies away from the shedding blade or seems reluctant to have you use it, stop using it until you discuss the problem with an expert groomer or veterinarian.
Labrador retrievers need only a few baths per year, but your water-loving canine friend will want to jump into every pond, puddle and pool he sees. To prevent skin and coat problems, dry your pal thoroughly every time he gets wet. Some owners swear by paper towels for their absorbency, while others prefer old beach or bath towels.
Laura College is a former riding instructor, horse trainer and veterinary assistant. She has worked as a writer since 2004, producing articles and sales copy for corporations and nonprofits. College has also published articles in numerous publications, including "On the Bit," "Practical Horseman" and "American Quarter Horse Journal."