Grooming an English Springer Spaniel – or any spaniel breed, for that matter – has a bit of a learning curve.
It takes some effort to get your dog looking like those glossy pups strutting around the show ring!
Not all Springer Spaniel owners will choose to keep their dogs in the longer show clip. Luckily, there are other alternatives that don’t do any damage to your dog’s naturally protective double-layer coat.
In this article, learn the basic steps to take to begin grooming your Springer Spaniel at home.
Springer Spaniel Grooming
As Groomer to Groomer magazine explains, experienced canine groomers have an efficient process they use to groom silky-coated dogs like the Springer Spaniel.
You start by removing the shed, dead, dull hair from the coat. Next comes a bath (unless your pup is really dirty, in which case you may want to reverse these two steps).
Then you can commence skimming, shaving, trimming, trimming, and feathering as needed to achieve the desired look.
We will go over each of these terms so you understand the steps to take in the remainder of this article.
Learn How to Hand Strip a Springer Spaniel
Hand stripping is one of those dog grooming techniques that sounds easy – at least until you try it.
The description can also sound kind of scary….does it hurt your dog? What the heck is a stripping knife?
But in this YouTube video, an experienced Springer Spaniel groomer shows you exactly how to hand strip your Spaniel safely, painlessly, and quickly.
What to Consider Before Choosing a Springer Spaniel
The English Springer Spaniel is a very popular and very beautiful dog breed.
In fact, right now the American Kennel Club (AKC) states that this dog is the 27th most popular dog in the United States – out of nearly 200 breeds!
But while it is easy to fall in love with a Springer Spaniel who is trotting along beside their person, gorgeous shining coat gently swaying, it is quite another matter to get that look for your own dog.
In other words, the Springer Spaniel coat can take some work to maintain.
Springer Spaniels shed all year long. Twice per year when the weather changes, the coat may shed heavily. Plus, all that fine long hair easily tangles and mats. Only frequent brushing of the entire coat can keep this from happening.
Not all dog breeds require this level of intensive maintenance.
And the clip you choose for your Spaniel’s coat can reduce the time commitment somewhat, as can your choice to take your dog to a professional groomer rather than tend to groom yourself at home.
But essentially, if you don’t have at least 10 to 20 minutes per day – or about one to two hours per week – to spend caring for your Springer Spaniel’s coat, ears, nails, anal glands, teeth, and coat, this may not be the right dog breed for you.
Professional Springer Spaniel Grooming Is Always an Option
In this section, we will break down the process of grooming a Springer Spaniel into a series of recommended steps.
Keep in mind that you don’t have to do all of this on your own!
Many Springer Spaniel owners prefer to use a professional dog grooming service for a variety of reasons, including time limitations and very understandable anxiety about doing tasks like nail clipping and ear cleaning.
If you are feeling less confident about tackling your Springer Spaniel’s maintenance needs yourself, give professional dog grooming a try and ask the groomer if you can stay and watch and learn.
This will give you more confidence and also help you decide if you want to tackle grooming at home or simply let an experienced professional do it for you.
Meet the Two Springer Spaniel Coat Types
Before we dive into the details of Springer Spaniel grooming, it is also worth mentioning that English Springer Spaniels, like many purebred dog breeds today, are bred in two lines: the working/field line and the conformation/show dog line.
As Groomer Development points out, the field/working line of Springer Spaniels tends to have a shorter coat overall, while the conformation/show dog line has longer hair and feathering.
If you are not interested in showing your Spaniel, chances are good you don’t really care about the difference, but choosing a field/working Spaniel can make coat care and upkeep a bit easier overall.
Choose Your Springer Spaniel Coat Trim
As the English Springer Spaniel Club of Canada points out, you have more than a few choices for the trim you choose for your dog.
In this section, we will go over the most popular clips and trims for a Springer Spaniel.
Shaving the coat
This is not recommended, even though it is undeniably the easiest way to keep shed hair under control and your own grooming commitment to a minimum.
The reason you don’t want to shave your Springer Spaniel is because of the unique working/sporting dog coat.
The double-layer coat is designed to serve several purposes. The under layer is insulating and warm. The outer layer is wind and water-resistant and acts like a natural sunblock and pest repellant.
If you shave your Springer Spaniel’s coat, when the layers grow back they will intermingle and those protective properties will be lost forever.
The full show coat that characterizes the Springer Spaniel is also the most time and labor-intensive choice.
But the show coat is also utterly stunning to behold.
If you plan to show your Springer Spaniel, you will want to learn how to groom and care for a show coat. But most owners who don’t plan to compete in dog shows choose a less time-intensive coat type.
A puppy cut is an easy, sporty option for dogs that aren’t on the show dog circuit track. Your Springer Spaniel won’t know the difference but your weekly schedule sure will.
This is an even, short trim all the way around that takes between one and two inches off the length.
What You Will Need to Groom a Springer Spaniel
Each dog owner has their own favorite grooming and coat maintenance tools.
Here are some suggestions to get you started building your own kit:
- Trimming scissors.
- Thinning shears.
- Stainless steel round-tip comb.
- Pin and bristle brush.
- Rubber thumbs.
- De-shedding rake.
- De-tangling spray.
How to Groom a Springer Spaniel Step by Step
In this section, we will break down the process of grooming a Springer Spaniel into a series of recommended basic steps, as outlined by the English Springer Spaniel Club.
1. Rake or hand-strip the coat, ears, and face
This first step helps to prepare the coat for everything that will follow – bathing, clipping, trimming, and overall grooming.
In other words, you need to get the dead, shed hair, and dirt out before you can do anything else that you need to do to maintain your dog’s coat.
This is actually the most essential stage of grooming your Springer Spaniel, because it gives you a chance to examine every inch of your dog’s body, including ears, tail, and paw pads, for any issues like pests, abrasions, irritations, or injuries.
2. Carefully work out any tangles or mats
If you find any larger tangles or mats, you will need to stop and work through these carefully.
It is a good idea to use a detangling spray or some dog-safe conditioner (never use people conditioner as it is not pH balanced for dogs!) for this step.
Using a de-tangler or conditioner can sometimes make the difference between being able to work out the tangle or mat without hurting your dog and having to cut out the whole mess, leaving a big hole in the coat.
3. Give your dog a bath
After you have addressed any tangles or mats (or cut them out, if that is the only option) it is on to the doggie spa for a bath.
Springer Spaniels typically do not need a bath any more frequently than every two to three months, but if your dog is very active outdoors or is a show dog, you may need to bath as often as every four to six weeks.
Be sure you only use a shampoo that is specifically pH formulated for canine skin.
4. Spritz on some detangling spray
Before your dog exits the bath, apply some detangling or conditioning treatment to make combing out the coat much easier.
5. Wipe around your dog’s eyes, nose, and muzzle
If you have any hesitation about applying shampoo near your dog’s face or eyes (some dogs really hate this), you can wait until after the bath and use a warm, damp cloth to gently wipe around your dog’s face to remove any tear stains, dirt or soap residue.
6. Trim or clip your dog’s coat in the style you have selected
As we mentioned here earlier, shaving your dog’s coat is not recommended.
However, you can easily learn to give your dog a puppy cut at home, simply trimming the hair from one to two inches evenly in all areas.
Giving your Springer Spaniel a true show clip is an art and is best learned from a professional dog groomer. You will need special clippers and blades as well as thinning shears, combs, and scissors.
7. Trim the hair on the paw pads and clip or file the nails as needed
You don’t want to leave the hair on the paw pads too long, as this can create tangles or mats and also become a breeding ground for a yeast infection.
Inspect your dog’s nails and file any jagged edges down or clip the nails as needed.
8. Inspect and clean your dog’s ears and teeth
The Springer Spaniel’s floppy ears are adorable, but they also block airflow to the inner ear canal, which can create problems with yeast infections.
Your canine veterinarian can teach you how to inspect and clean the inner ears using a special dog-safe ear cleaning solution and a soft cloth or cotton pads.
You may also want to pluck out any extra hair in the inner ear canal to further reduce the risk of yeast infections. You can use rubber thumbs, tweezers, or a glove to do this.
When you are done inspecting and cleaning the ears, it is time to take a good look around your dog’s mouth. Clean your dog’s teeth using a canine-safe toothpaste and soft bristle toothbrush.
Ask your dog’s veterinarian for help if you are not sure what products to use or how to brush your Spaniel’s teeth at home.
9. Inspect and express your dog’s anal glands as needed
Expressing (squeezing) the anal sacs located to either side of your dog’s tail is one of the main reasons dog owners often opt to take their dog to a professional groomer.
This isn’t the most pleasant part of owning a dog!
As Cherished Companions Animal Clinic explains, not all dogs need help expressing or emptying their anal sacs.
These sacs are actually scent glands that are designed to empty naturally when your dog goes to the bathroom.
But if your dog is licking that area or scooting their bum across the floor, or if you smell an unpleasant odor, this can indicate the anal sacs have gotten blocked.
Your dog’s veterinarian can teach you how to express the anal sacs (or do it for you).
10. Do a blow-dry and inspect your handiwork!
Once you have completed all of these steps, the only thing left is to give your dog a blow-dry and make any final adjustments to the trim to achieve your desired look.