The Labrador

Grooming Advice

Originally a Water Dog of Newfoundland for retrieving fowl, the Labrador Retriever was brought to England in the early 1800’s, recognised by his close coat which runs water off like oil and above all, an otter tail & known for good looks & style as a retriever, trial & shooting dog.

The Labrador has always been described to me in 3 vital parts - head, coat and tail. With this in mind, the head we can’t change but the other 2 vital hallmarks we can work on, starting with the coat.

Between the shows oil his coat with Plush Puppy Seabreeze Oil at a ratio of 1 tbspn/1 gal/4 lt water. Work well into the coat with a sponge or carefully pour over and squish well through. This is a super oil - water soluble and won’t build up. It is also all naturally derived & there is nothing quite like it for the depth of colour it tends to add to the coat & the wonderful healthy vigour that goes with continued use. The Labrador coat needs to be waterproof with a low sheen like that of the preen gland oil on ducks.

Now for the show grooming & your standard says that the coat is a distinctive feature - short dense without feathering, giving a fairly hard feel to the touch & a weather resistant undercoat to protect from water, cold & ground cover. Use Plush Puppy All Purpose which is the shampoo for great shine & best suited to the Lab, (at a ratio of 3:1 I.e. 3 parts water to one part shampoo). Plush Puppy has also created a special low foaming wash suited for maintaining texture to coats, Plush Puppy AZ IZ if this is the priority with your dog’s coat. This unique product is aimed at those who use a recycling bath or those who want low foaming/less suds in their regular bath set up. Just a few squirts into the tank or bath or bucket, & if you see suds and too many bubbles you have added too much. It’s as simple as that. There are times when you just have to refresh & clean that coat & this is the bath one does when a bath will just not do! Plush Puppy AZ IZ will also help leave the coat texture as it was before the bath.

If your Lab is out of coat then use Plush Puppy Body Building Shampoo - great for that more coat look. Use the shampoos at the ratio of 3:1 for maximum effect for showing & diluted anywhere up to 10:1 for less effect. For those with Black Labs exhibiting unwanted red/brown warm tones, Plush Puppy Black Opal Shampoo is designed specifically to reduce fading and rusty tones - a real back to black product. Use this however 50/50 with water for easier application or apply undiluted to hard to cover areas. Leave 5-10 mins then rinse. This shampoo gets better the more you use it and you will love the results. It is low foaming also which suits thetexture outcome for your Lab coat - you definitely don’t want froth and bubbles with a Labrador coat. Ensure you prebath a dirty dog before using Black Opal for maximum effect.

Never condition a Lab - it undoes all the hard coat work you have done and makes the coat soft and fluffy. Use instead PP Seabreeze Oil as your final rinse. This will hydrate the coat but not change texture. Add 1 Tbspn to 4lt/1gal of water, saturate through the coat & leave in. Do not rinse out. This will give that healthy vigour to the hair, leaving correct texture.

For this coat we swear by the Plush Puppy Porcupine Brush. This 1/2 nylon 1/2 bristle oval cushioned brush gives you that smoother, straighter & glossier finish to your drying that other brushes won’t do. It’s cheap & effective & we recommend using a high velocity dryer after bathing. Truly this removes all that dead coat thus preventing the moth eaten look short coats can get when shedding. By blow drying you will “roll” the coat - eliminating that horrid patchiness which keeps you from the ring for several weeks. This dog is often believed to be a wash and wear dog & for other purposes he is, but because you have chosen to present at a dog show, you have all sorts of glamour breeds to compete against, so why not “up the anti” & make the best of your Lab. Why should he not be a superbly efficient dog & a glamour star as well?

A great hint for gaining texture instantly is to use Plush Puppy Powder Puff Terrier - use a tiny amount to the area requiring harsher texture. Brush well through to disperse. This will also deodorise & dry cleanse. For ringside emergencies to feet & other badly soiled areas, use Plush Puppy Wonder Wash. Spray to area, foam up coat with hands & towel dry.

On show days, Plush Puppy OMG is “the” great grooming spray. This concentrate can be broken down (diluted) to suit each dogs coat type. As a general rule, we recommend 1 part OMG to 25 parts water which is a good starting base for most coats. OMG leaves a shine & vigour to the coat that won’t build up on the hair - we don’t call it OMG for nothing - it really works.

The trimming is relatively easy but does need a little attention. The Lab’s tail is a very distinctive feature, so use thinning scissors/shears to just gently neaten up the end of the tail rounding the end off to give that otter feature with the peculiar rounded look. Don’t forget to do the nails. Nothing looks worse than a dog with long nails! A little hint that works for me is to cover the dog’s eyes when cutting nails if you have a dog that hates nails being shortened. Kind of works like a horse who wears blinkers.

For Show day also, spray with Plush Puppy Odour Muncher so you eliminate any kennel/crate smells and Plush Puppy Shine & Comb for that low sheen glamour. I do like a dusting of Plush Puppy Pixie Dust just lightly applied on strategic areas with your brush. The secret is “just” a dusting and not to turn your dog into the glitter fairy. If you can see this shimmer as you apply it, you have gone too far overboard! It should only be detectable in the sunlight.

Your Lab is now ready to compete - to show himself as a retriever of the gundog group in both form & function. His beautiful stable temperament with his outgoing tractable nature allows this dog to adapt to the show ring like a duck to water so to speak.

Groomed beautifully with the coat exhibiting & highlighting all the healthy desirable traits for his function, your eager to please Labrador is hard to go past. His wonderful intelligence & character, together with soundness, are always a winning combination.

- Cheryl Le Court