Do It Yourself Dog Grooming
Your Step by Step Guide

Considering do-it-yourself dog grooming for your small breed dog?

by Janice A. Jones     |Last Updated 04-13-2023

You're not alone, many people are learning to groom their dog at home, for a variety of reasons. 

Maybe you're one of those folks who want to save some money by doing grooming yourself.  You're not alone.  According to a recent Angie's List Post, forking out 30 to 90 per grooming session is a typical fee that pet owners pay depending on the size of the pet and the amount of time needed to groom.  

Perhaps bonding with your dog is your goal and that definitely a good reason to consider grooming at home.

DIY Dog Grooming for Small Breed DogsDo It Yourself Dog Grooming for Small Breed Dogs

Still others worry that dog groomers are not treating their dog the way they would like or that hours and policies make it difficult to connect with a good groomer.  

Others are interested in learning the skill of dog grooming and what better place to start but to perfect their craft with their own dogs.

All dogs need grooming, but the amount of time required to grooming varies widely according to breed.  Beyond doing-it-yourself, it is critically to note, that dog grooming is vitally important.

Most of these differences revolves around type of hair coat.  Small dogs can have a variety of hair coats:

  • Short Hair
  • Wire Hair
  • Curly Hair
  • Long Hair
  • Corded Hair

What is Your Small Dog Breed?

When choosing a small breed dog, grooming needs should factor into the decision. Most of us don’t mind giving a small dog a bath in the kitchen sink and occasionally clipping their nails. But, for the majority of small breed dogs, grooming care requires much more than the occasional bath and pedicure, some substantially more time and money.

Short haired dogs are probably the easiest type of breed to grooming.  Short haired dogs need an occasional bath, periodical brushing, nail clipping, tooth brushing and ear checks.

For terrier breeds with wiry coats, breeds with curly hair and dogs that have long flowing hair coats, the time required to keep these dogs looking their best requires a significant investment of time and money.

Grooming can become a hobby for some and a wonderful way to increase the bond between you and your fur baby. But for others, grooming tasks can seem overwhelming.  

Do it Yourself Dog Grooming Means...

Do it yourself dog grooming often means brushing, brushing, brushing, especially if you have any type of small dog except the short haired dog breeds.

Brushing out a long coated breed is time consuming but rewarding and, what is more beautiful than the glamorous, flowing mane of a long coated show dog. 

If you have a breed that has long hair and you have chosen to keep it long rather than keep it in a shorter puppy cut, you know that fastidious attention daily is required to keep it gorgeous.

But there is more to grooming than just brushing.  Do it yourself dog grooming also means...

Even if you don't want to take on all the do it yourself dog grooming tasks that your small dog breed requires, there are a couple of tasks that will help keep your little looking great between professional grooming visits.

Bathing Your Small Dog

A professional groomer will bathe your dog as part of the whole grooming package, but you might want your little guy to have a bath or two between visits.  The easiest way to bathe a small breed dog is in the kitchen sink, shower, or wash tub.   

Sure, bathtubs are fine, but when you are dealing with a tiny dog, a large bath tub may just be too much.  

Even easy to groom short haired dog breeds need a bath now and again.

Special Needs for Special Breeds:  Coat Lengths, Coat Textures Determine Grooming Requirements

While small dogs all have their small size in common, their grooming needs vary widely. 

Even the texture of their hair is different and can be curly like the toy poodle and Bichon to the wire-haired Affenpinscher, Cairn terrier, and West Highland white terrier. 

The small dog’s hair coat can also vary by length from the short smooth coat of a pug, Boston Terrier, French Bulldog, or Dachshund to a medium coated Tibetan terrier to finally a long coat found in many toy breeds such as the Shih Tzu, Maltese and Yorkshire terrier.

Wiry Coats

A wire fox terrier is standing in a garden, looking at the cameraWire Coat Breeds Include many of the Terrier breeds

Wire-haired breeds sport a coat very uniquely their own:  hard, coarse, and wiry.  These guys often have jaunty beards and a ruffled look that is simply irresistible to some of us.

Many of the terrier breeds have this type of coat which incidentally is very weather resistant.  Many with this coat were originally bred to burrow into the ground searching for rats or running through fields making a harsh coat helpful for resisting burs and protecting them from harsh climates. 

Good examples of small breed dogs with wiry coats include the Affenpinscher and Brussels Griffon and Wire Fox Terrier.

Wiry hair breeds require twice yearly plucking or Stripping.  Many pet owners opt for clipping in lieu of stripping due to the cost and time involved.  Show dog owners must use the stripping method.

Curly Coats

A silver poodle is standing on the grass.Curly coated breeds include Poodles nad Bichon Frise

Curly coats such as the Bichon Frise  and Toy Poodle are beautiful when groomed, but can get tangled and unruly if not tended to regularly. 

These types of coats are often found on breeds that were originally bred to work in the water because the curly coat is good at repelling water. 

These coats tend to grow fast and need lots of grooming. A good example of a dog with a curly coat is the poodle.

Short Coats

A tan pug wearing a harness is standing near his ownerShort coated breeds such as this Pug are easy to groom.

Short coats are the easiest to manage and a quick brushing weekly may be all that is required, apart from the other tasks common to all breeds such as brushing the teeth and clipping the nails. 

So relax, you have more time to play, train and love on your small dog.

Read More About Grooming Short Haired Dogs

Short-hair dogs grooming tools

Long Haired Breeds

Long-haired breeds require much grooming.Long haired breeds such as this Maltese require much brushing, combing and grooming to maintain a gorgeous coat.

Certainly the most challenging and time consuming, but also the most rewarding, the long haired breeds need much attention to detail. 

Grooming becomes part of your lifestyle and for those of you who are creatively minded, a chance to shine. 

You might even find you love it so much that the task that was once a job, became a hobby, became a source for additional income or even a full time occupation!

Do It Yourself Dog Grooming
Tasks for Short Hair Dogs

If you have a short haired breed, grooming is a breeze.  The list below may seem long, but grooming is easy and you are likely to save a ton of money because you can do all of this yourself without ever setting foot in a grooming salon.

Do It Yourself Dog Grooming
Tasks for Dogs with Longer Hair

Ok, so you have a long hair breed and want to save tons of money through DIY Grooming.  Relax, it's not rocket science but does take some time to learn.  Here is your To-Do List:

Do It Yourself Dog Grooming Tasks for Wire-Hair Breeds

Most of the grooming tasks required of wire hair breeds will be similar to long haired breed with the exception of plucking or stripping dead hairs form the coat.  Wire hair breeds don't need to worry about top knots either.

What's In Your Do It Yourself Dog Grooming Toolbox?

Supplies to put in a grooming toolboxThis groomer is plucking hair from the ear canal of this Shih Tzu

If you have decided to tackle the job, first may I say Good for You.  Next, I hope to help you accomplish the task First let's look at what you need to purchase? 

Having the right tools makes the job much easier, but luckily you don't need to purchase everything at once.  And, much of what you do purchase should be based on the type of breed you have chosen. 

We've compiled a list of the major types of grooming supplies and equipment that will make your life easier. 

Before attempted to do any grooming job, check out the list of essential supplies for your grooming toolbox, descriptions, recommendations and product reviews.

Here are our top must haves for all types of small dogs:

Optional but extremely helpful: Wish List

  • Shower head hose attachment
  • Grooming table
  • Nail grinder
  • Cologne or other scented coat spray
  • Styptic pencil or powder for nail clipping mistakes

For Long Haired and Curly Haired dogs, you will need to add the following:

For Wire Haired Breeds:

  • Stripping Knives

Helpful Do It Yourself Dog Grooming Articles

Are you ready to tackle some do it yourself dog grooming tasks?  Why not start with one of the articles below to help you along the way.

Training a Puppy for Grooming

Best tricks for Bathing a Dog

De-Matting/De-tangling a Long Haired Dog

Clipping a Dog's Nails

Removing Hair from the Pads of the Paw

Caring For Your Dog's Ears

Tear Stains

Puppy Top Knots

About Janice (author and voice behind this site)

Having lived with dogs and cats most of her life, Janice served as a veterinary technician for ten years in Maryland and twelve years as a Shih Tzu dog breeder in Ohio.

Her education includes undergraduate degrees in Psychology with a minor in biology, Early Childhood Education, and Nursing, and a master's in Mental Health Counseling.

She is a lifelong learner, a dog lover, and passionate about the welfare of animals. Her favorite breed for over 50 years has been the Shih Tzu, but she has also lived with Poodles, Maltese, Yorkshire Terriers, Beagles, English Bulldogs, Carin Terriers, and a Cocker Spaniel.

When not writing, reading, and researching dog-related topics, she likes to spend time with her eight Shih Tzu dogs, husband, and family, as well as knitting and crocheting. She is also the voice behind Miracle Shih Tzu and Smart-Knit-Crocheting

Does This Article Deserve Your Thumbs Up?

We always appreciate your support and encouragement.  Your thumbs up means so much to us.  Please like this article.

If you find this page or any page on Small Dog Place Helpful, or useful in anyway, I'd love it if you would click the small heart found on the bottom right of each page.

You can also share or bookmark this page -- just click on the:

10 Mistakes People Make When Choosing a Dog Breed

Free Monthly Newsletter

Sign Up for Our Free Newsletter and get our Free Gift to You.

my  E-book, The Top 10 Mistakes People Make When Choosing a Dog (and how to avoid them)