How to groom your cockapoo

With a saving of around £50 every six weeks*, for me grooming my own cockapoo was a no brainer, however this wasn’t my initial driver. Freya has only been professionally groomed once; the groomer’s idea of a teddy cut certainly wasn’t mine and this experience was enough for me to take up the grooming challenge, along with the clippers. * X2 now with Freya’s sister Frankie!

It wasn’t the first time I’d taken up the gauntlet where hair chopping was concerned; with four children it was a massive cost saving to learn basic cutting – no bowl on the head for my tinies.

Freya 6 months
Freya at six months

Grooming your puppy

If you intend to use a professional groomer, it’s a good idea to introduce your puppy to the process soon after they have been fully vaccinated – usually anytime from 16 weeks. This would only involve a bath and having nails clipped, along with the face and personal little places trimmed.

My good friend and fellow doodle owner, Hilary, had explained how important it was to ensure Freya became used to being ‘groom handled’. So for the first six months of Freya’s life, grooming consisted of daily brushing for five to 10 minutes to keep the coat matt free, monthly bathing, and regular sink baths for sorting out mucky paws and jowls.

At this stage I kept my toolkit simple: a brush, comb, slicker and nail clippers (see Dog Grooming Toolkit below). I already had a pair of hairdressing scissors, which came in useful for trimming around Freya’s eyes and mouth, as she got older. The puppy trainer had also encouraged me to regularly touch her ears as ‘floppy’ eared dogs often need them plucked to keep the ear canal clean. For bathing I used a detergent-free puppy shampoo, which enabled me to wash Freya as often as required without the danger of drying out her skin.

Freya’s adult coat started appearing when she was eight months old and constantly changed until she was two when it primarily settled into a curly coat which, when grown to full length, forms ringlets. At this point most of her mother’s sable colour had faded to a pale stripe down her back, at the end of her ears and tip of her tail. The only dark areas that remained were around the paw pads, inside her ears and in her important little place!

Teddy Bear cut on Freya after a full home groom

How to groom your cockapoo

So over I went to the omniscient YouTube to discover the best teaching videos for the teddy cut, my style of choice for Freya. This took many goes before I managed a decent cut, but a cockapoo’s coat is very forgiving with all its curly twists and turns and luckily no-one noticed any mistakes I made in the beginning. However, you can do your own interpretation of ‘teddy bear’ and mine is based on Andy Pandy’s as I love the ‘hinged’ look. But it doesn’t have to be a teddy cut, there are so many variations to chose from. Rather than a full clip, you could just do a partial trim so that the length of time between professional grooms is extended.

Keeping grooming to a minimum

Cockapoo Coat Type

Your cockapoo’s coat type will make a difference to how easy it is to care for. For example, Freya’s half sister, Amber, has more spaniel in her coat, which means it repels a great deal of the dirt as it dries (sadly not any smelly residue though). Freya’s more poodle coat retains the dirt so the less spaniel in your cockapoo, the more the mud will stick. Understanding your dog’s coat and following an appropriate grooming regime will help keep daily grooming to an absolute minimum.

Dog Bathing

A full bath twice a month has now become mandatory to keep Freya and Frankie’s coats tangle-free and easy to manage. I’ve perfected the following practice as it means I no longer have to comb daily, and when I do it’s super quick, saving me so much time overall. I never comb or brush before bathing as it’s much easier and more effective to do this afterwards with the conditioning technique perfected for their coat.

I use the bath and showerhead for full bathing, initially washing with Groom Professional Baby Fresh Shampoo. I love the smell, but the Prince version may be better for a male!). After rinsing I use Pets At Home Dog Coat Conditioner, then rinse off and give Freya and Frankie a thorough microfibre towel rub. Occasionally, I liberally spray their coat all over (except her face) with Mane and Tail detangler, and leave this on her coat without rinsing and comb through. Luckily, once we gained a Frankie, my husband helps with the bathing and drying, otherwise I’d have to alternative their grooms.

Quick random tip: if your doodle rolls in the smelly stuff, Fox Poo shampoo by Animalology is awesome!

Silky Mane & Tail Detangler
Not the happiest of faces, but this is because Freya’s not keen on the camera!
We’ve groomed her from a tiny puppy so she is now very tolerant while being washed, dried and clipped.

Dog Drying

Initially I used my hair dryer, but this took so long I invested in a Dog Blaster. Prices of these ranged to excruciating levels, but I chose the Voilamart model as it came recommended, was very reasonably priced at under £50 (2019 prices), and certainly suffices for Freya and Frankie’s needs. It now takes 10 minutes to dry their coat instead of the half an hour plus previously.

Voilamart Dog Blaster & hand held hairdryer for the face

Once dry, Freya’s coat is beautifully soft with super easy combing. If left to dry naturally, her coat type takes an age, dries super curly and the easy comb result doesn’t last long. Frankie, however, is a different story. She is more spaniel and her combined coat takes ages to comb through, especially her ears. I also trim her wet, primarily with scissors, as it’s just easier.

Drying your dog with a dog blaster hair dryer

Dog Clipping

My first tip here would be to buy yourself some decent clippers. Again, cockapoo owner and friend Hilary, advised that buying cheap ones would be a waste of money if I wanted to clip on a long-term basis. So I bit the bullet and purchased an Andis Pro Grade 2-Speed+ Ultra Edge Detachable Blade Clipper. Sound advice as it’s so easy to use and it’s paid for itself several times over already. See 2024 update at the end of the article.

Andis Pro Grade 2-Speed+ Ultra Edge Detachable Blade Clipper

The joy of the teddy cut is that the body is clipped fairly short; this helps keep Freya cool in the summer and matt free while wearing her Equafleece. When hill and mountain climbing, Freya also wears her K9 harness, which matted her body and under arm fur until I adopted the teddy cut. Her legs, tail, face and chest are kept fairly long and maintained with scissors – see video. I keep the length of her legs around 5-7cm, shaping them shorter at the joints in the ‘cut out’. If I trim regularly – four to six weeks – the process from bathing to end of clip now takes around an hour. I also trim Freya’s face and paws and any other body parts if required, in between full grooms.

Dog Grooming - Clipping your dog yourself

Frankie is different again. She has the traditional cocker spaniel cut, short on top with feathers on her hind legs. I make a real fuss of them both after their groom which they love and get super excited as they know their reward is one of their favourite fish treats, kept especially for post grooming.

The following is just one of the videos I viewed before attempting Freya’s teddy bear cut. This is show level and there’s no way I would spend the amount of time it would take me to produce perfection, but it’s a great tutorial as it covers every aspect. I soon learnt that the day following a groom, Freya looks completely dishevelled having doodle dashed for a few hours, but at least it was tidy!

Nail Trimming

Trimming Freya’s nails was a daunting prospect at first, but her front paw nails seemed to grow at a rapid rate as she seldom walks on paths. However, the initial fear factor disappeared very quickly and the trim has now become second nature. My confidence by the time we adopted Frankie, meant it’s a super quick task.

Ongoing Care

At 25 months, Freya still has a different mix of coat types: her body’s covered in thick bubbly curls, her legs a looser, shaggy curl, tail just a bizarre toilet brush, and ears mixed. If you buy any doodle puppy their coat is a gamble as to the final outcome – both coat type and colour.

Dog Grooming Brush with shedding hair

It’s also a myth that doodles don’t shed, however the more poodle-type the coat, the less they shed. Freya deposits fluff, but in tiny amounts which are easy to spot and pick up. Frankie, more spaniel doesn’t seem to shed at all having said that.

However, all doodles moult so it’s important to regularly brush out the surplus hair otherwise the coat will matt and if this is not dealt with straight away, will need to be shaved. It is very easy to miss parts of the body – under the arms, around the ears, the tail, backs of the front legs, for example. Stroking Freya and Frankie on a regular basis – appreciated by all – means we spot a matt before it gets out of control, either teasing it out gently with a comb or snipping it with scissors.

Dog Grooming Kit

Dog grooming toolkit

The items on the far left were the first dog grooming tools I purchased in 2017. Gradually I progressed to the professional tools on the right, along with the clippers and blaster illustrated above.

Left to right:
Brush, slicker, comb and nail clippers.
Wahl Raquo battery dog trimmer (great for in between paw pads, but eye scissors would suffice), metal comb, eye trimming scissors, straight scissors, thinning scissors and curved scissors (wouldn’t be without these).

Later Addition

A dog version of a Tangle Teezer, the Petteezer was a later addition to making my life a little easier. I only used it on Freya’s longer winter coat on her back as the plastic bristles are a little hard and could hurt her skin on the areas kept short. Sadly, this became a back of the cupboard tool and no longer used.

So all that’s left to say is good luck and don’t forget to let me know how you get on. Why not send me an image of your full or partial grooms ?

Featured in the article:
Voilamart Dog Blaster & hand held hairdryer
Andis Pro Grade 2-Speed+ Ultra Edge Detachable Blade Clipper

Six years later, all of the products purchased are still going strong so well worth the investment. The clipper has needed one blade replacement so far.

Please note I am not affiliated with any of the companies who supply any of the equipment mentioned in this post. They have simply been recommended to me or I have chosen them for convenience.

Note: this article was originally posted in August 2019 and updated in January 2024