Inspired by Crufts? Here’s how to get your dog show-ready, according to a grooming expert

The tools and products you need to give your dog the ‘all-star’ treatment ahead of Crufts - or get the Crufts look at home.

Getting a dog ready for Crufts is much, much more than giving your dog a trim and a pedicure. It involves months of preparation, from ensuring they’re accustomed to big shows, to having their coat groomed to a high standard.

This year will be a huge year for Crufts, with last year’s event cancelled for the first time in 60 years, due to Covid-19. It will run from Thursday 10th March to Sunday 13th March, with some 20,000 dogs competing for the title of Crufts Best in Show.

To help those owners going for the top prizes (or to get the Crufts look at home), Laura Campanella – master groomer and hand stripping expert at GroomArts – has shared insider tips on achieving show dog standards from the comfort of your own home.

How to get the Crufts look

As you’re aware, different dogs have different needs because of their coats. It’s vital to understand what type of coat your dog has – and what products are suitable for it. 

Wire-coated dogs like Terriers, Schnauzers and Jack Russells require a keratin-based shampoo to fortify their coat. Conditioners are also a good idea, to remoisturise the skin.

For dogs with curly coats, such as Poodles, Bichon Frise and Water Spaniels, volume-boosting shampoos are a must. Also, using a product with some keratin will make the hair thicker and result in a high-standard groom.

Silky-coated breeds like Afghan Hounds, Irish Setters and Cocker Spaniels can use a wider variety of shampoos, so choose one to suit your dog’s particular hair and skin needs. There are some great-smelling products out there.

More shampooing tips

  • Water temperature: lukewarm water is best. Test the temp with your elbow, just as you would do for a baby

  • Hair dryer or towel: using a hair dryer from a distance is completely safe, as long as the temperature is only warm or cool. It’s actually a better option for dogs with curly coats, whose coats can become matted from towel-drying

  • Bath brush: a reliable brush will remove dirt, debris and oily residue, allowing natural oils to replenish themselves

  • Getting a glossier coat: if you need to bathe your dog regularly, use a moisturising shampoo, or a sensitive/oatmeal shampoo if they scratch themselves a lot

  • Hairspray: there are sprays on the market specifically designed for dogs, which can help keep your pooch’s locks firmly in place for shows

Brush up on coat maintenance

Coat maintenance is clearly much easier for short-haired dogs. A rubber palm brush will help keep their coats healthy and your home tidier.

If you have a double-coated breed, like a Shiba Inu, Chow Chow or Husky, a grooming rake or a deshedding tool will remove any dead undercoat and cut back on the frizz. Add a shed stopper to your grooming routine and you’ll also reduce dog hair around the house.

With a curly or silky-haired breed, you’ll want a metal grooming comb and a pin slicker brush to get rid of any knots before they turn into matted fur and need to be shaved out. 

For most breeds, scissors are an absolute must for your grooming kit. You might need straight scissors for curly coats, chunkers for thick curls or thinning shears for heavy coats. There are now plenty of high-quality dog grooming scissor sets available.

Groom your dog like a pro

Once you have all your equipment, it’s important to get the technique right. Always brush your dog’s fur in the direction it grows, adjusting the angle to follow their body.

Different breeds need different grooming routines. Curly, silky and short-haired dogs should be groomed every 4-6 weeks, with a bath every couple of weeks.

Wire-haired dogs can usually be groomed less frequently: every 4-8 weeks. But their coats have to be stripped out by hand, rather than clipped, which takes longer.

However, every individual dog is different, so it’s best to ask a groomer. They can point you in the right direction and help you establish a healthy grooming routine, whether or not you’re heading off to Crufts.