With their lustrous and thick coats, Golden Retrievers need more grooming than the average breed. Our guide will help you understand the breed’s coat, the importance of grooming, and five of the best brushes for Golden Retrievers.
Golden Retrievers have thick double-coats. This gives the Golden its beautiful appearance, but also increases the amount of grooming required to maintain a healthy condition.
By adopting a regular grooming regime and using the right tools, you’ll find less loose hair around the home. Your dog will also have a healthier coat and skin, and, when done properly, grooming is a lovely way to bond with your dog.
Here’s a guide to the Golden Retriever’s coat, along with five of the best dog brushes for this wonderful breed.
Golden Retrievers were originally developed as working gun dogs in the Scottish Highlands. Their coat was designed to allow them to remain out in the field all day, regardless of the infamously harsh Scottish weather.
The Golden Retriever’s topcoat is medium-long and thick. It lies close against the body, to provide protection against dirt, undergrowth and parasites, and is also water-repellant. Since Golden Retrievers tend to love water, this is perfect.
Feathering is usually found around the legs, skirt, chest, thighs and tail. This is prone to knots and tangles, so requires plenty of grooming. Goldens also have a heavier ruff around their neck.
A Golden Retriever’s undercoat is soft and dense. This keeps them well-insulated in the colder months. It also traps and holds cooler air close to the body during the summer, and this helps the dog regulate their temperature more effectively. These important properties are one of the reasons why, unless it’s an emergency situation, you should never shave a Golden Retriever’s coat.
Goldens shed throughout the year, but shedding becomes more prolific during their bi-annual coat ‘blow’. This is when the undercoat starts to come out in chunks, and you’ll need to groom the dog more frequently.
There are a variety of different brushes that can be used on a Golden Retriever. Because their coat is relatively long and also sheds a lot, having a couple of different options in your kit of doggy gear can be helpful.
Slicker brushes have angled pins that are densely positioned on the head of the tool. While they can be uncomfortable for dogs with thin single coats, slicker brushes are a useful option for the Golden Retriever’s dense double coat.
The pins are designed to penetrate right down into the undercoat. This allows them to lift out dead hair and remove knots or tangles before they become matted, while also distributing healthy natural oils.
When using a slicker brush, you should use short and gentle strokes. If you apply too much pressure, the brush could cause irritation or discomfort to your dog’s skin. While slickers are great for Golden Retrievers, they can be uncomfortable for dog breeds with thin single coats.
Bristle brushes have tightly packed and relatively stiff bristles. They don’t have the flexibility or coat penetration abilities of the slicker brush. What they can do, however, is remove dried dirt and debris on the topcoat. If your Golden is a mud magnet, a bristle brush is an essential purchase.
This type of brush is also useful when desensitizing your dog to being groomed, as they are gentler than other options.
The bristles can vary in length, flexibility and density. Selecting a widely spaced and longer bristle for a longer-coated breed, like a Golden Retriever, is a good choice.
Don’t expect this brush to lift out much of your dog’s shedding coat. For a dog like a Golden Retriever, it will need to be used alongside a brush designed to penetrate the undercoat.
Many people naturally opt for a pin brush for their dog. After all, they look a lot like our own brushes, and appear to be a gentler option than steel combs or slicker brushes.
While pin brushes for Golden Retrievers shouldn’t be the only grooming tool you use, they provide several advantages. Pins with rounded ends are useful for preventing tangles in long hair and providing a healthy shine. A pin brush can also lift out small amounts of loose hair and are less abrasive than slicker brushes.
The pin’s flexibility means they won’t penetrate the undercoat of a Golden Retriever like a deshedding tool or even a slicker brush will though.
Note: Combination brushes, with pins on one side and stiff bristles on the other, are a common option for a Golden Retriever brush.
Steel combs can tackle the thicker ruff around a Golden Retriever’s neck and the feathering around the ears, legs, chest and tails. These hairs can be prone to getting tangled or matted, so it’s important to groom them regularly.
A comb can also help to isolate and tease out knots or tangles more effectively than a brush, which helps to prevent matting.
The comb tooth length, along with the spacing between the teeth, can vary. Choose a medium or coarse comb spacing for a Golden Retriever’s dense coat.
Always make sure you’re gentle when using a comb. It may be helpful to hold the hair above the area you’re focusing on if there are any knots to tease out. This will stop the comb causing discomfort by pulling on your dog’s skin.
You could also spray the section of hair with a detangling spray, as this may help the comb to pass through knots more easily.
Of all the brush options listed above, none will remove dead hair as effectively as a deshedding tool.
These tools penetrate the undercoat and gather loose hairs on rake-like teeth. They can also help with managing tangles and mats.
Unlike some of the other brushes on this list, though, a deshedding tool isn’t designed for daily use. If it’s used too often, it can start to break healthy hairs. You should also be careful not to apply too much pressure. This can also cut the hair, and it can be uncomfortable for your dog too.
During your dog’s twice-yearly full moult, a deshedding tool can be a lifesaver. Using it a few times a week can keep your dog’s skin and coat healthy and drastically reduce the number of hairballs you’ll find around your house.
These tools are designed for use on adult dogs only. Puppies have a softer, less dense coat, without a fully developed undercoat.
Note: While you shouldn’t bathe your dog too frequently, sometimes your Golden Retriever will need freshening up. Give him a good brush after he’s dried, as this is a great time to remove loose hairs. You may also want to consider a high-quality deshedding shampoo as their conditioning properties can help to loosen dead hairs.
Listed below are five of the best dog brushes for a Golden Retriever. I’ve selected various types of brush, so you may want to consider buying more than one.
This slicker brush from Hertzko is my favourite brush for a Golden Retriever. It won’t remove as much loose hair as a deshedding tool. But, if your dog has sensitive skin or doesn’t enjoy the feeling of deshedding tools (such as the Furminator,) then the Hertzko is a gentler option that still gets rid of a lot of hair.
The Hertzko Slicker Brush has strong bristles with a decent amount of flex. Each pin is rigid enough to penetrate the thick undercoat of a Golden Retriever, making the brush brilliant for removing hair and reducing tangles, but the pins are still flexible enough to avoid discomfort.
One of the great things about the Hertzko is that the bristles can retract. Retracting makes it easy to remove gathered hair, while also protecting the bristles when not in use. Unlike cheaper brands, the retracting mechanism is durable and well-made.
The handle is also comfortable to hold, due to the non-slip rubber. The only problem is that there’s a chance the outer rubber can start to separate from the main body over time.
If you have a puppy or other dogs with a thinner coat, this brush will likely be too firm and could be uncomfortable on their skin. For a thick-coated Golden Retriever, however, it’s an excellent choice.
Tip: Don’t apply too much pressure when using this slicker brush on Golden Retrievers, and try to avoid using it at a deep angle. Be especially careful around areas that have a light coat covering and where the skin is more exposed (such as the tummy).VIEW PRICE
If you want to remove as much loose fur as possible from your Golden Retriever’s moulting coat, then the FURminator is a great choice. It isn’t a miracle cure, but reduces the amount of hair you’ll find attached to your clothes, soft furnishings and carpets.
This famous deshedding tool really does lift an incredible amount of dead hair from the coat in just one session. It has a set of stainless steel rake-like teeth that penetrate right down into the thick undercoat of a Golden Retriever, and it grabs hold of all the free and dead hair.
There are different sizes of FURminator, and they have different teeth lengths. I recommend choosing the larger option for a Golden Retriever, as this has been designed with longer-haired dogs in mind.
When your dog’s coat is having its seasonal blow, it’s probably best to use the FURminator around two or three times a week for maximum effect. Throughout the rest of the year, a thorough brush once a week will probably be more than enough.
It’s easy to get carried away with deshedding tools, but it’s important not to use the FURminator too frequently. Overuse can cause the tool to break healthy hairs rather than remove loose ones. Too much pressure can also cause discomfort and skin irritation. If you have any doubts about how to use one, it’s best to contact your vet or professional groomer.
You also shouldn’t use the FURminator on areas of the body with thin hair, such as the tummy. As I mentioned earlier, deshedding tools are only designed for adult dogs with their full coat.
When used correctly, however, the FURminator is one of the most effective ways to control your Golden Retriever’s shedding.VIEW PRICE
The Oster Combo Brush is a decent option to have in your grooming tool box. It’s gentler than a rigid slicker brush or deshedding comb, yet has a combination of pin and bristles to lift off dried dirt and reduce the chance of tangles.
As with most combination brushes, the bristle side of the Oster Combo is dense and relatively flexible. It’s great for lifting dead hairs from the topcoat and removing dirt, making it a good choice for daily brushing.
The pin side has firmer metal bristles with rounded tips. These penetrate deeper into the coat also loosen light knots or tangles. The Oster also has a comfortable and easy-to-grip handle.
Both sides are gentler than slicker or deshedding brushes, making the Oster a good option for Golden Retriever puppies, dogs with sensitive skin, or those that don’t like being groomed. It’s also a great brush for introducing your dog to grooming – just make sure you pair it with lots of yummy treats!
A downside is that the Oster isn’t the most durable brush for Golden Retrievers. Some of the pins may come loose over time, especially when grooming the thick coat of a Golden Retriever. It can also be hard to remove hair that’s caught in bristles, although this is a common issue for all bristle brushes.
On the upside, it’s a relatively cheap brush for a Golden Retriever that’s versatile and easy to use.VIEW PRICE
This high-quality dog comb has finer teeth at one side and wider teeth at the other. It’s a great option for grooming longer hair around the neck and feathering on the legs, ears and tails, where tangles are more likely to develop.
The Shiny Pet has metal teeth, but the handle is covered in non-slip rubber, so it’s easier to grip. This also means it makes less noise if you accidentally drop it on a tile or hardwood floor. You don’t want to scare your dog with a loud clatter!
The comb is a decent size, which allows you to get a comfortable grip and tackle larger areas of hair at once. Because the teeth are made from metal, I also think the Shiny Pet Dog Comb is one of the more durable options on the market.
It’s a less versatile brush for Golden Retrievers than some of the other options on this list though. While the Shiny Pet comb is great for teasing out tangles on longer sections of hair, it won’t remove dead hair from the undercoat like other brushes can.VIEW PRICE
If you’re looking for a double-sided pin and bristle brush, but you want something more environmentally-friendly than the plastic and rubber Oster Combo, the AtEase Accents may appeal. It’s a high-quality brush for Golden Retrievers that’s great for daily grooming.
The brush frame is made with sustainable bamboo wood. The only downside is that it doesn’t have an anti-slip handle, although this shouldn’t be a big problem with gentle brushing.
Like all combination brushes, it has both stiff bristles and wider spaced pins on either side, so it’s a versatile choice. It won’t remove as much loose hair as a slicker or deshedding brush, but is gentler on the coat.
If you have a dog that likes to chew, it’s best to keep this temptation out of their reach between grooming sessions though!VIEW PRICE
Golden Retrievers, with their long feathered topcoats and dense undercoat, need regular brushing. This is especially true during their bi-annual coat blow.
Making sure you have the right type of brushes can make grooming a lot easier. The best golden retriever brushes also help keep grooming sessions short and effective.
My top pick recommendation for a brush for your Golden Retriever is the Hertzko Self-Cleaning Slicker Brush. It’s gentler than a deshedding tool, but still penetrates the undercoat and removes a lot of hair. The Hertzko also has firm bristles and a retracting design, making it easy to remove caught hair.
Please let me know in the comments section below if you have any questions about choosing the best dog brush for a Golden Retriever. I’d also love to hear if you use a brush that I haven’t mentioned.