How to Groom a Dog at Home

Dogue de Bordeaux are easy to look after, their grooming is low maintenance and nowhere near as intensive or expensive like a Yorkshire Terrier or Old English Sheepdog!

Even though the Bordeaux has a short coat, they will tend to moult more around twice a year due to the season changes.

They tend to have a thicker, winter coat and then a thinner spring coat. So these are the times they tend to shed their old fur.

Luckily, even though these beautiful dogs are big – they are gentle too! Making cleaning and grooming easy peasy!

It is always a good rule of thumb to start teaching your Dogue about grooming from a young age. We will start getting your pups used to being handled and groomed from birth to help start them off.

Grooming doesn’t just include brushing and washing; it includes teeth, paws, nails, wrinkles slobber and sometimes bums too!!

In this post I will try to give you some advice and guidance to help you take care of your big, gentle giant and keep them in the best condition.

In this post, you will find out about: Brushing, bathing, looking after paws, teeth, wrinkles, nails, moulting/shedding hair, and anal glands…. (yikes!)

You can skip to the bit you need by clicking the links below:


What do I need to groom my Bordeaux?

The Dogue de Bordeaux is pretty easy grooming wise, low maintenance and because they are such laidback gentle giants it makes it even easier! Here is a list of things you might want for grooming your Dogue – you don’t need all of these things, for example, we don’t tend to need the scissors or nail clippers as our dogs’ nails are kept short by walking.

  • Dog shampoo and conditioner
  • Towel (a BIG one)
  • A bristle brush
  • A fine toothed comb
  • Scissor-style dog nail clippers
  • Round ended scissors
  • A grooming glove
  • A camera for taking cute pics!!

Grooming / Brushing

Even dogs with short coats benefit from a good brushing every now and then. It helps keep the coat soft, shiny, in good condition and helps to stop a lot of moulting on your settee because it comes off on the brush instead!

How often should I brush my Dogue?

Regularly is the given advice from pretty much everywhere – but what does that mean??

We tend to brush our baby every two weeks, but if we forget we don’t panic!! We also brush our dogs after a bath, a walk in the rain, a run over the fields and if we see any bits of dirt/twig/slobber/bird food in the fur!

It’s usually slobber with dirt encrusted into the fur… but this tends to be from other Dogue’s and not the actual Dogue you are grooming! 🙂

If we see the dogs starting to have clumps of fur around the rear hips area we get the brush out. Otherwise it ends up on the kids beds and any fresh pile of laundry lying around!

To be honest though, most of the time we don’t mind. Dog hair for us is part and parcel of having dogs – so the only benefit we worry about with grooming is keeping the dogs in good health.

So how often should you brush your Dogue? Basically, it’s up to you and your dog. I find brushing a peaceful, fun bonding time with the dogs and a chance to just ‘be’.

You can brush the Dogue de Bordeaux coat as often as you feel it needs to be done; but we recommend at least once a month as a minimum.

Bath time for Dogue de Bordeaux puppy Evie!

Grooming / Bathing

How often should I bath my Dogue?

Again, Dogues are actually pretty basic to look after and definitely not high maintenance like a Husky!!

Baths are good to keep the skin and coat healthy and in good condition – just think of your own hair and skin, they feel pretty rank after a while without a wash!

Dogs have special oils on their skin to help keep them clean, so they dont need to be bathed every day – this would actually cause them problems!

Bath them every 1-2 months using a good quality dog shampoo and conditioner. Quality doesn’t have to mean expensive either.

Just be mindful that some shampoo might not suit your dog’s skin – just like us they all have different reactions to soaps and shampoos, so just start with a mild puppy shampoo and go from there.

If you notice any itching, rashes, lumps etc stop using the shampoo immediately and give them a bath with just water alone. If the irritation continues, maybe just have a quick word with your vet to make sure it isn’t anything else causing the problem.

Always make sure they are completely dry before they go outside, you don’t want your baby to get ill!

How do I bath my dog?

Think of bathing your dog like bathing a baby:

  • Don’t make the water hot!! Keep it warm or lukewarm
  • Keep soap, bubbles, and water out of their eyes
  • Don’t pour water down their ears! EVER!
  • Don’t get anything down inside their ears if you can help it – use a flannel or cloth, wring out as much water and soap as possible, and gently wipe just inside the ear but NEVER going down into the ear canal!!
  • Keep it calm and fun
  • Don’t fill the bath too much, we find just a few inches of water is best and doesn’t scare them – you can always increase the depth of water as they get bigger
  • Don’t leave them alone in the bath – they can slip and get hurt or drown!!!
  • Don’t shout at them if they squirm or try to get out – they are probably scared!
  • If they move around a lot or slip or are nervous, try putting a non-slip bathmat down inside the bath before putting them in
  • Use a cup/jug or showerhead to wet their coat for shampooing and then to rinse off
  • Have everything you need close to hand so you don’t have to struggle to reach or leave the dog

Start by running the taps and getting a nice warm temperature – lukewarm or warm, NEVER HOT! Don’t put the plug in yet though.

Lift your pup or dog into the bath by putting your arms around their front and back legs. One arm should be around their front legs, resting on their chest and your other arm under their bum hugging their legs.

Your arms may meet in the middle of their chest on the opposite side to you. Hold them to your chest as you lift – it’s easier for you and more comforting to them. They will probably squirm a few times until they get used to you lifting them like this. Bend and lift with your knees, not your back – it may be ok when they are little, but once they get fully grown it is a back killer!!

Stand your pup in the bath giving them praise and keeping them calm. If they are fine with this and the taps running, then put the plug in but only fill the bath a few inches high – you don’t want to panic them or make them slip.

Now start to pour water over the dogs back, gently. Start with the back, then legs, tummy, tail and lastly the head. Don’t pour water in their eyes, ears or nose!! Instead, tilt their head back and pour gently over the top of their head so it runs down the back of their head. The face is best to be washed with a flannel.

It’s best to clean their head LAST as they tend to shake water all over you and the bathroom once they feel the water on it! 🙂

You can rub shampoo into their fur all over their body but not on their face or in the ears.

To wash a dogs face, damp a flannel (face cloth) and squeeze out most of the water. Then gently wipe down over their eyes, so if any gunk is in there it will come off onto the flannel.

Next, wash out the flannel again and wipe just inside the ears, do NOT go down into the ear canal!!!! Then rinse the flannel again and use the flannel to clean around their cheeks, lips, nose and wrinkles.

Dogs with wrinkles can store food and slobber there, including dirt and all sorts of stuff if you don’t keep a daily eye on them!! Wrinkles are also prone to getting a bit smelly if they are left without being wiped and can get skin infections.

Monster Pets sell some compostable, vegan-friendly dog wet wipes by Earth Rated, they come in unscented or in a gorgeous lavender scent.

We clean our dogs faces every day, usually several times a day after any mud digging and food-related activities!! It’s easier, quicker and healthier to keep on top of the wrinkles on a daily basis. We have to do the same for our Pug!

When your furry friend is all nice and shiny clean, empty the water from the bath and get a nice big, fluffy towel and start to dry them. Make sure you dry in the creases of their legs and in the wrinkles so they don’t get chapped skin – especially if it’s cold weather!

Lift them back out of the bath onto a bathmat or another towel – keep up the praise – and then give them another rub all over, including their paws.

Then, make sure you cover yourself because once you move that towel they will shake for England!! Splattering everywhere and everyone with water! 🙂

Keep them inside until they are dry, try not to let them outside whilst wet as they might get a chill and plus it just isn’t nice to be wet and cold!

If they need the toilet, put them out for a few minutes and get them back in as soon as you can. A lot of young puppies tend to need a wee after a bath!! (Usually on the bathmat…)

The most important thing is to be calm, have FUN and give lots of praise! Dogues are pretty laid back and will just usually stand still during a bath, with a very mopey look on their face to make you feel sorry for them!

Our Dogue Evie likes to try and catch the water in her mouth if we use the showerhead or run the tap! She thinks it’s a great game and is completely confused when we turn it off and the water disappears! Comical!! 🙂

All puppies we breed will have baths while they are with us, to get used to the sensation and also because puppies tend to smell a lot! It will help you in the long run that they are handled and socialised in this way too.

Grooming / Paws

Cleaning the Paws

Paws are an important part of your Dogue’s body; you need to make sure that they stay clean, free from splinters or stones and cracked skin.

There isn’t a major amount of work to go into it, just the same as every other dog.

Check their paws if they seem to be limping or resting on it funny; they may have some grass or a stone stuck in between the pads, if they do, just pop it out carefully. Giving praise as you do it!

If you notice any cracks in the pads skin, try rubbing some cream into the paw pads just to help ease any stiffness in the skin.

If they have a cut on a pad, clean it with warm water and keep an eye on it. If it won’t stop bleeding or seems quite a deep cut, call your vet and try and get them to have a quick check.

Wrap a clean bandage, gauze or even a clean tea towel around the paw if it won’t stop bleeding, put a bit of pressure on it to help stop the bleeding till you get to the vets.

I’m not a vet, or a nurse but have had plenty of incidences with my 6 kids and many dogs over the years – including our staffy cutting the underneath of his tongue on an open tuna can!!!

We have used good old fashioned Germolene cream on our dogs lots of times – never Savlon as this seems to irritate the skin. The Germolene helps to kill and stop infections and also eases the pain a little.

I’m not saying you should use Germolene, it’s your choice on what you do for your dog but I have used it time and time again and it has helped. I have since found out that quite a lot of people have tried Germolene and antiseptic washes like TCP to clean wounds as they are safe.

We don’t use TCP as we find it to be quite strong and can irritate the skin and wound; so we just use warm, clean water to wash the cut, add Germolene then ask the vets for advice.

Vaseline (or any other petroleum jelly-based products) is another option we have used with success.

Coconut oil is also another way to help protect and heal your dog’s poorly paws – we haven’t used this ourselves but apparently, the dogs go crazy trying to lick it off!

We have also used Sudocrem on rashes and dried, chapped skin before now and it has been perfect. Again though, I’m not trained in medicines of any kind so please use your own discretion and ask your vets for their opinion.

You could also use a paw balm or cocoa butter cream on their paws to help heal cracks and chapped skin.

How do I prevent sore or chapped skin on paws?

Dogs paws can get cracked, sore or chapped depending on where they have been and the weather. Imagine walking everywhere with bare feet, even outside – it takes it’s toll eventually!

You must keep a check on the condition of their paws, just a quick look and feel every now and then. We are always playing with our dogs or stroking their paws so we are pretty on top of ours, luckily.

We will also be handling our pups from birth, which will include touching and handling their paws. This helps them get used to vet visits and used to you handling them.

There isn’t much of an issue with Dogues and handling as they are soooooo laid back and pretty much let you do whatever you need to do! Bless! They are so well behaved!

To help keep those paws in perfect condition, you can use some balm or Vaseline on them every now and then. It’s best to put it on when you know they will be staying inside for a little while so they don’t wipe it off straight away!

Just watch clothing and furniture if you use something like Vaseline though as it may stain and grease mark anything they stand on!

Just rub a small amount of cream or balm on their paws and praise while you do it. Massage it into the skin. Our dogs LOVE it! They must think it’s a pamper day!!

You may need to put a ‘cone of shame’ on their collar if they keep trying to eat the cream off their paws! Or just keep telling them ‘no’! (A hundred times in the case of our Pug…)

I try to put it on late at night, after the last toilet break while they are lying down for bedtime. The dogs seem to leave it alone then.

Grooming / Teeth

Cleaning a dog’s teeth is as important as our own, yet a lot of the time people don’t realise this!

Lots of things can affect the condition of a dog’s teeth, the main problem being food.

Just like kids, if dogs eat too much junk or soft foods and don’t take care of their teeth, they will get rotten. Rotten teeth can cause pain, receding gums, retained teeth, smelly breath, gum infections, teeth to fall out or break and in extreme cases lead to nose or ear infections!

Above images are copyright of the PDSA & the Bluecross.

Dental disease in dogs is just as painful and unpleasant as it is for us – the difference is they can’t tell us how bad they feel!!

How to clean Dogue de Bordeaux teeth

To brush your dog’s teeth is quite easy – especially with the laid back, gentle Dogue! We start getting pups used to having their teeth brushed and mouths inspected from birth.

It helps the dogs to get used to it, not to be afraid and ideal for you or your vet to check up on teeth and get non-doggy toys out of their mouths!!

You can buy finger toothbrushes for dogs from lots of pet shops; they are usually a couple of inches long and fit onto your finger. They tend to have soft rubber bristles for the teeth and gums. (These are the ones I prefer.)

You can also find specially made longer dog’s toothbrushes, these look a lot like our own but tend to have a smaller head and more contoured handle to get into awkward places!

You can also find dog’s toothpaste in pet shops – DON’T use people toothpaste for your dog!! It contains too many harsh chemicals and will do more harm than good!! If you don’t have any doggy friendly toothpaste, just use water – something is better than nothing!

Put a tiny smidge of toothpaste onto your dog’s toothbrush and have it close to hand.

Before attempting to brush your dogs teeth, make sure they are calm and relaxed. Make them lie down or sit, whichever you feel better with. Then give them a command to open their mouth ( we use ‘open’) and then carefully and gently open their mouth into a comfortable gape.

Next, whilst holding their head gently with the one hand, use the other to gently brush their teeth and gums.

Let them have a drink of water afterwards if they want it.

You will probably find all they want to do is eat the toothpaste because most of them are meat flavoured!!

It can take a bit of practise and even the most well-behaved dog will eat the toothpaste and brush if they can get away with it! 🙂

If they seem too excited or flustered, just stop and leave it for another time – even brushing half of their teeth is better than nothing!

When they are young pups, their attention span is literally a minute, (think goldfish) so they will get bored very easily. It’s best to do any training and grooming in short bursts, lots of times rather than one long session (where you both get peed off!!)

The most important thing is to stay calm, make it relaxing and even fun – make your dog see it as a yummy treat time and they will end up looking forward to it quite quickly.

So how else can you look after your dog’s teeth?

There are a few little ways you can help keep on top of their dental hygiene:

  • Give them raw food with bone content (minced lamb, beef, or chicken from butchers)
  • Give them the odd bone to chew on
  • Brush their teeth for them
  • Don’t give too many treats!! (limit the junk)
  • Don’t give them too much people food
  • Try treats made especially for cleaning their teeth (dental chews)
  • Give them appropriate toys to chew on (rubber toys being the best)
  • Don’t let them chew anything too hard! (it can crack or break their teeth)

Grooming / Nails

Inside your dog’s nail by Michael A Simmons MFA

Now, once again, dogs are similar to us. Their nails have a blood vessel running through them (called a ‘quick’) that will hurt like hell and bleed like mad if you cut it.

I don’t recommend cutting your dogs nails.

It is possible to cut the nails too short, cutting the quick and causing painful bleeding. You could also crush the nail by cutting it in the wrong way, crush the poor dogs’ toe or make them terrified of the experience!

If you are stressed, impatient, nervous or can’t see through the nail I would definitely leave it. If the dog is nervous or in a playful mood I would leave it.

You both need to be calm and relaxed. You need to see where the quick of the nail comes to, this will make it massively easier.

We handle our puppies and start their training in lots of different ways, from birth. Messing with their feet and pretending to clip their nails is one of the things we do.

It helps get them used to people messing with their feet which is ideal when you or a vet need to check their nails, paws or need to trim the nails.

You will be glad you kept up with the handling of your laid back friend’s feet when they are 6 stone and need their nails trimming!!

How to cut a dog’s nails

I cut our dogs nails whenever they need it, and have done for many dogs over the years of all shapes, sizes and nervous dispositions!! (Yorkshire Terriers being the worst so far – nearly lost a few fingers a few times!!)

Luckily, our dogs walk and run on paths, slabs and grasses so keep their nails naturally in shape.

A dog with white or clear nails is always easier as you can usually see the quick through the nail, dark nailed dogs can be a bit trickier so I suggest cutting thin slices of nail off at a time.

The claws to keep an eye on are the dew claws, the ones that are on their ankles. These tend to grow longer due to never actually touching the floor to be naturally worn down.

The dew claws have a quick too, so please be careful!!

If for some reason you do need to trim your dogs nails and want to do it yourself, here are some tips and advice on how to cut your dogs’ nails.

  • Make sure you can see properly! Get the lights on or be in a well-lit room
  • Be gentle, calm and praise at all times
  • Make it fun and a treat time rather than a chore
  • Get them used to the idea first
  • Be careful of their skin, pads and hair
  • Trim the hair around the nail with baby or blunted doggy face/paw scissors if you need to (usually only needed with long-haired dogs like Yorkies)
  • Use scissor-style, dog nail clippers and not people clippers or guillotine type clippers (we have tried different styles and brands over the years and the guillotine type crush the nail rather than cutting through it every.damn.time)
  • Use smaller clippers for easier handling until they are bigger
  • You may need (or want) to smooth the edges of the nails at the end with an emery board – don’t file the quick though!! Ouch!
  • Hold their paws and toes gently, don’t squeeze them!
  • Cut the nail, don’t crush it
  • Have treats ready!
  • Give lots of hugs and kisses
  • Maybe prep a lovely bath for afterwards

Here’s a fab infographic from Dogs Naturally on how to cut dark dog nails correctly and in a stress-free way.

From Dogs Naturally magazine

It’s a good rule of thumb to let your dog walk and run on a variety of different flooring, it keeps the nails naturally trim at the correct length for your dog.

Grooming / Anal Glands (Yak)

All dogs have two small anal sacs (glands) on the inside of their anal opening. The usually produce a few drops of scent when your dog is marking or using the loo.

Sometimes though, they can get full and clogged – causing a nasty smell, discomfort and pain for your poor pooch. They might try to scoot along on their bum to help relieve the pain or swelling or with excessive licking (sigh).

I’ve never known this with any of my own dogs over the years, but I wanted to mention it just to try and cover everything related to grooming.

Signs of possible anal gland problems:

  • scooting their bum across the floor
  • loads of licking
  • struggling to poop
  • seem to be uncomfy or in pain when sitting
  • redness or swelling near the rear end
  • a nasty, fishy kind of smell

Even though it can be funny when your dog is scooting around on their bum, it usually means pain or discomfort for them so it’s best to get to the vets.

It can cause an infection or even abscesses, meaning more pain for your dog and more money spent at the vets!

How to help prevent anal gland problems

Problems with full anal glands can be caused by a few different things; according to vet it can be due to soft poops, a poor diet, genetic anatomy of the dog, allergies or other health problems.

A few tips to help prevent problems with dogs anal glands are to give them a good varied diet – make sure they get some bone or biscuit content in their meals. If they have other health issues such as cancer or any allergies, keep an eye on their glands just in case any problems start.

Apart from that it’s really just keeping a general eye on them the same as any other health condition. Always check with your vet for advice if you have any problems or worries – that’s what they are there for!

How to empty anal glands of dogs

I recommend going to the vets, get them to do it. It’s tricky, and pretty nasty.

I have never had to empty anal glands of any of my dogs over the years (touch wood) but my mother in law has to take her Shih Tzu cross quite regularly to have them emptied.

I know some people do it themselves at home but I still say go to the vets. There are plenty of professional groomers who offer the service too.

If by some strange reason you fancy doing it yourself, there is a graphic video below showing you how a vet recommends you to do it. I don’t know for sure how many vets use this method as I have never witnessed it myself (thankfully). I just feel sorry for the poor dog…

Personally, it’s not something I’ve ever had to do and wouldn’t want to start now!

I’ve never heard of Dogue de Bordeaux with anal gland problems, but I just wanted to add this bit of info as something to keep an eye out for and it relates to grooming so I wanted to include it for you.

Fingers crossed you never have to deal with full anal glands!

What a nice topic to finish this post on.

If you love dogs, please share this!

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