(Last updated 5/25/22)

Grooming your Newfoundland serves multiple purposes.  Combing and brushing removes loose hair, and doing this frequently will prevent development of mats and keep your dog’s skin healthier.  Bathing regularly will not only make the Newf clean and huggable, it will remove dust, pollen, etc. which for some Newfs can become contact irritants.  Bathing should be followed by a thorough drying using a high-speed dog dryer.  In-between baths, blowing their coat with the dryer is a good way to get loose hair and dust out.  The dryer allows you to see their skin, and to see problems as those are developing, such as hot spots, so those can be treated sooner.

Teaching a dog to become accustomed to a high-speed dryer takes some patience and should begin while they are young, using the slower speed setting and avoiding the face.  With patience, praise and treats, this becomes something that the dog enjoys.  He may even help you direct the air flow to the “right spot”, usually under his chin.  Grooming overall can be something the Newf begins to look forward to, another good bonding opportunity.

Grooming Tools

As puppies grow, the tools needed for grooming change.  A puppy between 2 and 4 months old has an untamable fuzzy coat.  For this a carder (also called slicker) is a good grooming tool.  These are carried at most pet stores.  Later, you will need a comb.  A greyhound comb with a rounded top is a good basic grooming tool.  A comb with a rake-type handle is easier on the wrist, such as this one:

To get the loose undercoat out for an adult, you will need another comb of a different type.  There are a variety of undercoat rakes, and these help, but don’t always do a thorough job.  Some people prefer dematting combs (rakes with sharp blades), but the best tool that I’ve found for getting undercoat out is a Twinco rake.  These, however, are not made any longer.  They were shaped like a small paddle and had two V-shaped staggered rows of teeth.  [Update 4/23/20:  Found that the Aaronco rake (like Twinco with plastic handle) is now available at Cherrybrook.]  There is a Christiansen “Buttercomb” comb with two staggered rows of teeth that works similarly.  It is a surprisingly heavy comb.  The Christiansen T-brush that is 5 in. wide with short (16 mm) pins is also good for routine brushing and is ruggedly built.  When they are shedding, I miss the efficiency of the Twinco rake.  For some Newfs, during a shed, hand-stripping works best – pulling the long tufts of undercoat out by loosely pulling at the edges of the coat.  Coat types vary enough between lines that what works best for one Newf may be different than what works best for another.  When using combs, you will need to develop a feel for the depth of the teeth to avoid bruising or cutting the skin, which can lead to the development of a hot spot.

Grooming tables are a Newf essential, along with a high-speed dog dryer.  A grooming table should be stable and well-built to support not only the weight of the adult Newf, but the force of the dog jumping onto the table, and the surface should provide good footing.  Ajustable height tables are not particularly useful if you can work with a table height of around 18 – 20 in.  This is low enough for most Newfs to get onto the table with ease throughout most of their adulthood, and high enough for most people to be able to groom without strain from bending down.


I prefer to bathe from a table rather than a tub.  Grooming tables can be used as long as the metal legs are monitored for rust, or a more permanent bathing station can be constructed from wood or concrete.  There is complete ease of access to the dog from all sides of a table.  A large plastic apron and a pair of rubber boots work well enough to keep a human from being soaked, but the human will get wet.  Newfs like to share.  <g>

For those who need a more “contained” bathing option, the Booster Bath XL may fit your needs better, and most Newfs will fit in this tub.  The drain hose for these can be removed from the tub and a tall bucket placed under the drain with bathing solution and a pond pump, about 2.5 – 3 gpm, with 10′ of nylon tubing for recirculating the shampoo solution.  The pump should have a coarse guard at the intake to keep most hair out of the impeller.  This is a good way to distribute the shampoo to get to all areas of the skin well.  Their coat will hold a lot of the liquid, so water may need to be added to the bucket after bathing is started.  After shampooing, the bucket can be pulled out between the legs along one side for a thorough rinsing.  Using the tub and bucket will require cleaning and drying afterward so no moisture is left to grow bacteria or yeast.  The foam pad in the tub can be removed and suspended to dry.  The pump and tubing are best cleaned using a dilute solution of bleach in water in the bucket.  The tubing and pump need to be suspended separately to dry, and the dryer can be used to force air through the tubing.

It is best to teach your Newf to stand on the table or in a tub without using a restraint.  A moment of distraction, as with a phone call, can lead to a fast serious accident.  As the Newfs get older, it will be harder for them to stand for the duration of a bath and drying, requiring sit breaks.  A restraint or a no-sit harness should not be used for seniors or those with compromised health.  At some point, it is better to bathe older Newfs on a solid ground-level surface and only if needed.  A blow dryer and a comb will suffice for most seniors, along with an occasional spot clean-up.

An easy way to bathe from a table is to wet the dog, then apply and work in diluted shampoo using a large nozzle bottle.  These bottles are available in quart size, pint size and “ketchup bottle” size.  A good shampoo and conditioner are made by Coat Handler.  The shampoo is a 15:1 concentrate.  Putting a couple of ounces in a quart bottle of warm water will work for younger Newfs.  An empty 1-gallon water bottle works for adults – the nozzle bottle still makes application easier, and it can be refilled from the gallon bottle.  For most baths, I make the shampoo more dilute, less than half a cup for 3 – 3.5 quarts in a gallon bottle.  During times when biting pests are a problem, and in preparation for camping, I use a shampoo containing tea tree oil, a human shampoo product by Nature’s Gate, at a similar dilution to Coat Handler.  For any product choice, keep in mind that a dog may lick, and always check an ingredient listing, especially for dogs with allergies.

Following the bath by using a good conditioner will protect your investment in the bath a little longer, unless your Newf is one who likes to take mud-baths or dust-baths.  The Panagenics conditioner will help with drying time.  With any product, rinse well before drying.

One thing that is fairly new to my bathing routine is using a rayon chamois.  These are available at many stores, usually in bright colors.  Another Newf friend suggested this, and while I had two sets in a travel trailer for emergency spills, I didn’t try it.  After waiting in line for a bathing station at a dog show and watching someone use these on a Giant Schnauzer, I went home, opened the package and began using the chamois.  A chamois can be used multiple times, wrung out after each use, and it removes water better than a cotton towel.  Newfs love to press their face deep into a towel after a bath and get a face rub, so towels still serve a purpose.

Choosing your bath day based on weather will support the benefits.  When you have flexibility, and you live in an area with humidity or rainfall, plan by the forecast and choose a day when weather is drier.  A dry, windy day is easier for completely drying your Newf, as the dryer will consume a large amount of air, and the drier the air coming into the dryer, the easier it is to dry the Newf.


The second most important part of a bath, next to doing a thorough job with the shampoo and rinsing well, is the drying.  Leaving a dog damp, especially when the weather is humid, is asking for skin trouble.  This is why a high-speed air dryer, not heated, is so important.  A good high-speed dryer such as a Circuiteer II or K-9 III will strip the water out of a coat quickly, dramatically reducing the time that you spend drying the dog.  These will require a dedicated 20A circuit.  The adjustable speed blowers are nice.  For a portable dryer, I like the Double K Challengair 2000.  The plastic housing does not rust when it gets a scratch, and its air speed is still very good.  A nozzle attachment that fits your either dryer greatly aids in removing the water as you systematically move the nozzle close to the skin along swaths of coat.  You may want to remove the nozzle after the initial level of drying.  Comb out the coat again after drying to eliminate the mini-dreadlocks that can occur during drying, as these can hold moisture.

Be careful that the blower is not directed into their ears or eyes, and hold the ear closed when drying the outside of the ear.

On choosing a dryer, keep in mind that dogs are sensitive to high-pitched sounds.  Smaller dryers in particular may produce a high-pitched sound that disturbs the dogs.  (There is one taking up space on my shelves.)  The dryer must have sufficient volume and speed to get through the double layer of Newf coat.  A good quality dryer is worth the investment.  Plus, a high-speed dryer can have other uses:  it can make auto carpet look new again, it can blow leaves away from a patio or sidewalk, and it can be used to blow dust or crumbs out of hard to reach places, including keyboards.

Tools for Trimming

Hair on the bottoms of their feet should be trimmed level with their pads, and the length of hair around their toes should be trimmed flush with the side of their feet.  This will allow better footing on slick floors and reduce the amount of debris that is carried inside on feet.  An inexpensive electric Wahl trimmer from your local shopping center will allow you to trim the bottoms of the pads with less risk of poking or cutting the skin or pads.  NOTE:  Trimming with scissors can be done, but there is more risk of cutting the pad or their skin.  An injury to a pad (a place of continuous impact on dirty surfaces) can take weeks and require special bandaging, and sometimes surgery, to heal.  Scissors with blunt ends (click to see example) are a better option than standard scissors, but when cutting black hair against black pads or into crevices, it is still easy to cut into the skin.

Thinning shears are a good general purpose shear for maintaining the shaggy parts of a Newf.  The 44/20 Taper Fine shears are an economical thinning shear, and these are often recommended by sharpeners.  More expensive thinning shears are available, but these require training on use and usually require special sharpening skills.  The 44/20 Taper Fine shears can be sharpened by a sharpener who has a booth at a local dog show.  Thinning shears are good for trimming and thinning the hair behind their ears and trimming around the ear flap, trimming the fronts of their feet and the backs of their rear feet, removing the scruffy hair on the front of their chest and the long hair under their belly as well as any scraggly long hair that grows around their hips as they age.  (A pair of curved shears is a nice asset for trimming feet, but not essential for basic maintenance.)  Good use of your thinning shears will take some practice, but for a Newf, remember:  the hair will grow back, so you can get more practice in a week or two.  If you will use your shears after blow-drying the dog, the sharpening will last longer and there will be less cumulative wear on your shears.


Keeping the hair trimmed around their ears and along the inside of the lower part of the ear will improve the ability of air to reach their ears and decrease the risk of ear infection.  Thinning shears are safer to use around their ears, since their head can move quickly, and thinning shears allow cuts to look more blended and natural.  There are many ear cleaning products, but most are water-based, even the “veterinary” products.  Some products increase inflammation and allow yeast and bacteria to grow.  This can reduce the slow, natural process by which ear wax flows out of the ear, which will increase the risk of an infection developing.  Treating an ear infection can turn into a long-term, challenging situation requiring multiple visits to a veterinary dermatologist, so invest diligently in keeping ears trimmed and avoid foods or other products that lead to itching and scratching.

Trimming Nails

Nail trimming can make a human nervous, since it can be hard to learn to recognize the quick and hard to stop the bleeding.  However, your worrying can cause a puppy to be worried, and the puppy needs to learn to be relaxed about this process.  Most importantly, only the tips need to be removed to prevent the misshaping of the toe or toenail.  Until you are comfortable with how much to trim, you can slice thin layers off until you see the first faint appearace of the quick.  With practice, this will get much easier.  One way to avoid “quicking” when trimming toenails is to use a Dremel.  This can be purchased from a local shopping center or home improvement store.  To keep the long hair around their feet from getting caught in the Dremel, you can wrap the leg or pull a sock with the toe removed over the leg.  If you prefer clippers, only a pair of large heavy duty nail clippers will get through an adult Newf’s toenails.  [NOTE:  the guillotine-type nail clippers are often too light for clipping even puppy toenails on a Newf.  The blade may separate from the cutter area as you clip, sliding into the area between the quick and the nail.  A mishap like this with trimming a puppy’s nails can cause this task to be very difficult for the rest of its life.]

  • To see a Youtube video with good details on using a nail grinder (subject is an Irish Setter), click here.
  • To see a video with good details on clipping nails, click here.  *Even if you prefer the Dremel, there is good information on toenails in this video.
  • For a chart showing the amount of quick in a dog’s nail as it is trimmed:  click here

Whether you are grooming for everyday purposes or for showing, a clean, trimmed Newf is a joy and is easier to share living space with.  Think of it like this:  if you wore sweats all week without a bath and didn’t shave, you may be a little less huggable too.

For some inspiration on grooming, watch the Youtube video showing a Newfoundland being groomed by Penny Schubert, a well-known professional Newfoundland groomer:

Penny Schubert Grooming Video

[There is also a six-part series of videos addressing specific areas in good detail.]

The outcome is its own reward:

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2013-2020
This entry was posted in Bathing & Grooming and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. carla says:

    i have a female newfoundland , when her coat is long in winter she really smells even after a professional bath, is that normal

    • BigFootClub says:

      Hello Carla, and I apologize for the delay in response. I replied to this post at one point, but I noticed that it was missing and I’m not sure if you received the original reply.

      It is not uncommon for females to get urine on their coat when they relieve themselves, and their coat retains the moisture, which makes breeding grounds for an infection. They also tend to clean themselves, which adds moisture from saliva. For this reason, it is good to do a sanitary trim, as needed depending on coat growth to keep the hair thinned and short. Since it is too easy to cut through to their skin under that thick coat, it is better to use trimmers rather than scissors. In the U.S., Wahl trimmers, such as beard trimmers, are available at local stores for around $20 – 40 in the personal care section of the store. These work well for this purpose. To do a sanitary trim, put her on the grooming table, lift her tail, then trim down in the direction the hair grows from under the top of her tail about halfway down to hocks. Hold her vulva out of the way and trim around that area, being careful. The trimmers will still cut skin, so be sure the blade is angled down the side of her skin instead of directly toward her skin. You don’t want to shave her bare and risk razor burn, just clip the long hair within the area of her vulva. You can do this so that once her tail is down, the missing hair isn’t visible. She will be a lot more comfortable and less prone to irritation and infection where the moisture from the urine collects. Also, when she cleans herself, that area will dry faster.

      After trimming, you can wash that area with a gentle shampoo, such as Johnson’s baby shampoo Original, but be sure to rinse well and dry well without getting the shampoo, water or air from a dryer inside her vulva.

      When you keep her trimmed, this will allow her to stay dry. If this doesn’t resolve the odor, there may be an underlying issue that requires veterinary attention, such as a urinary tract infection or a structural problem such as an inverted vulva or an ectopic ureter. In any case, keeping that area clean and dry will help.

      Best wishes.


Leave a Reply