By Jacki Panzik
Blow drying a poodle or any other curly coated breed requires more skill than initially meets the eye. I consider it an art. A poodle that is not correctly blown dry will not have a finished look, no mater how it is clipped or scissored.
Items You Will Need:
After a thorough bath and conditioning, it’s time to blow your poodle dry. I always use towels to get the excess water out of the coat. I mean, I use MANY towels and rub, rub, rub. This will save you lots of time in the long run. I will also put a towel on the drying table to catch excess water from being blown all over the drying area. The drying table is best set in a corner. This creates a kind of wind tunnel effect that will cause the flow of the air to circulate around the dog and will help speed drying time. I like to use a round nozzle with a small opening at the end, so you get a very concentrated stream of air that is condensed and therefore adds velocity. Speed and power are the name of the game here. We are trying to get a straight coat in the least amount of time.
So now you’re ready to start the actual drying process. The goal we are wanting to achieve is a coat that is not curly and stands straight out creating that aesthetic look we all love about a correctly groomed poodle. I use a high speed blow dryer for the first part of the drying process. When I turn a blow dryer on, I always have one hand on the dog and flip the switch with the other. Dogs can be shocked by the loud sudden sound of a high speed blow dryer, so steadying with a hand and a calm word will let the dog know they are not in any danger.
Start blowing the coat in a upward direction with a sweeping motion of about 3 to 4 inches, back and forth, holding the nozzle about 6” away form the coat. Go all over the dog using this technique. Be on the alert for mats. These will show up as spider web looking areas in the coat usually next to the skin. Remember where these mats are because you will be going back to them later to break them up with a specific technique, which we will talk about later, that you will do with the blow dryer. Blowing out the whole coat will separate the hair so that air can get in between the strands and help with drying time. It also will cause the hair strands to not clump up and fail to stand straight later. Once you’ve gone over the coat to separate the strands, start blow drying in specific areas starting with the front of the dog. This is the time to start observing where those mats are hiding. (A poodle should be brushed every 2 to 3 days to avoid matting. See our section on “brushing” for the proper technique.)
When you run into mats, bring the nozzle of the dryer up into the mat. This will break the mat apart and will make it easier for you when you are ready to do your final brush-drying. After breaking the mat up then pull the nozzle away to about 6” to 8” away from the hide. This will separate any tangles that were caused by blowing so close.
Using these techniques blow the whole dog dry in an upward direction to achieve maximum coat volume.
Take a break now and then to catch your breath and give your poodle a chance to relax. Remember, you are working on a very intelligent, sensitive friend. A break will also give the coat time to settle. When you go back to drying, start by running your hand over the dog’s coat carefully, noticing the areas that have become damp again. The coat will amaze you as to how it will appear to dry but with careful inspection after a break you will find areas of dampness.
At this time, take a slicker brush and brush the whole coat out. If you run into mats take a metal toothed comb and pull it through the mat using the edge if the comb. This means use the two teeth at the end of the comb, holding the comb in a vertical position. Start at the outer edge of the mat and work your way in a little at a time as to not break coat or cause pain. If needed, you can use a bit of conditioner in a spray bottle to help break the coat up. Use your stand dryer in the area so that you can see the mat and can observe if you are making progress. Comb through the mat when you have thoroughly broken it up, then brush to separate coat.
Once you have made sure all mats are out, you can then brush-dry the dog for the final fluff. By brush-dry, I mean using a stand up dryer for final drying. Aim the air flow of the stand up drier and brush that area where the air is directly flowing. The final touch is a metal tooth comb over the entire coat to make sure every strand is separated and no mats are left in the coat.
Voila!! A poodle ready to be scissored to perfection.