The following are some general tips on keeping your dog in good condition.
#1 Train your dog to accept handling everywhere on his body. This is especially important if you have a breed that needs extensive coat care. However, such advice applies to ALL dogs, regardless of grooming requirements. Even if you never plan on so much as brushing your dog, you must be able to handle him. What if he is choking or has something stuck in his jaws, but you can't help him because he won't allow you to hold his face? Or if he has a painful thorn in his paw, but you can't take it out because he won't let you touch his feet? What about vet visits? The doctor must be able to feel the dog's body to check for abnormal growths and general condition. If your dog is thrashing about or trying to bite, the doctor may miss a cancerous lump or an infection that should have received immediate treatment. Simply teaching your dog to be well behaved can literally be a life saver. And of course, your vet and groomer will thank you for having such a cooperative pet.
#2 All dogs can benefit from at least a weekly brushing. This stimulates the skin, keeps the hair healthy, reduces shedding, and discourages parasites. On smooth coated breeds, use a bristle brush or a rubber curry comb. On thicker coated breeds, a slicker brush usually works best for keeping out matts, and an undercoat rake is wonderful for reducing shedding. On long haired breeds, a slicker brush or a pin brush (esp. for those with a delicate coat), along with a good comb work nicely. Typically, the more hair your dog has, the more often you will have to brush it. When you do, be sure you are going down to the skin. If you are only brushing over the surface, missing the undercoat entirely, you could do this every day and still see matts form.
A bristle brush can be used on any breed for a quick cleanup. We use one on our dogs every day, each time they come in from a walk. This keeps any debris they may have picked up out of the house. It also removes potentially dangerous objects such as burrs that could bury into the skin. For less than one minute of your time, this is an excellent habit to get in to.
#3 All dogs should be bathed 2 - 3 times a year, at the very least. Most dogs need a bath about every 6 weeks to maintain an acceptable condition. Just think how grungy you'd feel if you went a week without so much as a sponge bath. Now imagine how much filth all that fur on your dog picks up in a whole month!
Always be sure to thoroughly brush and comb your dog before he gets wet. Any existing matts will tighten more when drying, making them nearly impossible to remove. The only exception to this rule would be very smooth coated dogs whose hair cannot knot.
#4 Keep your dog healthy. Health and grooming go hand in hand. If you dog is in poor health, no amount of grooming is likely to improve his coat or make him look good. Likewise, if your dog is unkempt, with matted fur (which doesn't let the skin breathe and holds moisture and burrs which leads to infections) or an unwashed coat covered in toxins (pesticides from lawns, air pollution, etc.) he cannot be completely healthy.
Healthy fur is easier to groom! A coat in top condition is less prone to matting and usually sheds less. Plus it looks so radiant!
Proper nutrition does a lot for coat condition. See my article: