Grooming Tip – Double-coated Dogs

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If you own any Malamutes, Akitas, Chow Chows, Huskies, Australian Shepherds, German Shepherds, Pomeranians, Newfoundlands, Saint Bernards, Border Collies, Rough Collies or Golden Retrievers. You should read on…

What does it mean for a dog to have a “double coat”? Dogs with double coats have regular guard hairs – the coarser hairs on top that repel water – but they also have a soft undercoat that insulates your pet from extreme temperatures. These dogs shed some hair throughout the year, but they shed heavily twice a year as the seasons change. This is sometimes referred to as dropping their coats. You can minimize the fluff floating around your garden just by regularly grooming your dog.

 Various tools are needed for keeping a double-coated dog looking its best. You will need a normal pin brush, a comb, an undercoat rake and a slicker brush.

These breeds should be brushed at least 3 times a week – daily if possible – to keep the undercoat from matting and to minimize shedding. When a dog with a double coat isn’t brushed regularly or isn’t dried properly after baths, the undercoat can become matted. It forms a tightly packed weave under the guard hairs and this is very painful for a dog! The matted coat will also no longer insulate the dog and will trap moisture, which can lead to hot spots and other skin infections. In extreme cases, badly matted coats cannot be detangled and will have to be shaved. It’s the dead undercoat hair that causes dogs to get very hot as it traps the heat.

Unless the dog is terribly matted, do not shave your dog. Double-coated breeds need their undercoat to insulate them from the heat as well as from the cold. If you shave your dog, he will no longer be insulated and will also be much more susceptible to sunburn. Another pitfall is that once you shave a double-coated dog, you will have to keep shaving him as the undercoat will either grow back even thicker than before or it will grow faster than the guard hairs, leaving your dog with a patch-work coat.

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