Sunday, June 3, 2007

Double Coated Breeds or Should I clip my Dog?


One of the most frustrating things that I come across as a groomer is an unnaturally thick undercoat on double coated dogs. Double coat means that the dogs have outer guard hairs and a soft undercoat that is generally shed in the summer months. Dogs such as Chows, Siberian Huskies, Collies, Australian Shepherds have a LOT of undercoat and when the weather starts warming up, it starts coming out. It's perfectly natural and it's perfectly natural to want to help your pet by removing it so they will be cooler. But wait....

While on the surface it makes sense that shorter hair would mean cooler dog, it is not necessarily true. While humans perspire to cool their bodies, dogs pant and while that undercoat can certainly keep the heat in, shaving it makes it shorter but does not remove it. The air can still not get to the skin and the shorter hair doesn't come out as easily as the un cut coat. When the new coat starts coming in, it weaves into the sheared undercoat and you get a much thicker undercoat that is unhealthy, dense and does not come out naturally. In nature, dogs lose their undercoat in stages as the weather warms up. The long soft undercoat loosens and gets rubbed off in clumps. The long guard hairs remain to keep the heat, bugs and sun out.

Now I know you are thinking to yourself.... but all that HAIR!! It gets everywhere, in everything and it takes over my house and I agree with you! What I recommend to my clients is monthly bath and brush outs in the spring with a good quality conditioner. A warm bath loosens the undercoat, the conditioner helps make it easy to remove and if done on a regular basis, should control shedding. If done regularly, it should not be anymore expensive than an annual clipping for a large dog.

Your dog will be happier with the long silky guard hairs to protect him from the summer sun and evening mosquitos.

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