It never fails, curly-haired girls want straight hair and straight-haired girls want curls but what about dogs? Do they care? Probably not, but if you want to become a dog groomer you probably will because curly hair, or fur, requires a different approach when grooming than straight or wiry fur. At Merryfield Academy, one of the best dog grooming schools in Florida, you will learn how to do all types of dog fur, including curly coats.
How is Curly Different?
There is, of course, a science behind the curl. Just like your hair, a dog’s fur is made up of keratin, as are the nails, and is held together by filaments. There are several factors that cause hair to be curly; the first is the shape of the hair shaft and the second is the shape of the hair follicle. Straight hair has a round follicle so that as it grows it forms evenly and therefore, does not coil or curl. A curly hair comes from an oval follicle which forms a flat-shaped hair and, if you were to cut a straight hair in half, you would see a round shape; however, a cross-section of a curly hair would display an elliptical shape.
Another factor in curly versus straight is the texture of the fur. The hair shaft has a covering called the cuticle which consists of individual scales that can open and close. This is what happens when you color or perm your hair; the cuticle opens to allow the color or chemical inside, changing the color or shape of the hair.
When the scales lie flat, the hair is straight and looks shiny and smooth but on curly hair, the scales are slightly “roughed up” and do not lie completely flat, causing curly hair to have less shine and feel rougher.
Of course, like the styling and taking care of your own hair, grooming a curly-furred dog will require a unique approach from the process used in grooming a canine with another type of fur and Merryfield can teach you all you need to know. Different dog breeds will have different types of curly fur; for example, a golden doodle’s curls will be different than a poodle’s curls so individual dogs require individual approaches. Tighter curls are known as wool coats and more wavy curls are known as fleece coats; also, curly fur sheds less than other types of fur. What curly fur does do is continue to grow and grow and can quickly get out of hand.
Therefore, curly hair/fur requires trimming frequently and should not go longer than eight weeks between trims and some owners prefer to have their dogs trimmed every six weeks; while others will go a full 12 weeks between; however, this does give the dog quite a shaggy appearance and in curlier coats can result in tangles and mats. As a groomer, you should advise dog parents to brush curly coats frequently, every day in some cases, to keep the fur from matting, and to pay particular attention to the face, ears, tail, legs, and tummy.
Bathing and Other Procedures
Unlike humans, dogs should not be bathed too frequently because it can dry out both the skin and coat because it strips the natural oils and once a month should be sufficient to keep the curly coat looking its best. As for drying, curly coats do not need to be fully blow dried; however, use of the blow dryer and a brush helps fluff the coat and ensure that no tangles or mats are missed.
When brushing the curly coat, use of the correct brush is essential and is dependent on the hair/fur type. In the case of a poodle, for example in order to properly remove all mats and tangles, a slicker brush that consists of a rectangular curved back featuring closely-situated, thin, wire bristles, or a pin brush, which has rubber or round-tipped wire bristles, is gentler, and best for long hair/fur, is the best choice. Poodle fur, left to grow excessively, will eventually develop mats and curls so tight that they can no longer be brushed and will have to be cut.
Although it may seem a simple unskilled process to groom a curly furred pet, there is actually a great deal of skill and training required to properly care for curly fur/hair. At Merryfield Academy, students will learn all aspects of how to care for all pets, curly-furred and otherwise and then be able to work on a variety of pets with total confidence, serving both pets and pet parents.
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