Many dog breeds sport a double coat, but even the most well-studied dog owners might not know how to properly take care of it. A dog’s double coat consists of both a soft undercoat and a long, thick outer coat, each of which performs different functions to protect the dog from the elements. With this in mind, there are some dos and don’ts about double coat care that every dog owner should know.
DO Research to Better Understand Your Dog’s Double Coat
Double coats are pretty common among herding breeds, retrievers, and terriers, but other breeds may have them as well. Double coats are meant to protect your precious pooch from both the cold and the heat. The undercoat keeps your dog warm in the winter months, but it also keeps cool air close to the skin during the summer months. The outer coat is meant to resist the elements like snow and UV rays. By better understanding what the outer and undercoats are supposed to do, you can be better prepared for double coat maintenance when the temperature starts to change.
DON’T Go Against Professional Advice
If you have a dog with an exceptionally thick coat, you may think that shaving all that fur during the summer months is the right thing to do. After all, how else is your dog supposed to keep cool? It makes perfect sense to shave your dog when it gets hot outside, right? Actually, it doesn’t. Double coats are not like jackets; you shouldn’t remove them when it gets hot. In fact, doing so could not only ruin the coat when it grows back in, but it could also make your dog uncomfortable! As mentioned in the previous section, a dog’s undercoat acts as a sort of insulation to regulate body temperature. Tampering with it by shaving it all off will leave your dog feeling hotter than when he had his coat. Plus, shaving your dog’s double coat puts him at a greater risk of sunburn or heat stroke. This is why vets, groomers, and breeders all agree that shaving off a double coat is almost never a good idea. Your dog will be more comfortable and ready for the weather with his fur left intact. Still, there are some things you can do as the owner to maintain your dog’s double coat that doesn’t require shaving.
DO Practice Regular Bathing and Brushing
One reason you may be tempted to shave your dog is the shedding that comes with summer heat. Shedding tends to increase when it’s hot outside, and cleanup isn’t always easy. But there are a couple of ways to handle your dog’s shedding hair that doesn’t risk ruining his double coat. The first is regular bathing and shampooing. Bathing your dog on a schedule, especially during the summer months, will wash away any loose hair before it can shed anywhere else. The second is brushing your dog’s double coat. Like bathing, brushing can rid your dog’s coat of any loose hair before it sheds everywhere. There are even special double coat brushes that are designed to pull away any loose hair from both the outer and undercoats for a more thorough clean. After giving your dog a bath, you can brush his coat— just be sure it’s dry first.
DON’T Brush Hard During Double Coat Maintenance
It’s always important to be gentle with your dog during any sort of at-home grooming, but especially with brushing. Brushing too hard won’t do anything except hurt your dog’s skin. Brushing may become more challenging in the future if you aren’t careful. Your dog should be cooperative and trusting during a brushing, so be gentle.
DO Have Your Dog Shaved Only If It’s Under Special Circumstances
Shaving your dog’s double coat isn’t recommended to keep him cool during the summer, but there are certain circumstances where it may be necessary. This can include preparation for surgery, removing matted hair, and aiding in canine skin disease treatments.
DON’T Forget What You’ve Learned About the Double Coat!
Double coats are different and require special care, especially during drastic changes in weather. The best thing you can do as the owner of a double coated dog is to better understand how to perform maintenance like bathing and brushing. The worst thing you can do is shave your dog in a misguided attempt to keep him cool during the summer.
At Merryfield Academy, our goal is to educate not only up-and-coming groomers but also pet owners. If you or someone you know owns a dog with a double coat and would like more information about how to take proper care of it, feel free to reach out to one of our specialists at (954) 771-4030.
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