Double-coated dog breeds are uniquely prepared for various habitats and the change of seasons. If you've just adopted a double-coated pup, you, in turn, need to be ready for the onslaught of fluff coming your way. Brushing like Marcia Brady can aid the two- to four-week coat-blowing situation, but you need to know a few other tips.
Double-coated dogs have two kinds of fur—a short, woolly, insulating underlayer and a long, coarse outer layer that's water resistant, less dense, and is more commonly referred to as hair. These unique double coats protect canines from injury and would-be predators and help them adapt to seasonal weather changes, including rain, wind, and intense sunshine. Single-coated dogs have just the thick top coat with strands called guard hairs.
'Blowing coat' can be startling for new dog owners. It refers to a phenomenon where double-coated dogs shed fur heavily and more than usual to accommodate the weather and make room for new strands. It's not a red flag, so don't stress if you see tufts of dog fur detaching from your pooch and decorating your home. A change in daylight prompts hormonal changes, which lead to shedding. Winter coats are thicker than the summer variety so expect more dramatic shedding in spring than in fall.
Wolves are dogs' ancestors and have double coats, so dogs that retained these coats have something in common with their wild relatives. Many working dogs, such as herding breeds, have double coats, as do terriers. Retrieving breeds such as Labradors have them too. Bichons and Shih Tzus have less of an undercoat, so they don't shed as much. Other double-coated breeds include but are not limited to:
Going to a professional groomer with fancy dryers and tools every month is time-saving but costly. DIY maintenance involves brushing once or twice daily during shedding season, giving you a chance to bond with your dog. Brushing helps the shedding process along without prematurely removing hair and allows you to control where the hair goes. In addition, unbrushed hair can be painful and attract fleas and ticks. A spray detangler makes quick work of combing long-haired breeds and prevents split ends. Go outside if possible and use treats to make grooming fun for your fur baby.
Brushing loosens mats and keeps coats healthy-looking, but it's possible to do too much of a good thing and cause skin irritation. Popular brushes like the FURminator can scratch, so go easy or find a gentler grooming tool for daily use. Forced air dryers are gentle and effectively blow away blown coats. Some brushes on the market work better on short-haired dogs, and hair rakes work well on double-coated dogs.
Double-coated dogs benefit from more frequent baths during coat-blowing seasons. Your dog's shampoo should thus be mild enough not to strip its natural oils away during regular washes. De-shed while the shampoo is on, rinse, condition, massage, comb, and rinse again. Brush the coat while it's still wet to prevent damage, and use a high-velocity dryer to complete proceedings.
Hair breaks when it's too dry, and the last thing you need during coat blowing season is more hair fragments doing the rounds. Keep your lil' buddy's coat in tip-top condition by hydrating its fur and skin. Apply oil and conditioner where the skin is visibly dry and on the coat itself, and Rapunzel may just be jealous of Fido's smooth, shiny, and luscious locks.
You might be tempted to shave your furry dog. Don't do it. Let nature take its course during coat blowing season and recognize that double coats regulate temperature and serve other purposes. Your dog's coat isn't stifling, and the skin can still breathe if you regularly bathe and brush your four-legged friend.
Supplement your dog's diet with Omega-3 fatty acids, including DHA. Daily fish oil capsules or a tablespoon of olive oil in a meal will nourish your dog's skin and coat from within, and you'll notice less hair breakage. Omega-3 fatty acids improve joint health, which is good news for your dog's mobility.
Copious amounts of dog fur can block heating ducts and air vents, so you'll have to make a point to clean them annually. Purchase a lint roller to gather the hair for disposal. Vacuum for good measure, and shampoo carpets seasonally. An air purifier will improve your air quality and stop strands from getting into your lungs, so pop one in your bedroom for optimal sleep. You may want to put your black clothing in the back of your closet for a month to stay looking neat. Finally, check whether local organizations collect the fur to soak up oil spills in the urban and natural environment and donate your stash.
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