INFORMATION for Clients on how to manage their dog's coat
Double Coated dogs
What is a Double Coat?
A type of coat that consists of two layers, double coated dogs have a dense undercoat of short hairs (woolly in texture) under a top coat of longer hairs called guard hairs. When a dog appears to be fluffier, it means he has a denser undercoat. This means you’ll be up in for the long haul when it comes to grooming unless a regular "deshed" is performed. The dense undercoat is designed to protect a dog from both hot and cold temperatures, and the top coat helps to repel moisture and dirt. If the undercoat is unregulated without a deshed it is susceptible to matting and thickening. If this occurs often the dog loses some of its ability to regulate its temperature. This is also why Double coated breeds should NEVER be shaved as the protective layer is removed and the dog can become easily too hot or cols and even become sunburned.
Why some poodle cross breeds have a double coat and a curly top coat
A poodle has a coat with long strands of hair which curl and provide a protective layer. There is no undercoat and so this curled fur goes all the way to the skin. Any double coated breed which has been crossed with this is susceptible to have the curls in the top coat and the thick wooly undercoat that would not occur in the poodle. Herein lies the often unknown problem of why Groodles, Cavoodles, and other Oodles so often have terrible matting issues from about 12 months of age. The owners brush the coats but due to the coat's structure of thick, curly topcoat, never really impact the thick undercoat. This undercoat builds up and matting begins. Often the matting is extensive by the time the owner becomes aware of the bumps under the surface of the top coat. The two types of matting occurring are either 1) a thick wedge of course undercoat next to the skin which is unable to be naturally shed and which attracts sand, soil and other debris. This matted coat when wet never really dries out and so the cycle of collecting more debris continues and the matt thickens and covers a wider and wider area. 2) The undercoat spirals around the poodle type hair and as it winds around it the strand gets tangled, knotted and begins to clump together in a lump but is not necessarily next to the skin.
When a litter is born from parents where one has a double coat and the other has a poddle type coat then members of that litter may all vary in the degree to which they get their adult coat reflercts that of either parent. New puppy owners just never know how easy or difficult their dog's coat will be to manage later in life. Often the first hint of a problem comes from noticing a few lumps in the coat deep down after about a year. They become alarmed, try to brush it out and don't k now what to do when it appears untouched by their attention. They often turn to a groomer for advice.
Many groomers deal with this matting by shaving off this problematic matted coat. However, unless care is taken to not shave through the matts, the experience can not only be very painful for the dog as the clipper blades literally drag through the mats pulling the fur and causes pain. Furthermore, many dogs are at risk of being cut because to get under a mat which is tight to the skin over a wide area involves a groomer having to be certain folds of skin are not between the blades as they cut. Either way the direct shaving of a matted dog often causes long term anxiety for any dog who has been subjected to the "quick" way of dealing with the issue.
Arctic Breeds and other breeds with thick undercoat
Arctic breeds have two coats - the top layer and undercoat. Their coats are thicker than most of the other dog breeds. The top layer is their protective layer against UV rays, debris, excessive moisture, and dirt. It sheds gradually year-round. The undercoat acts as their temperature and insulator so when it’s winter it will warm them and when it’s summer it will cool them. Usually a husky will shed its undercoat twice a year.
Blowing your Siberians coats at least once a week with a high velocity dryer or brushing with a wide-toothed brush or bristle brush can help break up mats, smoothens, and loosens any stray hairs. You may begin by brushing the undercoat away from the skin to remove loose hairs and then follow the direction of the top layer for a shinier and smoother result of hair.
In terms of regular grooming, Arctic breeds have many misconceptions. The first is that often clients believe their coats do not need much attention. It is true that many dislike water and do not necessarily require bathing often but their thick coat does need management the same as any dog. Due to the thickness of the coat it can get easily matted, especially in wet weather when it may soak up water and retain the moisture in the undercoat, causing problems such as hot spots and matting. Matted and tangled sections hold water, debris and sand/soil and if are not dried completely they will become a hub for bacterial growth.
The added issue in our warm and temperate climate is that Arctic breeds do not have the cold weather and the usual seasonal changes which dictate when they blow their coat. In Australia, we see much more frequent natural deshedding and larger volumes of undercoat are blown over time. The issue with this more continual pattern is that if sand, debris or soil is lodged in the undercoat it cannot naturally blow and more easily remains. The coat then becomes more easily knotted, further attracting more the moisture and debris. This accelerates the pattern of matting and the dog is less easily able to regulate its body temperature.
At our grooming salon we help remove excess undercoat painlessly and without damaging the properties of the fur. We operate a one to one grooming salon and the health and welfare of each dog is our priority. We use a system of Deshedding which uses minimal contact and we allow products, water deshedding and air blowing to do the hard work. It means that our Arctic clients do not have the built up of undercoat and they are far less likely to encounter coat problems. We tailor a scheduled groom on an individual basis to enable Arctric breeds to cope with our climate and the effects that these conditions may have on their coat.
How Can We Help??
We will never hurt your dog. We take the slower approach to managing coat issues and will be honest with you about how most effectively, painlessly and with the least amount of stress we can help sort out problem coats.
We try our hardest to help educate clients about how best to mange the difficult coat of their dog long term. We always want our clients to be happy and involved in discussions but we will be honest about the amount of effort which may be required by a client if they choose their dog to maintain a length of style of coat which makes it prone to matting. If owners are happy and content to care for their dogs coat adequately then we are always happy to support them in this.
However, please do not expect a dog whose coat is prone to matting to go between grooms without the intervention of the client.
Most dogs whose coat is hard to manage require a professional groom 6-8 weekly and daily care at home.
It is our pleasure though to help clients achieve what they are hoping for and for their dog to be happy with the coat and style it receives.
We love all dogs and take enormous pleasure from grooming them. We take anxious, often frightened dogs and give them back their trust in groomers. We rejoice in this process and give such love and affection in return for the trust your dog places with us. We want your dog to love us so that you see that they want to come back. We are in this for the long term and hope you want to return time after time.