Did you know that dogs have different types of coats? Some dog breeds, such as Siberian Huskies and Golden Retrievers, are double-coated. The undercoat consists of very short, dense hairs whereas the hairs in the topcoat are much longer. Additionally, most of the color variation in a dog's coat comes from the topcoat hairs—the undercoat typically only consists of a single color.
If you're a dog owner, it's important to know whether or not your dog is double-coated. Double-coated dogs require special grooming techniques in order to maintain their coats. You can tell whether or not your dog is double-coated by looking for the short, dense undercoat below the longer topcoat. If your dog is double-coated, read on for three things you need to know about his or her special dog grooming needs.
1. You'll Need To Buy an Undercoat Rake
When you own a double-coated dog, the most important dog grooming tool you can own is an undercoat rake. An undercoat rake has stainless steel tines that rotate, which allows it to break up mats in your dog's dense undercoat. Be gentle when you're brushing your dog with the undercoat rake, as the stainless steel tines can pinch his or her skin. Frequent brushing (at least once a week) will stop mats from forming in the undercoat.
After you brush your dog with an undercoat rake, you can then use a slicker brush on the topcoat to increase its shine. This helps to spread natural oils around your dog's topcoat, giving it a healthy, vibrant appearance.
2. You Can Expect Rapid Shedding Once a Year
Single-coated dogs tend to shed hair year-round, whereas double-coated dogs shed hair according to the season. Towards the end of spring, double-coated breeds will begin to shed their undercoat all at once. This is a phenomenon that's usually referred to as "coat blow." For some owners, this massive shedding can be alarming—a significant amount of a dog's undercoat will fall off in clumps. However, this process is entirely normal.
If you have a double-coated dog breed, you can help your dog along with this process by brushing him or her frequently with your undercoat rake. This helps to break apart the undercoat and pull it away from your dog's skin, encouraging it to shed. If you don't brush your dog with an undercoat rake during this time, it's possible that some of the clumps of undercoat hair will become tangled in the topcoat and form mats—brushing your dog frequently will help stop this from happening.
3. You Shouldn't Shave a Double-Coated Dog
Most double-coated dog breeds originated in cold areas of the world since the undercoat helps insulate them in freezing weather. As a result, some owners think about shaving their double-coated dogs in the summer to stop them from being too hot.
However, this is a mistake—the double coat protects a dog from both extreme cold and extreme heat. The topcoat blocks heat from the sun, which helps to keep them cool while they're outside in the summer. Shaving a double-coated dog is counterproductive, as it makes them more likely to suffer from heat exhaustion when they're outside.
Additionally, the topcoat grows much slower than the undercoat. In some cases, the topcoat may not return at all once you have shaved it off. You should only shave a double-coated dog before if his or her coat is so matted and tangled that there's no other solution. Since this can cause permanent changes in your dog's coat, it's important to keep mats from appearing in the first place with regular grooming.
If you don't have enough time to groom your dog yourself, take your dog to a professional dog grooming service that has experience working with double-coated dogs. Regular grooming and bathing help to keeps your dog's coat in great condition, reducing the chance of mats and tangles forming in the undercoat.