Whilst all dogs need some form of grooming, the type of coat that they have will largely dictate what kind of grooming they will require. Here we are going to discuss the functions or your dogs coat and how to keep them in full coat if that is what you wish. We will also look at removing mats which can be an ongoing struggle for owners wishing to keep their dogs with full coats. Then there is also clipping and hand stripping. Keep on reading, you will be wise in no time!
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The Functions of your dog’s undercoat
A dog’s undercoat works like insulation in a well-insulated house: In the summer your house will be cool and not overheat and in the winter it will hold its heat and not be freezing inside.
A well kept, brushed out dog with undercoat benefits from the same functions. In the hot summer months their undercoat will keep them from overheating. One of the biggest mistakes that owners can make is running off to the groomers when there is a hot spell and getting the dogs shaved down to the skin. This can be very bad for them because now their skins are exposed to the sharp sun. In winter again, their undercoat will keep them nice and warm
Undercoat also acts as a water resistant material to the point that some breeds are very hard to even bathe. Note that all this being said, the whole insulation and water resistant thing is useless when your dog’s coat is matted! They are far better off then with no coat than matted hair.
Keeping your dog in Full Coat
Full coat means to keep your dog in its natural state and not remove, clip or cut any of its hair at all, or as little as possible. It is a lot harder to keep and lots more work to keep a dog in its full coat compared to have it trimmed or clipped down.
Some breeds are to be kept in full coat at all cost and should only be trimmed or clipped in severe circumstances as this may change the texture of the hair and may take years to repair the damage.
Dogs that in my opinion that should NEVER be clipped down are:
- Samoyed Huskies/Alaskan Malamute/Akitas
- Any double coated dog with coarse guard hair unless you do not care what way the hair re-grows.
- Any show dog that is kept in hand strip condition. Note that neutering this type of dog may render hand stripping impossible because of hormonal changes.
When grooming your full coat, the method of grooming should be:
Pre-bathing preparations, brushing out mats, Wash, blast, brush out again and de-shed. Long silky coats should be precision dried to prevent creating mats and help the coat dry straight. Make sure your dog is thoroughly dry to prevent possible complications from wet coats.
Grooming short coats is fairly uncomplicated. The main problem with short coats is shedding because there are no curls for the loose hair to mat into. Use a furminator sparingly. Daily slicker brushing is recommended and if you have a blaster it is of great use to get rid of a large amount of loose hair
Hand Stripping is the technique where you are giving your dog a “hair cut” by removing the whole hair out of its follicle rather than just clipping it down to a certain length.
The reason for hand stripping is that when the hair grows back, it grows back as coarse as the original hair. The principle of hand stripping is that by cutting the hair with a clipper, you are “damaging” the hair and when it grows back, it grows back softer each time. Hand stripping is like waxing: it removes the hair out of the follicle and when it grows back, it grows back undamaged.
When done at the right time and with the right technique, this will not hurt your dog at all.
Because you open the skin with stripping, the same way as when we humans wax, bathing straight after is not recommended. Wait a day or two before bathing after you have hand stripped. This is only recommended for owners who want to show their dogs and when the coarseness of the coats gets judged. If you are going to keep your dog only as a house pet, don’t put them through the hours of grooming it takes. It will also cost you a lot if you have to pay a professional groomer to do that as it is very time consuming and thus costly.
This is a technology of modern days to help us manage our pet’s hygiene better and to bring a bit of class with super nice hair styles.
When you shave your dog, you change the way the hair grows back as you are cutting the guard hair or top coat down to the undercoat.
The hair will grow back softer and might even grow back a different colour and a lot more fuzzy. Read more in our article on shave or brush.
Normally this is no problem for anyone with pets. Show dogs however should take special care. There is any number of pet clippers available on the market. Make sure to try and buy as good as you can afford, the saying you get what you pay for, is here very true.
Removing mats can be a big nightmare, especially when it comes to areas under the arms, on the belly or inside of the back legs.
The technique is not to try and remove the whole mat as one piece, but to break it up into smaller manageable pieces and then removing them one by one.
- Start off with your slicker brush to give the coat a once-over.
- Next, use a matt splitter or matt breaker to break up the mats that the slicker brush can’t break
- Pull slightly at the bigger pieces by hand, put your slicker brush through it again
- Use your comb next, starting on the side with the widest gaps
- Once the wide gaps go through the coat effortlessly, move over to the narrow end of your comb
- At any stage, if your tool gets stuck, move one step back
- Finish off with your slicker brush. If you do not already have a proper soft slicker brush, we recommend you read our article in the product review section on soft slicker brushes.