The Rundown On Double Coats

What is a double coat? What breeds are double coated? How do I care for a double coat?

& the big question....

Should I or shouldn't I shave a double coat?

What is a Double Coat?

The double-coat structure is composed of the top coat and the undercoat, each to its own benefits and use. The top coat is made up of long hairs which are called "guard hairs". The undercoat is made up of short fluffy/wooly hairs.

 

Understanding the top coat

The top coat is important for other purposes! It acts a protectant and prevents dogs from the elements such as water or dirt from getting down to the undercoat. 

Understanding the undercoat

The undercoat keeps the dog protected of sunburn, by not allowing direct sun rays to get to their skin – considering also that dogs have much thinner and fewer skin layers than humans!

What breeds have a Double Coat?

Here are some (but not all) double coated breeds

Alaskan Malamute, Australian Cattle Dog, Australian Kelpie, Border Collie, Collie Rough and Smooth, German Shepherd, Japanese Spitz, Maremma Sheep Dog, Shetland Sheep Dog, Samoyed, Scottish Terrier, West Highland White Terrier, Welsh Corgi, Golden Retriever, Labrador Retriever, Lagotto Romagnolo, Japanese Chin, Chihuahua Long and Short Coat, Griffon Bruxellois, Papillon, Pekingese, Pomeranian, Pug, English Cocker Spaniel, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Flat Coated Retriever, Golden Retriever, Gordon Setter, Irish Setter, Siberian Husky, Miniature Schnauzer, Standard Schnauzer, Giant Schnauzer, Chow Chow, Newfoundland, Keeshond, Cairn Terrier

What is "coat blow"?

Double Coats also go through what is known as coat blow. Coat blow is different from the regular shedding that happens with dogs throughout the year. When a dog blows their coat, it’s basically because they are transitioning their coat to suit the time of year. Due to it blowing in clumps, it can sometime be difficult to remove which is why it is worth visiting a Groomer who knows how to groom this type of coat. There is a big difference between matting and impacted undercoat (where the coat gets stuck and cannot come out on its own)

Should/Shouldn't I shave a double coat? 

This is something I strongly discourage and below I will tell you why.

  • The purpose of the undercoat is to keep them cooler in summer and warm in winter. The top coat with the tougher guard hairs protect dogs from the sun’s rays and insect bites.

  • In summer, dogs will shed the soft undercoat, just leaving behind the guard hairs. Without the undercoat, the air cannot circulate beneath the outer hair and cannot keep the skin cool.

  • Single coated breeds have hair that just keeps growing, double coated breeds only grow their fur to a certain length. Shaving a double-coated breed can ruin the coat and can cause the hair to grow back in patches or not at all.

  • If you do shave your double coated dog, the new hair will grow back but the undercoat will grow first and thus growing back "thicker". The guard hairs are slower to grow (can take years in some cases or not at all!). The texture of the new coat coming through tends to be sticky and all manner of grass seeds, twigs and plants will stick to the dog’s coat

  • The texture of the soft undercoat will absorb the sun’s rays, making your dog hotter in summer.

  • Shaving a double coated dog does not reduce shedding

How do I care for a double coat?

The best way to keep your dog cool in summer is to ensure that your dog is groomed regularly and has a de-shedded to remove all of the dead hair and to ensure that the top coat can work as it is intended, as an insulator.

Brushing at home is important to make sure the coat stays knot free but unfortunately just brushing alone does not get out all the undercoat. Brushing in conjunction with regular grooming will help to remove all that dead undercoat and keep your dogs coat in optimum condition. 

Here in my salon we use a 5 step process INCLUDED in our Full Grooms, to ensure that all dead coat is thoroughly removed and your dog leaves our salon look and feeling their best!

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