Double Coated Dogs 101: Brushing, Maintenance and Comfort

Double Coated Dogs 101: Brushing, Maintenance and Comfort

Have you ever noticed that some dogs have really thick coats? If you were to look at a Daschund’s coat and compare it to an Akita or Siberian Husky, you’ll notice that the latter two dogs have very thick coats.

In fact, double coated dogs have thicker coats than most dog breeds.

And there’s a very good reason why these dogs have a double coat and why people spend a great deal of time searching for the best dog brush for double coats: heat.

See, dogs with thick coats are often bred to be out in the wild in some of the coldest regions of the world. Owners often want to cut or comb this hair out of their dogs when they’re inside dogs because with a heater on and a dog having such thick fur, they’ll often be seen panting because they’re overheating.

Wait. What is a Double Coat Anyway?

A double coated dog does have two coats. You may not realize it at first glance, but these breeds (we’ll discuss these soon) have an:

  1. Undercoat. The undercoat of the dog consists of short hairs that are thick and are almost wool-like in texture.
  2. Topcoat. A topcoat is a bunch of longer hairs that are called guard hairs.

And while you would think that the topcoat is what provides the extra warmth to the dog, this is wrong. Instead, the topcoat is what will keep out:

  • Dirt
  • Debris
  • Moisture

In essence, the guard hairs will guard the dog from the elements and also offer some protection from bugs and insects.

The undercoat, while the hairs are much shorter, is what will provide the dog with warmth during the harsh winter months. Dogs that have a double coat are protected from extreme temperatures. This is why you see a husky running with sleds in the middle of Alaska, while short haired dogs stay inside near the fire.

The good news is that you don’t have to be an expert in dogs to be able to tell which dogs have a double coat.

You can, for the most part, look at a dog and tell if he or she has a single or double coat. A few of the many breeds that have a double coat are:

  • Akita
  • Husky (Alaskan and Siberian)
  • Chow Chow
  • Shiba Inu
  • Newfoundland
  • Golden Retriever
  • Labrador Retriever
  • Parson Russel Terrier
  • Shih Tzu
  • Yorkshire Terrier
  • Pomeranian

Of course, there are other breeds featuring the double coat, too, including Sheepdogs, Great Pyrenes and the Bernese mountain dog to name a few.

If you have any experience with any of the dogs on this list, you know that they have much thicker coats and are often the dogs that shed the most. These coats are a major asset to the dog in harsh weather, but if you keep your dog inside or live somewhere with even a temperate climate, your dog may be uncomfortable.

How to Properly Groom and Maintain a Double Coat

A double coat will lead to a lot of shedding and discomfort, so you want to do everything you can to maintain your dog’s coat and groom your pup properly. The easy method is to hire a groomer that will trim your dog a few times a year with a major focus on grooming when the weather gets warmer.

Grooming near or during the winter is not required if you live in a colder climate.

In fact, your dog will likely love the colder climate and will want to go outside. You see, these dogs have been given their coats to deal with the snow and cold, so they have a blast being out at this time of year so long as you don’t shave them.

But at other times of the year, you’ll want to maintain their coats often, and this may be done a few times a week or once every week or two for best results.

A few tips on maintaining a double coat are:

  1. Purchase the best dog brush for a double coat. These brushes are designed to get deep into the double coat and provide maximum comfort for the dog.
  2. Remove tangles and mats by brushing your dog 2 – 3 times weekly. I try to remain consistent with my brushing schedule and keep treats nearby to let my pup know that he is doing a superb job by sitting there and looking pretty.
  3. Slicker brushes can and should be used in areas where the dog’s fur is very thick.
  4. Rakes, used for undercoats, can remove loose undercoat hair to keep your dog cooler.
  5. Wire pin brushes can be utilized to remove hair from the topcoat. This will remove any loose or dead hair that is keeping your dog much hotter than it should be.

If you follow these five steps, you’ll be on the path to having a double coated dog that has a much nicer time in the warm weather.

But your job as a dog parent doesn’t stop here. There is still a lot of work to do if you want to keep your dog nice and cool.

A wide-tooth comb can be used if your dog has mats and tangles that are hard to get rid of with the other brushes.

Bristle brushes are a great option if you want to make your dog’s coat a little more visually appealing. These coats will add to the fur’s shine and will be a great option to do last after you’ve followed all of the recommendations above.

In the event that you can’t get rid of the matted hair or tangles, you’ll need to take drastic measures. I recommend pinching the hair together with your finger and using a sharp pair of scissors to cut the hair. You need to be very gentle in your approach, and you want to make sure that the scissors never touch the dog’s skin.

Matted hair that is especially thick should be cut in small increments to ensure that you don’t cut the dog in the process. I often try to cut the matted hair and then run a brush through it to see if I can properly remove the matted hair before proceeding any further.

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