Let’s Talk About Coats and Care!

June 29, 2021

Now that we have outlined the importance of the grooming process and the key health and wellness components, it is time to dive a bit deeper into dog coats and proper coat care! Coat care refers to brushing, bathing, stripping, trimming, and any other skin maintenance your dog needs. Dogs come in all mess and manner of hair, length, and curl combinations, with each coat type requiring different care and maintenance routines.

Dog Coat Identification

The first step in coat care is to understand the type of fur or hair your dog has. In the following sections, we help you identify the type of coat your dog has and what kind of grooming maintenance it requires. There are three general types of dog hair: straight, curly, and wiry. Each can come in varying lengths. Some dogs have single coats; others have an insulating undercoat creating a double coat. All these variables can be mixed and matched, making it a little harder to follow. To assist you, we’ve created a few categories for grooming below. 

Short-haired Care and Breeds 

Short-haired dogs generally have the easiest coat to care for. That is especially true for short-haired breeds without an undercoat such as greyhounds, Doberman pinschers, and Weimaraners. These breeds have smooth, short hair close to the skin. They hardly shed (undercoats cause most shedding) and can go longer between washes. A simple wipe down can restore your dog’s shiny coat after a day at the park. Occasional brushing with a rubber brush will maximize blood circulation keeping the fur shiny and strong, not to mention it is an excellent massage for the dog. While you can and should do this at home, calling in the professionals for a spaw day will certainly leave a lasting shine on your dog and improve your pup’s overall health and wellness.

Many dog breeds fall into the short-haired category such as:

  • Australian Cattle Dog
  • Basenji
  • Basset Hound
  • Beagle
  • Beauceron
  • Belgian Malinois
  • Bloodhound
  • Boston Terrier
  • Boxer
  • Bulldog
  • Bullmastiff
  • Bull terrier
  • Chihuahua
  • Dachshund (smooth)
  • Dalmatian
  • Foxhound
  • French Bulldog
  • Great Dane
  • Labrador
  • Manchester Terrier
  • Mastiff
  • Pharaoh Hound
  • Pointer
  • Pug
  • Rhodesian ridgeback
  • Rottweiler
  • Shar Pei
  • Vizsla
  • Whippet

Many mutts also fall into this category. These dogs have hair that lays against the skin but feels thicker with more cushion thanks to the undercoat. They constantly shed, but regular brushing with a slicker brush will strengthen their follicles and reduce the shed. Even with a double coat, short-haired dogs don’t have problems with matted hair.

Undercoats act as the dog’s insulation, so single-coated dogs are much more susceptible to extreme temperatures. A warm jacket is a must in the winter and plenty of water when it’s hot out. While undercoats are great for temperature regulation, they have a propensity to trap dirt and stink. Research your fur baby to determine the best coat care program for them. When in doubt -- call or text Barkbus and they will help! 

Straight and Medium Hair Care and Breeds

Dogs with medium-length, straight hair are stunning with a well-cared-for coat. Their longer hair requires more frequent brushing, but thankfully, their hair rarely matts. There are times when hair traps burrs or other debris that can lead to matting, but regular brushing will alert you to them before they become a problem.

Most of the shedding in these breeds comes from the undercoat. An undercoat rake can be used during the brushing process to reduce shedding. That said, be careful when using an undercoat rake as it can harm healthy hair if not used properly. 

Some breeds in this profile can benefit from a bit of hair trimming, e.g., trimming a golden retriever’s tail for aesthetic and cleanliness reasons. Some dogs will enjoy a once-over with thinning scissors to get more airflow underneath the outer coat in the summer months.

Many dog breeds fall into the this category such as:

  • Australian Shepherd
  • Bernese Mountain Dog
  • Border Collie
  • Chihuahua (long-haired)
  • Retrievers
  • Saluki
  • Setters
  • Sheepdogs
  • Spaniels

Straight, Dense and Thick Hair Care and Breeds

Many dogs that fall into this coat category were bred from ancestors that needed to survive extreme northern latitudes. They have thick coats with a dense undercoat to insulate them against the cold. Living in more temperate climates causes them to constantly shed and molt their undercoats. You’ll have hair everywhere without near-daily brushing. These dogs were bred to work in harsh conditions so activity levels are high. It is important to check their coats for dirt and grime that accumulates on their outer coat and bathe when necessary.

Some of the most popular dog breeds that have straight, dense and thick hair include:

  • Akita
  • Alaskan Malamute
  • Anatolian Shepherd
  • Canaan
  • Chow Chow
  • Collie (rough)
  • Estrella Mountain Dog
  • Finnish Spitz
  • German Shepherds
  • German Spitz
  • Great Pyrenees
  • Greenland Dog
  • Hovawart
  • Japanese Spitz
  • Keeshond
  • Kuvasz
  • Leonberger
  • Maremma Sheepdog
  • Newfoundland
  • Norwegian Buhund
  • Norwegian Elkhound
  • Norwegian Lundehund
  • Samoyed
  • Schipperke
  • Shiba Inu
  • Siberian husky
  • St. Bernard
  • Swedish Lapphund
  • Tibetan Mastiff

Straight and Poofy Hair with an Undercoat Care and Breeds

These dogs are similar to the thick-coated dogs above but require more maintenance due to the poofy nature of their outer coats. Without proper coat care and routine brushing, these breeds can quickly develop matted hair. Brushing out matted hair is painful and time consuming but can be avoided with regular brushing. Pekingese and Pomeranians are also commonly trimmed to a desired look -- who doesn’t love the famous Pom lion cut! Be careful, though; too much clipping can alter hair-growth patterns on these breeds.

Some of the most popular dog breeds that have straight and poofy hair include:

  • Bearded Collie
  • Briard
  • Havanese
  • Japanese Chin
  • Lhasa Apso
  • Pekingese
  • Polish Lowland Sheepdog
  • Pomeranian
  • Old English Sheepdogs
  • Shih Tzu
  • Skye Terrier
  • Tibetan Terrier 

Straight and Long Hair Without an Undercoat Care and Breeds

These dogs have beautiful, long coats draping their bodies. A brushed-out long-haired dog is simply stunning. Long-haired dogs without an undercoat require slightly less brushing than their undercoat-having cousins. However, they should still be brushed very frequently. Routine grooming sessions are key to staying fit and healthy for these pups.

  • Afghan Hound
  • Chinese Crested Dog
  • Coton de Tulear
  • Maltese
  • Yorkshire terriers

Curly-haired Care and Breeds

Curly-haired dogs are lower maintenance compared to their long-haired friends as they rarely have undercoats. Like Bichon Frise and Bolognese, the smaller breeds need frequent brushing, while the larger species can go a bit longer between them. Some, like the curly-coated retriever, are rarely brushed and when they do, it’s generally only done by professionals. Make sure you understand the brushing requirements for your specific breed as they do vary quite a bit amongst curly-haired dogs. These breeds do need routine grooming -- baths, brushouts and haircuts. There are several styles and techniques to choose from—research what works best for your specific breed.

Curly-haired dogs also tend to have complicated tear ducts. In many breeds, the tear ducts constantly leak, leading to color-changing bacterial growth under the eyes. Be sure to wipe this area to keep the dog’s face clean.

Curly-haired dogs include:

  • Bichon Frise
  • Bolognese
  • Curly-coated Retriever
  • Irish Water Spaniel
  • Lagotto Romagnolo
  • Portuguese Water Dog
  • Poodles
  • Soft-coated Wheaten Terrier
  • Spanish Water Dog

 Corded Hair Care and Breeds

These specialty breeds are covered in the dog version of dreadlocks. If you are giving one of these dogs its forever home, you surely don’t need us to tell you what kind of care they need!

Corded dogs are rare and require special care. They include:

  • Bergamasco
  • Corded Poodle
  • Puli
  • Longhaired Spanish Water Dog

Wiry Hair Care and Breeds

Wiry hair dogs will sometimes need to be stripped of stringy hair before it gets too rough and matts against the coat. There are several ways to strip a wiry coat—by hand or with a stripping tool, though some opt for scissoring or clipping instead. There is a tradeoff here—clipping will make the coat softer but duller and requiring more frequent grooming. Brushing daily or near-daily will help these dogs tremendously and reduce the number of times they need to be stripped of their wiry hair. Still, expect to strip them every two to six months, depending on the breed and individual genetics.

Many terriers have a double coat, with the outer one having a rough, wiry texture. These dogs are unique in that they can be hand stripped. They include:

  • Airdale Terrier
  • Border Terrier
  • Brussels Griffon
  • Cairn Terrier
  • Dandie Dinmont Terrier
  • Fox Terrier
  • Irish Terrier
  • Lakeland Terrier
  • Norfolk Terrier
  • Norwich Terrier
  • Parson Russel Terrier
  • Schnauzer (miniature, standard, giant)
  • Scottish Terrier
  • Sealyham Terrier
  • Welsh Terrier

Brushing Your Dog’s Hair Is Important! 

Now that we have talked at length about coat types, care and breeds, it’s time to slide into brushing! Brushing is perhaps the most meaningful grooming activity you can do with your dog. The bond created by brushing has deep, primal roots that activate the positive emotions and fulfillment of being a pet parent. Grooming a coat shows leadership and respect—think about a mother cleaning and licking her newborns or wolves licking and nibbling other members of the pack. Brushing your dog simulates this mammalian impulse and grows the bond between you and your beloved pup.

Many dog trainers recommend brushing your furry best friend on a regular basis to reinforce the bond and help with behavior changes. Grooming your dog reinforces that you are the leader of the pack. This mindset makes your pup a better listener which makes training much easier. For an intro to brushing reference guide, see below:

  • Short coat -- Brush a minimum of 2-3 times per week with a rubber curry and short slicker brush. 
  • Medium coat -- Brush a minimum of 2-3 times per week with a medium slicker brush and a greyhound comb
  • Long coat -- Brush a minimum of 3-4 times per week with a medium or long slicker brush and a greyhound comb
  • Double coat -- Brush a minimum of 3-4 times per week with a medium slicker brush, a greyhound comb, and an undercoat rake.
  • Undercoat rakes, if not used properly, can irritate the skin so we suggest only using one for about 20 minutes at a time in small sections once per week. 

Keeping a clean coat is highly valuable—wolves and other mammals invest time and energy into maintaining their coats (and others they care about) because it helps them survive in the wild. Brushing your dog has similar health benefits. It supports blood circulation to the skin, distributes oils, and prevents matted hair. Brushing reduces the chances of your dog being affected by parasites like fleas and ticks, as bushed hair is harder for these bloodsuckers to grasp. Regular brushing also allows you to catch parasite problems before they are fully established. 

The most important takeaway here is to tailor the care to your specific pup’s needs, always brush your dog’s hair and set-up routine grooming!!


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