From Irish Wolfhounds to Chihuahuas, #dogs vary so much in size and appearance that it is easy to forget they are all one species. So when it comes to grooming, it can be confusing to know if a coat requires clipping or stripping, brushing or combing. In truth, dog coats can be divided into five main types which makes it easier to understand what each dog needs to keep his fur in tip-top condition.
Double Dog Coats
Breeds with double coats include Samoyed, Rough Collie, German Shepherds and Huskies.
A double coat consists of a downy undercoat that insulates the dog against heat loss, and a thinner topcoat. The trick with double coats is to groom both layers, since it is easy to comb outer hairs and forget about the undercoat which then becomes matted.
You will need a slicker type brush and a wide-toothed comb. Take the coat a section at a time, parting the fur down to the root and brushing in the direction of the lie of the hair, to eliminate knots. Once you are satisfied the undercoat is knot free, use the comb to smooth and separate the hairs of the topcoat. To do this properly takes a lot of time and you will need to be prepared to groom the dog every day to keep on top of things.
Smooth Dog Coats
In contrast to the double coat, the smooth coat is perhaps the easiest to look after. Smooth-coated breeds include American Bullies, American Pit Bull Terriers, Boxers, Dalmatians, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, Boston Terriers, Labradors, Chihuahuas and Whippets.
This coat is made up of short hairs of equal length. Whilst a short coat is less prone to knots it can still become choked up and unkempt if shed hair is not removed. Groomed regularly with a rubber mitt and a fine-tooth comb, the coat should reward you by looking shiny and glossy.
Wool Dog Coats
The breed that springs to mind when we think of wool coats is the Poodle, but also includes the Bichon Frise and some Labradoodles.
The wool coat is made up of fine, curly hairs that are not shed and will grow into dreadlocks if not trimmed regularly. In between clips the coat need to be groomed from hair root to tip, with a fine-tooth comb in order to eliminate knots. This can take some time so be prepared to work on one area every day until you cover the whole dog, and then start again.
Many terriers have a wire coat, including breeds such as Border, Welsh, Norfolk, Lakeland and Welsh Terriers, as well as Irish Wolfhounds.
When you stroke a wiry coat it feels course to the touch because of the protective outer coat. Beneath this is a softer, downy undercoat that provides insulation. A wire-coated dog requires stripping twice a year. This is a technique whereby the old outer coat is plucked out to make way for the new growth of top coat. It requires considerable patience both on the part of the dog and the dog-groomer since it needs to be done by hand. The exception to this is some neutered dogs whose coat may change and can become softer, which then lends itself to clipping.
Silky dog coats are represented by Border Collies, Springer Spaniels, Long-haired Dachshunds, Cocker Spaniels and Yorkshire Terriers.
A silky coat is made up of long, soft outer hairs without an undercoat. Regular grooming with a slicker brush and fine-tooth comb will ensure it remains knot free. Matts are more likely to form in places where the fur rubs against itself such as behind ears, in the armpits, around the tail and under the neck.
The Golden Rule
Whatever your dog’s coat type the same golden rules applies. Groom regularly every day to stop knots from forming and keep that coat in tip-top condition.