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How to Care for a Dog with a Double Coat

There are many breeds of dogs with double coats, so it is important to know how to groom and care for it, and not ruin it by shaving it.


What does it mean when a dog has a double coat?

Some dogs have what is referred to as a double coat. These dogs have two layers of fur that protect them from the elements. Each layer serves its own specific function.  The undercoat is the layer of soft downy fur that is close to the dog’s skin. It is also referred to as the secondary hair. The hair in an undercoat is fluffy and grows close together.

The undercoat keeps the dog warm during the cold winter months. If you push your dog’s hair against the direction of hair growth and see a soft short layer of fur beneath the upper layer of fur your dog has a double coat.  The top layer of fur on a double-coated dog is called the guard hair, outer coat, or primary coat. This fur is coarse, even wiry, and doesn’t grow as closely together.  It protects your dog’s skin and undercoat from getting wet. It also protects it from dirt.

Which Dog Breeds have a double coat?

A lot of dog breeds have double coats. Herding dogs with double coats include both the Australian Shepherd and Cattle Dog, Border Collie, German Shepherd, and the Shetland Sheepdog. Spitz-type dogs with double coats include the  Japanese Spitz, Alaskan and Siberian Huskies, Alaskan Malamute, Samoyed, American Eskimo, Chow Chow, and Shiba Inu. Some sporting dogs with this type of coat are the Labrador Retriever, Chesapeake Bay Retriever, American Water Spaniel, and the Golden Retriever. Terriers like the Australian Terrier, Rat Terrier, Wheaten Terrier, and West Highland White Terrier have double coats. Among the smaller toy dog breeds the Pomeranian, Shih Tzu, Havanese, and Yorkshire Terrier have double coats.

Can you shave a dog with a double coat?

No.  Don’t shave a double-coated dog. Their coats are there for a reason. They help keep them warm in the winter and cool in the summer. A well-groomed dog will be able to regulate his own body temperature effectively. If you shave your dog you put them at risk of developing skin issues and getting heat stroke.

How to Care for a Dog with a Double Coat?

The best way to care for a dog with an undercoat is to take them to the groomer on a regular basis. The groomer can more thoroughly remove shed hair from your dog to make sure your dog’s double coat is shiny, soft, and healthy.  Double coats require regular grooming to keep your dog’s fur from getting matted and to lessen shedding.  If your dog has long fur start by using a comb to gently detangle the hair. Then brush the dog to remove the dead hair in the undercoat. You should pay more attention to the collar area and back end of the dog where the undercoat is thickest.


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