When you first set eyes on your fluffy puppy or poofy rescue dog, chances are it was love at first sight. The dog’s grooming needs probably didn’t factor much into your decision to welcome your new pal into your family. But, all dogs need regular grooming, especially double-coated breeds – often described as “fluffy,” “floofy” or “poofy.” They need special attention due to their magnificent and unique coats that without regular maintenance can become matted and tangled or contribute to excessive shedding and potentially other health problems.
What are Double-Coated Dogs?
Double-coated dogs have two separate coats, typically an undercoat that is soft and short and closer to the skin and an outer coat that is denser and longer. These coats serve two distinct purposes. According to the American Kennel Club, the undercoat acts as an insulator and body temperature regulator during cold or hot weather. Double-coated dogs generally shed or “blow” the undercoat in the spring and fall. The outer layer does not shed as much and provides the dog with her unique coloring and the breed’s characteristics. The outer layer of the dog’s coat also acts as a water and dirt repellent.
Although it may seem tempting in hot weather to shave your fluffy dog, it is NOT recommended that double-coated dogs be shaved at all. This can actually have a reverse effect. They may have a harder time cooling off and the exposed skin is susceptible to bug bites, hot spots, excessive licking, sunburn and many other annoying or potentially serious problems like skin cancer or alopecia and spotty re-growth.
Which Breeds are Double-Coated Dogs?
Some dogs may not appear to have a double coat, but in fact they do and are represented in every category from herders and hunters to sporting and working dogs. Here’s a list of the most common double-coated breeds:
Cavalier King Charles
German and Australian Shepherd
German or Japanese Spitz or American Eskimo
Golden and Labrador Retriever
Old English Sheepdog
Shiba Inu or Akita Inu
Shih-Tzu and Havanese
Siberian or Alaskan Huskie
Terrier including Yorkshire, Scottish, Cairn or Parson Russell
The Shetland Sheepdog, Collie, Border Collie and Australian Kelpie
Grooming Your Double-Coated Dog – Tips and Tools
When grooming a double-coated dog you’ll need the right tools and bathing products to reduce shedding and penetrate the undercoat to the dog’s skin. There are many products on the market, so you may need to ask for some brand recommendations from your dog groomer or veterinarian.
Grooming Susie the Golden Chow
Kate Dow of Rosie’s Place Pet Grooming in Aiken, South Carolina, suggests investing in a slicker brush and a metal comb.
“I tend to tell clients the slicker brush and comb, is all you really need and there’s a technique to using them. They come in a lot of different variations, some are flexible and some are rigid,” said Dow, as she demonstrated grooming “Susie,” a Golden Chow.
“Susie has a double coat, which sheds a lot. She has these primary hairs, these real long ones, which tend to be a little bit more coarse, but not always. And then underneath, she’ll have this kind of powdery coat. As I groomed her, that’s what’s coming out mainly in the brush. There are some that have curved teeth with a little blade underneath. These work well for pulling out the undercoat, but they can be very harsh if used incorrectly, said Dow.
“You can pull too much of the coat out and on some dogs with really long hair, like your Golden Retriever, or your Great Pyrenees. These can actually catch that primary coat. And because it has a blade, it can actually cut that primary coat instead of just pulling it out gently,” Dow said.
As Down mentioned, there are many grooming tools available. Here are a few suggested tools for fluffy dogs that can help make grooming easier on you and your pet:
Metal Shedding Blade
Pet Grooming Gloves
Straight Tooth Comb
Undercoat Rake Comb
Wire Bristle Brush
Bathing Your Double-Coated Dog
Do not ever use human shampoo and bathing products on any dogs. Their skin is more sensitive than humans and has a different acidity and alkalinity level, commonly referred to as pH balance. According to the American Kennel Club, using shampoo designed for humans on dogs interferes with a thin layer of the skin called the acid mantle. This can lead to an increase in parasite, virus and bacterial infections. Their skin can become dry and flaky, causing excessive scratching and a higher instance of bacteria invading.
Kate Dow noted that while bathing Susie the Golden Chow she used another tool that worked really well – a straight tooth comb. “It doesn’t have any blades to it. And this works really well. I used it on Susie to pull out the undercoat while she’s in the bath and it comes out really nice and easy when it’s all wet. Just like when we comb our hair in the shower after we put conditioner on it. It works really well.”
Keep Banixx Handy While Grooming Your Fluffy Dog
Susie the Golden Chow also had hot spots and dry skin. When grooming your double-coated dog at home, it’s important to have first aid products, such as Banixx Pet Care, handy to assist you in the process.
Banixx also makes it easy and inexpensive to make your own pet wipes. Just click here on Pet Wipes and read about making your own pet wipes using Banixx. This is a clinically-proven restorative solution that’s safe to use on your double-coated dog’s skin.
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