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Double coated breeds

Double coated breedsIt would be safe to say that the majority of dogs have some kind of undercoat beneath the guard hairs of their coats. Whether that layer of undercoat is fine and downy or thick and plush, those dogs are said to be "double-coated". Dogs from "single-coated" breeds typically have the durable guard hairs that are intended to protect the dog's skin from soil, but they lack the insulating undercoats that characterize the double-coated breeds.

Most of the herding and working breeds, as well as many of the sporting dogs have double coats. Such coats developed because of the purposes for which they were bred. Most double-coated dogs were intended to remain outside and work no matter what the weather. They were sheep and goat herders that endured rain and snow storms. Many were hunting dogs that retrieved game from water--although their land-based pointing cousins frequently had single coats to prevent them from getting tangled in brush.

For these reasons, the developers of these breeds bred dogs that create headaches for the pet owners of today. The insulating undercoat of the Alaskan Malamute or Rough Collie might keep a dog alive on the frozen tundra, or might blow away disappear on the breeze in the spring breezes of the Scottish Highlands. However, it is only a nuisance to people who need to sweep or vacuum up thick layers of dog hair daily. Some owners with such coats make the best of a bad situation by saving their dogs' shed coat and having it spun into yarn! With a little extra attention to the undercoat, however, your house can be relatively free of unwanted hair. Your dog will thank you for it, since he will be more comfortable as well!

As with short-coated dogs, your double-coated dog will benefit from regular bathing, brushing, and blow drying. Remember, any hair that is loosened and removed in the basic grooming process is that much less hair that enters your environment! But your double-coated dog needs more attention than a simple surface grooming can provide. Dead hairs must also be removed the undercoat that provides dogs with their insulation. One word of caution: do not shave your double-coated dog to "keep him cool for the summer". The hair that keeps the heat in, also keeps the heat out. Dogs shed the excess, unneeded hair during the warmer months.

Because of their special grooming needs, double-coated dogs may require some extra grooming tools to keep them looking their very best. Here are a few that can help both you and your dog be more comfortable, without putting too much of a drain on your wallet, time, and patience:

Stripping knife: most of the larger double-coated breeds will require two stripping knives. The fine-toothed stripping knife is best used on your dog's head and neck, while the medium or coarse variety is best to use on his body and tail. Carefully read the directions on the package, describing its use--the stripping knife might look like a comb but its teeth have sharp sides and are designed to cut hair. Practice the motion that you will use for grooming before touching knife to dog. It might sound easy to trap the hair between the teeth and your thumb and comb in an upward motion, but it can be a little trickier than it sounds!

Stripping rake: the stripping rake is a grooming tool designed to leave the guard hairs undisturbed while separating and thinning the undercoat beneath. The tool consists of a wide head with a number of widely-spaced teeth, mounted on a handle. The teeth may either be sharp and designed to cut the undercoat when matted, or smooth and designed to strip (pull out) loose undercoat hairs. If you can only choose one of these rakes for your grooming tools, the smooth-toothed variety may be the better choice. It allows you to maintain your dog's coat and prevent the kind of problem that the sharp-toothed variety is intended to correct.

Stripping stone: this "stone" is also known as pumice stone or "grooming stone". It is a light-weight breakable product that looks like a black sponge. A stripping stone used to remove the dead guard and undercoat hairs that brushing and raking leaves behind. This inexpensive product provides a similar finishing touch that a chamois cloth provides for other breeds.

Thinning shears: use thinning shears not only to smooth the lines of the dog's coat, as you might with other breeds, but also to remove some of the excess fur that may be causing your dog discomfort. Although double-coated breeds should never be shaved during the warmer months they may benefit greatly from having some of the bulk removed, especially when living in homes in which air conditioning is frequently in use.

There are many tools and grooming techniques that can both make your dog feel better and take excess hair out of your environment. Use these simple tools to start you on your way.!
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