Should I clip my double coated dog?
Dog breeds that have a double coat originate from cold climates and have adapted a unique dual layer of hair to keep them warm and protect them from the elements. However, many of these dog breeds are often kept in much warmer climates to the one that they have adapted to, meaning that they need extra care when the weather warms up to avoid overheating and suffering heat stress.
Double coats consist of a soft, dense insulating layer of hair closest to the skin (the under coat) with longer, coarser hair that acts as a protective top coat. Breeds with these coat characteristics include the akita, Alaskan malamute, chow chow, spitz, Pomeranian, Shiba inu, Siberian husky, old English sheepdog, bearded collie,rough collie, Bernese Mountain dog, Pyrenean Mountain dog, Leonberger, Saint Bernard and Tibetan mastif.
Whilst there are arguments that a double coat can help to keep these dogs cool by keeping the heat out, the coat is generally evolved to keep the heat in rather than release the heat generated by the body However there are ways that we can help our dogs to keep cool. In UK, although we do have hot weather spells, the infrequency means that your dog’s comfort can be managed with these tips -
- Walking your dog early and late in the day when it is generally cooler and avoiding exercising in the hottest parts of the day.
- Daily coat management to remove as much of the insulating soft layer as possible.
- Providing access to cool places, with a fan or air con or cooling mats, shelter and plenty of water.
Double coated dogs shed - a lot! The undercoat tends to shed twice a year with the top layer shedding once a year. That lovely lush double coat requires regular grooming to keep tangles and matts at bay. To help keep these dogs cool, the key is the remove as much of the soft insulating layer of their coat – the part that sheds the most - as possible. This will also reduce the risk of matts forming. Here are our recommended tools for grooming double coats -
- Slicker brush – This wire pinned brush is great for long, dense coats and the ideal choice to use at the start of the groom. It can be used all over the coat to remove knots and tangles and will also help to remove some of the loose undercoat.
- Combi Comb – This is a great tool to remove any tangles from the longer top coat. Pay extra attention to the legs, chest, neck and tail.
- De-matting Comb – A comb with serrated teeth to gently break up matts without removing chunks of the coat.
- Coat rakes - These are excellent tools to gently remove as much of the dead, loose undercoat as possible. They have curved blades to comb through the coat without harming the skin. Our handy coat rakes come in a range of sizes to suit a variety of coat types. It’s best to have at least a couple of rakes to suit the hair on different parts of the body.
- Retractable coat rake – Ideal for de-shedding very thick coats and gentle on the skin.
- Bristle brush – Use this brush all over once the coat is thoroughly combed through to flatten the longer guard hairs. This brush will help to make the coat look glossy by spreading the natural oils from the skin along the hair shafts.
- Bug Spray – Finally, finish with a spray of Wildwash bug repellent across the coat to keep fleas, ticks and other pests at bay.
If your dog is very prone to matting, removing some of the bulk of the hair in the most densely packed areas (such as the chest, neck and tummy) can help to prevent matts forming and facilitate grooming. Our Grooming by Breed clipper sets are designed especially for this task with a skip tooth blade to thin out the hair whilst retaining a natural look to the coat. You can find a mains powered or cordless clipper set tailored to your own breed of dog here.
WHAT ABOUT CLIPPING THE BODY?
Yes you can clip a double coated dog, but this should only be a last resort such as for severe cases of matting or following advice from your vet. Clipping the coat allows for the release of body heat so will certainly help to keep dogs cooler in hot weather.
There are some cases where clipping double coated breeds can be greatly beneficial to their welfare. Some heavy coated breeds can become noticeably withdrawn in the heat and clipping can give them a new lease of life. Your vet may recommend clipping the coat for those who have breathing issues, are older, have heart or skin conditions, or those that have suffered from heat stroke previously.
A clipped old English sheepdog
The downsides of clipping double coated breeds are -
- Clipping cuts through both layers of the double coat which could lead to a change in colour. Also the guard hairs in the top coat take much longer to grow back than the undercoat which can leave the coat looking uneven and patchy.
- Clipping the top coat also leaves the skin less protected from the sun and elements so if you choose to clip your dog for health reasons, you must ensure they are kept out of the sun and also kept warm in cold, wet weather.
- Clipping could uncover alopecia in certain breeds such as the spitz. This doesn’t necessarily mean that clipping has caused the hair loss, rather than the bald patches in the coat have been hidden.
Thought must also be given to the time of the coat regrowth as it could take up to a year to 18 months for the coat to fully grow back. Understandably, many professional groomers do not like to clip a double coat without express veterinary approval because of this reason. No groomer wants their customer to be unhappy with their dog’s coat regrowth, so bear this in mind if you decide to body clip.
If you’re thinking of having your double coated dog clipped, check with your vet before heading to your groomer or if you would like to try clipping yourself, contact us at email@example.com. We have a range of clippers and blades and can advise on which combination would best suit your breed. Take a look at our range of dog grooming products on our website here.