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Low Maintenance Coat: Truth or Myth?

October 3rd, 2019

Some breeds moult constantly, some matt easily, some take ages to dry… but what is low maintenance for one person can be really hard work for another.

Unless you own a Chinese Crested Dog or another hairless breed, you are definitely dealing with dog hair one way or another.

Non-shedding? Really?

All dogs shed at least a little hair at one time or another (as us humans do too) and there’s no such thing as a non-shedding breed. Let’s have a look at some coat types, how much they shed and how much work you need to put in to keep the coat healthy. I’ll try my best to consider you all 🙂.

Coat types

Short and smooth coat

Easy peasy lemon squeezy you may say 🍋. Yes, it’s easier to look after a Whippet’s or Staffie’s smooth coat than let’s say, a poodle, but they do still moult. You’ll find tiny hairs stuck on your socks, on your clothes, in your carpet and they aren’t that easy to get rid of either. Regular bathing and brushing with a rubber brush can help and eliminate the amount of hair. With breeds like a Labrador, Bullterrier or Beagle with short dense hair, I would recommend using the Furminator to remove the excess coat.

When using Furminator, remember to be firm but gentle, and to always stretch the skin. 

While using the Furminator keep checking the skin to avoid redness and irritation. If not used correctly (this applies to brushing as well) it can cause brush burn which is skin irritation caused by prolonged brushing in one area. If this happens Soothing Antiseptic Spray can come to the rescue. This spray has a regenerative effect on damaged skin as the astringent formula will constrict cells where it is applied.

An extra little tip...

Bath your dog as usual, and while the shampoo is in the coat, use the Furminator in the bath. You’ll remove more hair and it will stick on the bathtub and tiles and won’t fly around when you dry your dog.

Wool Coat

This coat can be low maintenance when kept short… but very short. We don’t see many Poodles and Bichons in full coat, do we? Unless they are show dogs, most of the owners like to keep the coat short. A wool coat is very thick and curly and has a lot of volume. It requires a lot of regular grooming, even daily, because it matts very easily and can grow quite quickly. The best way to achieve a matt free coat at home is regular brushing with a slicker brush followed by thorough combingVERY IMPORTANT! 

Line Brushing

The method we use in the salon (and which is also recommended for home) is called line brushing. Line brushing is suitable not only for a wool coat but also long hair, double coats and mixed coats. Line brushing will allow you to methodically work your way through your dog’s coat, down to the skin making sure you cover all the hard-to-reach spots.

I’d recommend putting your dog on a grooming table or some other non-slip work surface, using this area as your ‘brushing station’. It’s also good to spray the coat with some de-tangling or conditioning spray first. With one hand, hold and push the coat up and work in seam line with your slicker brush pulling down a small amount of hair with each brushstroke. Once your brush glides smoothly through the coat you then move onto the next layer. Once you’ve finished brushing, use the comb the same way you used the slicker brush. A comb will help you to double-check your brushing 👍🏻

Long coat

This coat, such as the Old English Sheepdog, Maltese and Shih Tzu also require a lot of maintenance. It needs to be brushed at least three times a week, if not daily. 

Wire coat

I have a few of these at home lol. It’s a very unique coat and I’ve spent a lot of time trying to understand the growth and texture changes. As a result, I can tell you that it’s not black and white… but that would be another story 😂.

The proper way to look after this coat is by using a technique called hand stripping. Hand stripping maintains good strong colour and coarse texture but there are a lot of buts. This is a process which must be done from the puppy stage. Once the coat is clipped it’s very difficult, if not impossible, to get the texture back by hand stripping and it would be very sore for the dog. I DON’T RECOMMEND THIS!

Hand stripping is a skill that is very hard to master, and is very labour intensive. It’s therefore more expensive than clipping, and also, not many groomers do it.

Wire coats shed much less when they’re hand stripped than when they are clipped. They still need lots of brushing though, especially their legs and whiskers and many of your terriers are not so keen on it. Regular brushing, handling and perseverance from an early age pays off later on. Why not get Calming Floral Spray to help you out here!

Hand stripping is a skill that is very hard to master, and is very labour intensive.

Double coat

These breeds are nice and fluffy but when they shed it’s as if it’s snowing (especially when you have a Malamute or a Husky) 🌨. I have a Malamute that comes for daycare and at this time of the year, as well as at springtime, hair can be found everywhere. The undercoat comes out in clumps so when I walk him I take the opportunity to pull it out. What you should actually do is get a slicker brush with long pins, like a wide-tooth comb and start line brushing. GOOD LUCK!

Mixed wool coat

This coat can be seen in some crossbreeds like Cockapoos, Labradoodles and Schnoodles and is wavy or curly with different densities. It requires a lot of regular brushing, just like wool coats, as well as regular grooming by a professional. 

The coat is easily managed in the earlier stages of life but once the puppy is about 6/7 months old, or slightly older, the coat starts to change from a soft thin puppy coat to a dense and curly/wavy adult coat. In this stage of life, a lot of new owners lose track of brushing and the then matted coat has to be clipped off. This is far better for the puppy then de-matting, which I wouldn’t recommend. A mixed wool coat grows pretty quickly and the puppy will be a fluff ball in no time… if the owner wants ❤︎.

Earlier I mentioned the importance of using a comb. A comb will help you to catch the smaller or bigger knots you missed with the slicker brush. If the comb is easily sliding through the coat, you did a great job with brushing. If the comb stops, it means there is a knot and you need to go back to a slicker brush and brush the matting out.

Mixed wool coat ( Cockerpoos, labradoodles, Shnoodles…) requires a lot of regular brushing, just like wool coats, as well as regular grooming by a professional. 

Is your dog low or high maintenance?

Jitka xx


7 responses to “Low Maintenance Coat: Truth or Myth?”

  1. Amanda McCracken says:

    This is great info thank you Jitka

  2. Steve says:

    Great advice agree some scary stuff on the web ref to grooming dogs.
    I still haven’t found any ‘tips on grooming long hair. I have my first Lhasa Apso dogs. I just keep finding video clips on just clipping which I don’t understand why take a long hair dog to just clip it?
    I did find one short video clip on using scissors. Been gray help. I have been doing Line combing but didn’t even know it had a name. Thanks for great advice. Just order a new grooming table. Steve, Nelson Lhasa

  3. Steve says:

    Thank you for the video clip, so wish I had found this a year ago

    The good news, you just confirmed, I’m doing it correctly

    Nelson doesn’t seem to complain he just fall a sleep when I’m brushing him. Once done he alway waits for his treat.

    • jitka says:

      Bless him 🙂 You are doing a great job, his coat looks magnificent! Are you interested in short video how to use scissors correctly?

  4. Steve says:

    I would like to improve on my scissor skills.
    I have been using a Thinning Scissors, to help keep the thickness of Nelson coat in check.
    Thank you for your time and advice so much appreciated. Steve, Nelson, & Emma

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