Caring for Your Dog’s Coat
Hair, hair, everywhere. For some dog owners, shedding fur is one of the downsides of dog ownership. However good coat care and regular grooming can resolve many shedding and matting issues. Regular grooming will also keep your dog looking and feeling great, and will give you time to increase your human-dog bond.
If your dog is young or unfamiliar with regular grooming, they may initially dislike the process. If your puppy is showing distress, focus on grooming parts of the body that are easy to access like the back and neck. As they become more comfortable with grooming, you can move on to more sensitive areas like the face, ears, or tail. By going slow, staying calm, and reinforcing the activity with lots of praise, petting, and small treats, you’ll teach your dog that grooming is a relaxing and positive experience.
It’s also important to note that puppies’ coats change as they grow. Most puppies will not have their adult coat of fur until they are 4-6 months old.
What Kind of Coat Does Your Pup Have?
Different kinds of coats require different grooming approaches. Use this guide to determine your dog’s type of coat.
Smooth-coated breeds include Beagles, Weimaraners, and American Bullys. These breeds usually have short hair that generally stays at a single length. Dogs with smooth coats don’t need a lot of grooming. While they have short hair, many of these breeds still shed regularly, so weekly grooming will help reduce the amount of dog hair in your home. Use a bristle brush to brush against the lay of the hair. These types of dogs can be bathed about every 4-8 weeks to keep their coats shiny and healthy. If you need to bath your pup more frequently, invest in a very mild pet shampoo or baby shampoo, and watch for signs of skin dryness or flaking.
Note that breeds with double coats don’t develop their full coat until four or six months of age. That means the grooming needs of your breed will change substantially as the puppy ages.
If you have a short-haired, double-coated pup, such as a Labrador Retriever, use a slicker brush or pin brush to comb out the undercoat, brushing outward from the skin. Use the same brush to work through the top coat, brushing with the lay of the hair. Brushing your dog weekly will help control shedding. Bath about every 4-6 weeks. If you need to bath your pup more frequently, invest in a very mild pet shampoo or baby shampoo, and watch for signs of skin dryness or flaking.
For long-haired, double-coated breeds, like Pomeranians, Collies, or Chow Chows, grooming can be more time intensive. These breeds need weekly grooming, and you may want to do a quick brush through daily to reduce shedding. Use a slicker brush to comb out the undercoat, working in sections, and brushing away from the skin. Next, use a wide-toothed comb, place it deep within the coat, parallel to the skin, and gently comb outwards. If you encounter matting, use a dog-friendly brand of detangler and gently work through the mat with your fingers. Follow up by gentling combing using a wide-toothed comb. Bath about every 4-6 weeks. If you need to bath your pup more frequently, invest in a very mild pet shampoo or baby shampoo, and watch for signs of skin dryness or flaking.
Wire coats can be found on Airedales, Cairn Terriers, and other breeds. They need to be brushed three times a week to take care of shedding. Wire coats also need to be “stripped.” Stripping is a way of painlessly pulling out extra hair. Run a stripping comb lightly over the coat, in the direction of the hair, to thin out the coat and prevent mats and tangles. Do not pull up or out. Next, use a slicker brush to work through the coat, starting near the skin and working gently outwards. These breeds benefit from careful trimming every 4-8 weeks. Since bathing breaks down their outer coat, avoid bathing wire coated breeds often.
Dogs with Curly Coats
Curly costs are found on Poodles and Portuguese Water Dogs. These dogs require a weekly brush out to prevent matting. Use a slicker brush to work through the coat, starting at the skin and working gently outwards. Want a fluffier coat? Use a slicker brush and work against the natural lay of the coat. Plan to trim or clip the coat every 6-8 weeks, and try not to bath your curly-coated dog more than once a month. If you need to bath your pup more frequently, invest in a very mild pet shampoo or baby shampoo, and watch for signs of skin dryness or flaking.
Puppies with Long Coats
Long and Coarse
Long, coarse coats, like those found on Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers need a weekly brush out. They do best if they are clipped every 6-8 weeks to prevent matting. To brush, start by working through the undercoat first. Working in sections, identify matting first. Use a dog-friendly brand of detangler and work through the mats using your fingers. Next, use a slicker brush or a pin brush to brush out the coat, moving the brush in the direction of the hair growth. Finally, go over the entire coat again with a soft-bristle brush, working with the natural direction of the coat. Try to limit baths to every four weeks. If you need to bath your pup more frequently, invest in a very mild pet shampoo or baby shampoo, and watch for signs of skin dryness or flaking.
Long and Silky
Long, silky coats are found on breeds like Yorkshire Terriers and Shih Tzus. To keep coats looking their best, daily brushing is recommended. These coats need to be watched for matting. Start your grooming routine by feeling for mats, and work through tangling with your fingers using a dog-friendly detangler if needed. Next, use a slicker brush to comb through the hair, starting at the base and working outwards. Use a soft-bristle brush to smooth the coat by brushing with the lay of the hair. Some breeds need occasional scissor trims around ears and eyes, and regular grooming cuts every 4-6 weeks. Try to limit baths to every 4-6 weeks. If you need to bath your pup more frequently, invest in a very mild pet shampoo or baby shampoo, and watch for signs of skin dryness or flaking.
Low-Shedding and Hypoallergenic Breeds
If your main concern is controlling shedding (and minimizing the allergies that come with shedding) there are many breeds to choose from. While no breed is truly hypo-allergenic, low shedding breeds don’t seriously affect many allergy sufferers. Many of these breeds are categorized as curly-coated, wire-coated, or silky-coated. Traditional choices for low-shedders might include Maltese, Shih Tzus, Portuguese Water Dogs, Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier, Bichon Frise, Havanese, Cairn Terriers, Standard Poodles, Miniature Poodles, Toy Poodles, Mini Schnauzers, Yorkshire Terriers, and West Highland Terriers.
In recent years, many breeders have been cross-breeding low-shedding/low-allergy breeds to develop an even wider range of hypo-allergenic dogs. If hypo-allergenic is important to you, spend time with the individual puppy before deciding to take him home. Designer breeds sometime vary a bit on how low-allergy each pup will be. These breeds include AkiPoos, AussieDoodles, Bernedoodles, Mini Bernedoodles, Bichapoos, Bordoodles, BroodleGriffons, Cava Tzus, Cavachons, Cavapoos, Cavatese, Miniature Goldendoodles, Golidchons, Havachons, Havapoos, Havashus, Irishdoodles, Labradoodles, Lhapsapoos, Mal-Shis, Maltichons, Maltipoms, Maltipoos, Morkies, Morkiepoos, Puggles, Schnoodles, Sichons, Shihpoos, Shorkies, Snorkies, Springerdoodles, Westipoos, and Mini Whoodles.
Keystone Puppies cares about the health and well-being of your dog. Make sure you research grooming care needs before choosing a pup for your home. An experienced dog groomer can give you tips on the best way to care for your breed. If you’re not sure which breed is right for you, research over 200 dog breeds here. If you’re ready to find the puppy that’s right for your home, click here.