Different brush strokes for different coats

As pet parent, we all understand the benefits of having a clean, well-groomed dog not just for our pleasure, but first and foremost for the benefit to the dog. Different breeds have different coats, here’s how to groom different types of coats.

Benefits of grooming
Hound Glove, Combs Shedding Blade Undercoat Rake Slicker Brushes

  • Happy and healthy: A regular grooming schedule can keep your dog happier and your pet’s skin and hair stays healthy when it’s brushed regularly as the natural oils in their hair and skin are distributed over the body when brushed on a regular basis.
  • Bonding time: Grooming can also help improve relationship with your dog, with a puppy it is especially important to use grooming sessions as a time to bond with your pet and to gain their trust. An older pet may require touch to soothe aches and pains as they get older, so if they are used to being groomed they will respond positively to handling for other health reasons.
  • Regulating body temperature: Dogs use their coats for insulation, keeping the cold out in the winter and the heat out in the summer. It is important to keep your dog’s coat in top condition so that they are happy & healthy as well as being able to regulate their body temperature.

Here are different types of coat dogs have and the best ways to keep them tangle free and clean.
Smooth coat: brush ‘n shine
Characteristics: Smooth coated dogs have a short coat that lies flat against the dog’s body and is sleek and shiny. Smooth coats shed all year round rather than just twice a year.
Care: Smooth coats only require brushing and an occasional bath, they need to be brushed about once a week which will help to keep the oil evenly distributed over the coat and make sure the coat is free of dead hair and dirt.
Brushes: The best types of brushes for this type of coat are hound gloves and shedding blades.
Popular breeds: Labradors and Boxers.
Double coat: brush regularly

Characteristics: Double coats have two layers: a thick, fuzzy undercoat and a longer topcoat, which is weather resistant, these dogs moult in huge amount twice a year. The thick undercoat acts as insulation from the cold and heat and is usually thick enough to keep water out.
Care: Double coats require lots of grooming due to the dense undercoat and they should be brushed regularly especially during the spring and autumn when they are shedding their coat. If they are not brushed thoroughly enough, the undercoat can become too packed so that it cannot fluff up or dry properly. So, make sure that you can get a comb right through the hair to the skin. If possible, these coats should not be clipped as the top coat grows back more slowly.
Brushes: The best types of brushes to use on these coats are undercoat rakes, wire slicker brushes and combs.
Popular breeds: Siberian Husky and Alaskan Malamute.
Drop coat: bushing is a must
Characteristics: A drop coat is long, straight and flowing usually with a parting down the middle of the back. Drop coated dogs shed less than shorter coats as they take much longer to reach the predetermined length.
Care: Drop coats require daily brushing and combing as they are prone to matting, especially around the armpits, ears and groin areas. When bathed, they should also be conditioned and then dried by hand while being combed through as this will prevent the coat from knotting up while drying.
Brushes: The best brushes for drop coats are slicker brushes and metal combs.
Popular breeds: Afghan and Lhasa Apso.
Wiry coat: minimal brushing

Samantha Laws

Characteristics: Wiry coats are harsh, stiff and can be single coated or have a soft undercoat depending on the breed. Wiry coats shed lightly all throughout the year and more in spring and autumn when the coat is ‘blowing’.
Care: Wire haired dogs require minimal brushing by the owners but can have the occasional knot if neglected, although knots in a wiry coat are usually fairly easy to brush out. These types of coats are traditionally hand stripped meaning that the harsh guard hairs are plucked out twice a year when the coat is ‘blowing’ to reveal a thinner tidier coat underneath. Some wiry coats will require clipping or scissoring as having the coat previously clipped will make the coat softer and unsuitable for hand stripping.
Popular breeds: Schnauzer and Wire Haired Fox Terrier.
Curly/woolly coat: high maintenance
Characteristics: Curly coats are single coated and prone to become dry and matting; the softer the coat is, the more likely it is to matt.
Care: These coats require very high maintenance and are more like sheep wool than other types of dog hair and they don’t moult. Curly coats require daily brushing and combing to prevent them from matting, these coats should be sprayed with water or coat conditioner before brushing to prevent the hairs from being damaged or broken. When bathed, they should be blow dried straight away to get the best finish. Since they don’t shed, they will need to be trimmed every eight weeks or so.
Brushes: The best brushes for curly coats are slicker brushes and metal combs.
Popular breeds: Poodles and Bichons.
Hairless: grooming still a must
Characteristics: Hairless breeds of dogs aren’t actually hairless but have small amounts of very fine hair. They usually have black or blue skin and are prone to sunburn.
Care: Hairless dogs don’t require grooming like other breeds due to their lack of hair. However, they still need regular baths and moisturiser to keep the skin supple, they also need sun cream applied regularly to prevent them from getting sunburn. It is also recommended that hairless dogs are regularly exfoliated to prevent them getting acne and blackheads.
Popular breeds: Mexican Hairless and Chinese Crested.

(Samantha Laws owns Doggy Styling Professional Grooming Salon in Cambridgshire, England. She is also a member of the British Dog Grooming Association and English Groomers Group.)