Grooming Recommendations for Double Coated Dogs


by: Lori Newcomer

A double coated dog is any dog with a harsh outer coat and soft under coat. The soft undercoat is what sheds a leaves tumbleweeds all over your house. German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, Australian Shepherds, and Siberian Huskies are just a few examples of double coated breeds. The outer coat and the under coat grow independently from one another and grow to different lengths. The outer coat is longer and tends to grow slower, while the under coat is shorter and grows faster and also “turns over”, or sheds twice a year.

1. Dogs with double coats tend to have sensitive skin. This means that your double coated dog if shaved may come home with razor burn, irritated skin and is much more likely to get sunburned. The skin of these breeds is more sensitive because the thick hair protects them from the sun, bug bites, and anything else that your dog encounters during a hike, a romp in the backyard, or a roll on the carpet.

2. It doesn’t exactly make them shed less. Double coated dogs shed twice a year, in the spring and in the fall, and that is the undercoat. The rest of the year, the shedding is normal hair turn over and that is seen in all animals with hair Shaving them does not prevent this from happening, it just makes the pieces smaller. Instead of having your dog shaved to get rid of unwanted hair, having the dog groomed on a regular schedule will remove all the dead undercoat, leaving only healthy coat and stopping those tumbleweeds from rolling across the floor.

3. It can permanently damage the condition of the coat. The under coat, as stated before is short and dense while the outer coat is longer, glossy and harder. The undercoat is all that is left when you shave a double coated dog and as it grows faster than the outer coat, it takes a very long time for the outer coat to catch up. This means that there is no outer coat to protect the under coat leaving the coat sparse and dull. This result is because the undercoat it is not protected by the outer coat once shaved. It also damages the cycle of the hair, making the shedding time unpredictable and in some cases never ending.

4. With so many breeds to choose from, it is easy to find a coat you like. If you don’t like the hair of a Rough Collie, go for a Smooth Collie. If you don’t want a dog with as much hair as a Golden Retriever, maybe a Boxer will be more your style.

5. The undercoat provides insulation in the winter and believe it or not it does keep them cool in the summer. If your dog has a well groomed coat, with no dead undercoat, the coat keeps the dog warm in winter by providing insulation and keeping the dog’s skin dry. In the summer, it provides the dog with his own air conditioning system, keeping him cool. Yes, this does mean they need to be groomed to remove excess undercoat so the coat can do its job. Your dog with not be hot with all that coat, it is actually keeping him cool and protected. As long as they are not shaved or severely matted, their coat will do its job and keep their temperature regulated.

6. Most dog owners don’t want a show dog and that is completely understandable but a breed standard exists for a reason, especially when it comes to double coated breeds. Be proud of your dog and their glorious coat, and educated yourself on why they need the coat they have.

7. It increases the amount of allergens on the dog’s skin. Some people shave their double coated dogs because some family members may be allergic but that doesn’t quite make sense. The dander of the dog is most of the time what people are allergic to and having it right on the surface is not going to help the allergy issues. Having the dog groomed will keep up with the dander and the loose dead hair, and that will help with allergies.