dog being groomed

The Hair of the Dog no.1

  1. Are you having issues with dog hair?
  2. Do you know what sort of “coat” your dog has and how to deal with it?
  3. What can you do to reduce shed hair on your furnishings and clothes?

It’s a phrase we use without thinking, but it is something that affects the life of every dog owner. With only a very few exceptions our pets are covered in hair, and quickly this can extend to our furniture, clothes and car upholstery. There is a wide range of different coat types, and colours. Did you think of this when bringing your black puppy home to your pale, lounge carpet? Did you realise how many fabrics form our furnishings, and seem able to attract canine hair?

Dogs have hair to keep them warm. Understandably the cold climate dogs, such as huskies, have a “double” coat, where long, coarser, ‘guard’ hairs form an outer layer which sheds water and protects it from undergrowth. Beneath is a dense, insulating ‘jacket’ of fine fur, which retains heat. Huskies can curl up in the snow, with their tail over their noses, and sleep through bitter, arctic nights.

Put these same dogs into a domestic environment and they will be unable to keep cool, due to central heating. This will cause them distress, and will result in them leaving a thin cloud of hair to settle on the carpet every time they stand up.

Other breeds also need a double coat, particularly those which work in water. The Newfoundland, originally bred to retrieve fishermen’s nets, are a prime example but the Labrador, Golden, Chesapeake Bay, Curly-coated and Flat-coated Retrievers, Irish Water Spaniels, and even poodles, come into this category. Related breeds such as the St Bernard, Pyrenean Mountain Dog have similar coats. In fact, a lot of our domestic breeds have an undercoat that adds to the “hair problem”, and needs thorough and regular combing. Once I groomed a dustbin-full of white undercoat from a totally black German Shepherd!

 Regular grooming helps minimise hair loss and gets rid of tangles. If you cover its whole body you will be undertaking a daily physical MOT for your dog, as you will find cuts, tender areas, and small lumps and bumps. The careful owner also checks ears for injuries, plant seeds (especially barley) and any build-up of wax or soreness. An examination of its feet can reveal inter-digital cysts and damage to pads or claws. For all dogs a regular bath is also a conscious way to keep them healthier and clear of parasites – a good outcome for them and your family. 

Steve Wright

Falconer & Dog breeder and trainer


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