If you have a dog with a single-layer coat, you have never experienced the horror of a coat blow.
All dogs shed a bit year-round, but for double-coated breeds, particularly northern breeds bred to be sled dogs, the coat blow is an entirely different issue.
What is a Coat Blow?
It is natural for double-coated breeds to "blow their coats," a process where their coats switch from their winter coat to their summer coat. Shedding the old hair is essential for new growth.
Double-coated dog breeds, such as Siberian Huskies, Samoyeds, Akitas, Malamutes, and even German Shepherds have a soft undercoat and a top coat with long, coarse guard hairs. The undercoat is essential for these breeds to stay warm in harsh winter conditions.
When the seasons change, the coats switch so they can adapt to the new conditions. The transition allows them to be comfortable all year long.
Instead of shedding, where only a few hairs come out, double-coated breeds blow their coat and the undercoat comes out in large clumps. You may think that enough hair is coming out to leave the dog bald, but there is always more fur loosening up. You can end up with trash bags full of loose hair during a coat blow.
For dogs who blow their coat, going to the groomer to be professionally clipped is unnecessary. The fur and dead hair falls out naturally and, in fact, double-coated breeds should never be shaved. The hair is necessary protection against the cold, but also against the heat and sun rays.
What Does a Coat Blow Look Like?
Dogs going through a coat blow can often look very raggedy. The hair can clump up to the point where it looks like sheep wool.
The coat can blow very unevenly, with some areas making the new coat transition faster than others, giving the pup a very patchy appearance.
How Often Do Dogs Blow Their Coats?
Because most dogs are kept inside as pets in climate-controlled homes, the coat blow process can change.
The frequency and severity of a coat blow depends on the breed and gender of the animal, the change in the seasons and whether or not the dog is spayed or neutered. Dogs can have thicker and denser coats after being "fixed."
Managing a Coat Blow
You can help your dog through a coat blow--and keep the hair tumbleweeds to a minimum--by grooming him every day for at least fifteen minutes. Using grooming tools like an undercoat rake, slicker brush, and a Greyhound comb will help remove the loose undercoat and will speed the process along, helping your dog feel more comfortable.
Do you have a double-coated dog? How do you manage coat blow? Tell us in the comments below!
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