There are many common dog breeds that have a double coat including the German Shepherd, Pomeranian, Chow, Husky, Malamute, Corgi, Border Collie, any Spitz breed and many more…even the pug!

What is a double coat?

Essentially, a double coat is made up of a soft undercoat and a tougher top coat and is found on many of these breeds that originated in the cold climates where it would help insulate and keep them warm in the bitter winter months.      

There are of course many other types of coats including Smooth Coats (Eg: Beagle, Boxer, Dalmatian), Wire Coats (Eg: Border Terrier, Scottish Terrier), Curly Coats (Eg: Poodle and Bichon Frisè) and Long Coats (Eg: Yorkshire Terrier and Bernese Mountain Dog), and it’s important to know how to best groom your dog’s coat depending on it’s breed to avoid some common mistakes that can make your dog very uncomfortable and even put them at risk in the hot Summer or cold Winter months.

For the pooches out there with single coats, simple things like iced treats, iced water, shallow water pools and keeping them out of direct sunlight can keep them safe and happy during the heat. It’s the double coat pooches that need extra attention, particularly when it comes to the grooming of their coat.

Summer can be particularly harsh on these dogs as their coats are heavy and as they insulate, they can trap too much heat.   For this reason, many people think that shaving their pooch with a double coat in Summer will help keep him/her cool.  However, this can have the opposite effect.

Why shaving double coats should be avoided

Unless your pooch has some serious matting, shaving him/her does not help keep them cool and can damage their hair and preventing it from doing its job correctly when they do need it.  The best type of grooming for doubt coats therefore is with a vigorous undercoat raking using a special raking tool that helps remove the undercoat.

This raking, followed by a bath, and a blow dry, will help separate the hair so the groomer can then get to the rest of the undercoat to thin it out.  This might not look like it is doing a lot as your pooch remains one big fluff ball, but despite how their coat still looks, underneath it will be making all of the difference.  

Another thing to note, if you decide to cut or trim the double coats of your dog in Summer, is that the hair doesn’t always grow back. Especially in older dogs where the hair can regrow patchy and make your pooch look frizzy in appearance.    

These are the reasons why some groomers will refuse to shave dogs with a double coat, and is something all owners should seek professional advice about from your Vet or experienced groomer if you are unsure.

Top Tips for grooming dogs with double coats

  • Brush your double coated dog a few times a week, getting right into the under coat with a special ‘rake’ designed to remove the undercoat to allow the air to circulate and the skin to breath.
  • Use a coat detangler spray to help when brushing out any knots.
  • Use a dog shampoo and conditioner when washing your dog and make sure it is well rinsed out.
  • After any ocean swims, wash the salt water out.
  • Make sure your dog’s undercoat is dried after a wash or swim to avoid bacteria building up and skin irritations and infections.
  • If you find your dog gets a lot of knots or matting, take to the groomer every few weeks for a tidy and brush out.

About the Author: Lara Shannon is co-Host of Pooches at Play and has completed a Certificate III in Dog Behaviour & Training with the National Dog Trainers Federation. Lara also runs her own dog training, minding and walking business in Melbourne’s Bayside area.