Whether you adopt a purebred puppy, a “designer” breed, or the mutt next door, the first thing you’ll notice is the puppy's coat type, color, and pattern. This coat can change as the dog matures, so it’s a good idea to know what to expect when the dog grows up. The types of dog coats vary between breeds and impact the amount of fur shedding and grooming care that's necessary.
Coat Fur Types
Specific types of coats require different levels of fur care and brushes. In addition to the five basic coat types, there's a combination coat where the dog's hair will have some areas that are long, feathered, and/or short. Many breeds, such as Brittany dogs and mixed breeds may have combination coats, but you can work with the tips below even on varied coats. Don't forget about hairless dogs, such as the Chinese crested (a bit of a combination coat) or American hairless terrier—they require frequent bathing with a mild and moisturizing shampoo made for dogs to prevent dryness. Here are tips for brushing and maintaining the five most common coat types.
Smooth coats require the least amount of grooming, but the dog's coat can't be neglected. The short hair lies close to the body, such as on a dachshund, and needs to be brushed and bathed regularly, though not as much as some other types of fur. Here's how to brush and bathe a smooth coat:
- Use a bristle brush gently against the lay of the hair (against the direction of hair growth). A fine-toothed comb or hound glove can help remove the dander from the dog's skin and keep the fur shiny.
- Repeat a brushing going with the lay of the hair (with the direction of hair growth).
- Use both a shampoo and conditioner when bathing to keep the coat nice and shiny. If your smooth-furred dog sheds a lot, use a de-shedding shampoo to stem the problem.
- Towel-dry and let the hair thoroughly air-dry.
Dogs with a double coat, such as Newfoundlands, Siberian huskies, and corgis have a soft undercoat that provides insulation and a tougher topcoat that repels water and shields from dirt. Because of this double coat, which can be short- or long-haired, they need a bit more grooming than dogs with other types of fur. Here's how to maintain a dog's double coat.
- Use a slicker or pin brush when starting with the undercoat on short-haired double-coated dogs.
- Take your time brushing out sections of a long-haired dog's coat. You might consider using an undercoat rake to undo any tangles.
- Start by brushing outward from the skin, brushing with the lay of the fur on the topcoat to wiggle stray hairs loose.
- Next, use a wide-toothed comb to do the same to the undercoat. There might be some knots, so use a detangler to get rid of them.
- Finish up by brushing the topcoat
- Bathe with both shampoo and conditioner.
Longer fur on dogs such as Irish Setters demands combing or brushing on nearly a daily basis, especially during shedding season. Here are tips on how to maintain a long coat whether it's coarse or silky:
Long, coarse coats have a soft undercoat that needs to be brushed with a pin brush and a smooth bristle brush. Silky-haired dogs, such as malteses, spaniels, and Afghan hounds, don't have undercoats, but there's still a risk of tangles and matting in the fine hair.
- Use a detangling shampoo when bathing a dog with a long coarse or silky coat to avoid any pain.
- During a bath, also use conditioner to add strength and shine to your dog's fur.
- If possible, dry the dog's fur with a hairdryer after bathing.
- Repeat another brush-out of the coat.
Many terriers, as well as Irish wolfhounds, have wiry coats that are susceptible to tangles. Wire coats, also known as broken coats, need regular grooming with a slicker brush. Some dogs with thicker undercoats may require the occasional use of a stripping comb to help stimulate growth of a new coat. Here are more tips on grooming a dog with a wire coat.
- Use the stripping comb to thin the fur by running it lightly along the dog's back.
- Use a detangler to get out mats, if necessary.
- Follow up the thinning by brushing the fur out from the skin with the slicker brush.
- Consider bringing a wiry-coat dog in for professional grooming, as it's not an easy task to master.
Curly-coated dogs, such as poodles or bichon frises, have thick, soft curls that rest close to the body. Keep the curls trimmed, as they grow fast and can become tangled. Here's how to maintain a curly coat.
- When brushing, use a soft, curved slicker brush against the lay of the fur to make the coat fluffy.
- During bathing, use shampoo and a conditioner that is specially formulated for curly coats. Be sure to rinse out thoroughly so as not to weigh the fur down.
- After a bath, first towel-dry and then blow-dry the fur.
- Follow up the bath by brushing the coat from the skin out.