Understanding single and double-coated dogs and their grooming
Are you looking for a Dog that Doesn’t Shed?
Newsflash: all dogs shed! So, if you're looking for a dog that doesn't shed, you'll be looking for a very long time. There is no dog breed, purebred or mixed, that will not shed its hair. However, in this blog, we’ll present you with a number of breed options that don’t shed a lot.
Included In This Article:
- Single-Coat vs. Double-Coat Dogs
- Single-Coat vs. Double-Coat Dog Grooming
- Grooming Your Own Dog
- List of Dogs That Don’t Shed Extensively
- Other Breeds that are Considered “Non-Shedding”
Shedding is a natural cycle in dogs where they get rid of dead hair and make room for new hair to grow. Hair changing depends on the season – lighter fur in warmer weather and thicker when the temperatures get colder.
The good news is there are dog breeds that shed a lot less than others. Less shedding dogs are medically termed hypoallergenic meaning their undercoat dead skin does not produce allergens that cause allergic reactions. These dogs are very commonly referred to as "non-shedding" which is an acceptable term if you understand that it means the dogs shed less than other breeds but again, there is no such thing as a dog that will never shed any hair.
Single-Coat vs. Double-Coat Dogs
Before we delve into the lesser shedding breeds, understand the difference between a single-coated and double-coated dog and the importance of this differentiation. That is because if or when you go shopping for a "non-shedding" dog, you should focus on single-coated dogs.
Single Coated Dogs
Single-coated dogs have only a top coat and they do not (as do double-coated dogs) have an undercoat. Single-coated dogs have a longer cycle of hair growth which inevitably makes it seem as if they do not shed.
In other words, the hair does not shed and change throughout the year – it continues to grow past the shedding point which is why hair on these dogs can grow long and get tangled or matted. It's also why owners really should brush and clip a single-coated dog's hair quite often.
You might see a few hairs falling out of their coats occasionally but only a very small amount when compared to shedding dogs. This gave rise to the term "non-shedding," but again — all dogs shed.
Here are some other attributes of a single-coated dog:
- Sheds less than double-coated dogs
- Hair texture is more coarse
- Shorter hair length
- Tighter skin
- Has bare skin spots on belly and under forelimbs
- Prone to lose hair around collar area
The double-coat structure is composed of the top coat (typically called guard hairs) and the undercoat, each has its place and purpose.
The top coat prevents water from getting on the undercoat; therefore, preventing the dog’s skin from getting cold and/or wet. It also helps repel moisture and dirt.
The undercoat is thicker, denser, shorter and with a wooly texture that is very important in protecting your dog from rapid temperature changes. It both keeps the dog warmer in low or lower temperatures and cooler when the temperature is hot or higher. In other words, it's your dog's body temperature thermostat.
The undercoat also protects the dog's skin from sunburn by preventing direct sun rays from reaching it – considering dogs have much thinner and less skin layers than humans.
It is the undercoat that sheds throughout the year which is why many of these dogs blow massive fur-balls twice a year.
Here are some other attributes of a double-coated dog:
- Softer hair texture
- Looser skin
- Longer hair length
- Prone to more skin irritation
- Prone to more allergies
Single-Coated vs. Double-Coated Dog Grooming
All dogs should be brushed weekly but some really need more frequent grooming. Regular brushing is a good way to maintain your sanity during shedding seasons. The fluffier your dog's coat, the more grooming the pet will require.
If you happen to inadvertently shave your single-coated dog completely, then you must avoid direct sun exposure and nighttime coolness altogether. By all means, keep your dog in optimal temperatures until hair starts growing back.
NEVER shave a double-coated dog because the hair might not grow back the same. Many groomers do not know this,
so it's important that you do!
Shaving a double-coated dog can cause various health problems such as alopecia (bald patches) leaving a lot of exposed and sensitive skin which is not at all good for your dog. It can also cause the growth of a denser and thicker undercoat which can cripple your dog’s ability to keep cool and/or warm naturally.
If dog hair, fur-balls and shedding drive you bonkers, you can safely groom your own dog if you know how and have the correct tools.
Oh yeah, you also need heaping doses of patience and love.
Learning how to use dog clippers doesn’t require a college degree and it’s nothing to be afraid of. These tips should help make the process easier:
Start Grooming Early
If you have a puppy, don’t wait to start grooming. The earlier you get your dog used to the process, the less stressful it will be and the better behaved your dog will be. This will help you avoid making mistakes and possibly injuring and/or hurting your beloved!
Wash and Brush First
Bathing and brushing your dog before you cut helps get rid of tangles and clumps of hair that can make grooming more difficult — and even painful for your dog.
Use the Correct Tools
You'll need a clipper, comb, a rake brush (if your dog has an undercoat) and a slicker brush.
Quieter is Better
The quieter the environment, and the tools, the better it is for your dog. Loud noises can surprise or even distress pets. Choose a less abrasive place to groom your dog, free of loud noises and other dogs barking if possible.
Test different clippers and get one that makes the least amount of noise; it will make the experience better for both of you.
Don’t Pull Your Dog's Hair
How can you keep from doing this? By keeping your clippers sharp.
Take Your Time
Don’t push the clipper too fast, it will leave lines.
Clip in the Correct Direction
Clip with the growth of the dog’s hair (in the same direction the hair grows in other words) for a smooth natural looking coat. If you clip against the hair growth, you’ll make harsh lines.
You and Your Dog are a Team
Hold your dog to avoid sudden movement. Start shaving from the neck to the back leg, and then do the other side.
Know Your Dog’s Coat
Before grooming your dog yourself, it’s probably smart to pay one last visit to a professional. Have them walk you through the process and show you the best way to clip the coat of your specific breed and remember what you read above — NEVER completely shave a double-coated dog.
Choose the Right Blade
Different blades work better with different kinds of coats and it will create different effects so find out what’s best for your dog . When in doubt, you can always try snap-on guide combs. Most dog clippers come with a host of them for this very reason and you can also buy them separately.
Understand What Your Dog's Breed is Supposed to Look Like
No one’s saying there isn’t room for a bit of creativity but it’s always best to know how your dog “should” look before breaking out the clippers. You can find this out pretty easily just by looking online. Bonus: many breed-specific Web sites also have grooming tips!
Make Sure Clippers Don't Get Hot
You can actually burn your dog with hot clippers so get into the practice of turning them off regularly and touching them to test the temperature. If they seem too hot for you: they're too hot for your pal so if they get hot, do one or more of the following:
- Spray on clipper coolant or lubricant
- Switch to another clipper (if you have a spare)
- Change out the blades for cooler ones
- Put the hot blade on something metal — baking sheets absorb heat surprisingly fast
Reward Your Dog After Grooming
Teach your dog that grooming is a good thing, not something he/she should fear. Be kind and gentle during the process and never scold your dog if grooming appears uncomfortable, that's because it is!
Once the process is over, heap praise! Give your dog a treat, maybe take him/her for a walk, but reward your dog and you will begin to lead by example (like good parents do) and teach your dog to appreciate being groomed.
Poodles are the best dogs for owners who have allergies. Even during their shedding season, they hardly ever shed because the lustrous dense and curly hair coat can easily be groomed and keeps pretty much tangle-free. They are also very smart, alert and make perfect family pets.
“Small in size with a big personality” is the best way to describe this wonderful breed. Yorkshire Terriers are blessed with a beautiful long coat that may shed a bit during shedding season but this is easily controlled with regular grooming and brushing.
A purebred Dachshund comes in different coat types such as long haired, short haired and wire haired. All three coat types are smooth and shed very little. Long haired Dachshunds are known to shed a bit, but that is only during their shedding period. However, the other two coat types don’t shed that much.
Shedding is never a problem with Boston Terriers since their smooth and short hair is also easily brushed and groomed. No excessive shedding, quiet in nature and other family friendly characteristics make the Boston Terrier a perfect breed for those who live in apartments and/or have allergies.
You may find it bizarre that the Shih Tzu breed has long, silky hair yet is still categorized as hypoallergenic. However, they need proper diet, physical exercise and grooming to keep them this way. Their long coat needs brushing every 2-3 days. You can opt to clip their hair close to the body in which case you don’t have to brush as frequently.
A perfect family dog with a lovely soft coat that doesn’t shed much. However, you have to regularly brush their overcoat if you want to avoid even a little bit of shedding. The majority of Miniature Schnauzer dog owners keep their hair trimmed.
With no distinct undercoat, the Bichon Frise is considered a "non-shedding" breed. Their thick and fluffy overcoat looks fabulous but it needs to be properly groomed and brushed otherwise shedding can be a problem. However if you brush them regularly you more than likely will not see any shedding.