Hello folks, Terrie here from TLC dog Grooming. We had a request from a viewer following our stories on social media about one of our frequent flyers, “Archie” the Doodle.
Here’s the thing. The hair was just too darn long for his peoples to keep up with the tasks at hand. Add in his luxurious sweaters that he’s out sporting around in, and look out! As lovely as sweaters and coats are, there’s a huge down side to them. FRICTION!
Well our friend Archie made it almost an entire year to the date. We shaved him short last winter and dang it, we had to do it again this year. Let me just say that it is not from a lack of determination and effort on the part of his loving owner. She works her tail off to try and keep that boy in a “sexy” hair style, she really does.
Let’s talk about whats going on with his doodle hair along with his active lifestyle.
The sweaters keep everything tucked in nice and snug and warm, oh yes. But the hair underneath can get matted very easily without an owner being aware of what has been happening. Out for their walks they go in -20 degree temps, being the committed dog owner that they are. As they walk, trot, run, gallop and leap and play. All that hair between the body and the sweater starts to become knotted and matted due to the friction between the sweater and the actual body of the dog.
All the owner has to do is let their foot off the gas on brushing and combing for just a day or two and BAM! They will have mats. Yes, they show up that quickly. Everyone wants their dog to have a longer style in the winter because they worry that their pooch will be uncomfortable in the colder temperatures.
The trade off is more work in the brushing and combing department. The longer the hair, the more work a dog owner is facing. The shorter the hair, the less work.
Here is a close up of Archie’s long curly coat before getting shaved. Without consistent brushing and combing, the proper tools, along with the right techniques……it quickly becomes matted and tangled.
In Archie’s case, he’s a very active guy. His social calendar is fuller than my teenager’s. But in Archie’s case I should have put him in a shorter hairstyle for his Christmas cut. His mamma had been doing such a fantastic job with the brush and comb between visits. I thought she could handle a longer coat. For the most part she does. Here’s the thing. Add in the Holidays and routines being all messed up. Add in a sweater and trouble starts to brew.
Think of the curly coated breeds like this. Take your middle finger and cross it over your index finger. Now cross your ring finger over the other two. Now take your pinky finger and cross it over (if it’s long enough)…cross it over the other four fingers. Now take your thumb and make a fist.
Think of each of your fingers as a strand of hair. One finger overlapping over the other, and eventually crossing over until you have an entire fist. This is essentially how matting happens. We have to get in there with the brush, followed up with a metal comb to SEPARATE each of those fingers or hair strands. If we look at the hair on the dog and see clumps of hair that are curled and twisted around each other…..we know we need to get to work with the tools. The longer the hair, the more attention we have to pay.
Below is a close up of what matted hair looks like as its getting shaved. You can see how tangled it is from the skin out. When a dog’s coat gets to this stage, it really cannot be humanely brushed and combed out.
So the tangled mess of hair that was shaved off.
A couple of inches of coat on a curly coated dog means you might have to brush and comb daily. Rather than see it as a chore. See it as an opportunity to work on your training. That’s one bonus of grooming often, it’s a training goldmine. They learn what is expected of them, which is to willingly stand still on a flat, raised, non slip surface. To be brushed and combed without flipping out, biting the brush or your hands. They learn that THIS is a part of their life with you and if done correctly, they will enjoy it.
The more you practice the better you will become.
What took you an hour 6 months from now may only take you 15 minutes. You will also get to know your dog’s coat in how it lays, what and where the trouble spots are. How to work your tools so that you are ahead of trouble spots when they do crop up. You can identify them before you fall down a rabbit hole.
I recommend a good slicker brush and metal comb to help you in the brushing and combing department. Our blog post, What Dog Brushes to Use and How to Use Them, goes into detail on this subject.
All of that builds your confidence in knowing your dog, knowing what you need to do, how and when. Which will also project onto your dog. When they know the consistent routine and what is expected of them, they tend to willingly accept this essential part of their lives.
Even if you have to have your curly coated dog taken down short, try to give yourself some grace folks. You don’t know what you don’t know. When you know, you can make changes and informed choices. Grooming these Doodles and curly coated dogs at home has a learning curve. Stick with it, keep working at it, keep asking questions if you are unsure, and repeat.
Short or long-haired, we think Archie is absolutely handsome.
What are your grooming challenges? Drop me a comment below!
For more grooming tips, techniques, and answers to common challenges, hop on over to our Consumer Education page. I also share a lot of behind the scenes from my shop on both Facebook and YouTube. I’d love to see you there.