Certain dog breeds have a distinct ability to grow long, thick hair that looks like dreadlocks or ropes. This occurs when the top coat intertwines with the soft, fluffy undercoat, creating locks of felted hair known as “cords.” If you want to purchase a canine companion that looks unique and will turn heads while walking down the street, consider a dog with a corded coat. Their mop-like appearance and bouncing dreadlocks will get people talking.
A native of Iran, the Bergamasco sheepdog has a thick coat comprised of three types of hair. This includes a smooth, oily undercoat, which adheres to the skin, forming a moisture barrier; a course layer of “goat hair” and the woolly top hair. As the hair grows, it weaves together forming what looks like dreadlocks or ropes. By the time your Bergamasco is 5 years old, he will have a long, fully corded coat that reaches to the ground.
The puli has been bred as a sheepdog in Hungary for more than 2,000 years. The coat begins to cord when a puli is 9 months of age. During this time, your puli’s hair will stand straight out until the coat grows long enough to form ropes. Examine the cords on a weekly basis to ensure they stay separate and do not get tangled with one another, which can create a painful mat.
The komondor originates from Hungary where it was used to guard sheep and herdsmen. The breed is known as the “king of guard dogs." Their long white, corded coat and impressive size commands instant respect. Male komondor’s average 27.5 inches in height and females stand 25.5 inches tall. A komondor’s long rope-like hair easily picks up leaves, twigs and debris, which need to be hand-picked out of the coat daily.
With a history dating back to 1110 AD, the Spanish water dog was used to herd sheep, goats and cattle in Spain for centuries. They are considered a single coat breed as they posses a sparse undercoat. Their curly and slightly woolly hair will twist together, forming cords. Poodles also can display a corded coat, which was extremely popular during the Victorian era. However, their hair does not form cords naturally. It is up to you to allow the coat to grow long and carefully separate the curly locks.
Corded breeds should only be bathed one to three times annually. Bathing is a time-consuming process. Lather each cord with a mild shampoo containing tea tree oil. Rinse thoroughly. Squeeze the cords with your hand to remove excess water. Pat the coat dry with a towel. Never rub as this can cause the cords to tangle. The coat must be dried thoroughly to prevent mildew and odor. If the weather is warm, you can let your pet dry in the sun. Otherwise use a pet dryer that blows cool air. The drying process can take up to 12 hours.
- Bergamasco Sheepdog Club of America: The Coat
- International Bergamasco Sheepdog Association: The Coat
- The Hungarian Puli Club of Great Britain: Coat Development and Care
- The Puli Club of America: Frequently Asked Questions
- Komondor Club of America: About the Komondor
- Spanish Water Dog Club: Breed Information
- Spanish Water Dog Club: Grooming
- Dog Grooming for Dummies: Margaret H. Bonham
- The Everything Dog Grooming Book: Sandy Blackburn
- Spanish Water Dog Club: History of the Breed
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