If your dog has an undercoat, you know that it's as likely to shed as the rest of his hair. Every spring and fall, just like clockwork, your dog starts leaving tufts and clumps of undercoat in his wake. That's when redoubling your grooming routine pays off; a little more effort in the brushing department means you won't clog up the vacuum cleaner with wads of undercoat hair or trip over errant undercoat tumbleweeds.
Dogs shed from their outer coats a bit year round, but those with an undercoat have the added bonus of also going through a full-blown shedding season in spring and fall. For most dogs, shedding season only comes twice a year, but some females who haven't been fixed get to shed extra. If your female dog is one of the elite few, at around 3 or 4 years of age she'll "blow her coat" each time she finishes a heat cycle.
Most dogs have undercoats, but you can't always tell this from the length of a dog's hair alone. Herding dogs and working dogs tend to have an undercoat, as do the Nordic breeds like Siberian huskies and malamutes. Long-haired dogs like collies, chow chows and Afghan hounds have an undercoat, but so do breeds with mid-length hair like Australian cattle dogs and Akitas. A better way to visually judge whether a dog has an undercoat is how thick the coat appears. Even with the shorter-haired Australian cattle dog, you can tell that his coat is dense.
If your pooch has an undercoat, you can do your part to ease the shedding problem. Brush him at least once a week, but as much as daily during shedding season. The line brushing method is useful for dogs with undercoats. It removes loose hairs and mats from the undercoat without pulling or tugging on your dog and is done by brushing your dog's hair in a line down his entire body, a section at a time. More frequent bathing during shedding season helps too. One bath a week while your dog is in the process of losing his undercoat washes away loose hairs, ensuring they won't get left on your clothing or furniture.
For a dog without an undercoat, any old brush might work just fine for a grooming session. But if your dog has an undercoat, arm yourself with the right tools to keep undercoat shedding under control. Slicker brushes are useful for dense and longer hair because they brush the outer coat while still getting down to the undercoat. If your dog has short hair, a rubber brush with soft, tapered cone-shaped teeth should work well to keep him groomed while removing loose undercoat hairs. And any puppy parent whose pooch has an undercoat should have an undercoat rake. This tool is specially made to groom the dense undercoat, nabbing free hairs and keeping the undercoat mat-free in the process.
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