Living With a Long Haired Dog

by Mary Helen Berg
    Long hair is prone to matting; check it regularly for burrs.

    Long hair is prone to matting; check it regularly for burrs.

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    The glossy coat of an Afghan, collie or cocker spaniel can be her crowning glory, but it requires time, patience and tender loving care to keep it in shape. If you live with a long-haired dog, you consistently need to maintain her coat to keep it healthy and glowing.

    Long-haired dogs don’t necessarily shed more than their short-haired cousins, but it may seem that way since longer strands of hair are easier to spot on the floor and on your clothes. Keep shedding under control with frequent brushing. Weekly brushing will rid your dog of loose or excess hair before it ends up on your couch. Regular grooming with a pin brush will tame tangles and keep matted hair at bay. The more frequently you brush, the easier the job will be.

    Certain areas of your pup’s body may need extra attention to stay in shape. For example, it can be hard to see when her long hair is in her eyes. Carefully pull the hair up and trim it if it seems to interfere with her vision. The hair on your dog’s paws and between her toes also can become a problem if it grows too long. This hair eventually can interfere with your dog’s gait and it tends to collect burrs, dirt, ice chunks, fertilizer, salt crystals and other objects that can be uncomfortable or even unhealthy. Fur under the armpits can become matted and irritating if it isn’t trimmed. Trim the fur along your pup’s backside so it doesn’t become soiled when she does her business.

    Whether it is on humans or canines, long hair takes longer to wash and dry and is prone to tangles. For best results, the ASPCA recommends that you bathe your pup's flowing locks about once every three months. A bath helps remove irritants to her skin, but too many baths can remove the natural oils that give her coat its glow. Use a gentle dog shampoo and warm water to wash your pup. Use a conditioner to help with tangles. Rinse thoroughly to remove all shampoo and conditioner. Towel dry thoroughly or use a blow dryer on low heat if necessary.

    During winter, don’t assume that because your pooch has as much hair as the abominable snowman that she can stay outside in a blizzard. In the summer, don’t shave your dog to make her more comfortable in the heat. Your pooch’s fur insulates her from the weather and helps regulate her body temperature. A good rule to follow is that if the weather outside is uncomfortable for you, it is probably uncomfortable for her too.

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    About the Author

    Based in Los Angeles, Mary Helen Berg has been writing about pets, travel, families and parenting since 1989. Her work has appeared in publications such as "The Los Angeles Times" and "Newsweek." Berg holds a Master of Science from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

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