Caring for our dogs requires an intense amount of dedication from us. However much it may get boring and tiring to do these repetitive tasks, it is one that I particularly love doing. Giving my dog a thorough scrubbing once in a while is one task I absolutely adore.
For short-haired dogs, helping them groom themselves is a pretty straightforward task. For the double-coated breeds, not so much fun is involved. Their long hairs keep shedding in spring and fall making grooming them such a hard task.
It does not always have to be this tiresome provided you have the right tools. Being well-versed with the anatomy of their coats is also a key step in grooming your hairy buddy. In this article, I intend to highlight the best undercoat rake to groom a hairy dog and explore the anatomy of the famous dog undercoat.
What is Undercoat?
Perhaps you are wondering what this undercoat thing is. In long-haired dog breeds, there are two layers of coats. The upper, coarser coat, and then there is an inner, softer coat. It is this inner coat that is referred to as an undercoat.
Simply put, an undercoat is the soft layer of shorter fur usually present in dog breeds with double coats. The undercoat is found underneath the thicker outer protective coat (guard coat). Usually, the undercoat comprises of fur that’s shorter and softer than those on the top coat.
There is a reason why these coats are two. During extremely cold weather such as winter, the undercoats act as a second layer of insulation. In this way, the dog is kept warm even in the harshest of conditions.
In winter, the outer coat is the first insulative layer. It also repels moisture and rids the body of dirt. As temperatures become more extreme, the undercoat acts as a fuzzy sweater to keep the dog warm. As temperatures increase in summer, dogs with double coats undergo a seasonal process called shedding.
At this time, the dog only needs less of the undercoat so that air can circulate uniformly through the body to keep the dog cool. It is during this time of the year that caring for these dogs becomes hectic as the shed hair needs to be brushed out or else it fills your living room.
The increased hair occurs seasonally in fall and spring. If care is not taken, your house will be filled with tones of fur.
Dog Breeds with Undercoat
Technically, most dogs have the double coat or two-ply coat for protection against cold weather elements. This protective system is designed such that the outer guard hairs are stiffer and are naturally water repellent.
It protects both the undercoat and the dog's skin from any weather elements. The undercoat, on the other hand, is fleecy and fluffy to provide adequate insulative properties.
Dog breeds with this type of setup are always gorgeous to own, apart from having to clean up the messy blown up hair during the seasonal shedding. There are also numerous dog breeds with this kind of double coats with the difference being in the amount of shedding experienced.
The breeds boasting a double coat are collectively referred to as Spitz dogs. They are bred as either working or herding dogs. Of late, some breeds are being domesticated as toy breeds.
Here are some of the breeds that boast the magnificent double coats. The list is divided into the different categories.
Toy Breeds: American Eskimo, Alaskan Husky, Akita, Alaskan Malamute, Chow Chow, Chinook, Finnish Lapphund, Finish Spitz, German Spitz, Keeshond, Icelandic Sheep Dog, Korean Jindo, Norwegian Elkhound, Pomeranian, Norwegian Lundehund, Siberian Husky, Shiba Inu, Swedish Lapphund, Samoyed.
Herding Breeds: Swedish Vallhund, Shetland Sheepdog, Puli, Polish Lowland Sheepdog, Old English Sheepdog, Norwegian Buhund, German Shepherd Dog, Cardigan Welsh Corgi, Pembroke Corgi, Canaan Dog, Bouvier des Flanders, Briard, Belgian Tervuren, Belgian Malinois, Beauceron, Belgian Sheepdog, Bearded Collie, Smooth Collie, Rough Collie, Australian Shepherd, Australian Cattle Dog.
Working Dogs: Tibetan Mastiff, Saint Bernard, Newfoundland, Leonberger, Kuvasz, Komondor, Pyrenean Mountain Dog, Entlebucher Mountain Dog, Black Russia Terrier, Bernese Mountain Dog.
Sporting Dogs: Wirehaired Pointing Griffon, Nova Scotia Duck Tolling, Retriever, Labrador Retriever, Golden Retriever, Chesapeake Bay Retriever, Boykin Spaniel, American Water Spaniel.
Terrier Dog Breeds: West Highland White Terrier, Wirehaired Fox Terrier, Wheaten Terrier, Skye Terrier, Miniature Schnauzer, Sealyham Terrier, Scottish Terrier, Lakeland Terrier, Irish Terrier, Parson Russell Terrier, Norfolk Terrier, Tibetan Terrier, Dandie Dinmont Terrier, Cairn Terrier, Australian Terrier.
Lap Dogs: Yorkshire Terrier, Tibetan Spaniel, Shih Tzu, Pomeranian, Havanese.
Why is It Important to Brush and Remove the Undercoat?
After the extremities of winter, the increased temperatures render the undercoat of double coated dogs useless. It then needs to be shed so that the dog can cool when it gets hot. At this time, your pet needs proper and regular grooming to stay comfortable.
At some point, you might think of shaving the dog’s coat. However, vets and pet groomers advise against shaving the coat since it protects him from the sun and ultraviolet rays. Another reason you shouldn’t shave your dog is that they don’t sweat like you and hence don’t need an exposed skin to keep cool.
Regardless of all these, it is imperative that you remove the undercoat once the dog starts shedding it. Regular grooming is essential for the coat to perform its intended tasks more so in summer and spring.
When left undone, the fur tangles into mats which end up attracting moisture close to the skin. This moisture makes dogs pretty uncomfortable. By removing the dead undercoat, you create more spaces for air to circulate through within the dog’s skin. You will still be retaining the guard coat for protection against any external factors.
The good thing is that you can do the grooming yourself, just like I usually do. A gentle brush on the undercoat is all that it takes. But if you are a little unsure of yourself, you can seek the services of a professional dog groomer for a decent scrub.
Dog Undercoat Removal
Let me be sincere with you. Without the right tool for the job, removing your pooch’s dead undercoat is a grueling task. Things tend to get thick at times. For me, an undercoat rake does the job. I would suggest you use the blow rake since in my opinion it is the best undercoat rake. I have used it for years to groom my double coated Australian Shepherd and it works like magic for me.
Undercoat rakes are the ideal tools for those of you who want to home groom their pets. It works by removing the undercoat hairs that are ready to be shed. Just as its name suggests, a rake refers to a tool with a wide working headline with rows of rigid and round teeth.
The head is connected to a handle which you use to gently move the tool up and down the dog’s coat. In the process, the thick undercoat is raked out hair by hair. The selection process of a suitable rake should be done carefully.
Its pins should be such that they are about the same length as those of the dog’s hair. This length is to make sure the rake penetrates up to the undercoat, open it and remove the dead hair. At the same time, the pins should not be too long such that they scratch the skin.
Start the grooming process by making small strokes as you hold taut the dog’s skin. Increase the length of the rake strokes as the undercoat loosens. Always mind how deep the rake goes into the undercoat so as not to scratch your best friend’s skin. Once the coat is loose, brush them out with a slicker brush. A good rake should cost you between $10-$30.
The Best Undercoat Rake
If you are looking for an undercoat rake for your pooch’s grooming needs, the Pat Your Pet Grooming Tool is the best tool for the job in my opinion. I have used it for grooming my Australian Shepherd and can attest to its efficiency.
This tool is great for getting rid of knots, mats, and tangles besides being able to remove undercoats in long-haired dogs. It is a product that provides you with a 2-in-1 functionality. First of all, it is a dual 9 toothed comb for the toughest tangles. Secondly, it functions as a 17 teeth de-shedding and thinning tool.
It works best for both small and large breed dogs with either a medium or long sized coat. Regularly brushing the coats with this rake removes the dead hair in the pet’s undercoat. Shedding is reduced in the process.
If you are worried about the teeth either scratching or irritating your canine friend, then the rounded teeth are a welcome relief. These are completely safe on the dog. As a bonus, you get a cute paw tag for your dog.
Caring for a double coated dog breed can be a grueling task, particularly in the shedding season. There is usually hair everywhere from the couches, the floor and just about anything the dog rubs itself on.
However, with the right undercoat rake, the grooming routine is one that I have come to love. It gives me the chance to further bond with my lovely canine friend. It could work for you too. I hope this article has helped you better understand your dog and how his double coat works and how best to groom it.