Before any kind of grooming regime can be structured, both at home and the groomers, it’s important to know what your pets coat needs. A lot of the breeds we now call our pets were bred and suited to different climates than they live in now. This means that throughout the year your pet may need some help shedding or stripping, to make them comfortable. If you’re ever concerned or confused about your pets coat condition or even their skin, contacting your vet is always a good idea.
TYPES OF COATS
Between hundreds of new mixed breeds and traditional breeds, identifying the various types of dog coats can be difficult, however most dogs will fall into one of the following categories.
Curly/Wavy Coated: This coat is soft, curly or wavy and typically non-shedding. Brushing regularly to prevent mats and trimming/cutting the coat throughout the year is necessary. Examples include; Irish Water Spaniels, Old English Sheepdogs, Poodles and Bichon Frises.
Smooth Coated: A smooth coat sits close to the body, individual hairs are short and stiff, this typically means the coat is clean and odour free. The actual skin is usually soft and quite sensitive, occasional bathing and a light brush is sufficient. Examples include; Pointers, Whippets, Greyhounds, Boxers and Boston Terriers.
Combination Coated: Dogs with this type of coat will have a short, smooth coat on the face and front sides of legs, with a denser short coat on the body. They also have a long silky coat which appears on the tail, undercarriage as well as the rear sides of the legs. These coats are also prone to seasonal sheds. Regular brushing and trimming of the long coat is required to prevent matting and the accumulation of dirt and debris. Examples include; Brittanys, Golden Retrievers, Tibetan Spaniels and Border Collies.
Heavy Coated: This is a combination of a long, thick, silky coat with a limited amount of short, smooth coat. The longer coat has a tendency to form severe mats and tangles, which if left can cause skin issues, including inflammation and infection due to the lack of air circulation. Daily to weekly brushing of the long coat is required to prevent the formation of mats and tangles. Examples include; Pomeranians, Shetland Sheepdogs, Rough Coated Collies and Newfoundlands.
Silky Coated: Silky coats have a limited short, smooth coat over the body with a short, tight coat on the face and front of the legs. Breeds will have a long silky coat on the tail, undercarriage and rear sides of the legs, this coat needs to be brushed regularly to prevent mats and tangles, feathers (long coat) should be trimmed regularly to help stop the accumulation of dirt and debris, alternatively it can be clipped completely off. This type of coat is also prone to seasonal sheds. Examples include; All Setters, English Springer Spaniels, Cocker Spaniels and Cavalier King Charles.
Natural Long Haired: Characterized by a long coat covering the entire body, natural long haired coats are considered to be non-shedding. To maintain a breed style coat, it must be brushed at least three times a week, ideally daily, very little trimming is done. Pet owners may choose to clip the coat back to a more manageable length, but brushing regularly should still be maintained to avoid forming tangles and mats. Due to the excessive coat eye and ear problems can manifest so some owners will choose to have regular trims around these areas. Examples include; Lhasa Apsos, Shih Tzus, Afghan Hound and Yorkshire Terriers.
Wire Coated: This type of coat is comprised of a soft, short, dense undercoat that covers most of the body, and a wiry guard hair that covers the entire body, including face, ears, legs and tail. The longer guard coat should be brushed, bathed and hand plucked or brush stripped regularly, otherwise mats and tangles can occur. The undercoat will naturally shed out during seasonal shedding. Examples include; Most Terriers, Giant and Standard Schnauzers, Wire Haired Dachshunds and Irish Wolfhounds.
Double Coated: This is a straight coat that is short to moderate in length. It has a harsh outer guard coat, with an abundant soft down undercoat that is soft dense and thick designed to protect the dog in extreme weather conditions. Naturally occuring body oils can result in an odour, and seasonal sheds can be copious. Regular brushing, using tools for both the undercoat and guard coat is needed to keep your pet comfortable through the seasons. Examples include; Akitas, German Shepherds, Shelties, and Siberian Huskys.
Short Coated: This is a short, harsh coat that again sits close to the body, this type of coat is compatible with a wide variety of weather conditions. This trait means shedding of the harsh coat (under coat) can be profuse in cooler spring climates. The guard coat will cling and weave into fabrics, this is often difficult to remove. Dogs with this type of coat tend to produce natural body oil that creates an odour, regular bathing and brushing helps to keep shedding and ‘doggy odours’ to a minimum. Examples include; Labradors, Beagles, Rottweilers and Pugs.
Corded: The corded coat consists of a strong top coat entwining a soft, woolly undercoat. Typically the corded coat will not be achieved until adulthood. Great care must be taken in order to properly maintain and nurture corded coats. Primarily fingers are used to maintain a corded coat and are used to split apart cords should they become too thick, frequent bathing is to be avoided as often shampoo does not properly rinse out and the coat is very difficult to dry. Avoiding flea and skin problems is imperative. Examples include; Pulis, Havanese, Komondors and Poodles.
Cats coats will fall into one of three categories; short hair, long hair or non-shedding. These apply whether a pure bred or not, ‘house cats’ or ‘moggies’ as they are often referred to, can be categorised as Domestic Short Hair or Domestic Long Hair. Cats will generally groom themselves and maintain their coat quite happily without their owners intervention. Should you feel the malting is too excessive, your cat begins to have an increase in ‘hair balls’ or is failing to groom themselves properly, resulting in mats or tangles, you can begin a brushing regime.
Non-Shedding: Cats that are categorised as non shedding, require little to none when it comes to external help. Parasite prevention and lovely warm homes are all you’ll need to keep your pets “coat” comfy. Examples include; Peterbalds, La Perms, Sphynxes and the Devon Rex.
Short Hair: A de-shedder can be used to strip out the undercoat, finishing with a rubber brush to grab any excess top coat. This process can be performed as necessary. Typically short haired cats don’t accumulate mats. Examples include; Domestic Short Hair, Burmese, Scottish Folds and Russian Blues.
Long Hair: Daily to weekly brushing is recommended for long coated breeds, even if your cat is grooming themselves properly. Long haired breeds are prone to ‘hair balls’ and the less excess hair on your cat, the less they will ingest whilst grooming. Regular brushing also helps prevent the formation of mats and tangles. De-shedding tools can also be used to thin the under coat, should your cat develop mats a groom with a professional is advised. Should the matting become severe a full groom, where the coat is clipped completely off, may be necessary. Examples include; Domestic Medium/Long Hair, Ragdolls, Maine Coons and Birmans.
Cats skin is very delicate, attempting to cut out mats at home with incorrect tools or from awkward areas may result in cutting the skin. Contact a professional groomer or your vet instead, as they can safely and quickly remove them for you.