What is a Double Coat and How to Groom it Properly
*We are reader supported and may earn a commission for purchases made using our links. Please see our disclosure to learn more.
Dogs don’t just vary in the breed; they also have different coat types. One of which is double-coated dogs. It’s like having one dog and two coats. With this, grooming and maintenance will vary differently from breeds with single coats. Double coated dogs grooming will require more work and special tools like the undercoat rakes.
Double coats aren’t just accidental characteristics. This plays a vital role in keeping them warm during very cold weather. But what if it’s warm, should you shave it? How can you manage this thick coat? Below, I discussed some points based on my personal preference.
What is a double coat?
Double coated dogs have two layers of fur. Most of the time, the undercoat is difficult to see since it has dense yet short hairs. The top coat, on the other hand, is longer and is also called guard hair.
In fact, the thicker the undercoat is the fluffier the dog looks. But as much as double coated dogs might look huggable and cute, they require intense grooming.
Unlike the wiry top coat, undercoats are softer. It acts as a thermal layer to shield the dog from the intense cold. This is the reason why most double coated dogs originally came from cold places.
In this video, professional groomer Jenn Bethune tells us more about double coated dogs and their grooming needs:
Double coated vs. single coated dogs
The main disadvantage to double coated dogs is that grooming then can be a total pain. This is why some pet owners prefer single coated dogs like Bulldogs, Dalmatians, Pugs, Poodles, and Fox Terriers.
Still, dog coats are just one of the considerations when it comes to getting a pet. Many pet owners can tolerate the coat blowing and grooming due to the characteristics of the breed.
For example, although Bernese Mountain Dogs are walking shedders, they are very good for kids. The same goes for Alaskan Malamutes.
Also, the biggest disadvantage of double coated dogs is that they aren’t suitable for very hot climates. They have to be kept cool and trimmed properly.
Why do some dogs have double coats?
Generally, breeders breed double coated dogs to endure freezing temperatures. If you will peruse our list of double coated dog breeds, you will notice that they all came from cold countries.
With this, the extra layer in their coats is intended to keep them warm. Also, the undercoat keeps them safe from the damaging effects of UV rays.
If the coat is trimmed too short or the undercoat is grazed, the dog will develop skin problems. In worse cases, the pooch’s life might be at risk.
However, you should also be careful as a pet owner. Double coats are notorious for trapping dirt and heat which are a troublesome pair. It can start skin infection and foul smell of the doggo isn’t groomed properly.
Dog breeds with double coats
So how do you know if a dog has a double coat? It’s not enough that they look fluffier than others. You can run your fingers on the dog’s coat and try to look for shorter hairs. If the doggo has this, it’s likely a double coated breed.
You can also look for a dewlap. This is the extra skin around the neck of the dog which acts as insulation. Dewlaps are more common to hunting breeds.
To give you an idea, here’s a list of the most popular double coated dog breeds:
1. Siberian and Alaskan Huskies
Of all double coated dogs, these two are the most popular breeds. Siberian Huskies came from the cold areas of Siberia. The Chukchi people bred them for hunting and sled-pulling purposes.
Meanwhile, Alaskan Huskie or Malamutes came from – obviously – Alaska. Like their Siberian cousins, they were used for sled pulling and snow gears.
2. Chow Chow
These teddy bear-like dogs have double coats which make them look fluffy. This breed came from China and its name directly means “puffy-lion dog”.
3. Akita and Shiba Inu
These are Japanese dogs that pet owners love due to their vigilance and confidence. But as much as they are fluffy, they are not the huggable type.
4. German Shepherd
This intelligent and regal dog is one of the double coated breeds. German Shepherds are popular as service dogs and support canines.
5. Bernese Mountain Dog
Dubbed as the Gentle Giant, the Bernese Mountain Dog is a notorious shedder. Their large size also makes their shedding intense. Only owners that can handle the demands of grooming will do well with this breed.
6. Golden and Labrador Retrievers
The sweethearts of the canine kingdom are double coated breeds. Of the two, Golden Retrievers have a thicker coat and known for shedding as well as its smelly “doggy scent”. Nevertheless, they are two of the most preferred breeds due to their friendly, calm, and intelligent nature.
Even this little ball of energy actually has double coats. Beagles have short coats but it can give one heck of a shedding.
There are more double coated dogs like Smooth Collies, Great Pyrenees, Shetland Sheepdog, and Corgis.
What you need to know about ‘coat blow’
Double coated dogs are known for the so-called ‘coat blow’. If you’re planning to get a fluffy, double coated dog, you should know about this first.
Coat blowing is different from year-long shedding. When coat blowing takes place, the dog will shed its coat heavily. This is the dog’s way of removing the thick coat in preparation for summer. It happens twice a year, especially during the changing of seasons.
So when you observe that your doggo is losing chunks of fur, you don’t have to panic right away. If the season is transitioning from winter to summer, this is pretty normal. However, if your pooch develops a bald patch, that’s the time you should seek the help of a veterinarian. Anyway, some patches may appear to be harmless.
The blowing of the coat will last for a few days. Your dog’s excess coat will fall off naturally, but to prevent it from sticking on the furniture, you should brush your pet regularly.
Another trick to speed up the blowing of the coat is to bathe your pooch more frequently than usual. This will help loosen the coat for faster shedding. Also, it will let you remove the loose coat right away so it won’t wreak havoc in your household.
If you think dog shedding is intolerable, you have to be prepared because coat blowing is much worse. For aspiring owners who don’t have the patience for grooming, they are better off with single-coated dogs.
How to groom a double coated dog properly
Regular grooming is imperative if you own a double coated dog. Unlike single coated breeds, double coats will need more time and patience when it comes to double coated dogs grooming.
Here’s my short guide on grooming a double coated dog:
First of all, you need the right tools. The number one necessity here is an undercoat rake. Below, I reviewed two of the best-selling rakes that I personally used on my fur babies.
Detangle the coat. For very fluffy doggos, you should always detangle first. Use the rake or a pin comb to do this. Be as gentle as possible and avoid pulling the tangled fur. If some tangles are difficult to remove, you can cut it out.
Use the undercoat rake to comb the entire coat. Always comb the coat in line with the direction it grows. Do the combing from front to back for at least 5 minutes.
Brush the head, back of the head, and neck of your dog. This is important, especially if the pooch has a dewlap.
Don’t forget to brush the tail since the fur here will also shed along the way. Also, brush the legs one by one. Avoid applying too much pressure into the joints.
Collect all the blown fur and dispose of it properly. You can bathe your dog afterward using a dedicated dog shampoo. Once the coat dries, perform the brushing steps again. You will surely get more blown hair.
Do the brushing at least twice a week to manage the blowing coat.
If you decide to bathe your dog, you should use a dryer. Since double coats are thick, it’s easy to miss hidden moisture.
What you should avoid with double coated dogs
Sure, it can be hot during the summer season but it’s not a good idea to shave your dog’s coat. Double coated dogs become more prone to infection when you trim the coat too short. Also, some dog coats trimmed to the tip won’t go back on its normal condition. This spells trouble during the winter season.
The double coat is part of the dog’s natural system. Cutting it away means you’re removing their natural insulation and shield against external elements. This will make them more prone to skin infections and sun damage. It’s best to let the natural coat blowing take place.
If you’re worried about intense heat during the summer season, it’s best to consult a veterinarian.
Another thing is that if you’re not skilled in trimming, you can send your dog to a professional groomer. Haphazard clipping will only hurt more than it helps.
Here’s a video from Life of Aspen telling us why you should never shave double coated dogs:
Best brushes for double coated dogs
Here, I reviewed two undercoat rakes that you can use to your pets:
GoPets Dematting Comb Grooming Rake
This undercoat rake from GoPets is a two-sided comb. It can be used as a regular comb or an undercoat rake during the coat blowing phase. You can choose between the high or low-density sides depending on the condition of your dog’s coat.
The teeth are made from sharpened stainless steel. Still, if you use it with care, it shouldn’t harm your doggo.
This rake is excellent for dematting, untangling, and keeping your dog’s coat well kept. Aside from being a dog comb, you can use it on cats as well.
The side with 12 teeth is great for removing matted and tangled fur. Once done, you can switch to the side with 23 teeth to remove loose fur.
Another thing that I love about this rake is the rounded palm design that makes it easy to remove the chunk of fur between brushing. Also, the non-slip gel handle is a big bonus.
If you have multiple dogs in your household, this can be an all-around comb.
✔️Double sided comb
✔️Stainless steel for longer use
✔️Contoured handle for perfect grip
✔️The blade is replaceable
❌The handle can feel sticky
Pat Your Pet Undercoat Rake
I must say, at some point, the handle of GoPets comb became uncomfortable to use. So if you don’t like the gel handle, you can opt for Pat Your Pets Undercoat Rake. This is also a 2-sided comb but with a textured rubber and plastic handle.
This rake has fewer teeth but functional nonetheless. The 9-teeth side is great for removing tangles and matting. Meanwhile, the 17-teeth side is ideal for removing loose fur and smoothing the dog’s coat. Also, each tooth has a rounded edge to avoid grazing the skin of your pooch.
This is also more affordable than the GoPets comb. If you’re not happy with the brush, you can send it back and you’ll get a refund or a authenticdogs02-20nt. That says a lot about the brand.
Pat Your Pet also runs a special promo where you’ll get a dog tag freebie on your purchase. You can also receive a dog care e-book.
✔️No question money-back guarantee
✔️Available freebies for your purchase
✔️More affordable than GoPets brush
❌Fewer teeth but not a biggie, though
Double coated dogs grooming is challenging but it’s just a small sacrifice that you can do your pooch. It just takes a little more time and patience. If you’re planning to get a dog with this coat, you should be prepared for this added responsibility.
What started out as a way of documenting what I have learned about caring for my dogs has now turned into my passion and mission to share what I discover with as many people as possible. While each dog has their own personality, increasing your knowledge can help create both a happy dog and owner!