What’s a Double-Coated Dog and How Do You Care for All That Hair?

A double-coated dog’s coat can feel like it requires double the attention here’s how to make routine care simple and painless for you and your pup. 

What’s a double-coated dog? These breeds have coats with two layers of fur a harsh topcoat and a soft undercoat. The two layers work together to keep your dog warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Hiding underneath all that hair, most double-coated dogs have pale pink skin that is highly susceptible to sunburns and potential sun damage is just one reason you should never shave a dog with a double coat.

If shaving isn’t the answer, then what is? Because double-coated dogs shed A LOT! Establishing a grooming routine is key. Regular attention to your dog’s basic hygiene and routine care needs will keep their coat from getting tangled and matted, a result that’s more than unsightly it’s straight-up painful!

Double-coated dog breeds

What’s a double-coated dog? Well, they’re usually quite fluffy. And, let’s just say, if you meet a new dog friend and think to yourself, “Wow! There’s a remarkable amount of hair flying around”, then you’ve probably spotted one.

You could likely recognize the double-coat of any breeds or breed mixes listed below, but if you have a mixed breed pup (especially those with unknown backgrounds), you’ll need to dig a little deeper. Here’s the test: Stroke your dog’s coat against the direction of the fur — if you see a patch of skin, your guy’s a single-coat; if you spot the hallmark short layer of dense, fluffy fur, then you’ve got yourself a double-coated dog. 

Double-coated dog breeds include (but aren’t limited to): 

Akita

Australian Shepherd

Bernese Mountain Dog

Bichon Frise

Border Collies (rough and smooth varieties)

Chow Chow

Corgi (Pembroke and Cardigan Welsh)

German Shepherd

Golden Retriever

Havanese

Yorkshire Terrier

Routine maintenance tips for your double-coated pup

Shaving, as we mentioned, is a no-no for double-coated dogs. Often well-intentioned dog parents want to shave their pups double-coat thinking it will keep them cooler and reduce shedding. But, once you understand how the double-coat functions, you’ll see that’s not the case at all. 

First and foremost, shaving your dog (no matter their coat type) is never an effective method of reducing shedding — though it may appear to help, the same amount of hair is shed, it’s just shorter in length.

While single-coated dogs often seem to shed less, their hair loss is consistent year-round. On the other hand, double-coated dogs follow a shedding cycle and ‘blow their coat’ twice a year — any shedding the rest of the year is minimal and results from normal hair turnover. Shaving damages the topcoat and the cycle of the hair, which means it can take years to grow back properly. 

All that hair is there for a reason — it has heating, cooling, and protective properties. The best way to keep your double-coated dog comfortable and to minimize shedding is with routine baths and shedding treatments at Scenthound and regular brushing to maintain their coat and remove loose hair between visits.

During shedding season, you may need to switch up your basic grooming routine to stay on top of that fur. Baths help wash away loose hair, so once monthly baths may become weekly, and weekly brushing may become daily to prevent matting. 

Mats are incredibly painful for your pup! Mats pull on the skin, cause irritation, and can make it hard to spot underlying issues like fleas, ticks, hotspots and other wounds. If you find some tangles, remove them slowly and carefully — never use scissors to cut them out. It’s always best to call in the professionals if the matting is tight or you’re uneasy about removing it.

That said, even the best grooming tips and tricks won’t put a dent in severe matting. In serious cases, the only humane option is to shave the coat and start fresh. Once the matting is too far gone, we are unwilling to brush out (or attempt to brush out) severe mats because it’s genuinely agonizing for your dog and their safety and wellbeing are always our top priority.

Too busy or worried you’re grooming your double-coated pup wrong and harming them? You can still keep your dog clean and healthy.

You love your double-coated pup, but maintaining their basic hygiene and staying on top of shedding can feel like a full-time job. Scenthound’s Monthly Care Club makes it easy, affordable, and convenient to get your dog (and their high-maintenance double coat) the routine care they need. With several convenient locations, you can drop your pup off at Scenthound, run errands, and come back to pick up your happy, healthy dog!