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Summer Grooming for Northern Breeds

Northern breed dogs need a lot of grooming to keep shedding to a minimum; in addition to their normal hair coat, they possess a soft, fluffy undercoat beneath the outer coat. Without regular maintenance of the undercoat, large clumps of hair can start to accumulate and build up in the coat.  Northern breeds are already really warm on a hot summer day without the addition of unshed undercoat! If it is a manageable option, I recommend starting the summer with a professional groom.  The special deshedding shampoos and conditioners paired with high powered dryers can do wonders for removing undercoat and can give your dog a fresh start for summer.

If a trip to the groomer is not feasible and you are able to do this process at home, you will need: deshedding shampoo and conditioner, a comb, and a slicker brush (optional: undercoat rake, Furminator brush, etc.).  If your dog has a large amount of clumping undercoat, I would use a comb or undercoat rake to work through those areas before bathing.  It will be easier to get your dog clean if you remove most of the dead hair first.  Bathe your dog and make sure to get all of the soap out before toweling off—it can take a while to do this due to the thick fur.  Do not bathe a dog with a lot of undercoat unless you plan to brush out the whole dog afterward; if water and soap get trapped under thick undercoat, skin irritation and hot spots can result.  The rest of the brushing can most easily be accomplished once your pet is dry. Use the brush of your preference first (slicker brush, Furminator) and then run a comb through afterward to make sure you removed all of the dead undercoat.

Deshedding pets is not without some risks. Brush burn is caused by going over one spot too many times with a brush and irritating the skin.  The highest risk for brush burn is from Furminators or slicker brushes.  Do not let this stop you from using them, however; just be aware of the risk and monitor skin color and your dogs’ reaction to brushing.

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