Long coated  or  Woolly  Siberian Huskies     

In early 2010 I was prompted to compile the information on this page after clipping and grooming several long coated or woolly Siberian Huskies who came into foster care here from various Council  Dog Pounds.

Nalle turned up in mid 2008 looking for a new home and I did a mini clip on her.

Zeke was a different case entirely.  He has been in a Council Pound for some weeks and on arrival needed quite a bit of grooming  -  the initial job took us 5 hours.

Bonny was reprieved from death row at Blacktown Pound on Christmas Eve 2010

Pictures of other woolly Huskies will be added as they come into our lives.

Also pictured below is our own Champion Polarwolf Ruff N Tuff ET  -  the only long coated Siberian Husky to become a Champion in Australia     "Lysander"

Siberian Huskies with this different coat type and length are purebred  -  and can be pedigree and registered  -  but are not usually shown. 

Long coated puppies turn up occasionally in a litter. The different coat comes about by way of a genetic recessive in the genes of both parents.  They can be distinguished by having a long and extremely fine coat; similar to that of a Collie. 

You can read about woolly Siberian Huskies here:   http://www.huskycolors.com/wooly.html

Long coated puppies are the cutest and cuddliest in a litter and are easily sold.  The problem about the coat is often not explained, and certainly the length of time needed to groom and care for a coat which is quite different from that of 99% of the Huskies around is not emphasised and often under-estimated.

 

 

The Siberian Husky coat is made up of two layers  -  called a double coat. The outer coat consists of darker coloured hairs and is long, straight and harsh, and will shed dirt and water to some degree. The under coat is a softer, paler wool and is very thick. The latter can be used for spinning, knitting and weaving into garments. The resulting yarn is like Cashmere and has no doggy odour if washed before spinning.  (tip:  combine 50-50 with lambs wool to help the yarn stay in one strand after spinning and not become unravelled)

 

The coat of a woolly Husky is also a double coat, but significantly longer, with the outer guard hairs tending to drop due to the weight of them, looking most similar to the coat of a Collie dog.  The combination of thick undercoat and long outer hairs is what makes grooming so difficult, time consuming and important to be done regularly.

 

When grooming a woolly Husky the main goal is to remove the dead undercoat or “wool” that is held in the coat.  The old fur that is shed does not drop out -  which is the main difference with a normal double coated Husky when shedding.  The shed hairs of the undercoat seem to become caught or held in the longer outer hairs. The undercoat is almost white in colour and tends to form knotty clumps which need a comb to draw them out.  This combing can be quite painful and you need to be relaxed and give the dog breaks to relieve the relentless pulling on his fur by the comb.

An estimate of time spent on grooming is at least 60 minutes, once a week or every ten days (at a stretch)

This Collie is Thomas, owned by Jenny Wales

Zeke  -  just turned 6 years old when we found him in a Sydney Dog Pound  -  looking like this!

He came matted, knotted up, full of dead, loose and shedding fur – and smelly - after being forced to lie on the hosed down but still wet concrete of his kennel yard.  The knots between his hind legs were so tight that he shuffled along - not able to walk with a free stride.

We have never seen a Husky with fur in such a bad condition  -  Zeke was the very worst we hope to come across - ever. 

Deciding to take home a Long Coated or woolly Siberian Husky brings with it the responsibility to spend the time and do the grooming needed - week after week throughout the dog's life.  Letting the coat get as matted and letting your dog suffer as much as Zeke did is a criminal offence - you can be charged and fined under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act

These pictures clearly show three distinct layers of fur on his body.

The darker fur on the top line held loose woolly undercoat which was combed and brushed out completely

Through the lighter grey of the middle layer you can see great clumps of loosened and shedding paler woolly undercoat which was being held close to the body by the longer guard hairs of his outer coat.  Most of these were removed using a rake, wide toothed comb and scissors to cut through the worst clumps.

The fur on the lower part of his body was so tightly knotted and matted that no comb or brush could get through it.  Clipping the fur off using electric clippers was the only option for us.

 

This picture shows the three layers very clearly.  The lower part is muddy brown - caused by the dog lying on dirt and wet concrete and that grime was worked into his fur.  His belly and groin were as tightly matted  -  restricting free movement of his legs and making walking slow and difficult.

 

The knotting on the tail is clearly visible - too tight to be combed out - meaning that his tail fur was cut off close to the skin - carefully  -  with scissors to give him some comfort.

 

AFTER THE CLIP

 

The lower part of his body was clipped off short  -  it is a pale almost white colour because the long grey outer coat has been cut short.

 

The almost straight line along his torso can be seen  -  this line was the defining point between the part we could comb out (above) and the too tightly matted fur below.

 

Zeke was groomed and clipped on 18 December 2009

 

Zeke  -  after being clipped, bathed and combed out

 

The picture on the left shows how we trimmed off his tail with scissors, yet clipped all the fur off his hind legs  -  quite close to the skin.

 

 

 

 

  Read about the Grooming of woolly Siberian Huskies here

Start by removing all that dead hair

Certain parts of the dog will knot up with loose dead hair very easily if particular attention is not given to them. These include the softer areas behind the ears, around the neck and throat, the cheeks, in the arm pits and around the groin and rear legs and tail.  Use scissors lying parallel to the skin surface to cut out the mats carefully  instead of combing or pulling. It is much kinder and gentler on the dog if these matts are cut out close to the skin.  Cutting matts out of armpits and groin is better done when the dog is lying down. A dog can move suddenly when standing, resulting in a deep scissors cut  -  either to him or to your hand.

While the dog is shedding or moulting always groom before you bath, or the loose hair will turn into very tight knots during the bathing process.  You want to make sure that his coat is free flowing and clear of tangles and dead hair, otherwise the water will tighten all the tangles and eventually matts will form causing discomfort and sometimes sores

A thorough rinsing and drying are very important. Should shampoo remain in the coat or if the coat remains wet at the skin, your dog could develop open sores (called hot spots) which are uncomfortable for the dog, and difficult to clear up.

Towel dry well, assisted by the dog’s shaking and brush the dry coat again.  You can blow dry using a very strong hair dryer or specialised dog dryer.

To finish, get your dog to stand up and give him a final brush when the coat is completely dry to put his coat in place and give him lots of fuss and praise and something very tasty to reward him for being so good.

GROOMING   EQUIPMENT   NEEDED

from left:  medium-coarse comb,  nail clippers,   scissors,  thinning scissors,

               rake  (purple),  pin brush,  rake  (wooden handle),   slicker brush

 

Zeke was clipped off 6 weeks previously - the distinct line of fur along his torso can be seen.

The fur beneath this is already growing back - giving him a soft and fuzzy appearance on his legs

 

Pin Brush  -  metal bristles set in a rubber backing

Begin at the head and neck and work back towards the tail. The hair is brushed against its natural grain. Brush thoroughly from the skin outwards.  If you cannot see the skin, you are not getting down to it, therefore not brushing properly.  When you are finished brushing the coat and removing the dead hair with a pin brush you should be able to get a comb through the entire dog without running into matts or snags. That is the test.

The pants are brushed out and downwards working from the hocks upwards towards the tail in small sections. Finally comes the tail which should be brushed in short strokes gradually doing the entire length from the body to the tip. 

While you are brushing, run your other hand through your dog's coat behind the brush and check for any cuts or scratches, any parasites or bites that might indicate the presence of parasites, any unusual lumps, areas of flakey skin or sores.

Comb

1.  Medium and coarsely spaced tynes  -  called a Greyhound comb

2.  alternate tynes are different length  -  called a moulting (shedding) rake

Used to clean out any loose hairs from the coat after brushing. Comb out the thick fur on the back legs. Great for getting out dead undercoat without stripping the harsh outer hairs.

Encourage your dog to lie on his side or back so that you can groom his underside, once again brush through the coat until it is feels free flowing, then comb through, this time you can probably use a medium sized comb but take care not to snag him, his underside will be very sensitive.

Gently work out any bits of mud and dirt and check very carefully in his arm pits for any matts of hair, work back from his chest over his tummy and towards his genitals and groin. If you find any matts cut them away carefully with blunt nosed scissors, don't try to tease out the knots as the skin is very sensitive.

 

This picture shows how to use a rake or comb on small sections of fur.

Use your hand to part the fur at skin level and comb from the skin outwards

 

Grooming the tail

Dogs don't like having their tails pulled about so be careful

Give him lots of gentle brushing and testing for knots with a wide toothed comb and back to brushing until the tail is thoroughly groomed then move onto the thicker fur at the back of the hind legs. The tail and breeches (pants) usually take the longest to groom and demand the most patience and care, work steadily and remember to talk to him and tell him what a good boy he is being.

Do not pull or twist the tail as most dogs are very protective of their tail and resent painful combing there.

Feet and Nails

Dogs don't like having their feet touched but tend to be less protective over their back feet than their front feet so this is a good place to start.  Use your fingers to lift the hair between the toes to check for knots.  Be very careful not to pull the hair between the toes.  If you find any hair clogged together with mud simply cut it out, it would be too painful to try and comb it out.

If your dog is reluctant to let you touch his feet be firm but kind, tell him to lie still and hold his leg firmly but don't get into a pulling contest. You may want to trim the long hair on your dog's feet with scissors and this is certainly something we recommend, it is healthier and more comfortable for your dog.

THE PROFESSIONALS  

If you're really pressed for time or the dog is particularly dirty or knotty, you can send him to a professional groomer.  It will cost, but you will get a professional job.  If they can do the initial groom, it should be quite easy to keep the coat under control yourself.  If the coat is densely matted, then a shave to cut the knots out at skin level must be done.  These matts cannot be combed out  -  scissors or clippers are to be used.  This is a reasonable solution when the coat is beyond salvage using a brush and comb. If this is being considered, then please take enough time to talk to the groomer who will be doing the clip, ask specifically whether a Husky has been clipped by this person, and get a quote.  Decide whether the legs, head and tail are to be included, also whether the topline will be left - giving an exaggerated mohawk appearance.

 

“Hygiene cut”

Another area you may want to trim is under the anus, the underside of the tail and the inside of both hind legs to help the dog stay clean.  Again, be very careful not to cut the skin.  Hold the scissors parallel to the skin, be sure you know exactly what hair you are trimming, and trim a little bit at a time.  If you’re not sure how to do this, or not comfortable, ask your vet or groomer to show you.

 

Zeke on 8 February 2010  -  even though he had been clipped off, loose fur was still being shed and needed combing out.  This pile was the result of one hour of grooming  -  and Zeke is still smiling, despite the knots

 

 

 

The end result

Your dog should have a coat that is manageable and free of knots and matts.  You may have left holes or jagged edges by using scissors to cut out knotted areas, but these will grow back over time, and with practice you should be able to blend in the scissor cut edges to make these less noticeable.

Your dog will have a knot free coat and be able to walk without knots and matts constricting the movement of his legs, be able to eat without knots and matts encircling his teeth and tongue and be able to eliminate without messing his coat.

A clean and non smelling pet will make for a much happier companion  -  a dog who will be welcomed into your house and on family activities and outings.  A dog who is much less likely to end up needing a new home via Husky rescue NSW.

 

Nalle  -  a blue eyed beauty who we reprieved from Renbury Animal Shelter in Sydney in May 2008.

 

She went to the best home in Canberra, but her age and neglect meant that she slowed down with arthritis - but she was so content with her gentle life until the end!

 

Bonny  -  one of the prettiest Huskies to have come through Rescue for a long time.  She is black and white with blue eyes  -  and we reprieved her from death row on Blacktown Pound (Sydney) on Christmas Eve in 2010

 

Her trousers and belly were clipped short on arrival - she was so matted and dirty.

 

She found the best home in Canberra where she joined 2 other long coated Huskies in her new family

 

Nala - reprieved from RSPCA Yagoona in April 2016.  Aged 7 years, she went to a home in Wagga Wagga to help fill the gap after a much loved older dog passed away

 

Her coat was clogged with shed hairs - it took 3 weeks to comb it all out, easy to do - a bit at a time - and the end result was a dog who did not need to be clipped short.