GROOMING  THE WOOLY  OR  LONG  COATED  SIBERIAN  HUSKY

 

Since May 2008 we have fostered four long coated Siberians for Husky Rescue.  While all of them found the best homes, this high incidence led me to wonder how many “woolies” are out there and whether owners understand and appreciate the time and effort involved in keeping that coat knot free and groomed out.

So I compiled this article in the hope that it will be distributed to owners of Woolies and that we won’t see the bad condition and appalling suffering of dogs like Zeke when he was pulled out of a Council Dog Pound.  Zeke’s coat was neglected to the point where his fur was matted, knotted and tangled, where mud, water and grime was so ingrained that it had to be clipped off at skin level to give him some comfort and to stop those knots pulling at his skin painfully.  Some of the pictures included to illustrate the grooming done are of the grey and white male Husky Zeke who was rescued and re-homed in January 2010.

 

Wooly Siberians have a long, fluffy and very thick double coat (two layers).  The outer coat consists of darker grey 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. 

It is a chore and a half to keep such a coat clean and brushed, and the easiest option is to take him to a professional groomer  -  but you will pay for the time needed to rake and comb through this long coat.  The alternative is for you to rake his coat every couple days, paying close attention to mats, and don't obsess if you don't seem to get anywhere.  If you have a pile of hair beside you - then you are getting somewhere.  The time involved is at least 10 minutes every night or two, and about an hour raking out as much wool or undercoat as possible once a week.  Long coated Huskies tend to mat up a lot quicker than Huskies with regular coats.  Air can’t get to the skin and hot spots or areas of local infection on the skin surface and erupt.

 

Zeke came like this from the Pound  -  matted, knotted up full of dead and shedding fur – and smelly

Yes, we took heaps of pictures  -  both "before" and "after"

-  we found it difficult to comprehend how anyone could let a dog get into such a neglected state

The too solid and immovable matts of dead fur were clipped off Zeke.  The contrasting line of colour clearly shows where his undercarriage was clipped.

Even his tail was cut back with scissors as the matts were too extensive for us to comb them out  -  much too painful for a dog who had already been through so much

 

The picture below shows the transformation of Zeke after 5 hours of grooming and a hot soapy bath

Grooming equipment needed

from left

coarse-medium comb

hair cutting scissors

nail clippers

thinning scissors

moulting rake

pin brush

moulting rake

slicker brush

This pile of combed out wool is the result of a 60 minute grooming session

More grooming information:  click HERE

 

The procedure is to start with a pin brush, beginning at the head/neck and working 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 removing dead hair with the brush you should be able to get a comb through the entire dog without running into mats or snags. That is the test.  The pants are brushed down 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.

The main goal is to remove the dead “wool” that is clinging to the coat which tends to form knotty clumps which need a comb to draw them out.  This can be painful and you need to be relaxed and give the dog breaks to relieve the constant pulling on his fur.  You can use scissors lying parallel to the skin surface and carefully cut out the mats which tend to form in 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.

Then comb out any loose hairs from the coat concentrating on the thick fur on and between the back legs. The tail and feathers usually take the longest to groom and demand the most patience and care.  A comb is great for getting out dead undercoat without stripping the harsh outer hairs

 

During shedding or moulting (when the undercoat detaches from the body) daily grooming for about 2 to 3 weeks is important.  A bath during this time will hasten the process.  Using warm water will help to open the pores and make the removal of old hair easier.  At this time always groom before you bath, or the loose hair will turn into 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.  Towel dry well, assisted by the dog’s shaking and brush the dry coat again.  You can blow dry using a hair dryer or specialised high performance dog dryer.

 

Woollies benefit from having a “Bikini cut” for hygiene.  Trim under the anus, the underside of the tail and inside 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 so that you only cut hair and not skin.

 

Other Long Coated Siberian Huskies we have known and loved

Nalle  -  an older grey female who came from a Sydney Council Dog Pound as pictured and who needed so much care and attention before we let her go to the best family home in Canberra

(pictures below as well)

Candy  -  not as extreme in coat length as some of the others, but still quite a handful to groom out and clean up when she came out of a Sydney Dog Pound in March 2010

 

our personal favourite   Lysander 

Champion Polarwolf Ruff N Tuff   ET

whose picture graced the front cover of the Dogs NSW Journal back in December 1994, who won Best Minor Puppy in Group at the 1994 Canberra Royal Show

and who is remembered as one of the sweetest natured and most loveable Huskies we have ever known