A Dog’s Coat – Upkeep & Expense

There are so many cute puppies to choose from! Before you fall for the sweetest face take a moment and consider what you are committing to.

Yes, you know you will need food, toys, a crate, puppy shots and checkups. The first year is always the most expensive. But what about expenses that last the lifetime of the dog? One of the potentially biggest investments of both time and money is coat care. Quite honestly, you are going to spend lots of time with a vacuum cleaner OR a dog brush, so choose wisely.

Some dogs have fur, which generally grows to one length and then falls out (sheds). Some examples of those dogs are Labs, Pointers, Dobermans, Bassets, Beagles. Vizlas, Weimaraners and Pit bulls.

These breeds only require a bath every 1 ½ – 2 months which usually includes bathing, drying, brushing, ear cleaning and nail trimming. Depending on the size of the dog this service generally runs about $35-40 per visit. The dog may or may not require a nail trim between baths, which usually runs about $10. The total yearly care for professional Grooming of this type of dog is in the $250 – $300 range.

Another class of dogs that have fur also are double-coated. A double-coated breed has a soft thick inner coat that protects the skin and acts as insulation to keep the dog warm in the winter and cooler in the summer. The outer coat is coarser hair that repels dirt and water. The thicker the undercoat, the fluffier the dog will be. And that, unfortunately, makes it a little bit more expensive to maintain.

Some examples of this breed are Siberian Huskies, Chows, some Spaniels, Shepherds, Retrievers, Collies, Corgis, Havanese and Shih Tzus.

First, it is never advisable to shave a double coated dog. With proper brushing there should be no need to. If a dog of this type is shaved it can result in sunburn, not to mention a lot of filth can build up in the soft undercoat because there is no outer coat to protect it. The hair rarely grows back to look like it did before shaving.

Assuming you have faithfully done your brushing and there is no matting and minimal tangles these dogs cost between $50 – $80 for grooming. There is lots and lots of brushing involved and they really should be groomed every 6 weeks or so. Their grooms typically include nails, ears, etc., but you also may consider a specific de-shedding package which may add around $30. Total yearly cost without the de-shedding package would be between $400 – $450, size of the dog is definitely a factor.

A dog with a coat of hair rather than fur has hair that keeps growing until it is trimmed or cut, exactly like the hair on our heads. A coat of this type really demands a daily brushing and combing to remain tangle and mat-free. You must brush all the way down to skin and not just skim over the top layer.

Some dogs with this type of coat are Poodles and Poodle mixes, Wheaten Terriers, Rough Coated Collies, Cockapoos, Schnauzers of all sizes, Maltese, and Lhasa Apso. There are so many others; too numerous to list.

A good way to tell if you are brushing correctly is to part the dog’s hair in various places and you should be able to see the dog’s skin. A good comb is actually your best Quality Control inspector. You should be able to gently comb your dog from nose to toes and not have that comb snag or catch on anything. If you can’t see the skin or get a comb thru the coat there is probably some matting which will bring additional charges to the professional grooming cost.

These high-maintenance coats definitely need to be seen by a professional Groomer at least every 6 weeks. A few will do best every 4 weeks. These grooming sessions include all the above services plus a breed-specific haircut. Grooming charges range from $80 – $95 per visit (some colossal or difficult dogs might be $120). Depending how honest you are with yourself about how much you will really brush your dog you can plan on $700 – $1,000 per year.

Let’s talk about mats. The first thing I want you to do is reach back and grab a bunch of the soft hairs at the base of your scalp. Pull until it hurts, and then pull just a little bit harder. Hold that pose while you read the rest.

Mats are made up of dead (shed or broken) hair mixed with live hair that is still attached to the skin. Each day without brushing a mat gets bigger and tighter. Each time the dog gets wet (like from a helpful bath without brushing first) the mats will tighten more, pulling painfully at the skin. You are still holding that pose, right? Don’t be a big baby, you are in complete control.

All it takes is a few more months of doing nothing and the dog will be completely matted head to tail. You can let go of your hair now. The dog can do nothing to help itself.

Some people will ask a groomer to de-mat the dog rather than shave. Unless it is just tiny mat or two most ethical groomers will refuse to do it. It is very painful for the dog to have its live hair tugged and pulled until it breaks off. The phrase in the Grooming Industry is Humanity Before Vanity. Why cause pain when the shaved coat will be a nice fresh start and will grow back?

Moisture traps under the matting and can cause skin infections. The ears become matted so tight that after shaving the dog’s ears can develop a hematoma.

A hematoma is caused by blood rushing into the ear flaps where it couldn’t circulate freely before because the mats were so tight, literally cutting off blood flow. Instead of a flat ear flap it looks like an ear-shaped water balloon. It is cared for by being drained and stitched by a veterinarian. In no way is a groomer at fault when a hematoma forms. It is the body’s reaction to being freed from the mats. Many underlying skin conditions may show up after a matted dog has been shaved by a groomer. These were not caused by the groomer, they were just hidden from view by the mats.

If you would like to see a short & happy video of a dog magically freed from this pain, please watch Gucci’s transformation when he went from a family that could not care for him to a new family!

I hope this article has helped to inform you about the different types of coats and the care they require. You are going to love your new dog no matter what kind you get – but it never hurts to know the truth about what you are getting into.

At The Feed Bag Pet Supply Grooming Salon, any of our groomers would be more than happy to give you a free brushing demonstration or a recommendation for the proper brush and comb for your dog. After all, is IS all about the dogs with us.

If this article has opened your eyes to things you did not know before about coat care or matted hair, please consider sharing with your pet-loving friends.

*Of course there is a disclaimer! Don’t dig this out of the attic in 20 years and expect any Groomer to honor these prices. They are just price guides for 2018 in Wisconsin.

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