Importance of grooming a dog’s coat

grooming a dog's coats

A dog’s coat is constantly changing throughout their life which is why grooming a dog’s coat regularly is so important.

The coat goes through several cycles that are predetermined by genetics and that can also be affected by diet, environment and health. Adding to this – with many pets living indoors in temperature-controlled homes, the cycles may be a little out of sync with nature and this can lead to a dog shedding less (or more), depending on where they live.

And, just like human hair, dog hair also dies and regrows and a coat can be in any of the four stages of growth at any time which is why regularly grooming a dog’s coat is so important.

So, what are the four main stages of dog coat growth and what steps should you be taking to maintain your dog’s coat?

Stages of growth
  1. Anagen: This is where a dogs coat is in an active growth cycle and constantly growing. This is predetermined genetically, and some breeds have short coats others have long straight coats or curly coats. Some continue to grow for up to a year, while others only for three weeks. This phase can be triggered by cooler temperatures.
  2. Catagen: This stage is when the coat is reaching its maximum length and will stop actively growing.
  3. Telogen: During this phase a dog’s coat becomes dormant. The hairs have reached their full length and will remain attached to the coat in the follicle but are no longer growing.
  4. Exogen: This is when the hair reaches the end of its life cycle. This happens to every hair eventually. Once in the exogen stage the hair is shed from the follicle and the process of anagen starts again. Exogen can be triggered by longer lighter days and warmer temperatures.
Coat maintenance

When it comes to maintaining a coat, the coat type should definitely influence your approach when it comes to grooming a dog’s coat. For example, most coats like hand-stripped Terrier coats or smooth coats such as Labradors, will repel dirt and water more easily when kept in optimum condition.

Brushing curly and wavy coats at least weekly removes the dead hair that anchors into the coat causing matting. With that in mind – when grooming a dog’s coat always remember:

1. Routine is key

Dog owners should always brush or de-shed their dog’s coat regularly – a minimum of once a week as well as any time before and after it becomes wet, through swimming, washing or running through muddy puddles. Regular de shedding unclogs blocked hair follicles reducing itchy skin and conditions like seborrhoea which results in waxy greasy discharge and foul odours.

2. Be thorough

Ensure sufficient time is allocated to grooming to ensure it isn’t rushed. Owners should keep their dog’s coat clean and well-conditioned; this helps maintain the healthy hair shaft and smooth down the barbs on the hair shaft. When bathing, always remember to rinse thoroughly as shampoo residue will cause dirt to stick to a dog’s coat more. Dry the coat and brush thoroughly using a comb to check for knots in longer coats then, remove knots with a brush (not a comb). For tips on selecting the right shampoo, click here.

3. Key on top of maintenance

If a dog’s coat is longer or curly, it should be trimmed regularly to prevent split hairs matting. Longer coated breeds that aren’t being brushed at home will require a bath and blow dry a minimum of every four weeks and clipping a minimum of every 8 weeks. Allowing a dog’s coat to become tightly matted to the skin is painful for the dog and the only thing that can be done if it becomes unmanageable and a groomer can’t comb the hair is to shave it extremely short.

 4. Blankets are better than matted fur

A dog’s coat should be maintained during the winter months, not left to grow thick and act as a layer for warmth. Many people worry the dog will get cold and leave grooming aside until the middle or end stages of winter, but this isn’t the best approach. Ideally a bath and full brush out once a month from a professional groomer will prevent a dog’s coat matting and there will be no need to shave short during the colder months

5. Diet matters
Just like humans, what a dog eats has an impact on their overall health and appearance. Dog owners that want their dog to have a glossy healthy coat that will shed less and repel dirt and water, should keep their dog on a healthy diet rich in omega oils.  Learn more about food and nutrition, and how this can support a healthy dog coat, here.


Jo Marsden is a Master Groomer who will be curating the inaugural Dog Grooming Competition at The Pet Show being held in Melbourne Saturday 25th March and Sunday 26th March 2023.   To get your tickets for the Melbourne show, and to find upcoming shows in your state visit: https://thepetshow.com.au/


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