One of the many joys (or nightmares) of owning a double-coated breed is having to deal with the process of coat-blowing. Owners of single-coated breeds should count themselves and their hoovers lucky they don’t have to deal with the masses of fur that need to be constantly removed.
A dog that is blowing its coat is hard to miss, but why does this process happen in the first place? Known as either coat blowing or blowing coat, the process is part of a natural cycle in which a double-coated dog transitions from its winter coat to its summer coat.
In this guide, we’ll talk you through our advice on the best way to manage a coat blow and explain why the phenomenon happens.
What Is Coat Blowing?
Double-coated dogs have two distinct layers of fur; a soft, dense undercoat and a long, coarse topcoat. The purpose of the undercoat is to provide insulation for the dog by trapping a layer of air against the skin that helps them regulate their temperature.
During cold winter months, a dog’s undercoat can help protect them from freezing temperatures but as the weather gets warmer it’s beneficial for them to lose some of this extra fur. This is where coat blowing comes in.
Unlike single-coated dogs who shed a few hairs here and there year-round, a double-coated dog will lose their undercoat as thick clumps in a relatively short time period. In fact, some dogs who blow their coat can fill several trash bags in just a week!
The process is perfectly normal and is a testament to how well dogs have adapted to their environments. Blowing coat allows for double-coated dogs to feel comfortable all year round in a range of climates. The amount of hair that falls out may seem alarming but there is no reason to worry!
Your dog’s body knows what it is doing, and its undercoat will grow back in time for the winter season without a problem.
How Do I Know If My Dog Is Blowing Coat?
Trust us when we say you will know if your dog is blowing their coat. The amount of fur that comes out will be like nothing you’ve experienced before. Many owners experiencing their first coat blowing even think their dog is going bald!
Luckily this is all completely normal and something you will become somewhat used to. Although even for us long-time owners it’s still quite surprising how much hair they lose!
A typical single-coated dog will lose a few scattered hairs throughout the year, something you’re probably accustomed to. Double-coated dogs still lose odd hairs in the same way but coat-blowing is an entirely different experience.
Instead of individual hairs falling out, entire clumps of fur will become dislodged and will stick out from your dog’s coat in all directions.
Dogs who are blowing coat will look pretty dishevelled for a couple of weeks and may have an uneven and patchy appearance.
Coat blowing is not a painful experience for your dog and they shouldn’t have any behavioural changes.
Occasionally, some dogs with particularly dense coats can become uncomfortable if they are not correctly groomed throughout the process.
If you are concerned your dog is experiencing pain or is acting differently during their coat blowing, you should contact a vet for advice.
How Often Will My Dog Blow Their Coat?
Although the purpose of coat blowing is for your dog to transition from their winter coat to their summer coat, coat blowing can happen more than once a year. This is because of the unnatural human environments they live in.
Our homes maintain a consistent temperature year-round thanks to air conditioning and central heating, but this can impact how often your dog will blow their coat.
In our experience with Alaskan Malamutes (a breed notorious for their dramatic coat blows) there will be a big coat blow as winter transitions into spring, and a second smaller coat blow as summer moves into fall.
Several factors can impact both the frequency and severity of your dog’s coat blows. Breed, gender, age, and lifestyle can all cause your dog to blow their coat at different times than what you are expecting.
There is also some evidence that suggests a neutered dog’s fur grows thicker, so you might experience a more extreme coat blow.
Our advice is to be prepared for it happening at any time, especially if it will be the first coat blow you’re experiencing. Trust us when we say it can be quite a surprise!
How Long Does Coat Blowing Last?
So, you can expect coat blowing twice per year usually, but how long does the process actually last?
Again it will vary between breeds, but coat blowing usually lasts for 2 to 4 weeks on average.
What Should I Do When My Dog is Blowing Coat?
When the coat blowing begins, you’re going to want to be prepared. Dogs who are blowing coat need their fur grooming at least once a day but usually more.
We aren’t talking about a quick brush either, you’re going to be in it for the long run! Luckily, there are several products available that can help make the grooming process a walk in the park.
The staples generally include an undercoat rake that removes the clumps from the undercoat and a dematter comb that can handle any tangles your dog has managed to acquire.
Finding the right products that won’t hurt your dog but are also comfortable for you to use for long time periods can be challenging.
One thing you should never do is shave your double-coated dog. Examples of this include Siberian huskies and Alaskan malamutes.
No matter how much of an inconvenience you think the process is, you must let it happen naturally. Double-coated breeds have their coat for a reason, and it keeps them protected and healthy.
Shaving their fur exposes your dog to sunstroke and will make it very difficult for them to regulate their temperature.
Having their coat shaved can also result in it not re-growing properly so it’s far better to simply put up with the mess to keep your dog looking and feeling their best.
Coat blowing can be a surprise to those who have never experienced it before, but it soon just becomes part of the fun of owning a double-coated breed.
Having the right products can make the process easier but all you need is some time and perseverance.