When we look at domestic dogs we must recall that they are not a natural species. They are descended, through breeding selection, from wolves. Wolves have a fur type that does not require brushing although the wolves do groom themselves. Our domestic dogs are different, they do require regular grooming in the form of proper brushing.
Think of how frequently you brush your own hair. Now imagine how much time you would spend brushing your hair if it covered your entire body. While dogs are, in the most part, much smaller than people, they do have hair over their entire body. This hair, when neglected, can form itchy areas and painful mats.
When dogs get mats in their hair the mats pull at the dogs skin. This causes the dog pain and distress, making it itch and try to pull off the mats. Unable to do so, they are left with sore areas. Their owners are unable to remove the mats safely at this point. An attempt with scissors can cut the dogs skin sending it to the vet. As such many owners take their dogs to the groomers and let the groomers deal with the problem.
At the dog groomers a professional will tackle the mats, generally they have no choice but to shave the dog completely. To remove the mats (as in an attempt to leave the dogs coat long) any other way would be too stressful and painful to the dog.
These problems occur mostly in the breeds that are considered “non-shedding” but can occur in any of the longer haired dogs.
Short haired dogs such as Labs also need regular brushing. Their skin condition is greatly improved through regular grooming. Also regular brushing gives an owner a chance to see if the dog is developing any problems, lumps, or has fleas. Regular brushing is good bonding. Regular brushing also reduces shedding, by not only removing the loose hairs, but by improving the skin condition as mentioned.
A “Brushing” is not always the whole entire dog, but can be just a quick 2 minute job of going over messy areas. Most problems do not form on the back of the dog, which is where most people focus their brushing, rather it is the lower areas that are often the problem, and around the neck.
How often should dogs be brushed?
*Short Haired dogs, such as Labs, Beagles, and Pugs, should be brushed 1 – 3 times a week.
*Medium Length Haired dogs, such as Border Collies, and German Shepherds, should be brushed 2 – 4 times a week.
*Fluffy Spitz Type dogs, such as Chow Chows, Pomeranians, and Keeshonds should be brushed 2 – 4 times a week with one really good “backwards” brushing every week.
*Long Haired dogs, such as Rough Collies, Golden Retrievers, and Afghan Hounds, should be brushed 3 – 7 times a week.
*Non-Shedding dogs, such as Poodles, Shih Tzus, and Yorkshire Terriers, should be brushed 3 – 7 times a week and if they are to be kept trimmed, they need to visit the groomer regularly every 6 – 8 weeks. This should start when the puppy is 12 weeks of age.
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