17 Nov Chapter Two – Dog Coats
Coat Colour and Pattern
Besides a variety of coat lengths and textures, dogs also come in assorted colours—anything from white to black and every shade in between. In addition to their coat colours, there are many different patterns such as bi-colour, tri-colour, brindle, spots, harlequin, and merle. Although you don’t have to invest a great deal of time when managing your dog’s coat colour and pattern however getting the right shampoos, conditioners, and supplements can certainly help bring out the best in your dog’s coat. For example, white coat shampoos make white dogs sparkling white or black coat shampoos make black dogs glossy black or copper coat shampoos.
Hair is an epidermal structure and its growth is controlled by:
In carnivores, the rhythm of shedding occurs independently in each hair follicle. The pattern varies from breed to breed. Hair growth is slower in summer, with the rate increasing when the temperature gets cooler in autumn and winter. During active growth, about 1mm of hair shaft grows per week but this can be affected by hormonal changes. Once a hair stops growing it dies while it is still in the follicle, after that it can be shed from the skin at any time, and another hair is produced from the deep epidermal cells. Dog’s coats consist of guard hairs with clusters of two to five compound follicles, each containing approximately three coarse primary hairs, which are larger and stiffer, with 6-12 secondary hairs, which are smaller and softer and is called under-hair (under coat)
- Anagen – most active stage of hair growth. The epidermis thickens and starts to grow into the dermis – this is the hair papilla. Epithelial cells produces a hair cone which later forms the actual hair. Once a hair has reached its optimum length, it stops growing.
- Catagen – the fully grown hair is still attached to the papilla
- Telogen – the papilla contracts, loosening the hair and begins to grow a new one. The old hair is frequently pushed out by the new growth.
The three phases occur in different parts of the body at different times of year. Coat hair moults in spring and autumn and it lasts about 6 weeks. The new coat hair is fully in place after four months.
The functions of the hair are:
protection from injury
insulation in cold weather
colour/ identification of a breed
Conditions- affecting the coat
Healthy fats play an important role in keeping the dog’s coat in good condition. Omega-6 deficiency in low-fat diet can cause a dull and dandruffy coat.
Zinc deficiency can cause crusty, scaly skin with hair loss over the face, nose, elbows, hocks, and cracked paws.
Food allergies – licking of feet, inflamed ears, itching, redness, hair loss, sometimes development of infection or hot spots
Vitamin A responsive dermatitis – seborrhea; odour, hair pulls out easily, pads are thickened; thick scales on chest and abdomen.
Cheyletiella mange mite – itching, scaliness, some hair loss, also known as Walking Danddruff
Demodex mite – hair loss, scaliness, redness, sometimes itching, darkening of the skin
Flea allergy dermatitis – severe reaction by the animal to the saliva of the flea. Intense itching, redness, hair loss, hair loss.
Lice – infection with several species of lice. Itching, hair loss, crusts, rough hair coat.
Sarcoptic mange – infection with the Sarcopes mite. Intense itching and self trauma, hair loss, crust and scales.
Hair loss can be caused by many disease and conditions.
Seasonal alopecia (cyclic alopecia) – growth cycle of hair stops at certain times of the year.
Post clipping alopecia – hair may not grow back immediately after has been clipped; which dog may be affected can not be predicted. More common in dogs with double thick undercoats.
Growth hormone responsive alopecia – hair loss on neck, tail, back, skin darkens. Usually starts when dogs is less than two years old.
Hair loss during pregnancy and nursing – excess shedding and sudden and widespread hair loss.
Hyperestrogenism (ovarian imbalance) rare disease in which females have excess levels of estrogen. Symmetrical hair loss, hair pulls out easily, darkening of skin, enlarged nipples and vulva.
Cortisone excess can causes symmetric hair loss over trunk and body.
Hypothyroidism is the most common cause of bilaterally symmetric hair loos without itching. The coat is thin and falls out easily.
Estrogen responsive dermatitis – more common in young spayed dogs – hair loss, flakes, hair colour may fade, coat is similar to puppy coat.
Pituitary dwarfism – hereditary condition in which pituitary gland does not produce the necessary hormones. Young puppies fail to grow, dog’s coat retains puppy coat and condition progresses to hair loss over much of the body.
Cushing’s disease – caused by increase in corticosteroid in the body. Hair loss, thinning of skin, easy bruising, and others.
Testosterone responsive dermatitis( hypoandrogenism) more common in old neutered dogs. Coat is dull, dry; seborrhea and hair loss in genital and anal areas progressing onto trunk.
Excessive stress or anxiety in dogs lives can cause hair loss. Sometimes hair loss is a bodily physical manifestation of stress, but other times anxious dogs will partake in compulsive licking (Acral lick dermatitis) that leads to hair loss in areas they lick too much.
Matting refers to densely tangled clumps of hair. Matts can form in both the outer coat as well as undercoat. Matting is especially prevalent in long hair dogs during shedding if the excessive hairs are not removed. Severe matting denies regular air circulation and the skin can become quite unhealthy. Severely matted coat must be clipped off. After shaving, a dog may develop an itchy skin response.
Canine Terminology Used in Grooming
Anal glands – Glands which secrete a substance that is used by a dog to mark its territory. Located near the anus.
Apron – Long hair on chest, below the chest bone
Beard– Long hair on muzzle
Bitch – Female dog
Blaze – White stripe running down centre of face
Brick shaped head – Skull and muzzle the same in width e.g. Fox terrier
Bobtail – A dog born without a tail, or a dog with a tail docked very short. Often used as a name for the Old English Sheepdog.
- On double coats – This term refers to a process that happens twice or three times a year when the dog will shed their entire coat over the course of two to three weeks, bringing in an entirely new coat for the new season.
- On Hand stripped coats – Blown coat is dead wire coat that has stopped growing and is essentially just a dead hair left in the hair follicle
Castrated – Male dog which has been neutered.
Cat feet – round, compact, cushioned feet
Dam – mother dog
Dew Claws – Claws found slightly higher up the inside of the legs. Can be on front and back legs and come in doubles.
Dew lap – lose skin under throat
Digit – Toe
Docked tail – Tail that has been amputated to a certain length
Drop ears – Long ears which hang down e.g. Spaniel ears
Double Coat – An outer coat resistant to weather and protective against brush and brambles, together with an undercoat of softer hair for warmth and waterproofing.
Ectoparasites – External parasites
Endoparasites – Internal parasites
Fall – Hair overhanging the face.
Feathering – Longer hair flowing from legs, skirt, ears, body, tail
Flag tail – Tail trimmed in shape of a flag
Gait – Dogs movement
Guard Hairs – Longer thicker hairs growing through the undercoat
Hare Foot – Elongated feet e.g. Bedlingtons
Heat – Dog in season
Moulting – Shedding of the coat (usually seasonal)
Rosettes – swirl of hair growing in a different direction to main coat (on chest and bottom)
Rolled Coat – .It is possible to ‘roll’ a wire coat for months, even years by this continual process of vigilantly pulling out just the long individual hairs. This eliminates the process of ever having to strip the terrier bald to the skin. By maintaining hair at different lengths, there should always be sufficient new coat coming through to keep the outline neat.
Spayed – Female dog which has been neutered.
Topcoat – Most dogs have a top coat which is composed of guard hairs, which tend to be naturally water-repellent. The top coat protects the dog’s skin and his undercoat, which is a fleecy or downy type of fur a bit shorter than the top coat. The undercoat serves as insulation to keep the dog warm during cold or inhospitable weather.
Undercoat – Shorter, thick hair found under top coat.