Four Steps to a Shedless Dog

As anyone who owns an undercoated breed knows, Summertime is not pleasant. Household surfaces, clothes, guests and other pets are covered in a film of fur that collects on furniture and somehow ends up on the ceiling, giving cobwebs a run for their money.

Here’s how I fight the fluff:

Step 1: Bathtime

Bruce loves water but hates bathtime, so this is usually a struggle as I wrangle a slippery & disgruntled 55 lb Husky into the tub (and back into the tub…..and back into the tub). I use and recommend FURminator Shampoo. Just massage the areas with most of the loose hair to dislodge the bigger clumps. Then, go ahead and pour a bottle of Dran-o down your tub (or just get a hair trap for the drain like I did). I give Bruce a bath about every other week during shedding season (otherwise, just whenever he’s dirty – I don’t believe in over-bathing, and he does a pretty good job of keeping himself out of the mud).

After the bath, you’ll want to let your pup dry off most of the way. Bruce’s faith in the world returns after the horror of bathtime when he sees the hairdryer. Your mileage may vary. If your dog isn’t a fan of the dryer, just let him chill for an hour or two. It takes Huskys hours to air dry, so a completely dry coat is not necessary for the next steps (in fact, slightly damp hair comes in handy as you’ll read next)…

Step 2: Undercoat Rake

I use and highly recommend the Grip Soft Undercoat Rakeby JW Pet. This brush was by far the best $12 I ever spent on a pet supply. (P.S. I like how it’s listed in the “Home Improvement” section at Amazon).

After Bruce dries off enough, I sit him down with a decently long-lasting chew treat and break out Old Reliable. It’s a good idea to also have a plastic bag or container of some kind handy to collect the dog hair–if not, it’ll be floating around everywhere and stuck to everything you own (I actually save Bruce’s hair because I’m a crazy dog lady I use it as eco-friendly stuffing for pillows and toys). I start near the base of the tail and work my way up in small sections. With one hand, push a section of hair back (against the hair growth) and comb the hair underneath gently with the Undercoat Rake (in the direction of the hair growth). Damp fur will clump together a little bit and will make it easier for the rake to pick up. Bruce’s problem areas are his upper hind legs, sides, and right under his collar, so be sure and spend extra time where it’s needed.

Note that not all of the hair will come off in one sitting — the FURminator shampoo will continue to work its magic overnight and you’ll wake up to a clumpy mess of a dog. Don’t fret – just pick up where you left off last night! A quick once-over with the undercoat rake will break up some of the bigger clumps of fur that have dislodged overnight, and then you can move on to the next steps.

I use the undercoat rake about twice a week during coat-blowing season — when I’m not using it after his bath, I spritz him down with the FURminator Waterless deShedding Shampoobeforehand (just spray on a small amount, massage into coat and you’re good to go – plus, it smells yummy). I’ll still use this one every other week or so after he’s done with the crazy shedding, just to keep things under control.

Step 3: Shedding Blade

This is great as a final tool to smooth out the coat and get those longer hairs that are not part of the undercoat. I have the Bamboo Adjustable Shedding Bladeand it does a great job – look for one like this with the separating handles so you can “open it up” to form one long comb to cover a really large portion of the coat in one sweep. The only thing I don’t like about these is that the hair kind of sticks to them in an awkward way and they’re a little hard to clean off without worrying about hair flying around in the air after you make a sweep. But, since I only use this tool sparingly, this isn’t a deal breaker.

Step 4: The FURminator

Did you think we would get out of here without talking about the almighty FURminator? You probably already have one of these anyway, but I’ll tell you something — it definitely has its place in my armory, but it’s not my favorite deshedding tool. Why? Because it pulls out Bruce’s hair – hair that wasn’t loose to begin with. Do me a favor – go grab your FURminator and run it through your own hair a few times. Hurts, doesn’t it? That’s why I only use the FURminator in certain areas on Bruce. I’ll do one clean swipe down his neck and back, another down the chest, and one down each leg. It’s great for shorter hairs (like paws, legs, and around the ears) that the undercoat rake can’t grab onto. Other than that, I only break it out as a final touch in the grooming session. Bruce has pretty sensitive skin, and one wrong move with the FURminator brings brushing time to an abrupt halt. Does it technically grab more hair than the other tools? Probably, yeah. But taking a little extra time with the other tools is more than worth it to ensure Bruce enjoys his grooming sessions & I’m not left to chase him around the house weilding a FURminator like a billy club.

Here’s an example of the amount of hair I removed in one grooming session (spread out over 2 days):

show hide 3 comments

BMW 740 - I truly enjoyed this. It is very educational and useful. I will return to check on upcoming posts.June 21, 2010 – 7:49 am

Sammie Panciera - Thanks-a-mundo for the blog post.Really looking forward to read more. Really Cool.July 10, 2010 – 4:17 pm

T - I have an Akita, German Shepard, Chow mix dog. I call him Mr. Shed Dog. OMG! I love the photo of all the fur you combed off your dog! That’s exactly how much fur I get off of my dog each time I groom him. But, it still seems a waist of time, no matter how much fur I get off of him, he still has tons more.
You really have to love dogs if you’re going to own a dog with an undercoat.

TJuly 19, 2010 – 2:50 pm

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