Am I a Bad Pet Owner If I Don't Brush My Long-Haired Dog's Coat?

Brushing a long-haired dog
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Choosing a long-haired dog means committing to caring for his coat on a regular basis.

There’s a good chance that you acquired a long-haired dog because you admired his glamorous appearance. With those lovely locks, though, comes the responsibility of caring for them.

It’s tempting to put off combing or brushing a pet with long hair — I should know, living as I do with a pair of Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. But it’s a temptation that must be resisted. When long-haired dogs go without the necessary grooming, they develop painful tangles and mats — and, of course, they don’t look their beautiful best. Choosing a long-haired breed means committing to caring for his coat on a regular basis. Here's what you need to know about grooming your long-haired pooch.

Coat Types

The amount and type of grooming your long-haired dog requires depends on whether he has a single or double coat (one with an undercoat), the length of the coat (an inch or more), and whether he has feathering (a longer fringe of hair on the ears, chest, legs and tail). Afghan Hounds have thick, silky, fine hair; Maltese and Yorkshire Terriers have silky single coats; and Cavaliers, English, Irish and Gordon Setters, and Golden Retrievers are among the breeds with feathering. Other breeds with long hair or feathering include Cocker Spaniels, English Cocker Spaniels, English Springer Spaniels, Welsh Springer Spaniels, Soft-Coated Wheaten Terriers, Papillons, long-haired Dachshunds, Bearded Collies, Shih Tzus, Lhasa Apsos, Havanese, Bernese Mountain Dogs, Pekingese and Tibetan Terriers.

Dogs with silky single coats or feathering are highly prone to tangles. You should plan on combing or brushing these dogs at least every other day, although every day might be better, because then you don't give tangles or mats a chance to form.

Dogs with double coats are going to shed — that's all there is to it. Combing and brushing them on a regular basis removes dead hair, leaving less of it to fly around your house and land on your clothes and furniture. Though it makes shedding more manageable, it does not prevent it.

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