Spring has sprung, and so blows the Norwegian Elkhound coat! Elkhounds this time of year have puffs of loose undercoat that are easy to pluck out by hand, but leave hair everywhere. So what is the best way to handle an Elkhound “blowing its coat”?
Norwegian Elkhounds are a double coated breed. The coarse outer coat or “guard hair” is a black tipped hair that protects from rain and snow, and helps regulate body temperature. The undercoat is cream white and soft, and is the coat that “blows” or sheds heavily in spring. Think of the guard hair as a “Gortex” outer layer and the undercoat as “down” for warmth. When the warmth is no longer needed, it loosens from the body or “blows”.
Why doesn’t the undercoat just fall out easily?
If you look closely at an undercoat hair, you will notice that it is a bit twisted. Just like a Chinese finger trap toy, it catches on the other hair when pulled. Frequent brushing helps, but doesn’t get through the thick Elkhound coat. SHAVING IS NOT AN OPTION and we will cover the reasons why not to shave an Elkhound in a future post.
Grooming Tool Tip – Greyhound Comb
A Greyhound Comb is a metal comb with long, rounded teeth. The better combs are worth the money since they don’t catch on the hair.
Technique is almost as important as the correct tool. When using a Greyhound Comb, place the comb on the skin and gently pull in the direction of the hair. If the comb catches, use a lighter touch or start with the ends of the hair and work your way to the skin.
Medium coarse or a medium coarse/fine combination comb with the longer teeth (1-1.5 inches) is suggested.
Tools: Spray Bottle with water, Greyhound Comb
- Place Elkhound outside on a table. Easier if a second person holds the leash.
- Spray the area to be combed.
- Use the comb to part the hair and hold back with one hand. Place comb on part and pull in the direction of the hair.
- When the comb pulls through easily, lift and part the coat further up in 1/2-1 inch increments.
- Work the coat in sections. Back of legs from feet to hip. Top of back from tail to neck. Chest from feet to neck. Side from pelvis to shoulder.
- Always comb IN THE DIRECTION of the hair, never against. Keep the hair damp with spray bottle.
Tools: Spray bottle with water, Greyhound Comb, Dryer
Best Method for Elkhound coat is to bathe or thoroughly wet the dog. Bathing helps to loosen the hair. In this method, we will add a dryer. The best dryer’s are commercial dryers for dog groomers, but well worth the money. Our old “Metro” dryer is 25 yrs old and still works. Substitutes that also work are a personal hair dryer on COLD, or a ShopVac reversed to blow out air. Caution on using hot air because Elkhound skin is more sensitive. Backblowing or blowing the hair backwards against the lay can potentially damage the pili muscle that controls the guard hair. Backblowing can also force debris into the pores.
- Wet or bathe dog.
- Use dryer just enough to separate coat to the skin. It will be a circular pattern.
- Place Greyhound Comb on skin and pull in the direction of the hair.
- When the comb pulls through easily, move blower forward or up in small increments and repeat.
- Work the coat in sections. Back of the legs from feet to hip. Top of back from tail to neck. Chest from feet to neck. Side of pelvis to shoulder.
- Always comb IN THE DIRECTION of the hair, never against.
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