Here it is. Everything you ever wanted to know about grooming your Husky and keeping his coat looking great; brushes and brushing, bathing and shampoos, coat health, and I even have included a recipe for a solution should your Husky get sprayed by a skunk this summer. It’s all contained here for you in one informative article.
For those of you new to Husky ownership, you need to know how to look after your Husky’s double coat. Double coated dog breeds have two layers to their coat; a soft fine insulating undercoat to keep them warm in the winter and a longer whether proof top coat consisting of guard hairs that actually grow up through the undercoat. This undercoat should never be allowed to become matted or it loses its ability to insulate your dog leaving it to get very cold. The outer coat of a Husky is very waterproof to help keep their bodies dry in snow or rain. The Husky coat also pretty effectively repels most dirt and mud. When the mud dries, it just brushes off the fur.
Puppy To Adult Coat
At first, Snow Dog puppies have a soft fuzzy undercoat but no real guard hairs to speak of. But between the ages of 10 and 14 months, Husky puppies will go through a complete shed losing all their of their fuzzy puppy fur. The puppy fuzz is then replaced by their full adult coat. (find out more about the shedding process on our post here)
Never Clip Or Shave
For Snow Dogs, there is no clipping or trimming of the fur required. As a matter of fact you should never shave or clip your Husky thinking that you are helping him to stay cool in the summer. Once he has shed out his undercoat, his guard hairs are designed to create an air pocket of protection from both the UV rays and heat of the sun. Some Huskies may develop skin problems after having all of their fur shaved off. It is also possible for the topcoat and the undercoat to grow back unevenly in patches.
Please read our article, Never Shave A Husky, for a more in depth description of the Husky coat and why you should never ever shave a Snow Dog.
A Husky’s thick undercoat is generally released s-l-o-w-l-y with the onset of the seasonal warm weather (in climates where there is an obvious season shift in temperatures) and is a major source of headaches for Husky owners. The process of casting off (blowing) their undercoat can easily last up to six weeks or longer! It is possible for one Husky to fill up trash bags full of cast off hair during every shedding season. This cast off undercoat tends to stick to soft surfaces like furniture and clothing so invest in lots of lint rollers and a good vacuum cleaner because you will be picking up a lot of dog hair when you own a double coated Snow Dog.
Generally speaking, Huskies and Malamutes require very little grooming beyond having to rake out the ridiculous volumes of shed out fur. They do not have an excessively oily coat so regular bathing to combat doggy odour is not required. Bathing is only essential if they have rolled in something smelly or gotten exceptionally dirty.
During the non-shedding season only short weekly brushing sessions are needed to keep their coat shiny and healthy looking. Regular brushing stimulates the skin to produce some natural oils that are good for the coat. Feeding your Husky a good diet rich in Omega fats will also help to keep his coat and skin healthy.
The Tools For The Job
An undercoat rake is, as the name implies, a rake with long teeth set widely apart. It is used to remove the insulating undercoat that is ready to be shed out from a double coated dog. The rake is designed to move effortlessly past the outer guard hairs and get down to where the loose undercoat hairs are located. Undercoat rakes are inexpensive and can be found anywhere that pet supplies are sold.
To remove the dead undercoat, just begin raking, alternating some strokes going with the direction of the fur, and some strokes going against the fur to lift up the guard hairs allowing better access to the undercoat. Begin brushing when your dog shows signs of shedding and don’t stop until the fluffy undercoat has all been removed.
Not everyone will agree on using a Furminator brush. Some people feel that it “cuts” the guard coat hairs. I have been using a Furminator brush for a number of years and my Huskies’ guard hairs are undamaged. I think the issue with these brushes is that people do not tend to use them correctly and they do not use the correct Furminator brush for their longer coated dogs.
Types Of Furminators
Furminator makes a long coat version and a short coat version of this brush. Make sure that you use the brush meant for longer coats or it will damage the longer coat of your Husky.
Also, do not over groom with this brush. Loosen up and rake out as much of the undercoat as you can with the undercoat rake and then only do a few light passes with the Furminator brush. This way you should not have any problems with any guard hairs being damaged.
As you can see in these photos, using the Furminator, only undercoat has been removed. Since Kaya is a black and white Husky any cut black guard hairs would be easily noticeable in the cast off undercoat.
Shedding and Stripping Blades
Stripping and shedding blades should not be used on the longer more dense coated Husky . This tool cannot reach down beyond the guard hairs to the undercoat. This tool is designed to be used with short coated dogs and is not an effective tool for shedding Husky fur.
Removing The Dead Undercoat
Once the cold weather is gone, your Husky will shed his dense undercoat to help him stay cool in warmer weather. All the dead fur must be brushed out so that the dog can feel more comfortable and cool but also, removing the dead fur helps prevent matting and assures effortless re-growth of the undercoat with return of cooler seasonal temperatures.
Huskies do not have a very oily coat so that means that they really do not have any of the usual doggy odour that is associated with an oily coated dog. That also means that your Husky will only require a minimal number of baths annually. In fact, you really should not bathe your Husky too often because it will dry out their fur and their skin.
Unless your Husky has gotten especially muddy, filthy, waded into fetid water, or rolled in something horrid and smelly, or has fleas, you really don’t need to bathe your husky more than once or twice a year. Many Huskies if given the opportunity love to “snow bathe”. They flip over onto their backs and wiggle and roll around in the snow. This helps to keep their fur nice and clean with the help of Mother Nature.
An important thing to note: Brush your husky out well BEFORE you bathe him as a Husky undercoat saturated with water cannot be brushed out while it is wet. Also, wet matted undercoat does not dry very well or quickly and can cause your Husky to get skin rashes or hot spots so do not leave your dog with wet matted fur.
3 Approaches To Bathing Your Husky
- Some people prefer to take their Husky to be bathed and blow dried at the grooming shop. They have all the tools there and the mess stays at the shop. However it can be very expensive to groom a large double coated dog.
- Some people opt for a happy medium. They take their Huskies to a You Wash It shop. The shop supplies the big washing sinks and blowers and you supply the Husky, the shampoo, and the towels. It is less expensive than the groomers and you still benefit from the specialized equipment.
- Or some people will just opt to use their bath tub to bathe their Husky. Remember to place a screen over your drain to catch the loose hair or you will end up with the worst hair clog that you have ever seen. Prepare to get pretty wet. Have a lot of towels handy to dry your dog. If you can, blow dry your dog using a blow drier set on cool air. Be prepared for lots of flying hair as it gets blown from your Husky’s coat.
Huskies do not require any special conditioning shampoos because their hair is not so long that it tangles like other very long haired breed dogs. You may want to find the most organic shampoo that you can find for your dog just because you do not want to use harsh shampoos on your dog.
Once the dog’s coat is completely dry, brush them again using the undercoat rake to remove any more dead fur released through the washing and drying process.
Help! My Husky Got Sprayed By A Skunk!
That Husky curiosity has gotten more than one Husky sprayed by skunk. It is the worst possible smell that you can imagine that does not wash off using regular soap or shampoo. There are some special washes that you can buy but if your dog gets sprayed you really don’t have time to go shopping. You will want to wash of the horrible stench as soon as possible with materials that you may already have around the house. So if you live in a rural area that commonly has skunks, you may want to print out this recipe and keep it handy should you even need it.
Homemade Skunk Spray Bathing Solution
-A large plastic bucket (do not use a metal bucket as it reacts with the materials used.)
Into the bucket add the following ingredients:
- One quart of 3% Hydrogen Peroxide,
- ¼ cup of baking soda,
- A few teaspoons of liquid dish soap.
For a large Husky sized dog you will also want to add about a quart of warm water the mixture so that you can wet down the whole dog.
- Using rubber gloves, stand the dog in the tub and begin wetting him down with this solution. Work this mixture very well into the fur making sure you get deep down into the undercoat. Once the dog’s coat is saturated, leave the solution sit for 5 or more minutes or until the odour has dissipated. Thoroughly rinse the solution from the coat with water.
- If you can still smell the skunk odour you may need to repeat this procedure again.
Important: Pay very careful attention not to get the solution into your dog’s eyes.
Do not try to store any of this solution in a closed container or spray bottle as the active ingredients will cause pressure to build up causing the container to burst open.
As always, we welcome your questions, comments, and stories regarding this topic. When we share our stories we may well be helping someone who is currently struggling with their Snow Dog.
Helping ALL Snow Dogs … one owner at a time.