Huskies are a unique breed of dog and some medieval movies have made it “cool” to own one. Unfortunately, little research is done by owners on the correct care of their Husky. Rescue centres are becoming increasingly over-populated with Huskies that are neglected, abandoned or have escaped from their homes because “it’s just too much work to look after them.”
Education on the breed is vital for potential Husky owners, and today I would like to touch on a topic that I am passionate about – GROOMING AND UNDERSTANDING YOUR HUSKY’S DOUBLE COAT.
Huskies have a double-layered coat:
- The Under Coat, which is like an air-conditioning system, keeps them cool in the hot summer climate and keeps them warm in the winter months.
- The Top Coat, also referred to as the “Guard Coat” acts as a protective reflector, warding off the harsh sun rays and preventing insects and parasites from reaching the skin.
While huskies are not endemic to South Africa, they have learnt to adjust to our hot climate. When they are cold, they curl up into a ball, covering their stomachs and tucking their tails over their noses. When huskies are hot, they often roll onto their backs exposing their stomachs to the air to release body heat as their stomach is their barometer. This is also why their coat on their tummies are generally a bit thinner and always white – as white reflects!
Dogs do not sweat like humans. They cool themselves through their mouth by panting; through their paws and the blood in their ears. These three elements help in cooling them down in the heat. Contrary to popular belief shaving will not cool them, but rather expose their skin to the sun, which has little to no pigmentation, causing sunburn and greatly increasing their chances of skin cancer. The shortened fur will eliminate their protection barrier and expose them to all sorts of insects and parasites – fleas; ticks; flies; mites; mosquitoes and lice, more so than normal.
Shaving is an option some frustrated owners resort to, firstly because their homes; furniture; clothes; cars and many other areas of their lives are covered with Husky fur and secondly because it makes the owner feel better to shave his husky in summer. If you feel this way, then a Husky is NOT the breed for you as…
SHAVING YOUR HUSKY IS DEFINITELY NOT AN OPTION!!
In breeds with double layered coats shedding is a big problem. The Husky will “blow” his undercoat excessively at least twice a year. This means the undercoat comes out quicker than you can blink, leaving your home looking like it’s been hit by a fur storm. This fur needs to come out which makes regular grooming mandatory in these breeds. Regular grooming will also prevent matting, which can result in skin problems and will make it impossible to brush. Grooming your dog at least once a week will help to manage this shedding, thus keeping you and your husky much happier.
If the Husky is shaved regularly to prevent the “blowing” process, or to keep the husky ‘cool’ in summer, within 5 to 6 years the fur will not grow back evenly; leaving the dog with bald spots, and a re-growth of his fur that is inconsistent in texture and colour. They literally look moth- eaten! This will also expose them to longer periods of weather elements that will prove detrimental to the dog.
Shaving also upsets the shedding process which is a very important part of the health of the Husky’s coat. Shaving also impacts negatively on the husky’s endocrine health.
Finally, there is nothing cool or good looking about a shaved husky. Their coat is one of the characteristics that makes them uniquely beautiful dogs.
SO PLEASE DO NOT SHAVE YOUR HUSKY!!!
Help your dog to be a happy and healthy pet by following these simple rules:
1. DO NOT shave your Husky.
2. FEED them a healthy diet. This will enhance general health and promote a beautiful, well-conditioned coat.
3. EXERCISE them regularly in cool temperatures only. Their bodies need it as much as we do and they are – after all -working dogs!
4. COOL CLEAN WATER must be easily and constantly accessible. Have separate drinking bowls and paddling pools – like the plastic kiddie’s shells. They often paddle in the water on hot days to cool off.
5. PROVIDE a cool, clean, shady shelter for the hot summer days. Don’t leave them out in the sun for long periods of time.
6. A sprinkler in the garden, or a wet mat or cool floor tiles to lay on during those hot days IS also an option.
7. GROOM them at least once a week. They do not need to bath regularly, two or three times a year should be sufficient. Unless of course they have rolled in something which makes them unnaturally smelly.
8. And lastly … Sterilize, Inoculate and Micro Chip your Husky.
PLEASE DO NOT SHAVE YOUR HUSKY!!!
Compiled by Cheryl Warren
Edited by Charnell Ruth