This dog a very large,(bordering on small Collie) Sheltie came in to be groomed. J groomed him last year. Her notes state "what a mess, 9 months since last groom", followed by the breakdown of the price, including the very large de-matting charge.
It's been 14 months this time, and obviously he hadn't been touched by a brush since the last groom.
This photo shows him after his bath. He had incredible amounts of undercoat most of which was matted. The dog didn't come in looking like this. Shelties don't "usually" blow their coat out in tufts like some breeds (Lab/German Shepherd) do. The undercoat stays in the coat until brushed out. He was filthy, but the coat wasn't hanging like it is here. In fact, from afar, you wouldn't even have known he was a mess.
The minute you put a hand on him however, you knew.. his undercoat lay in a thick carpet of matting along his skin. Did I start out the groom by brushing him? NO WAY! He immediately went to the tub. The combination of our Hydrosurge Bathing System (I still need to do a blog post about that baby) and a high velocity blow dryer is what makes this job actually alot easier on me, but especially the dog. After a thorough deep cleaning bath (ok, in his case 2 as he was too dirty for just one), and a conditioner that we leave in; I toweled him off , then started the blowdryer. That is one piece of equipment I couldn't do dogs like this without. The dryer blows the matted undercoat (on this type of double coated breed) away from the skin. On a shorter coated dog, such as a German Shepherd, the coat goes flying into the air, against the back of the tub, all over me, etc. In this case with a longer coat, some of it blows out, but much of it stays hanging on the dog, which is where we get the look of the dog in the photo. I probably spent around 15 minutes blowing coat out of him. If you didn't use this type of dryer, and them moved him to a cage dryer, the coat would dry plastered to the skin, just like it was when it was dirty, though alot of it would still brush out, it would be harder on the dog, since the dryer does the "brushing" with no pulling or tugging. After a time in the cage dryer, ( the dogs are always watched closely and the dryers have timers and are not hot, just warm) we then put them on the table and start brushing. That coat that is hanging there virtually falls out. Then, what's left takes a bit more elbow grease. After some brushing we go back to a high velocity, to finish getting all undercoat that is ready to blow. This particular dog also got some creative clipping, as some matts were too tight to brush/blow out. I shaved out inside his legs, all the way from his chest to his groin, behind his ears. It didn't show, and I see no need to brush hair that is matted badly in those places. The dog spent enough time on the table.
This is what I got out AFTER the bath. This pile is about 3 inches deep. I got a ton more out in the tub.
Luckily, this dog was ready to blow his coat. By that, I mean it was "time" for his coat to shed out. Some dogs undercoat is matted, but it's not the right time of year for that dog to shed out, and we can't get this much out. We can only take what the dog can give us. Timing is crucial, some people bring their dogs in at the wrong time, and they go out with a clean, de-matted dog, but he's still thick coated and in a month, the hair will by falling out everywhere. When I talk to people about timing the groom for the best result, I tell them to gently tug on a chunk of their dogs coat, if it easily falls out, then it's time. If not, maybe wait a bit. Of course this dog should've been groomed 3 times before this groom, so it's not the best example. Underneath the matting and undercoat was flaky unhealthy skin, luckily no sores, sometimes there are. I can't imagine what that must feel like.
Here he is all finished, a very satisfying transformation. He was so good for all this, many dogs wouldn't have stood still for all that time. When you touch him now, you can actually feel down to his skin. he must feel so much better.
Regular brushing on these breeds (Once a week or even every 2 weeks) would keep them from ever getting this much undercoat, but of course, hardly anyone ever does it. During the time they are blowing coat, the amount of coat you can remove with the high velocity dryer is more than you'd ever be able to remove by brushing alone. I'd suggest people buy them for their dogs at home, they are somewhat inexpensive depending on the power, but the hair does fly everywhere when you use it, and I can't imagine anyone would even want that in their garage.
These pictures show why sometimes when people with a double coated breed (German Shepherds, Huskies, Malamutes, Collies, Golden Retrievers) call and tell us, "he just needs a bath" we laugh. We don't do "just a bath" on these breeds, they get a full groom. In many ways they take longer than a poodle that comes in regularly for a haircut.
My suggestion to anyone with these breeds? Find a groomer that can take care of your dog even twice a year, you won't be disappointed.