Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Coat of Preference

When it comes to dogs - there is one thing that everyone can agree on.... that most of us won't agree.

I have some specific requirements when it comes to dogs coats. These requirements come to me as a compromise between myself and my wife, but they have worked for me thus far.

As most of my dogs are inside dogs - they sit on the couch and sleep on the bed - we don't want heavy shedders. There are a few ways to go about this, but when it comes to dogs that can get out into the elements to do a little work, the best way for me is to opt for the rough coated dog.

The mini schnauzer is supposed to have a wire coat, but here in the US, it is very difficult to find a decent coat. Here they tend to be too soft, and catch easily on briers, thorns, and sand spurs.

I can't even walk the dog off of the road, as her feet get to caught up in briers. I end up carrying her all the way home and waste a bunch of time.

The coat of the dog has to match the terrain that you hunt.

A long coat can catch like the schnauzers did. It catches and sheds, and is hard to groom.

The short coat is great. It doesn't shed much, but I worry that it doesn't protect enough against the elements. Patrick - over at Terrierman will disagree - but it is a concern of mine when we spend hours on end in the bottom lands, wet and cold. I would rather have a dog with fur.

So when looking for a hunting dog - I like a traditional wire coat. Wire coats are hard to find. My first terrier had a nice one - and I got really lucky with Gordon. His is perfect.

The hardest thing about a hard wire coat is keeping it up - it really needs to be stripped, or the dog needs to be hunted. That way he will be stripped naturally.

Over at Born to Track - he talks about his good wire coats often. Just recently he said:

With most wires, the best approach to grooming is by hand-stripping. This is the only way that will maintain a correct wiry and harsh texture of the coat. By pulling out old coat you will make room for a new and strong coat to grow in. If you clip your wire, you will just cut the hair tips, that's all. The old coat will not be removed, and in the long run the coat will lose its desirable harsh texture. I tried to find a good guide to stripping a wirehaired coat on the web, and the article I like very much (not too technical and lengthy) is at http://clubs.akc.org/btcoa/research/groomguide.html. It deals with Border Terrier's coat but principles are exactly the same.

You can do the same with a rough coat in a jack russel too. But many people just choose to leave them alone - unless you are showing them, or you don't like the bit of hair that they will shed - just leave it.

But, as I said before - everyone will disagree. Boarder collies have their coats for a reason, as do labs, and pointers. Choose the one that is best for where you hunt and what you hunt.

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