A pooch who has a coat that looks like a set of dreadlocks hasn't recently been to the salon to get that stylish hairdo. This type of "hairstyle" occurs naturally in dogs with corded coats, the fur of which naturally twists together to form cords that look like dreads.
Most corded dog breeds were originally bred to herd and guard livestock. Their unique, weather-proof coats gave them protection against the elements and even helped protect them from the attacks of predators. Corded breeds include the puli, komondor, bergamasco, corded Havanese and Spanish water dog. You can also allow the coat of a poodle to naturally form into cords. All of these breeds have curly fur, similar in texture to wool, that naturally weaves together to form separate felt-like, long mats over time. Typically, the cords begin to form when your pooch reaches around 9 months of age and sheds his puppy coat.
Taking care of your corded pup's coat is very time consuming. Unlike other breeds, you can't let your pup run around your yard and roll around in the mud without winding up with a matted mess on your hands. To remove any unintentional mats and debris from the mop-like coat, use your fingers to separate out the cords because you can't use a traditional brush as you would with other breeds. When done daily, this not only prevents painful matting between the cords but also encourages proper cord formation as the coat grows out from puppyhood, which can take six months to a year.
To keep your corded pup's fur and skin clean, you must bathe him every week to every month, depending on how dirty he becomes. Use a small amount of gentle soap-free shampoo and shower attachment to soap up your pooch. With your hands, gently squeeze and massage soap through Rover's cords during the bathing process, rather than rubbing the fur which can mat or break it. Rinse away the soap and apply conditioner in the same way you applied the shampoo to the cords. After a thorough final rinse, you'll need to completely dry your pooch using a commercial dryer after gently towel-drying him.
Without proper care, a corded coat can become moldy, smelly, tangled and infested with parasites. When first growing out the coat, it may appear frizzy and unkempt, a state that lasts for months as the cords first form and begin to grow out. If you can't handle the grooming of your corded pooch yourself, seek the help of a professional groomer that is familiar with corded breeds. Note that fees for bathing, drying and general grooming of your corded pooch may run more than for traditional dog grooming sessions because of its time-consuming nature. Trim the cords as needed to prevent your pooch from tripping over them and if his coat becomes moldy, you may need to clip it short and allow it to grow out from scratch.
- DogChannel.com: Show Grooming by Dog Coat Type
- SummerWinds: The Different Type of Coats in Dogs
- Ultimate Dog Grooming; Eileen Gleeson
- American Kennel Club: Get to Know the Bergamasco
- American Kennel Club Family Dog Magazine: Striking the Right Cord
- American Kennel Club: Get to Know the Puli
- American Kennel Club: Get to Know the Komondor
- Dogster: Spanish Water Dog
- Dog Breed Info Center: Havanese
- Dana Neely/Photodisc/Getty Images