How to Groom a Siberian Husky
The Siberian Husky and Dog Hair
If you own a Siberian Husky, you are very well aware of one of the things that husky owners complain about the most. The dog hair that they produce is almost unbelievable. This dog breed sheds year round no matter what climate they live in and twice a year, they "blow" their coats which will literally make their owner wonder how in the world the dog is not completely bald.
As a husky owner for the past six years, I have come to the conclusion that dog grooming has to become a part of life. Daily brushing is best and once a week is the bare minimum. The Siberian Husky is literally a never ending shedding machine.
The Siberian Husky Coat
The husky's coat is made of two layers. There is the longer, outside layer that resembles any other dog's coat of this size. It reminds me of the German Shepard in length and texture. This layer performs the same duty as any other dog's coat.
The difference in the Siberian Husky's coat is that in addition to that smooth outer layer, there is another layer of hair underneath. This part of their coat is what helps protect them from the extreme cold temps that they were originally bred for working in. This undercoat is made of fuzzy, fine hairs that are generally white or light in color and resemble cotton when the dog sheds them. This is also the type of hair that is shed the most.
Siberian Husky Foot Before Grooming
Siberian Husky Foot After Grooming
Trimming the Siberian Husky's Feet
Trimming the hair on the feet is an optional step when grooming a Siberian Husky that will only need to be done a couple of times a year for those that choose to do it.
These dogs were bred to pull sleds across icy terrain. In order to protect the pads of their feet from extreme cold and ice, the Siberian Husky developed the trait of growing longer hair in between their toes. It can almost look like the dog is walking around with slippers on if this hair is not kept trimmed.
I do allow Sophie's hair on her feet to grow out during the wintertime because we do get snow and ice during that time of year. Once winter is over, this hair is trimmed away with a small pair of grooming scissors. It does not hurt the dog at all and makes it much easier for them to walk across tile or linoleum floors inside the house. It also keeps mud and debris from caking in the feet if the dog is outside and walks through mud or any wet surface.
You'll want to have a firm but not hard hold on the dog's foot. For extremely long hair like what is pictured, you'll want to cut away those longer pieces first. After the pads of the foot can be clearly seen, you'll carefully trim the hair around the pads and between the nails. Be careful and pay extra attention to where the scissors are cutting because you do not want to nick the dog's foot pads!
My dog hates this part of the grooming process. For Sophie, it is more of a tickle annoyance than anything else so it takes extra patience on my end because when the hair tickles her foot, her natural reaction is to jerk her foot back. Once the trimming is complete, the dog's feet will look clean and well maintained. You'll also notice the dog walking better on slick surfaces.
The Results of One Brushing with a Shedding Blade!
I have found a few things that make brushing these dogs more effective for removing loose hair. Simply running the brush along the dog's coat will help but the object of the grooming is to get rid of as much of that shedding hair as possible on the dog. This is accomplished much easier and faster by using a couple of different brushing techniques and types of grooming brushes.
Using a Shedding Blade
Using a shedding blade is a MUST on these dogs. You could sit for hours brushing them with a hairbrush and it would get you absolutely nowhere.
Brushing a Siberian Husky with a shedding blade should be done in a backward motion. In other words, instead of brushing down from the head to the tail in the same direction that the hair grows, you brush from the tail to the head in the opposite direction that the hair grows. This moves the top layer of hair out of the way so the brush can get into the undercoat where the majority of the shedding hair comes from. Use short strokes, maybe an inch at a time and move your way from the dog's tail, up the back and around both sides. Do not forget to brush the stomach area.
The tail should be brushed in the same direction as the hair growth but under the tail should be brushed in both directions because this hair has a tendency to grow straight out. Be gentle when using the shedding blade on the front legs and the bottom of the dog's back legs. That fur is not as thick, the bones are closer to the surface of the skin and you don't want to cause the dog any pain.
The first time you brush your Siberian Husky with a shedding blade, you will be amazed at how much hair actually comes off of the dog!
A Freshly Groomed Siberian Husky
The Undercoat Rake
After using the shedding blade to remove the majority of the loose hair from the dog's coat, I recommend going over it one more time with an undercoat rake. This tool is more like a comb and will polish the dog's coat for that freshly brushed look. The undercoat rake works well at taking care of any tangles or mats that may have worked their way into the coat that the shedding blade may have left behind.
You'll want to go over the entire dog the same way you did with the shedding blade, in the opposite direction of hair growth. Pay special attention to the tail and under the tail with the undercoat rake because these areas benefit from this tool more than the shedding blade because the hair is longer there.
The reason you use the shedding blade first will quickly become obvious a few minutes into using the undercoat rake. You will have to stop multiple times to clean the hair off of the rake as it is picked up out of the dog's coat. You'll still get a lot of hair at this point, but it won't be as time consuming because you won't be stopping to clean the rake every few seconds. If you find yourself having to clean the rake off more than once per 60 seconds of brushing, switch back to the shedding blade and go over the dog once more with it then go back and try ithe undercoat rake again.
Once you have went over the dog with the undercoat rake in the opposite direction of the hair growth and are satisfied that you have gotten as much hair off of the dog as you possibly can, then you can use the shedding rake to brush the dog in a normal fashion for that just groomed look.
At this point, you're finished brushing your Siberian Husky! For a day or two anyway until the process starts all over again.
Bathing a Siberian Husky
The first thing you will want to do to successfully bathe a Siberian Husky is brush their coat thoroughly before getting them wet. If you don't, you will have a loose, wet, hairy mess on your hands. I can't stress enough how important that first step really is.
Bathe the dog like you would any other dog breed that has a thick double coat of hair. Pay special attention not to get any water into the dog's ears. If you choose to wash their face, be gentle because a lot of dogs do not like having water on their faces.
After the bath, towel dry the dog as much as possible. You'll notice quite a bit of hair in the towel when you are finished and this is normal for this breed of dog since they shed so much. You can either blow dry the dog on a low heat setting with a hair dryer or allow the dog to air dry. The Siberian Husky will generally take a lot longer to air dry than other dog breeds because of the thickness of their double coat.
Once the dog is completely dry, brush them once again with the undercoat rake for a perfectly clean, well groomed, beautiful Siberian Husky.
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© 2012 Helena Ricketts