The following is an excerpt from "The Complete Guide to Siberian Huskies" by Mary Meisenzahl. For more information visit the books Amazon Page.
Author Credit: Mary Meisenzahl
Huskies’ thick fur keeps them warm and gives them a regal and kempt appearance, but maintenance can be intimidating. They will require more work than smooth or single-coated dogs, but Husky grooming is completely manageable. Siberian Huskies have a double coat, with an undercoat and guard hair. The undercoat is usually shed twice a year, which is when shedding becomes a major issue and brushing will be most important. Lucky for you, your Husky’s fur will never need to be trimmed by a groomer. Huskies are naturally self-regulating, and their fur will grow back and fall out as needed according to the climate you live in. Absolutely never shave a Husky.
In climates warmer than their native Siberia, Huskies will shed their entire undercoat. This often happens in the spring to prepare them for the warmth of summer, and in the fall to prepare for the cold of winter. Keep an eye on the general shedding patterns of your dog, and you should notice early on when the seasonal shedding starts. The earlier you notice, the easier the process will be for both you and your pup. Increase your brushing frequency, and keep it up as needed. You can also take this opportunity to switch couch covers or other items that might be particularly at risk to extra dog fur, and maybe stock up on lint rollers.
Bathing and Brushing
If you have a Husky, you should learn to love brushing her, because you’re going to be doing it a lot. The best thing you can do for your Husky’s coat is to regularly and thoroughly brush her, at least once a week. Technique can make this process faster and more efficient. Begin with the undercoat, combing thoroughly away from the skin and against the direction of grown to remove any loose fur—you might be amazed at the sheer quantity of hair your pet can produce during your first shedding season. Then brush the overcoat in the other direction. The overcoat won’t be shedding much, so you’re just focusing on shine and detangling any knots or problem areas here. For brushing the overcoat, you might consider using an “undercoat rake” that will make it easier to remove fur and allow for new hair to grow in correctly. A good brush will keep your Husky comfortable and minimize shedding in your home. During this period, aim to brush every day if possible.
To make brushing easier in general, start introducing your dog to the feeling of being brushed early, while she’s still a puppy. You can start by even just letting her sniff the brush, and rubbing it gently around her back or stomach. Ideally, brushing will become such a normal part of her routine that she won’t mind, or she may even come to enjoy it.
Huskies don’t need to be bathed very often, because they don’t tend to produce excess oils. Frequent bathing can dry out skin and fur, so try not to bathe more than once a month. Huskies also groom themselves often, and remain relatively clean. You can go longer than a month; you only really need to bathe if your dog smells or has matted fur. When you do bathe, make sure to thoroughly rinse your pup’s fur because the thick coat can hold onto conditioner and shampoo.
The frequency with which you’ll need to clip your Husky’s nails depends on how much they get naturally ground down. A dog with frequent exposure to pavement will not need her nails cut as much as a dog that spends more time indoors. When you do need to trim nails, be careful of the quick. Only cut the part of the nail that looks hollow, including on the dew claw. Huskies don’t like having their feet touched, but it’s important to be able to trim their nails for their comfort, and also to examine them for thorns or other injuries, especially in the fur between their toes. When your dog comes in with wet or dirty feet, you can clean and dry them with a towel, which will both prevent matting and get your dog used to having you touch her feet.
Brushing Your Dog’s Teeth
With a regular toothbrush and dog-specific toothpaste, you want to give your dog’s teeth a good brush about once a week. Of course, every day is ideal, but probably not realistic. Dental health is closely linked to heart health and other health factors, so it’s important to stay on top of plaque as much as you can. Like brushing fur, starting this with a puppy will get her used to the process and hopefully minimize struggles. Dental chews are a good addition to regular brushing for keeping your dog’s teeth clean and preventing plaque.
Cleaning Ears and Eyes
You should make a habit of cleaning your dog’s eyes with every bath, but in between baths keep a lookout for anything off. Healthy eyes should be clear, and the whites should be pure white. Some eye discharge is normal, but if you notice something unusual, including redness or swelling, contact your vet. Pawing at eyes or excessive blinking might be a sign of infection as well. Use a wet washcloth or cotton ball to gently clean your dog’s ears about once a month to prevent infections. In both eyes and ears look for scratches, parasites, discharge, or anything else unusual.
When Professional Help is Necessary
It’s okay to bring in professional help at any point. Whenever you’re not sure what to do, it can’t hurt to ask your vet for advice. In general, if something seems unusual and continues to get worse, whether it’s an infected nail or a problem with eyes or ears, you should take it to the vet. Professional help might also be necessary if fur becomes matted or tangled.
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