No, these dogs are not fans of Whoopi Goldberg, Lenny Kravitz, and Bob Marley as well as the other Hollywood celebrities sporting really outrageous yet character-defining hairstyles. And while they look so adorable, they are a dog groomer’s nightmare. Let’s take a much closer look at 5 of the world’s dog breeds with dreadlocks.
Breeds of Dogs with Dreadlocks
Let us be clear. The beautiful dreadlocks you see in dogs take patience and skill to turn their coats into that fantastic hairstyle. There are dogs that are genetically programmed to form cords or dreadlocks. However, they usually need our assistance to make sure that their hair ends up as beautiful and elegant as possible. Here are 5 of the dog breeds that can grow cords.
Bred to herd the flock of Hungarian livestock owners and shepherds, the Puli is one very unique dog with naturally corded coat. It may be small, but it has the mental and physical toughness of all shepherd dogs. Its coat is like no other as you could literally use it to mop your floor. Its dense double-coat is very unique, too. Underneath its profuse and exceptionally long top coat is a wooly and remarkably soft undercoat. It is this unique combination of wooly soft undercoat and slightly coarse top that will give it the remarkable ability to form long cords.
The cords will usually start appearing by the age of 9 months. If left alone, these cords will form one huge mat. As such, the cords should be individually separated if one wishes to retain the classic, mop-like look of the Puli. Do take note that it will usually take about 4 to 5 years for the dreadlock coat to reach its full length. That means you will also need to take really good care of it for that length of time as this type of coat is a natural magnet for dirt and debris.
Affectionate and loving when it comes to its family, but with the classic reservation and aloofness of shepherd and guard dogs towards strangers, the Komondor is yet another dog that has a naturally occurring dreadlock coat. It’s another Hungarian shepherd dog with almost the same qualities as the Puli. There’s one reason why the Komondor is so famous for its dreadlocks. It uses it as a camouflage so that it blends right in with its owner’s sheep. Predators and even unscrupulous individuals will never know that there is a Komondor among the flock of sheep.
Unlike the Puli, however, whose corded coat starts developing as early as 9 months of age, the Komondor’s dreadlocks will take as early as 8 months to about 1 year of age before it starts forming into the classic cords. Like the Puli, the Komondor features a dense and coarse outer coat, providing cover for its soft and slightly wavy undercoat. Again, it’s these classic coat characteristics that give the Komondor the tendency to form cords. What separates the Komondor from the Puli is that the former only comes in either white or off-white while the Puli can have white, black, or even gray.
This is one giant four-legged mop that can weigh as much as 85 pounds and stand as tall as 24 inches at the shoulders. The Bergamasco is an Italian sheepdog that is primarily known for its matted coat which it uses to protect itself from both the harsh elements of the Italian Alps and the predators that are always on the prowl to get some of its owner’s prized flock. Whereas most dogs will either have a single layer of fine, soft fur, or a double layer of fine and coarse contrasting hair, the Bergamasco is one fluffy hound. It is one of the very few breeds of dogs that have three very different types of canine hair. Bergamasco fanciers call it the dog hair, wool, and the goat hair. Now imagine having these three types of fur weld together and you may have one of the world’s craziest hairstyles for a dog.
Next to the Bergamasco’s skin is the archetypal dog hair – oily and smooth, providing a moisture-resistant barrier for the skin. On top of this is a thick and coarse hair that is similar to that of a goat. Covering the two inner layers is the thick and wooly hair of a sheep. As these hairs grow over a course of a few years, the outer two layers – the wool and goat hair – are woven together. They are aided by the dog hair underneath. It usually takes 5 years for everything to be woven together and create the classic natural dreadlocks that the Bergamasco is known for.
Spanish Water Dog
Intelligent and very energetic, this all-purpose Spanish farm dog is never for the newbie pet parent as it can be especially bossy. It’s a vigilant watcher with an insatiable appetite to please its owners. It has always been a loyal sidekick of fishermen, herders, and even hunters.
This dog doesn’t have a naturally-corded coat. However, it does have a really cute and adorable curly coat that makes it look more like a Poodle. If this curly coat is allowed to grow on its own, it can easily turn into cords. One thing about the Spanish Water Dog’s coat is that it only comes as a single coat, unlike the other dreadlocked dogs that come with at least a double coat. To obtain the dreadlock, its owner must shave the dog’s coat and allow it to regrow. As it slowly lengthens, the owner can then shape it into cords.
It is very rare to meet someone who doesn’t know the Poodle. These very intelligent dogs have a clownish nature that seems to go in contrast to the Einstein that is ingrained in their genes. Whereas most folks associate the Poodle with the circus with its own bag of tricks, avid fans of the breed know that it is one of the most prolific hunters on the planet. As such, it relies partly on its coat to help protect it especially when it runs through the brush.
Like the Spanish Water Dog, the Poodle’s coat isn’t really corded; it’s more on the curly side giving it that classic unkempt appearance. If left to grow on its own, these curly hairs can become corded to give the Poodle a dreadlock coat. The only issue is that you will need to give it some assistance so that the cords will be more uniform. Like the Spanish Water Dog, the original coat of the Poodle has to be clipped or shaved and then allowed to grow. Once it has grown to considerable length, then the owner can start the painstaking process of creating really thin cords.
How Do These Dogs Develop Dreadlocks?
While there are dog breeds that have naturally corded or dreadlocked coats, you’d be surprised to know that the dog owner also has an active hand in the development of these marvelous canine hairstyles. It takes patience and a whole lot of skill to make a dreadlocked dog.
The thing to remember is that dogs that are genetically programmed to grow dreadlocks don’t start out this way. When they are still puppies, they have the same soft, straight, and downy double coat like any other puppy of any breed. However, as they get older, they lose some of that straightness and become a bit curly or wavy. By the time the puppy reaches about 8 to 12 months old, the coarse outer coat will already start melding or twisting together with their very fine puppy hair undercoat. This creates the classic ‘cord’ which is most commonly found in the dog’s limbs, around its ears and its underarms.
Once the cords are beginning to form, the dog’s owner will have to meticulously care for them so that they do not grow and turn into mats. Cords are separated into smaller cords. In case the cords have formed mats, then they should be split. You don’t want them to turn into one solid chunk of mat that will make the life of the dog a living hell. Splitting the mats will also aid in the formation of the cords.
In splitting the mats, it is best to use the hands. This is especially true for puppies that still have very fine hair. Unfortunately, the timing of the mat splitting isn’t always on target, so it will be a bit challenging to split. In such cases, the mat is split using a special device known as a mat splitter or even a mat scissor. Mat splitting should always begin in a section of the mat that is closer to the dog’s skin. Typically, cutting about an inch or two into the mat with the use of the mat splitter or scissor is often enough since the base (the one nearer to the skin) is generally more stubborn than those at the tips. You can then work your way splitting the rest of the mat all the way towards the tips.
Care should be observed when splitting mats. Under no circumstances should you pull on your dog’s hair since this will create pressure on the roots, causing pain and skin soreness. Ideally, you’d want to space your mat-splitting session so that you’ll finish a section of the dog’s coat one at time. It will generally take several sessions to complete the splitting of the mats.
By the time you’re done splitting all the mats in your dog, it will resemble that of a big and fluffy pillow or even perhaps a rag. In the course of several days, the split mats will twist into themselves and form cords. Congratulations, you’ve just initiated the process of turning your dog’s coat into dreadlocks.
Do keep in mind that patience is the key here. You will usually wait a couple of years before your dog can take on a corded or dreadlocked look.
How to Care for Your Dog’s Dreadlocks
We said in the beginning that dogs with dreadlocks are a groomer’s nightmare. We’re not kidding. If you happen to own a dog that has dreadlocks, it is imperative that you check its coat every single day. The corded hair usually comes with very tight spaces in between each strand of fur such that dirt and debris can easily get lodged into these spaces. If you allow this dirt to accumulate not only will it turn your dog into a four-legged mop, it will really become smelly, too.
But perhaps the most pressing concern is the risk of developing mats. Since corded coat is essentially composed of many individual strands of hair clumped together, in many ways it can be likened to a miniature mat. If you are not careful, then you risk turning such elegant cords into a humongous mat on your dog. Mats are never good for dogs. They can irritate the skin and make it even dirtier.
Dogs with dreadlocks have to be trimmed by a minimum length of 3 inches. This is the minimum length of corded hair that you can cut since making it shorter can cause it to form mats.
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Of course, you can allow your dog’s dreadlocks to grow as long as possible until they reach the ground and become the quintessential four-legged mop that we have been talking about. As such, it is best to trim the dreadlocks so that they don’t touch the floor and get turned into a broom.
When trimming your dog’s dreadlocks, keep in mind that this type of doggie coat will quickly make your scissors dull. You can always expect to dispose of your scissors right after giving your dreadlocked dog a good trim.
Additionally, it’s not advisable to bathe your dog with dreadlocks. The nature of the coat can make complete drying painfully long – as long as 48 hours to be precise. This can lead to nasty pet odors, not to mention a number of skin problems.
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Lastly, it is best to bring your dog to a professional groomer that really specializes in dreadlocked dogs. Don’t bring your pet to just any groomer.
Dogs with dreadlocks are always very amusing to see. However, the effort put into the development and care of this hairstyle will never amuse you.