As a dog groomer, it’s my job to assist owners in looking after the health of their dogs as a whole. An attentive groomer will look after your dog’s skin and coat as their primary focus and then inspect their nails, ears and eyes. In doing so, they can ensure your dog is always kept comfortable and healthy. We definitely don’t just cut hair.
When your dog first enters my dog spa, I assess their behaviour towards myself (dog to human interaction) and then I assess how they feel about common grooming tools and practices. This sets up how I will begin a groom.
First and foremost, you want your dog to be happy. You never want to overload a nervous dog or break a dog’s confidence.
The next thing I look at is how healthy they are. A lot of people won’t include a dog’s hair when they consider if they are healthy or not, but a groomer’s job is to ensure the largest organ of the dog (and humans, mind you), the skin, is healthy. This includes checking for infection, rashes, bugs, lesions, knots, matting, differences in texture, growth patterns and so on.
Assuming a dog is healthy, most breeds have a consistent coat. Meaning, their coats grow and perform as they should and can be cared for in the same way as another dog of the same breed. However, this can’t be said for all breeds such as a mixed breed dog. Their coats are more unpredictable and don’t share the same characteristics as other dogs of the same mixed breed. This unpredictability leads to a coat that can be difficult to maintain. Oodles (a Poodle crossbreed) experience a high amount of matting, knots and general grooming discomfort due to their genetic makeup.
This means there can be a lot more work involved in their upkeep.
Exploring a dog’s coat.
Your dog has 3 different types of hair on their bodies no matter what breed they are. (Ok, leave out hairless breeds haha!) Primary Hair provides waterproofing and sun protection, Primary Lateral hair helps distribute the coat and aids thermoregulation, and Secondary hair/ undercoat provides insulation.
Different breeds display different hair thicknesses, lengths, growth cycles and different quantities of hair, but they all have these 3 types.
This allows for the dog’s body to adequately thermoregulate and helps prevent knots and matting through the distribution and orientation of these hairs.
A purebred dog will have a consistent coat for its breed. There may be very small variances between individuals, but a good breeder will have maintained the breed’s integrity as a whole.
Over the course of decades, a dog’s coat has been selectively bred for a specific purpose in mind. For example, dogs originating in colder climates possess thicker strands and a denser undercoat that doesn’t shed as regularly as other breeds.,
Terriers typically have beards and thick wiry hair to protect them from rodents and the environment they may hunt in.
It’s this purposefulness that keeps the coats of many breeds consistent.
A purebred puppy will inherit any percentage of genes from either parent’s lineage. When both parents have consistent genes, making them purebred, the puppies will follow suit and will, therefore “breed true” despite the puppies technically receiving different percentages of their parent’s characteristics.
For a mixed breed puppy, the same genetic rules apply; however, while the puppy may be receiving some genes from the mother and others from the father, the puppy will not “breed true”. This is because the puppy now has a larger gene pool from which to inherit characteristics from. Speaking purely from a hair perspective, that will mean the puppy may inherit a very unpredictable coat makeup.
What does that mean for Oodle’s?
An “Oodle” is any dog that has one parent or grandparents that are Poodles. This means they are a mixed breed and can inherit coat characteristics from either parent.
Typically, Poodle’s are bred with dogs that have high shedding coats in an attempt to produce a puppy with the temperament and ability of one breed and the lesser shedding capabilities of the Poodle. The result of mixing two breeds cannot be successfully predicted.
As an example, Labrador and a Poodle crosses (commonly referred to as a Labradoodle)have very different coat characteristics and in turn produce litters with varying degrees of curls, length and shedding quantities. Their coats can also be different on different parts of their bodies. That is, a puppy could have a curly-haired body and straight coated legs. It also means that a puppy could possess different textured hairs all throughout its body. This is fundamentally what creates a “difficult coat.”
One of the most difficult coats to maintain is seen in Oodle’s that exhibit thin, wispy type hair as well as curls or waves. This mixture in coat types easily turns on itself and creates knots. These knots are then difficult to disentangle as they quickly become tight and require tools with smaller spaced teeth. In contrast, an Oodle with thick, smooth hairs, say a Cavalier cross Poodle (Cavoodle) that looks more like a Cavalier, will typically have a very easy coat to maintain and creates minimal knots. The same can be said for any Poodle cross that displays coat characteristics that are closer to that of a Poodle.
The fundamental takeaway here is that it’s very much a roll of the dice with your beloved future cross-breed, despite what some breeders would like to promise.
Unfortunately, Oodles are often misinterpreted as having easy to care for coats and being naturally “shaggy” in appearance. This puts Oodle owners in the wrong mindset for their general upkeep. A reputable breeder won’t make false claims to sell puppies. Most of the time there is a selection process and forms to fill out; even meet and greets before the breeder allows you to take a puppy. They’ll quite often explain exactly how to care for them and what to expect. Due to the high demand for Oodles, this has resulted in a rise in unethical breeding practices – and the spread of misinformation.
#1 They’re Hypoallergenic!
Unfortunately, no dog breed is hypoallergenic. Some breeders will claim their dogs are hypoallergenic because they are low shedding breeds, however, not all Oodles are low shedding like the Poodle. Many people are allergic to a dog’s skin. A dog that is low shedding doesn’t produce as much skin dander or release as many proteins from the follicle and skin that are typically released when hair sheds. Theoretically, this would mean a low shedding dog could be considered hypoallergenic. Humans can also be allergic to dog saliva and basically anything else on a dog, however, the two common allergens are skin cells and saliva.
In order for you to have a hypoallergenic dog, your individual dog or puppy needs to be tested to your unique profile. You may be allergic to one dog but not another. In some cases, you may develop allergies later on in life.
#2 They’re easy to maintain and can stay looking shaggy!
The misconception that Oodles are to remain shaggy is what lands a lot of owners in trouble. When owners prefer a “shaggy” look for their dogs, the assumption is that they don’t need to brush or comb them often to retain that look. The problem is, a shaggy looking dog is often already matted or on its way to becoming matted. I worry that unethical breeders have trained owners away from being able to visually notice knots and mats, and to instead interpret a matted coat as being “a cute, shaggy dog”. Any dog with long hair requires a decent amount of home maintenance. Any person with long hair will brush their hair once or twice a day at a minimum. Any dog with an inconsistent, constantly growing coat, requires the same attentiveness. Daily brushing and combing at home and a professional groom once a month.
#3 They don’t shed!
Dog’s mainly shed based on their genetic hair life cycle or Pillar Cycle. This is displayed in two ways: Mains Shedding and Mosaic Shedding. So, yes, every dog sheds. Poodles, Bichon Frise, Maltese Terriers etc. are all known as dogs that don’t shed, but in fact, these dogs do shed, they just have a very long growth cycle prior to a hair being shed. As Oodles are mixed with Poodles, they are often marketed as “non-shedding”. If an Oodle inherits more of the Poodle’s genes then they may seem to not shed but do, just at a slower rate.
#4 They don’t need a haircut until they are a year old and then it’s only necessary 2-3 times per year.
This is a very dangerous statement. Puppy-hood is a critical time for development and socialisation skills. That means exposing your puppy safely to lots of sights and sounds to produce happy, confident adult dogs. If your puppy is not introduced to all aspects of grooming from a young age they risk becoming fearful and grooming becomes stressful for all involved in your dog’s care. Puppies should be professionally groomed every 2-4 weeks for the first year of their life – no matter what breed they are.
After this training and exposure time, you can alter their schedule to be a little more infrequent. As a general rule, a dog’s nails, paws and ears need to be checked and tended to monthly. If you prefer your dog to have long hair, go for it! But just remember that you are in charge of home maintenance. If you’re unable to keep your dog mat-free, they may need to be shaved short. Mats are uncomfortable and can cause a myriad of health conditions from infection, rashes and sores to bruising and impeding natural movement. To keep your dog’s hair long and healthy, it’s recommended to see a groomer for a bath and trim every 4-6 weeks to reduce split ends and improve hair health. Seeing a professional groomer will also make home maintenance that bit easier.
#5 Puppy Coat and any mention of Puppy Coat.
Many breeders often refer to “puppy coat” as “the time in which a puppy sheds its puppy coat and an adult coat grows in its place. The change in coat causes knots to form more easily” and so on. However, this is not a true representation of the change your puppy is going through.
As a puppy grows, its hair temporarily “stops” in the resting phase of the growth cycle. During this time, many owners feel their puppies’ hair is fairly manageable. Then this phase ends and their growth cycle stabilises resulting in a sudden growth of undercoat that wasn’t previously there or noticeable. This undercoat explosion makes brushing more difficult and if you’re not aware of the change it can result in a very matted puppy. This phenomenon is what is often called “puppy coat” or “puppy coat change”, but has nothing to do with puppy hair vs adult hair.
A Groomer’s Responsibility.
I see and work with all different types of Oodle’s every day. They are well and truly one of the most popular crossbreeds. Unfortunately, they’re quickly forming a dirty breeding industry and one of which many caring, professional groomers hate being a part of. I would advise any owner to pay close attention to a dog prior to purchasing it and to really do their homework. There is more to creating a successful, healthy dog than simply “putting two nice dogs together”. Despite paying big $$ for an Oodle, many exhibit poor conformation and deformities, underbites and overbites, poor coat structure and behavioural issues like a lack of confidence or fearfullness.
It pains me that so many breeders are simply trying to turn a profit.
Whilst there is no ANKC breed standard for any Poodle cross, from my experience, the closer the coat is to one breed, the easier it is to maintain due to its consistency. As for physical bone structure, you can refer to either contributing breeds for an idea of what the correct conformation should be.
It’s difficult to explain how to brush and comb your dog thoroughly. Videos may help but the best thing to do is to book some time with your dog’s groomer and have them show you how to do it methodically. It’s not as simple as you might think, but it’s also not rocket science. It’s all about knowing which areas to focus on and how to get to them.
Your Oodle needs a brush & comb when:
- They’ve had a bath or gone swimming
- They’re coat starts to appear “shaggy”
- At the end of the day or every second day
Commonly missed areas:
- Inside of the legs and under the paws
- Tips of the ears and behind the ears
- Base of the tail
- Chest and belly
Whilst it would be quite difficult to keep your dog 100% knot-free at all times, if you know what you’re looking at you can avoid matting, excessive knotting and having your dog in pain.
Where to From Here?
Now that you’re aware of how your Oodle’s coat functions and how it’s formed, you’ll have a better idea of how to care for them and prevent ever needing the dreaded shave down. Here are some articles for further reading:
If you suspect your dog’s coat might not be in the best shape, get in touch with a professional groomer and have a consultation to assess their needs.
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