Longhaired pets require extra care to maintain their luxurious locks
By Kim Campbell Thornton
From the Maltese to the Afghan hound, the Persian to the Maine coon, longhaired dogs and cats have a reputation for beauty and style. Their glamorous appearance comes at a price, though: That gorgeous coat can be a beast to care for. If you've fallen for a pet with long locks, we've gathered some tips to help you keep that coat stunning, healthy and tangle-free.
First, the bad news: There's no secret shortcut to caring for a long coat. It takes time and devotion. You're ahead of the game, though, if you groom it on a regular basis. When a longhaired pet's coat is neglected, the result is painful mats and tangles. Nobody wants that.
Grooming needs depend on the type of coat a dog or cat has, as well as its length. Longhaired pets may have a single coat or a double coat (one with a top coat and an under layer). They may have feathering (longer hair on the ears, chest, legs and tail); thick, fine, silky hair; or ruffs, britches or pantaloons. Double-coated pets typically shed more than single-coated pets.
Gather the right equipment. A pin brush moves smoothly through long hair and feathering. A bristle brush removes loose hair and dirt and polishes the coat. A wide-tooth comb removes downy undercoat. The curved wire pins of a slicker brush remove mats, loose hair and any flotsam and jetsam your dog picks up on a walk. Dogs with thick double coats may benefit from a session with an undercoat rake, especially during shedding season. If possible, ask a breeder or a professional groomer about the correct grooming tools and techniques to use.
Keep the face clean. Dogs with beards, mustaches and eyebrows (known as furnishings) lose their distinguished appearance if food is stuck in their fur. Comb out the furnishings after every meal to keep them looking nice.
Other trouble spots include the belly, the area where the legs meet the body (the "underarms") and the urogenital area. Many pets don't like having these areas touched (maybe they're ticklish). If you neglect them, though, these areas are most likely to develop mats and tangles. If you comb them before a problem starts, it will be a lot easier to accustom your pet to the attention.
Watch for a poopy butt. Every longhaired pet gets it at one time or another. Get over the ick factor and check your pet's rear regularly to make sure no dingleberries are dangling from his fur. You may want to trim the area short to help keep it clean. Or have a professional groomer do a sanitary trim for a neater appearance.
Starting with a puppy? Practice for a few minutes every day. Even if your pup won't have his full coat for a year or two, he should learn now what to expect and how to stand nicely for it. You can gradually lengthen the amount of time you spend working on his coat.
Give extra care to aging or overweight longhaired pets. Cats, in particular, may have difficulty grooming themselves and need some additional attention.
Pay attention if your pet frequently bites or scratches at a specific area. On closer inspection, you may find a mat or tangle that needs attention. Be careful when trying to remove these. Severe mats may need professional attention.
When his coat is at its full glory, you should expect to groom your longhaired pet at least every other day. For some pets, daily attention is a must. If you have trained your dog or cat to enjoy grooming, the experience should be a bonding time for both of you.
Calico males rare
as hens' teeth
Q: Why is it so unusual for male cats to be calicos? -- via email
A: I'm glad you asked. Feline color genetics is always a fascinating topic. To get started, let's define our terms. A tortoiseshell cat has patches of orange or red and patches of black, chocolate or cinnamon. When those patches are combined with a white background, the cat is called a calico, after a type of colorful patterned fabric.
A study done by researchers at the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Missouri found that only 1 of every 3,000 calico cats is male. That's because the gene that determines how the orange color in cats displays is on the X chromosome, one of the two chromosomes that determines gender. Females have two X chromosomes, while males have an X and a Y chromosome.
While any cat, male or female, can be orange, in males the orange almost always occurs in the tabby pattern. Females can be orange tabby, calico or tortoiseshell. In rare instances, though, a male cat turns up with not only his allotted X and Y chromosomes, but also an additional X chromosome. If both of those X chromosomes happen to carry the gene for orange coloration, bingo: You have a calico male.
This genetic anomaly is called Klinefelter syndrome, after the doctor who identified it in the 1940s. In human and feline males, it typically causes sterility, which is one reason you don't see people getting rich off breeding their rare male calico cats.
Interestingly, the source for calico coloration was traced in the 1970s by Neil Todd, who was studying the migration routes of domestic cats. The orange mutant gene that causes the patched appearance originated in Egypt and then spread to Mediterranean port cities in Greece, Italy, France and Spain. -- Dr. Marty Becker
Do you have a pet question? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit Facebook.com/DrMartyBecker.
finds new home
-- We always thought it was four-leaf clovers that brought good luck, but a black cat with four ears had a run of good fortune after being brought to the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society in Pittsburgh on July 12. The 3-year-old cat, Batman, was treated for an upper respiratory infection and then put up for adoption, where he quickly caught the eye of a little girl who liked superheroes. Batman's double ears are thought to be the result of a recessive gene mutation. And he's not the only cat with multiple ears. Several felines over the years have been identified with the unusual natural genetic mutation.
-- Can you tell the difference between the affenpinscher and the Brussels griffon? Both of these dogs are often referred to as "monkey" dogs, or "monkey-face" dogs. Both are clever, cute and compact, and both have rough coats and bearded faces. The dogs have many similarities -- not surprising since the affenpinscher is an ancestor of the Brussels griffon -- but there are some differences. While the BG indeed has a rough coat, he also comes in a smooth variety. Affies can be black, black and tan, gray, red or silver; BGs are black, black and tan, blue, brown or red. Both are alert and playful, but the Brussels griffon tends to be more outgoing and more willing to get in trouble than the quieter affenpinscher.
-- The Robo hamster isn't the latest electronic pet from Japan. These smallest of the Asian dwarf hamsters are speedy and somewhat shy. Nocturnal, like all hamsters, they spend their evenings running endlessly on their wheel and can be entertaining to watch, but they're not especially fond of being handled. Desert dwellers in their natural habitat of Mongolia and northern China, they will appreciate some sand to dig in. -- Dr. Marty Becker, Kim Campbell Thornton and Mikkel Becker
ABOUT PET CONNECTION
Pet Connection is produced by a team of pet-care experts headed by "The Dr. Oz Show" veterinarian Dr. Marty Becker and award-winning journalist Kim Campbell Thornton. They are affiliated with Vetstreet.com and are the authors of many best-selling pet-care books. Joining them is dog trainer and behavior consultant Mikkel Becker. Dr. Becker can be found at Facebook.com/DrMartyBecker or on Twitter at DrMartyBecker. Kim Campbell Thornton is at Facebook.com/KimCampbellThornton and on Twitter at kkcthornton. Mikkel Becker is at Facebook.com/MikkelBecker and on Twitter at MikkelBecker.