Labrador Retrievers are beautiful dogs that should have a sturdy glossy coat. The coat care of a Labrador seems like an easy job, but the undercoat can sometimes take a little more work.
To help you, you can read here what makes a Labrador Retriever coat type so special. And of course how you can keep the coat as beautiful, shiny and healthy as possible. You can read everything about caring for the coat of a Labrador here!
This page contains affiliate links, and as a Chewy affiliate I earn from qualifying purchases which means I receive a small commission when you make a purchase, at zero cost to you.
- 1 What is the Labrador Retriever Coat Type?
- 2 What is a Double Coat?
- 3 Best Brush for Labrador Retriever
- 4 Coat Care of a Labrador While Shedding
- 5 Can I Shave my Labrador?
- 6 Are Labradors Hypoallergenic?
- 7 Can I Wash My Labrador and How Often?
- 8 My Labrador Has Skin Problems and Itching, What Could it Be?
- 9 What To Do With Itching and Skin Problems?
- 10 Tips for Grooming Your Labrador
What is the Labrador Retriever Coat Type?
If you have a Labrador yourself, you will probably have noticed that the Labrador has a short, yet thick and full coat. This coat is very different from that of a whippet, dalmatian or other dog with a smooth short coat.
Labradors have been selected for years for traits that make them perfect for hunting in swampy areas. What does a Labrador need for that? A sturdy coat with a double layer that insulates and protects well!
What is a Double Coat?
For this reason, Labrador Retrievers have a double coat. This means that the coat consists of a top layer of slightly longer, wiry hair.
Below you will find a softer, dense, water-resistant layer of hair. This is called an undercoat. The undercoat has several advantages for a Labrador.
It protects against UV rays, sharp objects in the environment and is a fantastic insulator. This means your Labrador does not get cold quickly and will be able to spend a long time in the water.
Even in summer, the layer of air in the undercoat keeps the Labrador Retriever nice and cool.
Best Brush for Labrador Retriever
Luckily, grooming a Labrador is quite simple. A double coat is a bit more work than a simple smooth coat but takes little time.
A simple brushing with a soft brush once a week will usually suffice. There are times when your Labrador’s coat care requires a little more attention, such as during molting.
For brushing you can use this brushing glove from HandsOn, for example . With such a glove you can massage and brush your Labrador at the same time, and this often produces much less resistance during brushing than brushing with a normal comb or brush.
Coat Care of a Labrador While Shedding
You might not expect it from a Labrador’s shorter coat, but it can shed a lot! Of course there is a lot of difference between Labradors, but most of them will shed a lot of hair, especially during the fall and spring.
This is completely normal, it is a natural process in which the dog loses its old and damaged hair.
How much a Labrador will shed differs enormously per dog, with one dog it is not that bad, while with the other dog you are buried under the hair.
Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to manage the shedding and keep the house tidy.
- Brush the dog regularly, preferably once a week to remove all loose hair. More frequent combing and brushing may be required during molting.
A Furminator comb can be very useful, this is one of the best combs to remove a huge amount of hair in a short time!
- Have a good diet. Poor quality food can cause the coat to become dull and ugly and cause more loose hair.
- Try to avoid stress as much as possible. Anxious or nervous dogs shed a lot more hair than relaxed dogs!
- Also take a good look at your Labrador’s skin. If it has itching, skin flakes or red spots, your dog may suffer from mites, fleas or an allergy. A vet can determine exactly what the problem is.
- This rubber glove by HandsOn can be very useful for easy hair removal. Spray some water on the surface before you go over it with the glove, and the hair will come off your couch!
Can I Shave my Labrador?
When it is very hot outside, it may seem like an attractive idea to rid your Labrador of its thick coat by shaving it. It sounds very logical, but it is a very bad idea!
The double coat of a Labrador has a function, it keeps the dog warm when it is cold and vice versa. So you better let the coat do its job and keep it intact.
By shaving it you take away the protection of the dog, it can even cause it to itch. Because the coat is no longer there to protect the Labrador from nails, scratching the dog can damage the skin.
This in turn causes more itching and so it gets more and more problems with its short coat.
In addition, harmful UV radiation from the sun can suddenly reach the skin, and so light-colored Labradors in particular can burn in the sun.
Finally, shaving a double coat will damage the coat for a long time, sometimes even forever. The coat does not grow back as expected.
It comes back less full, with coarse dull hair. Often the undercoat is even missing! It can take a long time for the coat to recover.
So never shave a Labrador’s coat, unless there is absolutely no other option. For example, sometimes parts of the coat need to be shaved before surgery or a skin condition.
Are Labradors Hypoallergenic?
The coat of a Labrador is unfortunately not hypoallergenic and can therefore cause allergic reactions in humans. Some breeds of dog, such as poodles, are believed to be hypoallergenic, but this actually does not exist.
There are dogs that release very few allergens, but this seems to differ enormously even within breeds.
There are poodles that can cause a severe allergic reaction, but also Labradors where someone with an allergy can sit quietly next to.
In the above study, scientists even showed that many dogs that spread exceptionally few allergens are Labradors!
They themselves think this is because Labradors are real water rats. Swimming a lot would ensure that the dog spreads fewer allergens.
Can I Wash My Labrador and How Often?
If there is a dog who knows how to be a real dog it is a Labrador! They love water, ditches and mud. The times you come home with a dirty Labrador after a walk will not be counted on one hand.
Fortunately, the Labrador has a self-cleaning coat, if you let the dirt dry it will fall off automatically! Unfortunately, not all dirt is easy to remove and smells in particular sometimes linger.
A cleaning in the bath or shower is also part of the coat care of a Labrador. They can be washed just like other dogs, but try to do this as little as possible.
With every wash you damage the natural fat layer, the natural bacteria and the PH of the skin a little. If you wash too often you can damage the skin.
To prevent this as much as possible, it is best to use a gentle dog shampoo. Fortunately, shampoos without chemical additives such as parabens and artificial fragrance and dyes are increasingly popular.
As a result, the choice is huge nowadays and there is always a shampoo that suits your Labrador!
An excellent shampoo for Labradors is for example this Burt’s Bees shampoo. This shampoo is PH balanced and free from artificial fragrances, chemicals, and parabens.
This way you can wash your Labrador more often without getting dry skin. Because Labradors’ skin is often a bit sensitive, it is important that the shampoo is gentle on the skin.
My Labrador Has Skin Problems and Itching, What Could it Be?
Most Labradors have little coat and skin problems. However, there are a few conditions that are more common in Labradors than in most other breeds.
Symptoms you sometimes see are:
- Dry skin with a lot of dander
- Red spots and a lot of itching
- Bald spots
Problems that occur more often in Labradors:
The thyroid gland is located in the dog’s throat. It produces all kinds of hormones that your dog needs to stay healthy. Sometimes the thyroid gland produces too few hormones, which causes all kinds of problems in the Labrador.
The skin can become inflamed with dark spots. Other symptoms include weight gain or loss and lethargy. Often the dog generally looks bad.
2. Atopic dermatitis (Eczema)
This is a complicated name for skin problems caused by allergic reactions. Often it can be pollen or mites. A food allergy can also be very similar, so it is always good to find out what the culprit is.
It causes itchiness and red, bald patches. Labradors are more likely to suffer from these types of skin problems than most other breeds
What To Do With Itching and Skin Problems?
When your Labrador suffers from itching, it can be very annoying for the dog and for yourself. It is important to ensure that the dog’s itchiness is reduced as soon as possible. The more the dog scratches, the more itching it will cause.
The itching and skin problems can best be dealt with at the cause. It is often nice to use itch-relieving agents temporarily so that the Labrador no longer damages his skin. But without knowing the cause, the itching will naturally return.
A vet can use various tests to determine whether it is an allergic reaction, a bacterial infection or maybe mites or fleas. The treatment then of course depends on the cause.
In the case of an allergy, it can sometimes be a matter of figuring out what exactly the cause is. And mites and pollen cannot be completely avoided.
Then it can be a good idea to keep the environment clean for the Labrador. You can also use natural remedies to reduce itching.
Tips for Grooming Your Labrador
- Your Labrador needs good food to get a healthy shiny coat. For example, add Omega-3 to the diet for a beautiful shiny coat. Fish oil is a good option.
- A special brush can be very useful during shedding. Furminator combs, for example, remove a lot of loose hair.
- Use shampoos without chemicals and with essential oils to keep the dog’s skin healthy.
- A trimmer can remove a lot of excess hair with a pet grooming dryer. You can also purchase such a device yourself.
- Check the coat regularly for parasites. Fleas and ticks should be removed as soon as possible.