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Discussion Starter #1
Teddy, our collie, leaped right into a fresh, large mud hole one time. He was literally covered in mud except for his head and neck. We hiked off the mountain and got back to our cabin an hour later. He was spotless when we arrived. The mud fell right off him.

Aidan played in a huge water bowl at daycare today. Then he rolled around in dirt, and had himself a good old time. The mud dried on his hair and he looked like he was covered in thick mud fibers. He shook off and looked like Pigpen in the Charlie Brown comics -- a huge cloud of dust surrounded him.

I just finished giving him a bath, which was scheduled for today anyway. (Yes, the daycare people were going to wash him off and clean him up, but I said no.)

I wonder what is the difference in hair? Ted's did not hold anything, while Aidan's single coat absorbs water and mud stays caked on. Even when Ted went out in heavy rain, it never penetrated past his top layer of hair into the fur.

Anyone know the answer to this perplexing question?

If you do, thanks in advance!

RC
 

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My guess is that it has something to do with the structure of the coat, double coated vs. single coated, and with the oil on the coat as well.
 

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Guard hairs will drop dirt. As a guideline, the harsher the coat, the less mud will cling to it. One of the things clipping a terrier (or other breed that needs regular grooming and doesn't shed - poodles, shih-tzus, etc) does is remove the harsh guard hairs and leaves only wooly undercoat. If you shave down a double coated breed, the same thing will happen. The exposed undercoat will clump around mud and is in general more likely to mat.
 

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Harsher coats where the shaft of each hair is smooth and well oiled will repel dirt and mud because it slides right off. Cottony soft coats are more absorbent I believe because the hair is more like a cotton ball (which obviously is really absorbent) and because there is less oil to coat the shaft of the hairs and repel dirt and mud. The oil has a lot to do with it, and is why when you bathe a dog their fur is really really soft for the first couple of days, but after a few weeks their fur gets harsher. Some breeds just naturally produce a lot of oil (like Labs and Beagles) and this helps keep their coat more "weatherproof" which is especially useful out in the field. Oil is waterproof, btw.

Basil's coat is really soft, but it's not cottony or frizzy or anything like that, it's really really smooth, and that helps make it to where dirt just falls right out of his coat. It's not the MOST weatherproof coat out there, but he does shed mud and dirt pretty well. He's a single coated dog, so I don't think having an undercoat makes a difference in how mud-repellant the coat is.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Aidan has soft, silky hair with no guard hairs. His hair does absorb an amazing amount of water. When he plays in his water bowl, his beard and paws leave a lake behind him wherever he walks. His coat doesn't repel anything at all.

The lack of guard hairs is normal for a SCWT, and his soft, silky coat is what the AKC says sets the breed apart from all other terriers.

Thank you all for explaining this to me. I just couldn't figure out how Ted could have hair on top and fur beneath, and Aidan have only hair, and still get so muddy. It was pretty amazing to see him like that. I arrived early to pick him up today. The staff at the daycare have been cleaning up before I got there, so I've never seen him muddy before.

I'm glad he had a great time getting that way, too. I am thankful every day that Aidan is no trouble at all to groom (or bathe), because I have to do it a lot.
 

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I've decided that many low shedders like poodles, bichons and my schnauzer (stripped not clipped) have cottony soft hair that can not repell dirt. It seems to attract it. So there is no shedding in thouse, but you have to invest a lot of time grooming the dogs to keep them clean b/c stuff really sticks to them... My girl is stripped and her stripped hair will repell to some extent... but the furnishings (part that is never stripped) are dirt magnets and you should see the snow clump up on her legs! Same as my mom's Bichon and aunts poodles.... I'd guess the same for a scwt...
 

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My folks single coated JRT, will be covered in mud, but miraculously he'll be clean in less then an hr. Izze is the same way, she always gets filthy but a quick brush with a stiff brush & all is good. Jo is another story, she has one of those soft bc-type coats that catches... EVERYHING!
 

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Discussion Starter #8
you should see the snow clump up on her legs!
I watched some videos of SCWT's playing in the snow and the same thing happened to them. Aidan has a winter coat, and I'm going to order boots for him. Maybe I should figure out how to make leggings for him, too. I could attach them to his coat with the same clips used for suspenders, maybe.

Either that, or I'll have to blow him dry every time he goes outside in the winter.
 

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Snow clumps happen to a lot of dogs. But there are boots made to go higher up the leg which I've considered buying. I think you could find them on the ruffwear or REI website but I'm can't quite remember.
 

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RonE has the most awesome snow clump picture I've ever seen; I wish I knew how to find it so I could link.
 

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Living in a very wet climate and being an avid hiker, a short, mud-repellent coat was a major factor in choosing my dog. I'd never try to own a dog with an absorbent coat unless I lived in a nearly arid environment. Part of that is just me being lazy about grooming, though - I can towel off a dog, but I'm not gonna bathe or brush with any regularity. I also hate how long coats, even if they repel mud, pick up bits of leaves, sticks, etc. Guess I'm just anal about that stuff, cause I constantly have the urge to pick out the leaves and stuff when I see it in other people's dog's coats.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
GottaLuvMutts, that's why I'm so lucky that Aidan doesn't mind being groomed. It is a pleasure to take care of him, because of that and because, no matter what, it doesn't take nearly as long as it did to groom my collie.

When dog people meet Aidan, he is so sweet and cute they don't believe me when I tell them how feisty, stubborn, and strong he is, how very much he loves water, and how absorbent his coat is. After they discover these things about him, they expect him to be full of mats, because they figure he would never put up with being groomed. I get a kick out of watching Aidan turn people's expectations upside down, especially when they run their hands over him, looking for mats that are not there.
 

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Oh, it's amazing to see how muddy my parents' Westhighland White Terrier can get and then be completely, bright white again in like an hour or so. And they do get her clipped, rather than stripped like she's supposed to be. Her coat is very soft and not wiry like many Westies/Cairns, but it still repels dirt amazingly.

For me, my dog not only has a pretty rough/oily coat, but the dirt also blends right in.
 
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