Doggy Dreadlocks: All About Corded Coats in Dogs

Kate Barrington
by Kate Barrington

This fur style may look laid back, but its maintenance is anything but. Here’s what you need to know about corded coats in dogs.

Every dog and breed is unique in terms of its appearance, temperament, and its abilities. One of the most distinguishing characteristics of any dog breed is its coat. Dog coats come in all lengths, colors, and textures but one of the most unique types of coat is the corded coat. Corded coats are seen in only a few specific dog breeds and they are more difficult to maintain than the standard single or double coat. We’re going to go over the basics about what a corded coat is, which breeds have it, and how to maintain it.

What is a Corded Coat?

A corded coat on a dog looks similar to the way dreadlocks look on people. This type of coat consists of long rope-like strands where the top coat is actually entwined with the undercoat. Dog breeds that have corded coats typically do not develop cords until they are full-grown and it takes a while for the cords to develop. Maintaining a corded coat takes a lot of time and effort, especially if you plan to show your dog. Regular bathing is not a possibility for dogs with corded coats because the cords repel water and it is difficult to completely rinse out the shampoo – it is also very difficult to thoroughly dry a corded coat. For these reasons you need to be very careful about avoiding fleas and skin problems in dogs with corded coats.

Related: Dog Tear Stains: Causes And Treatments

Some dog coats simply do not take well to cording – they do not have the right length or texture to develop cords. There are other breeds, however, that naturally develop a corded coat, though it still takes work to maintain the cords properly. Technically, any dog breed that has a permanent coat can be corded. Some of the breeds that are known for having corded coats include the following:

Maintaining a corded coat can be difficult, even though you do not need to brush the coat. Bathing a dog with a corded coat can take hours because it takes a while for the water to penetrate the cords and then it takes even longer to rinse out all the soap. Drying a corded coat takes a long time as well and it is a step that cannot be skipped because wet cords can foster the growth of bacteria and mold – letting a corded coat air-dry can take 48 hours or longer which is why it is often best to blow-dry the coat.

Related: Grooming Basics: All About Hand Stripping

Having in mind how difficult it can be to properly groom a dog with a corded coat, it goes without saying that having the right tools and supplies can make your job significantly easier. Unlike most other dog breeds that have long or short hair, dogs with dreads don’t require brushing so special combs and brushes will not be a part of your grooming arsenal. However, bathing and drying a dog with a corded coat is a whole other story- and you’ll need special products and equipment to make sure your pet gets the at-home grooming treatment he needs. Here are our choices for some of the must-have grooming supplies for dogs with a corded coat- read on to learn more!

Double K Industries ChallengAir 560 Cage Dryer

Letting a corded coat air dry is not the most ideal option – it will take days and can get moldy in the process, and blow drying it can ruin the dreads or cause overheating. That’s why a cage dryer is an ideal solution: it is efficient and can be set on low heat to prevent a heat stroke. This particular model is made in the USA, has a quiet motor, temperature adjustments and an airflow of 750 cubic feet per minute for faster drying- everything you need to get your corded coat dog dry in no time.

Bark2Basics Sensi-Skin Hypoallergenic Dog Shampoo

The best shampoo for a corded coat is one that’s gentle, easy to rinse out, and hypoallergenic. This mild, fragrance-free formula can be diluted 16:1 and it is ideal for the needs of this type of coat, and to boot – it’s made from natural ingredients. It will keep your pet’s skin soft and moisturized and their coat in top form!

Bone Dry DII Microfiber Dog Bath Towel

It’s crucial not to rub the cords with a towel when you’re drying your pet- you should blot dry and wrap your pooch in towels to get as much moisture out of the cords as possible. These super absorbent dog towels are ideal for this as they can soak up much more water than your old tatty towels you would probably be using otherwise.

Mikki – ‘all Tangled Up’ Matt Splitter For Dogs

For separating hair into layers or just for removing mats- this mat splitter is the way to go. With ergonomic design and a razor-sharp blade, it will cut through anything with ease. This also means you should be really careful when you use it – you don’t want to hurt your pooch inadvertently.

Farnam Vetrolin White N’ Brite

If your corded coat dog is also a white-coated dog, you’ll have to put in some extra effort to keep those cords a beautiful pure white color. That doesn’t mean you have to use chemicals or heavy-duty shampoos- this concentrated brightening shampoo is mild enough to use on your pet’s sensitive skin and coat.

Corded Coat Tips:

  • Avoid bathing a corded-coat puppy once the coarser hair starts to grow in and cords begin to develop.
  • Separate your dog’s coat into sections as the cords develop using divisions no wider than your thumb.
  • Use a mat splitter and/or scissors to separate the layers into smaller sections as needed, cutting the coat into strips.
  • Allow your dog’s coat to naturally cord into the divided layers – it could take up to 2 years for a dog’s coat to become fully corded.
  • If you do not plan to show your dog, consider cutting the cords back to 3 inches long all over the body once per year.

Maintaining a corded dog coat is by no means an easy task. If you have trouble working with your dog’s coat or simply need some advice, ask a professional groomer for further tips.

We are committed to finding, researching, and recommending the best products. We earn commissions from purchases you make using the retail links in our product reviews. Learn more about how this works.

Kate Barrington
Kate Barrington

Kate Barrington is the loving owner of two cats (Bagel and Munchkin) and a noisy herd of guinea pigs. Having grown up with golden retrievers, Kate has a great deal of experience with dogs but labels herself a lover of all pets. Having received a Bachelor's degree in English, Kate has combined her love for pets and her passion for writing to create her own freelance writing business, specializing in the pet niche.

More by Kate Barrington