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Crowning Glory – Healthy Hair Coat

The right amount of healthy coat – not too much, not too little – helps create the look of true English Setter type.

If your ES has inherited a healthy hair coat, you might want to know how you can optimize the coat you have. If your ES has not inherited an abundant coat, then you might wonder how to create conditions that tend to grow coat on your dog?

Clean coat grows. Dirty hair breaks. If you want those flowing furnishings, frequent baths are your best friend.

Then comes oil -- inside (found in high-quality food and supplements) and outside (conditioners).

To benefit skin and coat, look for a supplement that is rich in Omega-6 fatty acids. Though Omega-3 fatty acids, such as those found in fish oil, have great health benefits, Omega-6 is best for skin and coat. Oils richest in Omega-6 fatty acids are sunflower and safflower oils, available in most health food stores. One tablespoon on the dog’s food twice a day is all you need for a 45- to 70-pound adult English Setter.

The perfect conditioner moisturizes, detangles, and adds shine. I’ve never found a single product that does all that, so I often mix my own, adding whatever I think I need at the time. Here’s how I do it, in case you want to give it a try. I put all the ingredients into a small bowl and mix together before applying to the dog, allowing it to penetrate for about five minutes before rinsing out.

For maintenance baths, if you live in a dry climate, you can consider adding some concentrated moisturizer to your already rich conditioner. Shea butter or hot oil treatment works well. If you live in a humid climate, you may find a lighter conditioner works better for you. For day of show baths, use a lighter conditioner to get that swishy look.

The longer your English Setter’s furnishings get, the more they tend to tangle between baths and brushings and the more you may want to use a detangler so you are not pulling out hair when you brush. I add a few drops of detangler to my conditioner-and-oil mixture, apply, and rinse all of it out before brushing. You have the option of spraying a detangler on the dog after you bathe if that works better for you. Many detanglers contain silk or silicone, which builds up and breaks the coat over time, therefore needs to be stripped out with a stripping shampoo at least every other bath.

The components of your conditioning concoction should provide shine. Dead hairs in the back coat can cause it to look dull, but when you use a stripping knife to strip out the dead hairs, the shine should come back, and the back coat will lie smoother. Brushing with a soft brush brings the natural oils to the surface and adds shine.

Your conditioning potion might consist of about 80% conditioner, maybe 15% shea butter or oil, and 5% (a few drops of) detangler. You may prefer to try other types of products, such as lanolin, mink oil, anti-static, protein additive, and/or humidifiers to formulate the best mixture for your dogs. Experiment to find the right combination for each dog you have.

Then sit back and enjoy the beauty of your English Setter’s healthy, thick, and shiny coat.

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