FAQ - Long-coats @ Wayeh
OK, so never long and soft... well, that should properly read, "not supposed to be" long and soft because they frequently ARE long and soft. Some people call the long-coats "woolies" but that is confusing when you read the standard and it says the correct coat is oily and woolly. So I'll call them long-coats (LC) & normal coats.
A long-coat is often MUCH longer than a normal coat, with usually no difference in length between the LC's undercoat and his guard coat (no halo when you hold them up to the light). The LC can also have a softer texture than desired so they can get wet much easier -- but not always.
To make it confusing, both the LC and the normal coat have modifiers that determine the length of the hair (short, medium and long), and the texture of the hair (harsh, silky, or cottony). So compare Parka to her sire Maestro, and Sonny Boy to his dam Sunny below.
The short coats also have 3 different lengths, short, medium, long. Summer has more bone than her grandkids, below, and not nearly as much coat. Maestro & Sunny have excellent leg coat, and a little extra fluff in their britches and tail plumes, evidence of the LC gene (all three are carriers for LC). The long-coat (LC) gene is recessive, and must be inherited from both parents. Our best coats come from LC CARRIERS, they get the LC gene from only one parent.
There is currently one genetic test for the Alaskan Malamute, and that is for the long-coat (LC) gene. It doesn't tell you anything about the modifiers that determine the length of the LC and therefore is incomplete information.
When we have bred to dogs who do not carry the LC gene at all, we also get very very short coats... Nikko, for instance, has a correct coat in the winter, and his massive bone fooled the eye into thinking he had more leg coat then he did. This super short leg coat was because of both being a short normal coat and NOT carrying the LC gene. He often threw very tight, very short coats, almost a Siberian coat or a summer coat, as he does not carry the modifier for THICK coats that Maestro does through the LC gene. Short coats are JUST as incorrect as long coats. There needs to be a definite LENGTH to the coat in order for it to work as insulation, without any softness or silkiness to it.
Here are some of Wayeh's long-coats.
Long-coats take a LOT more maintenance than a normal coated puppy. Normal coats are self-cleaning, long-coats are anything but. LCs can develop skin problems if neglected because the hair "can be" so dense that air has a hard time circulating. A good groomer is a must, whether that's you or one you hire. A forced-air power dryer for dogs is a MUST as is a metal greyhound comb and a leave-in spray detangler. Some LCs have such a harsh texture that they don't tangle, but the detangler will help separate the hairs, which removes the dead hairs and keeps a cleaner and cleaner-smelling coat, allowing better air circulation way down under that blanket of hair.
There is nothing cuter than a LC puppy and nothing more magnificent than a well-maintained LC adult. But if you are not up to the extra work or hiring it done, please don't get a LC.
The WORST thing you can do for them is shave them. That removes all the guard hairs and that's the only texture in their coats -- which means every burr grabs that wooly undercoat. If you shave them closer than that, then you risk sunburn and heat stroke.
Commit to the work of a LC or get a dog with hair that you can live with -- be fair to the puppy.
Best Link Ever for long-coat comparisons
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* Spring City, (East) Tennessee
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