Friday, 9 August 2013

hot dogs pt 2

I should preface this post by saying that, in general terms, I do not advocate clipping or shaving a Finnish Lapphund or any double coated dog, as mentioned previously

However, for one particular Finnish Lapphund, with his particular needs and circumstances, shaving was the answer he was looking for.  So in case you are wondering approximately what your Lappy looks like under all that coat, it is my pleasure to introduce Silmu, a Finnish Lapphund living in Helsinki.

With his rather magnificent coat

 And without his coat

Looking quite wolfie, don't you think?

Silmu's owner, Elina, has him clipped in May before the beginning of summer because of the density of his undercoat since he was neutered.  For a bit more information about what can happen to a Lapphund's coat after neutering, have a look here.

Silmu is 10 years old and suffers badly from the summer heat.  He lives in a flat which gets very warm - and if it's anything like the upstairs rooms of my house, I feel for him because my bedroom has been 30 degrees at night.  Not good.  They also live in an area prone to large numbers of ticks carrying encephalitis and lyme disease.  Although numerous ticks can find their way through Silmu's heavy coat to the skin everyday, they have proven very hard to detect until they have already attached and started to swell.

Elina agrees that, in general, a Lapphund should not be clipped or shaved.  However, for this dog in these circumstances, it works best.  These days Silmu is a very cool, happy and tick-free Lappy in the summertime.  And, luckily, his coat grows back just in time for winter.

From top left:
June (1 month after clipping); September (coat just starting to return);
December (undercoat has grown back and top coat is on its way);
January (in full coat ready for the super-cold Finnish winter)

Thank you so much to Elina for letting me share hers and Silmu's story.  You can see more of Silmu on Elina's instagram @elinaalina

Sunday, 4 August 2013

hot dogs

You might have thought I was exaggerating when I said in my last post that a Lapphund would prefer it to be minus 30°C rather than plus 30°C, but if it was an exaggeration at all, it was a very slight one.  They are purportedly one of only a small handful of breeds who are allowed by law to remain outdoors during the night in a ferocious Finnish winter.  And when you get the chance to see them in cold weather, you can appreciate why.

It's a real treat for Lappy owners to see their dog's reaction the first time they see snow.  It really is like they have a genetic predisposition for it and they go quite bonkers with excitement.  For many of them, the worse the weather, the better they like it.  That includes not only snow, but also rain and wind and bitterly cold temperatures.  

So what's a Lappy to do when the temperature is somewhere in the region of 25-30°C, as it was here in southwest England for the past few weeks?

Our dogs like to lie about in the shade on the patio with the cool stones on their bellies - and chins.

Smiley Neka the second after lifting her chin from the ledge -
I just wasn't quick enough with the camera

Keskiyo, Maija & Tuuli - still panting even when in the shade

Even Gink enjoys the cool patio.  Do you suppose he thinks the skeleton washing line will cast some shade for him?  Or perhaps he just knows that this is a safe place to lie because even dogs who are careering madly around the garden tend not to run into poles - or trample the pussycats lying under the poles.

So what about exercise in this weather?  How cool does it need to be to walk a Lapphund?  How hot is too hot?  I always tell people that 20°C is the maximum temperature to walk your Lapphund in.  Any warmer than that is too warm for them, really, and that's especially true if that temperature comes with sunshine and no wind.  

So this kind of summertime in England means very early and very late walks for happy Lappies.  These days when it's 20 degrees by 9 am, I am out with the dogs by 7 o'clock at the very latest.  And some days - and for some people with different schedules to mine, that latest time will be 6 am.  Or even 5.  After that, the order of the day is lounging around on the patio stones until the sun goes behind the trees sometime after 8 pm.  

As for warm weather and the thick Lapphund coat, I have often had questions about clipping the coat in an effort to help them keep cool.  In a word: DON'T.  Here is an article that goes into some detail about the reasons not to clip or shave a dog with a double coat like a Lapphund.  But the short version is this:  The coat acts as a perfect insulator.  That means that it keeps them warm in cold weather but also cool in hot weather.  

Not so cool that you should take them out for a run in 25 degree heat, though, obviously.

Then there is the assertion "but my dog wants to go for a walk even when it's warm".  My answer to that is this:  You would not allow your 4-year-old child to decide what was in his best interests, so don't let your dog make those decisions either.  

In any event, it's not a problem that is likely to cause us in the UK any long-term dilemmas.  I have no doubt that by the time I publish this post, the weather will have reverted to the usual cold wind and rain that we have come to expect of our summers and the Lappies will all be comfy and as happy as clams (and probably as damp as clams too).