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There are three types of dogs that have long, corded fur which resembles dreadlocks. The Puli, Komondor, and Bergamasco shepherd all have this mop-like appearance. Their high maintenance cording requires special care to keep from becoming matted and smelly. These dogs do not shed, so they are good for those with allergies.
The Puli is probably the most familiar type of dog with dreadlocks, since it is often seen in dog shows. However, this Hungarian herding dog is rarely spotted elsewhere. It is a tough, tenacious breed that has been around for well over 1,000 years. The Puli has a gray, black, or white coat that naturally clumps into long, wool-like cords which shield it from cold or wet weather. Older dogs often have long dreadlocks that reach to the ground.
The Komondor is another Hungarian breed that is commonly seen in the show ring. This large dog is always white, which truly makes it look like a huge mop. The long, coarse coat of the Komondor helps it to blend in with a flock of sheep so that it can provide protection, and also shields it from harsh weather. It is an affectionate family dog that takes its work seriously and loves to please its master.
Even less familiar is the Bergamasco shepherd, another type of dog with dreadlocks. The large, gentle Bergamasco originally hails from the Italian Alps. This dog's coat may be cream, gray, or coal-colored and grows into matted felt-like dreads rather that the cording of the other two breeds. Its long, rough hair often falls over the eyes and gives the impression that the dog cannot see, but is meant to protect it from sun glare.
These dog breeds are not for everyone, as their coats require a great deal of maintenance to keep them healthy and odor-free. Odor may be a serious problem, as the cords on the dog's underside tend to get soaked with urine. They can also be prone to skin problems, especially dermatitis, which may cause them to chew and scratch themselves. Grooming them takes plenty of patience, as brushing them is nearly impossible.
Washing a dog with dreadlocks should be done with care and takes a great deal of effort and time. It is important to not use too much shampoo which can be difficult to rinse out. After bathing, each individual cord must be wrung out and the dog must be dried thoroughly to prevent mildew, which can cause a very offensive smell. The dog can also be wrapped in an old blanket or sweatshirt to soak up water, as towels do not work as well on corded coats.
Owning a dog with dreadlocks has its advantages as well. A dog with a corded coat is usually free from fleas and does not shed. This makes this type of dog a good pet for those with allergies.
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