Why Do Greyhounds Get Kennel Coat?


A greyhound should look sleek and shiny.  If your greyhound’s coat is, instead, dull, coarse, and patchy-looking, he may have kennel coat – Especially if he has just come to you, fresh from the kennel!  Whether he’s from the racing kennel, the adoption kennel, or the farm, it’s not unusual for a greyhound to come to you with kennel coat.

Kennel coat, AKA “farm coat,” is a condition common to retired racing greyhounds.  It presents as a dry, coarse, or fluffy coat; but it actually consists of loose hair and dander, which has built up amongst new growth.  It is often lighter in color than the rest of the dog’s coat.  Greyhounds have two seasonal shedding periods a year.  They can have additional sheds, if they are under stress, or have been sick or injured.  Much of the shed hair will fall away on its own; but if the dog is not brushed during a shed, hair can remain, forming kennel coat.

The good news about kennel coat is that it is easily improved.  Many greyhound owners report that with a good bath, regular brushing, and some fatty oils, that kennel coat can give way to a luxurious, smooth, healthy coat.

Description of Kennel Coat

I had one greyhound, Shannon, who not only came to me with kennel coat; he had recurring kennel coat!  He almost seemed a different breed than my other greyhounds.  If you have one of those big, black brutes from Ireland, you’ll know what I mean!  Square head, big-boned, and a coat that would be more at home on a German Shepherd than a greyhound.  Not the color, but the thickness and texture of it.  

I always knew when it was time to take the brush to Shan, because I would see little “tufties” of hair sticking up, like little cowlicks.  If you pulled on one, it would come right out, and bloom into a shockingly large ball of hair.  Then, if you looked back at him, it was impossible to find the spot where it came from.  His coat was that thick; the kennel coat would build up and sprout from him.

The other way I could tell Shanny needed a good brushing was that this extra layer would make him uncomfortable.  He would scratch and pant, and seem generally uncomfortable in his own skin.  After I brushed him, he always felt much better, as though someone had removed an itchy sweater from him.

Solutions for Your Greyhound’s Kennel Coat

As we’ve learned from Shannon, not all greyhounds have the same coat.  Lily’s coat is so thin, she has been the butt of Chinese Crested jokes; and Peaches’ coat was somewhere in between.  Some greyhounds are going to clean up shinier than others; but each can be show-stoppingly beautiful.  

First Step to a Glossy Greyhound Coat: brushing

You may be tempted to bathe him; but it’s important to start, instead, by removing as much loose hair as you can.  In fact, it’s better to brush him daily for a few days, until there is less hair coming out.

Here is a list of the most highly favored tools for the job.  These are names I have seen over and over, throughout the years, whenever the subject comes up in the greyhound discussion forums:

  • Zoom Groom 
  • Curry comb – get the soft, rubber kind
  • Shedding blade 
  • Equigroomer
  • Rubber-spiked hound mitt

Bathing to Remove Your Greyhound’s Kennel Coat

Next comes a good bath.  Greyhounds do not need bathing often.  Overly-frequent bathing will dry their tender skin, an opinion echoed by Dr. Ron Resnik DVM.  The most common recommendation I see from fellow greyhound owners is once a month.  I must confess, it’s more of a seasonal thing at my house; with the dog getting a full bath during shedding season, and sponge baths here and there, when she has gotten into something and needs to be cleaned off.  Greyhounds are amazingly clean, and ours mostly smells like the laundry detergent I use on her bedding every week.

Be sure it is a thorough bath, though.  Massage the shampoo with your fingers. You want to work in the soap enough so that it bonds with the built-up dirt and oil that is holding back to rest of the loose hair.  You’ll be surprised at the amount of dander that rinses away.

Don’t be discouraged if you see yet more hair coming off the dog while you towel him dry.  Once he’s all dried off, guess what’s next?  Brush him some more!  The bathing will free the rest of the shed hair.

Oils for Greyhound Coat Health

Finally, add a small amount of oil to your greyhound’s diet.  According to Dr. Wendy Brooks, DVM, essential fatty oils can make a huge difference in your dog’s coat, an opinion corroborated by Dr. Juliette Bouillon of the Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine.  

The forum favorite is salmon oil (check price here), by a long shot.

More is not better, as too much oil can make him sick.  For example, if you use a food oil, a 1/4 teaspoon twice a day is enough.  Here are some, tried and true, from seasoned greyhound owners:

OILDAILY DOSE
Coconut oil 1/4 teaspoon twice a day
Corn oil1/4 teaspoon twice a day
Olive oil1/4 teaspoon twice a day
Evening primrose oil 1 – 500mg capsule 
Salmon oil (formulated for dogs)use dose on label
Sardines
(packed in water or tomato sauce,
never brine or oil)
1 fish
GreyhoundHomecare.com

Also, be sure he is on a high-quality kibble.  A good brand will provide essential fatty acids which will improve his coat’s condition.

 Bald Greyhound Thighs? Read This!

If your greyhound’s problem is bald patches, especially on the thighs, that’s another matter.  You a can read my helpful article about it here. 

References for Further Info

Dr. Juliette Bouillon and Dr. Ron Resnick, with some help for dry skin: https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/life/pets/a30151037/dry-skin-on-dogs-causes-treatments/

https://www.drronsanimalhospitalsimivalley.com/blog/5-ways-to-treat-dry-skin-in-dogs/

Wendy Brooks, DVM, a diplomate of the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners, with some dietary tips for healthy coat: https://pets.webmd.com/dogs/guide/dog-nutrition-for-a-healthy-coat#1

Gail McGaffigan

The owner of the Greyhound Homecare website and YouTube channel, Gail has had retired racing greyhounds as pets since 1997. Please visit our channel, too! https://www.youtube.com/c/GreyhoundHomecare

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