Puppy coat and general care
The Komondor puppy coat is full and fluffy, and bright white. The individual hairs may be straight or wavy, but are fast growing, covering the whole puppy. You’ll see a black nose, but not too much else! At the puppy stage, the coat will basically take care of itself. You may want to trim the feet to prevent too much dirt sticking and accumulating in-between the toes, and you can trim round the muzzle if it gets too wet and dirty.
You should not brush a Komondor coat, as it will prevent the natural formation of cords. It can also damage the undercoat such that the undercoat never grows back. Having said this, some owners do choose to keep their Kom coats brushed out, and shave them every so often. Personally, I love the cords, so lets continue assuming you want a natural corded coat!
Kom coats are pretty notorious for picking up debris from outside, and transporting it into the house. Leaves, brambles, and other random objects may get stuck to the coat. It’s easiest to remove these things by hand, either picking them out, or by gently brushing the coat using your fingers.
Seeds can also be a problem. Both round sticky ‘burrs’ and dart shaped grass seed types. The dart shaped seeds are particularly dangerous as they can irritate the skin, eventually burrow into the skin and can end up anywhere! So it’s a good idea to get into a routine of checking the paws, both underneath and between toes. Also check between the dew claws and leg, as it’s very easy for a seed to get lodged there and cause a problem.
Bathing or showering can be done as and when needed, and can be a great way to bond with your puppy and to build trust. A bath can be quite messy, so I’d advise a shower and a wetsuit for most of the time, and an occasional full bath. It’s sometimes amazing just how much dirt comes out of the coat, especially the paws. I wouldn’t worry too much about how often or not you bath/shower, just whenever you need to.
It’s also a good idea to get into a good routine cleaning the eyes, ears and teeth. You’ll find dried eye mucus at the corners of the eye, and it’s a good idea to clean this away to prevent staining and to keep things clean and comfortable. The ears are particularly large and can be prone to ear infections if not kept clean and healthy. You should get your Kom used to having their ears cleaned, and hair plucked. Don’t go crazy though, you can overdo it! I’d recommend the ear powder you can buy which will keep ears dry and healthy. Keep an eye out for excessive itching, or shaking the head as it can indicate a problem.
The Komondor coat provides a few functions. Firstly it regulates the Komondors heat, keeping it warm in the harsh winter, but also crucially cool in the summer. It is always surprising to feel a Kom coat when they’ve been in the sun, and their coat is cold, insulating them from the heat.
These cords form between 9 months and 18 months of age, quickly covering the whole dog replacing the fluffy puppy coat.
There’s quite a range of different coat types, from large thick ribbons, to thinner round cords. Some will require a lot of work to get going, others will just form naturally without any intervention needed.
Do not worry too much about catching the start of cords coming through. You’ll suddenly notice the coat is matting and you may panic a little! The first places are usually behind the ears, above the tail and top of the head. You might also get matting underneath a collar.
If you have cords naturally forming and starting to mat together, then it’s just a case of keeping those already defined cords separated by pulling them apart. As they get more established, the job will become easier.
This picture shows a Komondor with naturally forming cords which established themselves early on. Not too much work required!
If the cords are not naturally forming, it’ll be more of a process of splitting matted plates into smaller plates. Most of this you should be able to do with your hands. Just grip one side of the mat, grip the other side, and pull apart. It’s actually quite satisfying! You should be careful when doing this on the ear leathers, as the skin can be quite delicate and can tear, so just take care there. The cords shouldn’t be too thin, or they won’t be strong enough at the base to support a full length cord. About the width of your thumb is a good guide.
If you have a particularly messy matted area, which you then split up into cords, you may notice a reaction on the skin, as it’s suddenly exposed to the atmosphere. This should clean up fairly quickly though.
It’s also worth noting that the matted cords do not mat right up to the skin. There’s usually a gap between the mat and the skin. This is worth noting, as matting can often be seen as a “bad” thing by people unfamiliar with the breed. This is also useful if you have a stubborn mat which you can’t split. Sometimes it’s easier to pull the mat apart starting near the skin where it isn’t matted, and work towards the end of the coat.
You’ll also notice that the fluffy puppy coat starts to get replaced by the wiry harsher adult coat as the cords come in.
The cording stage can be a little daunting and worrying, but it’s a good idea to just get into the habit of doing a little bit each day. Just have a cuddle and work their cords a bit while you watch TV for example. Some will enjoy this and actually seek you out and ask you to do their cords. Others will learn to enjoy it once they get used to it!
Bathing helps with the cording process, but you should be careful to dry the coat fully, do not rub with a towel as this can undo the cords. One other tip here is that if you get your Kom used to an air dryer, it makes finding mats and areas in need of attention much easier to see – just blow dry them after a bath/shower and watch their coat as you move the air around. You’ll easily spot cords that are stuck together.
Once the cords are all formed, it’s simply a question of keeping them formed and distinct from each other. Every now and then just pick a patch and separate some cords. After a while it becomes second nature, and is pretty similar to stroking a dog.
There is a bit of a misconception that corded coats “smell bad”. This isn’t the case as long as you take care of the coat. That means keeping it clean, removing dirt and debris, and keeping it dry. If cords become wet for long periods, they will start to smell. You’ll notice the cords on the feet, and cords round the muzzle may tend to be a dark grey colour, and stay wet for periods. If this becomes a problem you can trim those areas and/or brush them out to enable them to dry quicker.
As the cords get longer, they will take longer to dry, and bath times will take longer, but it’s easy enough to trim the coat if you prefer to keep it shorter.
All the advice I’ve seen is to buy some cheap scissors to cut the cords, as by the time you finish they will be blunt!
It’s a good idea to have lots of room to bath your Koms. A large shower or bath which is easily accessible is a good idea. The amount of dirt that comes out a Kom, especially from the feet is staggering.
Ear powder, ear plucking/cleaning tools. Dental care, Nail clippers.
Plenty of towels, old bath-robes, etc
A dog drier (High power hair drier) is a good bet. You can pick them up off Amazon or ebay for not too much.
A good heater, coupled with a dehumidifier also makes light work of the drying.
A wet and dry vacuum can also work, but is quite noisy and can be pretty scary for pups!
Grooming once the coat is starting to cord
You may wish to take your Komondor to a professional groomer. If you do, please take care, as often groomers are unaware of the unique nature of the Komondor coat and how to care for it. You may end up with a shaved Kom!
However, grooming is something you can do yourself as long as you’re prepared!