Have you ever come across a dreadlock dog in real life?
Dreadlocks are generally associated with people, but did you know that some breeds of dogs can also have dreadlock hairstyles?
If you’ve ever seen a dog that looks like it has dreadlocks, the chances are that it will be one of the breeds we’re going to discuss in this article.
But before we go on to look at what breed of dog has dreadlocks, let’s look at what makes a dreadlock dog!
What makes a dreadlock dog?
A dreadlock dog’s coat is more correctly referred to as “corded.”
It would be easy to think that dreadlocks on dogs just grow that way and that the coat looks after itself. But this is not the case at all!
At birth, a dreadlock dog puppy’s coat is more or less straight or very slightly wavy.
Once the puppy reaches eight or nine months of age, coarse hair begins to appear amongst the fine puppy hair.
Upwards of nine months of age, the pup’s coat begins to form mats, especially around the ears, limbs, legs, and underarms.
At this stage, you must split the mats into thinner strips – cords.
How dreadlocks form in dogs
If the process is begun while the dreadlock dog is young and the coat is still quite fine, you can tear the mats by hand.
However, if the mats don’t tear easily, you’ll need to use mat splitters or scissors so that you can literally cut the coat into strips.
When splitting mats, begin at the skin and work outwards.
Often, if you start by cutting an inch or so with scissors, you will be able to tear the remainder of the mat by hand.
Don’t try to do the whole dog in one sitting!
Pulling on the hair in order to split the mats can make the dog’s skin sore if you try to do too much in one go.
Work gradually over several short sessions.
Once all the mats are split, your dreadlock dog will look rather like a big, fluffy pillow!
Over a few days, the hair will begin to twist itself into cords.
Transforming a dog into a dreadlock dude is a time-consuming process, so you must be patient.
It can take up to two years before a dreadlock dog has grown a sufficient length of coat to be completely corded!
Caring for a dreadlock dog’s coat
If you don’t care for a dreadlock dog properly, the coat will just form one huge, solid mat.
Matted fur will be very uncomfortable for the dog, causing pulling and pinching of the skin and quickly becoming filthy.
However, once the cords are properly formed and if they are maintained correctly, dogs with dreadlock hair do not shed!
Caring for a dog that has dreadlocks is no easy task!
Once the dog’s coat is corded, you’ll need to trim it back to a length of about three inches all over, once every year.
This length of coat is easy to maintain and keep clean.
Don’t cut your dreadlock dog’s coat any shorter than this, as it will grow back as mats, not dreads!
Keeping dreadlock dogs clean
Dogs with long dreadlocks can end up with their coats dragging along the ground, picking up dirt and debris as they go!
You can still allow your dog’s dreads to grow long if you want to, but you must trim them so that they are clear of the ground.
Use old or cheap kitchen scissors for cutting your dog’s coat, and discard them once the job is done.
Cutting a full coat of dreadlocks will quickly blunt a pair of scissors so you must be prepared to throw them away when you’ve finished!
You’ll need to separate and brush the cords several times a week to get rid of debris and dust.
It’s best to avoid bathing your dreadlock dog, as the hair can take up to 48 hours to dry.
If you’re not experienced in caring for a dreadlock dog, it may be wisest to consult a specialist dog groomer.
Remember that it can take up to two years to create cording on a dog’s coat, and a trimming or clipping mistake could take a long time to put right.
If you have a dreadlock dog and you live in a country with a very warm climate, it may be kinder to clip your dog, rather than allow the dreads to grow.
Corded coats were evolved to keep the dog warm and dry in harsh mountain environments, and a dreadlock dog could be vulnerable to overheating during the summer time.
Dogs with natural dreadlocks
So, what kind of dog has dreadlocks?
There are several breeds of dogs that have natural dreadlocks and a few that have coats that can be corded with a little care and effort.
First of all, let’s take a look at what dog has dreadlocks naturally, before we move on to check out a few breeds whose coats can be persuaded into cords with a little know-how and hairdressing skill!
The Hungarian Puli
The Hungarian Puli is a large dog with dreadlocks.
It is thought that the breed was brought into Europe around a thousand years ago by Asian nomads.
Pulik were then used in Hungary as sheep herding dogs, where their thickly corded coats protected them from the harsh mountain winter weather.
Pulik are friendly, loyal dogs with a very strong herding instinct, and they make great family pets.
In fact, some owners have reported that their Puli enjoys nothing more than herding toddlers around the home!
Although this breed of black dreadlock dog is generally healthy, it is advised that potential owners ensure that pups have been screened for hip dysplasia, patella problems, and degenerative myelopathy.
Responsible breeders will be able to provide certificates to show that their puppies have clear hip scores.
The Komondor is a very distinctive large dog breed with white dreadlocks!
The Komondor is another large Hungarian dreadlock dog that was originally used for herding and guarding sheep up in mountain pastures.
The Komondor’s white dreadlocks served to keep him warm and dry during harsh winters.
His white coat also helped him to blend in with the sheep, providing him with perfect camouflage and giving many wolves a nasty surprise, rather than a tasty sheep!
The Komondor makes a loyal, trainable, and friendly family pet.
However, these are large dogs who need plenty of space and lots of exercise.
This dreadlock dog is pretty healthy, although puppies should be screened for hip dysplasia.
Like many large dogs, Komondors can sometimes suffer from bloat, a potentially fatal digestive disorder.
The Bergamasco sheepdog
The Bergamasco sheepdog is originally from the Alpine area of Bergamo in Italy.
It’s thought that this dreadlock dog was brought from the Middle East by the Phoenicians to Europe, where it quickly became popular as a herding dog.
The Bergamasco’s thick, shaggy coat would have protected the dog from the bitter cold of the high altitude environment where he lived and worked guarding his flock.
Also, the flat armor-like mats would have given the dog some defense against wolves and other predators.
This dreadlock dog has flat mats, rather than round cords, but the breed is still widely regarded as a dreadlock dog.
The breed makes a good family pet and a loyal companion and has no notable health issues that potential owners should be aware of.
However, when looking at puppies, always ask to see their parents first to make sure that they’re healthy and happy.
It’s also worth asking if the breeder has any health certificates for the puppies.
Dogs with dreadlock-like hair
There are a few breeds of dog whose coats can grow to resemble dreadlocks, although they are not regarded as true dreadlock dogs.
The Spanish water dog
The Spanish water dog comes from the Iberian Peninsula in Spain.
This breed was originally bred in Spain where it was used as a herding dog, working with cattle, sheep, and goats.
The Spanish water dog was also used by hunters and fishermen as a retriever of shot waterfowl, hence its reputation as a very strong swimmer and its love of water.
The Spanish water dog has a single coat of thick, woolly hair that curls as it grows. The hair provides a water-resistant coat and a layer of insulation to keep the dog warm when it is in the water.
Making the dreadlocks
A corded, dreadlock look can be cultivated by shaving the coat off completely, and then allowing it to grow out, shaping the cords as the hair grows.
In this way, you can create a dog with dreadlock-like hair, even though it is artificial rather than natural.
Spanish water dogs are a very lively, active breed that need lots of exercise and entertainment to keep them happy. This dreadlock dog makes a great, loyal family pet.
The breed is pretty healthy overall, but it is recommended that puppies are hip-scored and that an ophthalmologist evaluation is carried out prior to purchase.
The poodle is originally from Germany, where it was used as a duck hunter around 400 years ago.
The poodle’s thick, curly coat provided it with protection against the elements when it was swimming after shot game birds.
Hunters often shaved the poodle’s neck, legs, and tail in order to allow the dog a full range of movement for swimming.
The hair was left on the chest, leg joints, loins, and hips to help keep the dog warm.
In later years, the poodle was adopted as an elegant companion dog by the aristocracy in France and eventually all of Europe.
Thanks to an extraordinary sense of smell, the poodle was also trained and used as a truffle hunter.
The poodle is not a natural dreadlock dog. His coat must be clipped first and never brushed. When the cords begin to form, they must repeatedly be separated by hand.
Most poodles are healthy and long-lived.
However, you should ensure that your poodle puppy has been hip-scored for dysplasia, checked for eye disorders, von Willebrand’s disease, epilepsy, sebaceous adenitis, and other immune system disorders.
Toy and miniature poodles are more likely to suffer from orthopedic problems, such as patellar luxation and Legg-Calve-Perthes, than their larger, standard cousins for whom bloat can be a potential issue.
The Havanese is not a traditional working breed, although they have been used in the past as circus performers and even assistance dogs!
These cute little dogs were actually bred as companions for the aristocracy in Cuba in the 1800s.
Havanese have a lively, outgoing nature, and they can make lovely family pets.
The breed is not a natural dreadlock dog! Although their coat can be trained into cords, this can take up to two years, and each section of mats must be repeatedly split by hand to prevent the whole coat from matting together.
The Havanese is a healthy breed that is long-lived, often reaching 15 or 16 years of age.
The breed can be prone to eye disorders, deafness, chondrodysplasia, heart murmurs, patellar luxation, and Legg-Calve-Perthes disease.
When buying a Havanese puppy from a breeder, always make sure that screening has been carried out for all the above mentioned hereditary conditions.
Dogs with dreadlock fur – Summary
There are several breeds of dogs that have a natural dreadlock (corded) coat.
Also, a few breeds can have their fur styled into dreads if you like that look!
All the dreadlock dog breeds make great family pets, but you must be prepared to spend time and effort on maintaining their coat.
If the cords are not carefully looked after, they can become very matted and cause discomfort as they pinch the dog’s skin.
Do you have a dreadlock dog? What breed is he? How do you look after his coat?
Why not share your pet’s story with us and with other readers? We’d love to hear all about your dreadlock dog!
References and Further Reading
- American Kennel Club
- The Kennel Club
- Canine Genetic Diseases, “Canine Myelopathy”
- Wiley Online Library, “Patella Luxation in 70 Large Breed Dogs”
- MSD Manual, “Platelet Disorders”