Coat 101: The Importance of Conditioner


When you think of conditioner, what comes to mind? Moisture. That’s completely true, conditioners are used to replace lost moisture. However, conditioners do a lot more than you’d think.


Remember our pal the cuticle? He’s the king among kings when it comes to healthy coat. Your number one priority is to keep him healthy.


(For those who don’t know the cuticle, see our previous post.) If you do, then you know the cuticle has to be protected like a litter of puppies. Conditioner plays a huge role in keeping the cuticle happy and healthy.


  • Close the cuticle
  • Help prevent breakage
  • Prevent matting
  • Lock in moisture
  • Reduce shedding

(Yep, you read that right – it helps reduce shedding! Seriously! Stay tuned for more on shedding. 😉)


When you apply shampoo to your dog, you’re raising the cuticle layer. If you don’t apply conditioner to flatten those ‘shingles’ back out, then you’re leaving the coat vulnerable to tangles and split ends.

Tangles are created when one strand’s raised cuticle layers get caught on another strand’s cuticle layers.


Shampoo tightens the cuticle layer, raising it so it can get inside and clean. Conditioner adds moisture back into the cuticle layer, flattening it back over the cortex, restoring the protective layer.


You might be thinking, “My breed doesn’t get tangles, so I don’t need conditioner.”


Sheldon Cooper, The Big Bang Theory, CBS

Sorry, but Sheldon is right. Every coat type and coat length needs conditioner! By not closing the cuticle layer, you make the cortex vulnerable.

This can:

  • Cause breakage
  • Reducing hair growth
  • Dry out the skin
  • Fade coat color


Just as important as using conditioner, is choosing the right one. Each coat type, and coat texture, require an appropriate type of conditioner for their needs. *All conditioners listed will close the cuticle layer.


For drop, or long coats, that are silky (soft) textured, you will need a conditioner that deeply moisturizes the hair, and leaves it feeling soft. This type of coat needs conditioner more than any other.

The best conditioners for long, soft coats:

  1. Drop coats: Spectrum Ten Conditioner.
  2. Deep Conditioning & Repair: Spectrum Ten Hypro Pac.
  3. To remove tangles and condition: Ice on Ice Detangling Conditioner
  4. Gently moisturizes coat & skin: Day to Day Conditioner

For coarse and rough coats, you will need a conditioner that is light enough to keep the coat’s texture intact while still flattening the cuticle layer and providing that much needed protection.

The best conditioners for coarse and rough coats:

  1. Closes the cuticle: After U Bathe Final Rinse
  2. Closes the cuticle & maintain volume: Spectrum One Conditioner
  3. Closes the cuticle & gently moisturize coat & skin: Day to Day Conditioner
  4. Closes the cuticle & remove tangles: Ice on Ice Detangling Conditioner

Wire coats require similar care to coarse/rough coats, with the exception of the curly coated wire coats. Curly coats need a LOT of moisture to keep their curls healthy, but they also need moisture that won’t change their texture.

The best conditioners for wire coats:

  1. Closes the cuticle: After U Bathe Final Rinse
  2. Closes the cuticle & maintain volume: Spectrum One Conditioner
  3. Closes the cuticle & gently moisturize coat & skin: Day to Day Conditioner
  4. For curly coats: Ice on Ice Detangling Conditioner

Smooth coats don’t need a lot of moisture for their coat, but for their skin. And since hair health starts from within, keeping the skin moisturized is just as important for smooth coats.

The best conditioners for smooth coats:

  1. To treat dry, itchy skin: Spectrum Five Conditioner
  2. Gently moisturizes coat & skin: Day to Day Conditioner

For more information on the products listed, visit our website. To find a distributor near you, click here.

46 thoughts on “Coat 101: The Importance of Conditioner

  1. T2CPA says:

    The article says conditioner closes the cuticle. The suggested conditioners at the bottom of the article show some that close the cuticle, but others that do other things (like moisturize skin). Do all conditioners you sell close the cuticle or not? Top set of bullets make it seem like all conditioners do all those things. Do any of your conditioners do all those things? It is not like you would buy three conditioners for a dog if you wanted all those things. Confused…

    Bottom line – what shampoo and conditioner do I need for my 15 month old Samoyed? She has a beautiful white coat that I use your whitening shampoo on. I see purple on her skin or fur when she is wet – at the chest?? I also want to make SURE she does not turn grey. I do show her, but I am new to it all (clearly!)



    • chrischristensensystems says:

      Sorry for the confusion! They do all close the cuticle. If it lists other things, it’s because it does more than that! For a Samoyed, you could use After U Bathe, which just closes the cuticle (won’t change coat texture or weigh it down), or Spectrum One Conditioner which closes the cuticle and helps maintain volume! 🙂 Also, if you can see the purple on her skin when she is wet you are using White on White a little too often. Try to limit it to every 2-3 baths or she will turn grey/purple. In between you can use Spectrum One Shampoo, or Fair Advantage is a personal favorite on fluffy coated breeds. 🙂 Hope that helps!


  2. Kimo Stine says:

    This was a great article, thank you! We have two completely different types of coats in our house. One is a Bearded Collie. We use the ice on ice when working her coat for a good comb out, but it sounds like the spectrum 10 would be a good after bath conditioner? I noticed you recommended the spectrum one for the Samoyed. Would you recommend the same for a wavy coated Portuguese Water Dog?


  3. Susie Gurnik says:

    I just purchased Ice on Ice detangling shampoo and conditioner for my two Havanese boys. I also use the white on white. Would Spectrum One be a better choice? They mat easily.


    • chrischristensensystems says:

      A leave-in conditioner would work great to combat that.. Although I would suggest using Precious Drop on his collar because it contains Keratin (the protein that makes up hair) and would help repair any damage. Quench would be another great option! It’s packed with light nature inspired moisturizers!


  4. Donna says:

    I have a Yorkie and she gets a short hair cut in the summer and gets a wash once a month and sometimes I do a bath in between because she starts itching, what kind of conditioner should I be using?


  5. Suzanne says:

    I am mom to a tiny Shih Tzu. I groom her daily using Ice on Ice Finishing Spray. She is in full coat. She will go only 3 weeks without a bath because her coat starts to tangle terribly and I have to use Ice on Ice Ultra to get the tiny mats out. I use Spectrum 10 Shampoo and Conditioner. I was wondering if Thick n Thicker would be a good idea for a conditioner? I don’t understand why she tangles so easily in only 3 weeks. By the way, Precious Drop is fabulous!


  6. pelicor says:

    I’m not sure which of the four coats you described – silky, rough, wire, smooth – best describes my red Standard Poodle. She has dry skin but no problem with mats or shedding. What combo of shampoo and conditioner do you suggest?


  7. Sarah West says:

    I have Tibetan Spaniels and currently use spectrum 10 on them is this the right product or should I e using sprectrum one


  8. Lois F. Zelenski says:

    Simple question: After bathing with Spectrum One Shampoo, which do you apply 1st: Spectrum One Conditioner or Thick & Thicker?? I am a longtime Pem exhibitor in case that helps.


  9. Dorothy Bailey says:

    Which shampoo and conditioner would you recommend for show Cavalier King Charles Spaniels (all four colours) and Japanese Chins please? and should I condition the ears after their pre-show bath as some people say it makes the ears appear greasy.


  10. Laurel Barrett says:

    Which conditioner would you recommend for a Maine Coon. That is Black and his hair is getting longer. I currently use Final rinse and thick and thicker (recommended by another breeder) in that order.


      • Laurel Barrett says:

        Thank you, I thought I might have the rinse in the wrong order. So you don’t recommend Spectrum 10 conditioner? How about the Ice on Ice spray? I have 3 shows coming up.


      • chrischristensensystems says:

        If you want to keep volume, continue to use the After U Bathe. If you use Spectrum Ten Conditioner after Thick N Thicker it is going to reduce the volume a little bit, and make the coat soft. I would recommend you use Ice on Ice Ready to Use to protect the black color from fading in the sun (if your cat goes outside a lot). If your cat doesn’t go outside very often, I would recommend using Coat Link as your leave-in conditioner. It also helps maintain volume and will leave the coat shiny and softer.


  11. Susan says:

    Wonderful article! I use Spectrum 5 and Day to Day on my show pugs. Pugs can be tricky as some have a plush double coat or a smooth, slick single coat. I’m always wondering if there is something better when it comes to products and the pug coat. Thank you for providing us with such excellent products!!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Pat Havas says:

    I have a 7 month old blue tortie maine coon that I just got with very long hair that appears to be very dry. She get static very easily and has some tangles. What do you recommend shampoo and conditioner wise please?


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