Shaving Your Dog in the Summer is Not Cool

Red ChowOwners of double-coated dogs (dogs with both a topcoat and an undercoat) don’t need to do anything drastic like shave your dog in the summer.  In fact, shaving your double-coated dog can have unintended negative consequences and lead to an even worse response to the warm weather.

(For a complete list of double-coated dogs, click here)

Top Coats:
The topcoat of a dog is the coat you see when you’re looking at the dog, and it gives the dog its unique and breed-specific look.  The topcoat hairs are the longest, and grow out and over any shorter undercoat hairs.  The top coat is course, glossy and straight.  Most of the color of your dog’s fur is in the top coat hairs.  These hairs protect your dog’s skin from water, UV rays, and insects among any number of other environmental debris.

Under Coats:
The undercoat is shorter, softer and may be a different color from the rest of your dog’s fur.  There are a lot more strands of undercoat than there are of topcoat.  This layer of fluffier fur serves as a natural heating and cooling system for your dog by maintaining a layer of air between your dog’s skin and the top coat.  This layer of air is what helps regulate your pet’s body temperature in cold and hot weather.  The undercoat “blows out” or sheds and regenerates several times a year, and especially during seasonal changes.  This layer may start sticking out in patches from underneath the top coat when it’s ready to blow out, and can be managed by using an appropriate dog brush to remove these soft, fine hairs.

Brushing Mountain DogWhen you shave your dog, you’re removing it’s natural defense against the heat.  You’re taking away the insulator of it’s fur and removing the layer of air that keeps your dog’s skin cooler.  You’re also exposing your pet’s skin to UV rays which can lead to severe sunburns.  Dog skin has significantly less layers than humans, which can result in more severe burning when exposed to the sun’s rays.  You’re also giving ‘skeeters, ticks and other insects direct access to your dog’s skin.  In short (no pun intended), leave the fur alone.

It’s easy to think that by shaving your dog he’ll be cooler in the summer, because after all, aren’t you cooler when you’re wearing “summer clothes”?  The problem here is that people get sweaty; dog’s don’t.  Humans release heat and control body temperature through their skin by sweating, but dogs rely on panting, the pads of their paws, and their fur to control their body temperatures.  Shaving your dog can actually speed up the over-heating process which is exactly what you’re trying to avoid.

Great PyreneesIt’s also not true that shaving a dog will reduce shedding.  Excessive shedding is a result of nutritional deficiencies, improper or irregular grooming, stress or another medical problem; it has nothing to do with the dog’s hair.  A shaved dog will shed just as much as an unshaved dog, with the only difference being the length of the dog hair.  It’s important to choose a breed that will fit into your lifestyle.  Choosing a double-coated breed may not be a good match for an owner with minimal time or patience for cleaning up and grooming needs.

Allergies to your dog is also not a valid reason to shave it.  If you’re allergies are a result of the dander, which are the microscopic skin flakes shed by your dog, shaving off the fur is allowing those allergens to escape the fur layer and increase your allergy.  If you have, or develop, allergies to your dog, you will find more ease in properly grooming and maintaining your dog’s skin and coat.

Shaving is different than a “summer cut”.  Giving trims here and there is acceptable as long as you aren’t actually using clippers to get down to remove undercoat.  Regular brushing will help keep your dog’s coat in optimal condition and reduce the loose hairs.  How much brushing needed depends on the breed and your dog.  Shaving your double-coated dog will do more harm than good.

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  1. An excellent article and good reminder to all dog owners! We have a very “cool” (well he thinks he is) double coated “guy” and cannot make him any cooler …. except perhaps by giving him access to water! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Reblogged this on Op-Benny Kernel – Home of Dogs.

    Liked by 1 person

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