Summer dog grooming routines in some households vary drastically due to the warm weather… and the question is… should they? The warmer temperatures are here and you might find yourself looking at your dog and thinking… “boy, Fido sure looks hot! Should I shave him so he’s cool for the summer?” For your dog’s sake, please put a pin in that thought and read on before you decide to shave your dog for summer.
The discussion around whether or not you should shave your dog depends primarily on the breed you have.
SINGLE COAT OR DOUBLE COAT… THAT IS THE QUESTION!
To begin with, you will need to determine whether you have a single coated breed or a double coated breed. You may be thinking… What?!?! But this is easy to figure out.
Single coated breeds have a single layer of hair and don’t have an undercoat. Having a single coat means they shed a whole lot less! But the trade off is that many of these breeds will have regular dates with the groomer for a trim as their coat will continue to grow. Some examples of breeds with single coats are Yorkshire Terriers, Poodles, Soft-Coated Wheaton Terriers and the Bichon Frise, to name only a few.
The double coated breeds, like the name suggests, have two separate layers to their coat. The dog’s undercoat layer – which is the fine, fluffy hairs that you find around your house that your dog sheds – is excellent at trapping air and insulting the dog. This helps your dog stay warm in the winter and cool in the summer. The longer, outer layer – which are called “guard hairs” – protect your dog from environmental elements such as water, snow, ice and dirt, but even more importantly they protect the dog from UV rays. Many of these breeds have very pale skin which makes them susceptible to sunburn without their coat in tact. Breeds included in this category are all of your Retrievers, Huskies, Shepherds, Collies, and many more.
GROOMING VS. SHAVING
Anyone can do it, but should you shave your dog? Let’s look your dog, assuming that you have determined they have a double coat. You look at them and think, “boy, they look hot and shaving them should make them cooler”! Do your dog a favor – put down the clippers or cancel the appointment you just made with the local groomer to have them shaved! Remember, we just discussed how this double coat actually keeps your dog cooler in the warm weather. You DO NOT want to shave these double coated breeds! As a groomer, this is not considered grooming and I do not believe in shaving ANY dog unless it is absolutely necessary. There is a difference between keeping your dog’s coat short with something like a puppy cut and shaving them!
An important thing to remember here is that you should not be looking at your dog’s ‘coat’ and thinking of it in the same terms like you would a jacket that you would remove if you were hot. The reality is, dogs do not cool themselves the same way as humans do. Removing your dog’s coat by shaving it essentially strips your dog’s ability to naturally protect themselves from the elements, making them more susceptible to such things as sunburn and heat stroke, and overall making them feel uncomfortable. Simply put, if you shave your dog it will do more harm than good. It will not make your dog cooler, but will make them warmer in the long run.
“… but IT WILL GROW BACK”…
You might think this… but the reality is there is a good chance you have changed the way that your dog’s coat works for the rest of their lives. It is entirely possible that the undercoat will grow back heavier and thicker than it was before. Want to know what that means for you? More shedding! Yes, that means more dog hair around your house, on your clothes, in your food and everywhere else! OK, I am a firm believer in the “dog hair, don’t care” mindset, but why would you make it worse for yourself… and your dog? Their once beautiful coat could grow back patchy and rough looking… but worst of all… it will no longer serve your dog’s needs the way it is supposed to.
Ensuring that you are grooming your dog by brushing them regularly, and routinely giving baths in order to keep their coats clean is the best way to allow their coats to work they way they should. These simple steps will reduce shedding and keep them comfortable… and what dog isn’t going to love the extra time they get to spend with their person while they get brushed!
If you are looking for some tips on how to keep your dog cool during the summer (without shaving!)… check out article Tips To Keep Your Dog Cool This Summer.