What You Need to Know Before Shaving Your Dog

What You Need to Know Before Shaving Your Dog

Have you ever considered shaving your dog for the summer? I shaved my dog years ago under the assumption that it would help keep him cool, but unfortunately it had the opposite effect. What I didn’t know then was that the kind of coat your dog is what determines whether or not they should be shaved.

Before you decide to shave your dog this summer please remember this: double coated dogs should not be shaved. Shaving a double coated dog will not help keep him cool, it will just make things worse.

Single coated breeds (such as Poodles) can have their fur clipped or shaved down to the skin and it will grow back the way it was, but that’s not the case for double coated breeds.

Before you decide to shave your dog this summer please read this article first. I shaved my dog years ago, and it’s a mistake I’ll never forget. Not all dogs should be shaved, and I learned that the hard way.

Why Double Coated Dogs Should Not be Shaved

When deciding whether or not to shave your dog you need to determine what kind of coat your dog has — single or double.

Double coated breeds are those that have two layers of fur. The top layer is made of tough guard hairs and the bottom layer is a thick layer of fur called an undercoat. The undercoat is a layer of fine hairs close to an animals skin that help keep them cool in the summer and warm in winter. In the spring they go through a major shedding period known as blowing their coat when much of that undercoat is released to make way for their lighter summer coat.

Common double coated breeds include Huskies, Chows, Labradors, German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, and Pomeranian’s. Most of the herding breeds have a double coat, as well as the Spitz type breeds and a majority of Terriers.

Shaving a double coated dog can permanently damage their fur, and contrary to popular belief it does not help keep them cool in the summer. Shaving a double coated dog should only be done in extreme cases of matting or with certain skin conditions.

I Made the Mistake of Shaving My Dog

I made the mistake of shaving my dog Carter when I was younger. He was an Aussie mix that had a thick black double coat that was beautiful and shiny. I thought I could help keep him cool by getting rid of all that extra thick fur in the summer.

Makes sense right? Would you want to carry around a thick coat like that in the summer? So I went to my local groomer and had him shaved — no questions asked.

He was three when I had him shaved. When he passed away 10 years later his top coat still hadn’t returned. He was left with a thick, unruly coat that became hard to manage. The hair on his back thighs, stomach, and chest were constantly matted after that shave. Turns out an undercoat left uninhibited isn’t easy to manage at all.

And to my disappointment it didn’t help him cool off in the summer at all, it actually made it worse. He began taking a lot more breaks during our walks and he started panting heavier than usual. Looking at him I knew I had made a huge mistake; I had made the summer more intolerable for him.

So please, take it from me — think twice before shaving your double coated dog. Here’s 5 reasons why double coated dogs should not be shaved.

Shaving Will Not Help Cool Them Down

The reason I shaved my dog was to help keep him cool in the summer. It didn’t, in fact it made him even less tolerant to the heat. Your dogs coat serves as a natural insulation from both hot and cold weather. The hot sun will warm your dog up more if they don’t have that layer of insulation protecting them.

When the coat does grow back it produces a thicker undercoat with a mix of short guard hairs. This new coat is thicker and softer then the old coat. Why is this bad? A dog’s shaved down false coat acts as a sweatshirt. Its softness soaks up the water and attracts burrs and hitchhikers. The thickness of the coat is extremely hot in summer. – Blue Cross Animal Hospital

Shaving your double coated dog doesn’t help cool them down. Their top layer of fur acts as insulation that helps keep them cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

Shaving Increases Sunburn and Skin Cancer Risks

The top layer of your dogs fur helps protect them against bug bites and the suns harmful rays. By shaving your dog you’re leaving them more exposed to the sun, increasing their risk of developing sunburn or skin cancer.

Their Fur Can Become Permanently Damaged by Shaving

When a double coated dog is shaved there’s no guarantee the top guard coat will grow back. And the older a dog is the less likely it is to grow back normally. The undercoat continues to grow, but for some dogs the guard hairs never do. These dogs are left with a coat that has a patchy, frizzy, dull appearance. Shaving your dog can alter their coat permanently.

This is what happened to my dog Carter. His backside, belly, and legs never grew any top hairs back. It became nearly impossible to groom him on my own. The undercoat became so wild, frizzy, and unruly that it felt just like harsh wool.

The undercoat is all that is left when you shave a dog, and as it grows faster than the outer coat, it takes a very long time for the outer coat to catch up, if at all.  This means that there is no outer coat to protect the under coat, which becomes brittle and breaks off, and that there is no shiny, glossy hair on your dog. – EKC Grooming

After dealing with Carter’s damaged coat for 10 years I’ll never shave a double coated dog again.

Shaving Your Dog Will Not Help With Allergies

Will shaving your dog help with allergies? Not at all. The dander on your pets skin and fur is what causes pet allergies, not the fur itself. And that dander is a collection of dead skin cells that sits in the undercoat of double coated dogs. So when you shave your dog you’re actually going to be exposing yourself to more irritants.

Shaving your dog will allow more of these allergens to become airborne, leading to more chances for direct contact.

These allergens become airborne during the animal’s natural shedding process, and end up everywhere: on carpet, drapes, blinds, furniture — even on clothes. – Dr. Karen Halligan director of veterinary services at SPCALA

Shaving Your Dog Will Not Decrease Shedding

Shaving your dog does not decrease shedding. Your dog will still shed, and after shaving it will just be shorter hair that they’re shedding. Because their top guard layer has been removed (the part that doesn’t shed), the undercoat is allowed to grow uninhibited which can lead to more shedding.

Ein was still shedding eight pounds of hair each and every day after he was shaved.  The hairs were just a whole lot shorter!  So, if this is the reason that you might like to shave your double coated dog – think again.  You will still be vacuuming hair! – Danielle at Team Unruly

There Are Better Ways to Manage Your Dogs Coat

Double coated breeds require regular grooming. In the spring and fall they go through their shedding process which can be a lot to handle if you’re not prepared. Hair will get everywhere – not just little bits and pieces either, huge tufts at a time will come out.

Maintaining a regular grooming schedule for double coated dogs is necessary. You can get a de-shedding tool like the Furminator (which is great for my German Shepherd mix with short hair, but it may not be the best choice for some longer haired breeds since it can pull too much hair at one time), or you can take a trip to the groomer and let them do the heavy work.

Regular brushing does more than just remove extra fur. It helps keep your dogs hair in good condition by removing dirt, preventing tangles, and keeping their skin clean and irritant free.

Regular grooming will cut down on shedding and help keep your dog cooler in the summer.

Please Don’t Shave Your Double Coated Dog

Shaving a double coated dog does not help cool them down, it will not decrease shedding, it will not prevent allergies, and it permanently damages their coat.

Shaving your dog in the summer seems like common sense, why wouldn’t it help keep them cool? That’s probably why I didn’t think twice before paying a groomer to shave my dog. But that one shave damaged his coat forever.

His top coat never grew back, and as a result he had to endure long grooming sessions as I tried to keep his unruly wool like fur under control. It’s something I’ll always regret.

Lots of us make this assumption about a nice summer shave for our pets. It’s so easy to do, and it’s hard to imagine that it could do any harm. But please think twice before shaving your dog, don’t make the same mistake I did.

If you have a double coated breed remember that his outer layer of fur is there for a purpose. It serves as your dogs heating and cooling system, developed and designed by mother nature herself. Please think twice before shaving your dog – in this case nature knows best.