Every year as we move towards the arrival of warmer weather, groomers get lots of calls for spring/summer shaves on breeds that aren’t normally shaved such as Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, Pomeranians, Shelties, German Shepherds, and other double-coated breeds. Owners are under the impression that by shaving the dog, they will help keep the dog cooler.
Mother Nature designed the double coat and it is an excellent device to enable dogs to regulate their temperature. A double coat is a coat that is comprised of longer, stiffer guard hairs with a shorter, softer undercoat. During the colder months, the undercoat will come in thicker to act as insulation and keep the body warmer. As the temperature warms, the dog sheds the soft undercoat and allows air to circulate at the skin level, keeping the dog cooler. The guard hairs protect the skin from sunburn and other environmental issues. Shaving your double-coated dog can actually make them more susceptible to heat stroke because their natural cooling system no longer functions properly. It also makes them more susceptible to sunburn and you may have to purchase sunscreen to protect your dog.
Shaving a double-coat can also irreparably damage the coat and it may never grow back to the original state. The dog may look patchy, with bald spots, thick spots, and areas where there are guard hairs and areas where the guard hairs won’t grow anymore. This results in the dog also losing the ability to regulate his/her temperature in both the colder months and the summer months.
A second reason owners want to shave their dogs is to reduce the amount of shed. Shaving your dog will not make any difference in the amount of shedding your dog does. Yes, the hair may be shorter, but there will be just as much coming out. The best way to reduce the amount of hair in your house is to bring your dog in for regular grooming which will keep shed to a minimum. It will also remove any dead coat, excess coat, and dander which will help you keep your floors and furniture cleaner.
Single-coated breeds that are kept trimmed should carry a minimum of 1 inch of coat year round. It’s enough to keep them warm in the winter and cool in summer by allowing their innate temperature regulation to work while protecting them from sunburn in the summer.
If you have any questions on this topic, please don’t hesitate to call or email us.