Should I Shave My Dog's Coat in Summer? The Facts About Furry Dogs!

Written by: Loren Seldner



Time to read 4 min

As the summer sun blazes on, and outside activities are in,  pet parents are determined to keep their beloved furry companions cool and comfortable. With temperatures rising, the idea of shaving their dog's coat to provide relief becomes tempting. Dogs, after all, are cherished members of the family, deserving of the best care in hot weather.

However, amid this quest for comfort, a critical question arises: Does shaving truly offer respite from the scorching heat? While it may appear as an obvious solution, it's essential to approach this matter with caution, especially for double-coated breeds. The American Kennel Club (AKC) warns that shaving may have unforeseen consequences, doing more harm than good for certain breeds.

As responsible pet owners, we must consider the unique needs of our furry friends. Double-coated breeds, such as Golden Retrievers, Border Collies, German Shepherds, and Siberian Huskies, boast a special fur structure designed to regulate their body temperature efficiently. Shaving these breeds might disrupt their natural cooling system and even increase the risk of heat-related ailments.

In our pursuit of keeping our dogs cool, it's crucial to be well-informed and make decisions that prioritize their well-being. Exploring alternative grooming practices and implementing other cooling techniques, like cooling vests and cooling mats regular baths, can ensure our canine companions enjoy a safe and pleasant summer.

Understanding Double-Coated Dogs

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At first glance, shaving a double-coated dog in order to provide immediate relief may appear logical; however, it's essential to realize that shaving may have unintended repercussions that may actually increase his or her risk of heatstroke. Contrary to popular belief, grooming double coats increases heatstroke risk.

Fur coats on dogs provide a natural defense against sunburn and skin cancer risk, acting as a shield to reduce its severity. Shaving their coats removes this valuable protection, leaving their sensitive skin open to harsh elements. Furthermore, their undercoat plays an essential part in thermoregulation; its removal disrupts this system making them more vulnerable to overheating.

One major downside of shaving a double coat too closely to the skin is the rate of regrowth. The undercoat tends to grow back more quickly than the protective outer coat, leading to potential issues such as uneven texture and changes in coat color, resulting in patchy spots or unattractive patches on both coats. It's essential to allow for proper regrowth to maintain the coat's natural beauty and functionality.

Considerations for Single-Coated Dogs

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Single-coated dogs require special consideration. While professional groomers can clip their coats to prevent matting and keep the dog cooler, it is essential not to shear their fur down to the skin, similar to shearing sheep. As opposed to double-coated breeds, which possess an insulating undercoat providing warmth and protection from the elements, single-coated breeds lack this layer and therefore need at least an inch of fur in order to be warm and secure against the elements.

Greyhounds, boxers, Dalmatians, Poodles, Maltese and Afghan hounds are among the more commonly seen single-coated breeds; for these breeds it may be beneficial to clip occasionally but leaving at least an inch of fur remains essential in protecting their skin and providing cooling mechanisms.

Keep Your Dog Cool this Summer

If shaving is not suitable for your dog's coat type, there are still numerous safe and effective solutions that can help him/her remain cool and comfortable during the hot summer months:

Regularly brush your dog's coat: Brushing with a well-designed slicker brush helps remove dead hairs, prevent matting and enhance air circulation in their fur to maintain clean and well-groomed coats for improved cooling. Regular grooming sessions also contribute to better cooling for you pet!

Consider wearing a cooling vest: When planning outdoor activities with short-haired friends, wearing a cooling vest can protect them from dangerous UV rays that could cause sunburns.

Be sure to give them regular cool baths: Bathing your dog regularly in cool water can help them remain clean, pest-free, and refreshingly cool in hot weather. Just like humans, dogs appreciate receiving a soothing soak to cool off in.

Trim Paw Fur: Regularly grooming your dog's paws of any excess fur will aid in sweat evaporation and cooling, with most sweat glands located in their feet being responsible for this action. By doing this, this practice will assist them in staying cool.

Trim leg and stomach hair: If your dog has long fur on his legs and stomach, trimming can further improve his cooling abilities.

Provide access to cool water and shade: Always ensure your dog has access to fresh, cool water and an area for them to take a rest when needed. Schedule walks during cooler parts of the day in order to prevent overheating from becoming an issue.

Never leave your pet unattended in a vehicle: Even leaving your dog alone in the vehicle for short amounts of time can result in rapid overheating that could potentially prove fatal, so it is crucial that we avoid this scenario altogether for their wellbeing and to ensure their safety.

In Conclusion - What to do with your dog's coat?

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When it comes to single-coated breeds, clipping can be a helpful grooming practice, but it's essential to leave at least an inch of hair. This protective layer not only shields their skin but also supports their natural cooling functions.

Fortunately, numerous alternative methods exist to keep your canine companion cool and comfortable during the sweltering heat. Regularly brushing their coat helps maintain cleanliness and enhances air circulation, while cooling vests offer protection during outdoor activities. Providing your dog with cool baths ensures they remain clean and refreshed, and trimming the fur on their paws and belly aids in sweat evaporation and cooling. And there's no need to neglect their style - accessories such as a cooling bandana can help them stay chilled around their collar.

To further ensure your furry friend's comfort, always provide access to cool water and a shaded area, and never leave them unattended in a vehicle. Plan outdoor activities during the cooler parts of the day to prevent overheating.

By diligently following these hot-weather grooming tips and taking necessary precautions, you can ensure your four-legged pal enjoys an exciting, engaging, and comfortable summer by your side. Embrace these strategies to create lasting memories of fun-filled days in the sun, keeping your furry companion happy and safe throughout the season.

Stay Pawsitive!