Summer is here and temps are rising all across the country. As we get ready to shed the layers, should we be preparing to do the same for our dogs? With all that fur, wouldn’t they be more comfortable with, well, a little less?
Should you shave a dog to beat the summer heat? Many people think it’s a good idea to help keep a pup cool when the heat is on, but before you grab the trimmer, there are a few important things you need to know…
And what about cats?
Should You Shave a Dog for the Summer?
In most cases, we’re not fans of shaving. In fact, there are many cases when, if you shave a dog, you can actually do more harm than good!
Shorter-haired breeds don’t get any real benefit from it, but they run the risk of sunburn once shaved.
And those longer-haired, double-coated breeds… the ones with the thick coats that look like they’d really love a good, close trimming? They’re the ones who benefit the least!
You might think that a close shave will keep your dog cool in the summer, but that’s not the case. That double coat doesn’t just look pretty – it also has a really important job to do. For double-coated breeds, that fur acts as insulation, protecting your pet from the heat. It’s an important part of her natural cooling system, while protecting her skin from sun damage as well.
How? Well, double-coated breeds have two different layers of fur for protection, depending on the weather. In the winter, long guard hairs form the outer layer and protect against snow or ice and even shed water. The soft undercoat lies close to the skin and keeps your dog warm and dry.
In the summer, your dog will shed her soft undercoat, leaving just those long guard hairs. These guard hairs are what provide the insulation and protection against sunburn. With that thick undercoat gone, air can circulate through the guard hairs, cooling the skin.
If you shave a dog, you remove all of the fur – the guard hairs and any lingering undercoat. That removes any and all protection against the sun and makes it really hard for them to regulate their temperature.
So, shaving your dog will actually make them warmer!
But that’s not all. Shaving a double-coated dog can also ruin their coat. The coat won’t grow back the same as it was. The undercoat will grow faster than the guard hairs, and you’ll find the texture changes dramatically. And as the two different coats get tangled together, it creates this velcro-like texture that attracts – so everything and anything is going to get stuck in that fur. No thanks!
Breeds with thick, fluffy fur have double coats, as do several small-breed terriers that have a wiry soft top coat. Here are a few examples of double-coated breeds:
- Siberian Husky
- Alaskan Husky
- Shiba Inu
- Australian Shepherd
- Shetland Sheepdog
- Bernese Mountain Dog
- Great Pyrenees
- Golden Retriever
- Labrador Retriever
- Miniature Schnauzer
- Border Collie
Groom – Don’t Shave
Ok, so it’s a no to “Should you shave a dog.” But is there anything you can do with that fur to help keep her cool?
Yes, there’s plenty. But it doesn’t involve a trimmer.
Double-coated breeds shed a lot, so proper grooming is important. When you start slacking in the grooming department, hairs in the undercoat will get caught up in the top coat, resulting in mats and tangles.
Here are a few tips for grooming your double-coated dog:
- Remove loose and dead hairs from your dog’s undercoat with an undercoat grooming rake. Then go back over with a wire brush or comb to get loose hairs from the top coat.
- Work through any mats and tangles with a wide-tooth comb. If you have to cut one out, pinch the fur as close to your dog’s skin as possible to prevent accidentally cutting her skin.
- The fur is thicker and longer on your dog’s butt, so you’ll need to use a slicker brush.
- Try to do a grooming session a few times a week just to keep things well maintained.
And What About Cats?
Don’t shave them either!
Cats are actually very good at regulating body temperature and really don’t benefit from being shaved. Cats are much smaller relative to their exposed surface area, so they’re just better at getting rid of extra body heat. Plus, they’re more mobile and can just move to a cooler, shadier spot.
So, no, don’t shave a dog or cat in the summer (or any time of year) unless absolutely necessary. It’s not going to keep them cool. If you’re worried about your dog being too hot in the summer, talk to a professional groomer about the possibility of trimming her coat, but the best bet is just to let her go au natural.
The Veterinarious team is made up of pet owners, pet lovers, and pet experts from around the globe! We’ve banded together to create a community of like-minded pet people to give you the latest research and health advice for your beloved beast!