A shave down is common for your dog’s summer groom. This type of short cut is fine for dogs with hair such as shih-tzus and maltese but can cause issues for double coated breeds such as labs, golden retrievers and aussies. Most common reasons for wanting to shave your dog is to help them stay cooler or reduce shedding. However, shaving your double-coated breed has the opposite effect on your dog.
Shaving your double coated dog doesn’t help them cool down. Their top layer of fur acts as insulation that helps keep them cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Without that top coat they struggle to regulate their body temperature and will overheat faster than if you had left their coat long. Your dog will also keep shedding. The hairs will just be shorter which is often more difficult to remove from your clothes and furniture than longer hairs.
Another issue is that the guard hairs/top coat do not shed, and they actually protect the dog’s skin from harmful UV rays. Your dog has only 6-10 layers of skin, whereas humans have 16-20. Dogs skin can get sunburnt much more easily. Shaving your dog removes the guard hairs and leaves just the shedding coat which creates the opposite effect of the problem you were trying to solve.
It may also cause your dogs coat to permanently change. The undercoat can grow back fuzzy and patchy. Sometimes the guard coat won’t grow back at all. The once flowing, nice-laying coat your dog had may never come back. This becomes more common as your dog gets older. So even if you’ve done it during the summer before as your dog gets older there’s no guarantee the coat will grow back again.
Its more effective to brush out the shedding undercoat and leave the top coat its natural length so it can help them stay cool and protect them from the sun. Dogs have 5-22 hairs per follicle compared to our one hair per follicle. Its on a constant rotation but dogs will usually blow out a lot of their undercoat in the spring to grow in a cooler, lighter coat for the summer. We simply need to help them remove that loose undercoat that they are trying to rid themselves of.
Brushing regularly and getting a full deshed a few times throughout spring and summer is whats best for your dog. It can be a hassle but that’s what your groomer is there to help with. Schedule a deshed and get a recommendation for a brushing schedule that would work best for your dog. It’s the best way to keep your dog cool and your home fur-free.