To Shave or Not to Shave-
Should I shave my dog this year? That’s a question many lovers of dogs face each summer.

We do want to keep our dogs cool, but what to do?

This is part 3 in my series of Keeping Your Dog Safe This Summer. If you missed part 1, How to Help Dogs with Fear of Fireworks and Thunder, click here. And Part 2 is here: Hidden Dangers That Can Quickly Kill Your Dog.

In most cases, my opinion is that it’s best NOT to shave any hair above the belly of your dog…allowing their coats to function as nature designed.

There are exceptions, for example, if a dog has already become deeply matted (always because of poor grooming practices) then the humane thing to do is shave, only as close as needed. There is no point in torturing a dog by trying to remove all that matted hair.

 

The idea is to not let your dog get matted in the first place.

 

If the loose undercoat is brushed out, your dog is naturally prepared to move air through the coat to keep cool.

I’ve seen dogs with so much dead undercoat literally become half their width after it was brushed out. A complete transformation!!

Dog coat graphic

The shine in your dog’s coat is the hair reflecting the sun back away from your dog, helping to keep your dog cool.

You know how your dog’s coat shines in the sun? That shine is the top ‘guard’ hairs reflecting the sun back away from your dog, helping to keep your dog cool.

If you shave those off, what’s left are the dull hairs that absorb the sun. Not good.

I usually keep my rough coated border collies trimmed, meaning: my awesome groomer trims the belly, back legs, under the chest and the tail hairs shorter so that my dogs are easier to groom, and less likely to pick up burrs.

My dogs are working dogs, so that means they get wet and muddy often…so keeping their undercoat brushed out, and their long top coat trimmed shorter makes it a lot easier for me. And, it keeps them cooler in the summer.

Dr Becker says: “your pet’s coat is like the insulation in your home. Building insulation keeps the house from getting too cold in the winter, and too hot in the summer. A pet’s coat does the same thing – it works not only to keep the animal warm in cold weather, but also to protect him from the effects of too much sun…and an animal’s coat protects against sunburn and skin cancer. ”

Dr Becker adds: “In my opinion, double-coated breeds should never be shaved unless there’s a medical reason to do so, as their undercoats act as an excellent insulator against the summer heat. It seems counterintuitive that an extra layer of fur would help a dog stay cooler, but it does. Air is a natural insulator, and air trapped between the hair follicles and hairs on your pet’s body does a really efficient job of keeping body temperature in balance.”

The cool thing is that when the weather starts to turn cold, our dogs naturally grow more undercoat, which keeps them warm in the winter. Mother nature knows a thing or two, right?

The ideal situation: Keep the hair brushed, remove all the undercoat and allow the dog to retain their natural ability to keep themselves cool and protected from the sun and some bug bites in the summer and warm and dry in the winter.

Have fun and stay cool this summer!!  More great summer tips for you and your dog coming soon!

 

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