Grooming double-coated dogs – should you shave dog’s fur?

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Have you wondered if you should shave dog’s fur?

To shave dog’s fur, or not to shave dog’s fur? It is a common question many dog owners asking themselves during heatwaves and hot summer months. There are many double-coated dog breeds. From working dogs to the toy variety, they have various grooming needs and levels of maintenance – some are easier to maintain than others. The most important information to keep in mind if you have a double coated dog breed is that you should never shave a dog with a double coat because you’d essentially strip the dog of its natural protection. To shave your dog’s fur would be a huge mistake.

What is a double coat?

A double coated dog has an undercoat and an outer coat. The outer guard hairs repel moisture and help to prevent dirt from tacking on to the dog. The undercoat is a denser, more woolly and softer layer, over top of which is the second layer of longer guard hairs. The more dense the dog’s undercoat is, the fluffier it looks and more grooming is required in order to prevent tangles and mats. The undercoat also provides insulation during colder winter months.

What can you do if you feel that your dog is too hot?

The coat does not need to be shaved. Double coated dogs have natural hot and cold weather safeguards, and shaving them during hot weather actually does more damage than good for the dog. You would also be removing the barrier that protects dogs from the damaging UV rays of the sun. You can, however, have the undercoat thinned. If your dog has passed the point of no return in the matting department, then the best type of treatment grooming is a vigorous undercoat raking with a special raking tool that removes the undercoat, followed by a bath and a blow dry to separate the hair. The groomer can then get to the rest of the undercoat to thin it, after which the dog does feel cooler. The guard hairs do not shed out and provide protection against the sun’s rays and insulate the dog from the heat.

Dogs do not experience heat in the same way as humans do. Did you know that dogs only sweat in 2 areas – the pads of their paws and by panting. Dogs do not sweat through their skin.

Clipping the fur of double-coated dogs will not help to alleviate their heat release, it will cause the dog to lose its genetically inbuilt climate control:

Photo source: http://www.siberescue.com/breed/dont-shave-your-husky

 

Won’t the fur just grow back?

The most harmful myth for a dog is “Don’t worry, it’ll grow back.” But the older the dog is, the less likely it is that the guard hairs will re-grow. The undercoat will but the upper hairs sometimes do not – resulting in a patchy, scruffy and frizzy appearance. A shaved dog no longer has UV protection and its skin can be damaged by sun exposure. The dog may have scaling and dandruff even long after the hair has re-grown. Dogs that do not have undercoats, like poodles and Shih-Tzu’s, require regular grooming and haircuts. Dogs with undercoats rarely need shaving. Shaving them can just have the opposite effect of making them feel hotter. The layers of dog fur work together as an insulation system, like a Thermos.

“It can trap hot or cold. If they are in an air-conditioned house, it keeps a layer of cold air next to their skin when they go outside. So it still protects in the summer,” said Dr. Deborah Mandell of the University of Pennsylvania veterinary hospital, who confirms that dog fur should never be shaved unless medically necessary because it can do more harm than good.

Not sure if you have a double coated dog? Scroll below to see a list of commonly owned double coated dog breeds.

Need grooming tips? Watch this video:


Double-coated spitz and toy dog breeds:

  • Akita
  • Alaskan Husky
  • Alaskan Malamute
  • American Eskimo
  • Chinook – a rare breed
  • Chow Chow
  • Finnish Spitz
  • Finnish Lapphund
  • German Spitz
  • Icelandic Sheep Dog
  • Keeshond
  • Korean Jindo
  • Norwegian Elkhound
  • Norwegian Lundehund
  • Pomeranian – toy breed
  • Shiba Inu
  • Siberian Husky
  • Samoyed
  • Swedish Lapphund

Herding/Working Dog double-coated breeds:

  • Australian Cattle Dog
  • Australian Shepherd
  • Rough Collie
  • Smooth Collie
  • Bearded Collie
  • Belgian Sheepdog
  • Beauceron
  • Belgian Malinois
  • Belgian Tervuren
  • Briard
  • Bouvier des Flanders
  • Canaan Dog
  • Pembroke Corgi
  • Cardigan Welsh Corgi
  • German Shepherd Dog
  • Norwegian Buhund
  • Old English sheepdog
  • Polish Lowland Sheep Dog
  • Puli
  • Shetland Sheepdog
  • Swedish Vallhund

 

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