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Should You Shave Your Dog in the Summer?

Adrienne is a certified dog trainer and former veterinarian assistant who partners with some of the best veterinarians worldwide.

Read this article before deciding!

Read this article before deciding!

The Function of the Dog's Double Coat

As the weather warms up, it's natural for us to want to remove layers of clothing so we can effectively cool off, but should we do the same and think about shaving our dogs as the dog days of summer approach? The correct answer is that we should think it over before grabbing the clippers out of our grooming kit or scheduling an appointment with our favorite groomer. First and foremost, we should seriously give the dog's coat a thought and learn more about how Rover's coat functions and its role.

If you are considering shaving your dog in the summer, it is most likely that your dog belongs to some sort of Nordic breed equipped with a heavy, double coat. Breeds with double coats include German Shepherd Dogs, Great Pyrenees, Golden Retrievers, Australian Shepherds, Siberian Huskies, and many more. The double coat of these dogs can be compared to our winter jackets.

About the Undercoat

Most likely, you'll notice how the coats of these dogs have an interior insulating layer made of fleecy, short, wavy hairs. The main function of these hairs, which are found closest to the dog's body, is to prevent loss of body heat. The undercoat hairs are lost in great amounts during shedding season when the dog gets rid of his winter coat in preparation for the warmer spring and summer months. Once the winter coat is shed, it's replaced by a less dense undercoat that is perfect for the summer.

About the Top Coat

On top of the undercoat, you'll find the outer coat, also known as the top coat. This coat is made of long, stiff and coarse guard hairs meant to protect the dog from external factors such as rain and dirt while at the same time protecting the undercoat and skin. These guard hairs tend to prevent the dog from getting wet; indeed, water just rolls off these hairs allowing the dog's undercoat to stay warm and dry.

Not many people realize, though, that the undercoat also cools the dog during the summer and that the top coat is also meant to protect the dog's skin from ultraviolet radiation, bug bites, and skin cancer, all maladies that come with the summer months!

Some dog breeds possess both a top coat and an undercoat, each of which serves specific purposes.

Some dog breeds possess both a top coat and an undercoat, each of which serves specific purposes.

Dog Breeds That Are Often Shaved

An exception to dogs who shouldn't absolutely be shaved down are dogs who have a single coat and have hair and not fur. Dog breeds like Shih Tzus, Poodles, Bichons, and Yorkies require regular grooming, and groomers recommend haircuts; therefore, they can be shaved down with little consequences other than at times their coats becoming softer or occasionally exhibiting some odd color changes.

Many owners of these breeds report that their doggies enjoy being shaved in their puppy and lion cuts and that once the hair is gone they are friskier and happier. However, these dogs need to be taken care of. Owners must be attentive that they do not get sunburn and that in the winter they are provided with a coat to keep them warm as necessary.

Should You Shave Your Double-Coated Dog in the Summer?

The answer is for a good part no, especially if your dog is kept outdoors most of the time. There are several reasons why.

Fact: We remove layers of clothing because we tend to sweat, but dogs have other methods for cooling down, such as panting and perspiring through the pads of their feet and noses. Removing the coat will not help them. Here is a list giving several reasons why it is counter-productive to shave a dog with a double coat in the summer.

  1. Your dog's coat helps prevent bug bites. Bugs are quite common in the summer. The bites can be quite painful and may potentially cause allergic reactions, hot spots and irritation. A longer coat will be more effective against fleas and mosquitoes.
  2. Your dog's coat provides insulation and this goes both ways for cold and heat. Just as in your home, insulation helps maintain your dog's temperature stable by preventing heat loss, but at the same time, it helps keep the dog cool.
  3. Your dog's coat protects the skin from the negative effects of the sun rays which may cause sunburn and even cancer in the long run.
  4. Cutting your dog's coat may lead to a coat that is unsightly and may take a while to regrow. Let's admit it, the top coat is ultimately what gives dogs their beautiful looks. The top coat is glossy, shiny and a sign of a healthy dog. It also features the typical colors of the breed. Once you shave down your dog, the top coat is gone leaving the dull, undercoat that is visually unappealing. And you may be stuck with this look for quite some time, Indeed, the top coat takes quite some time to grow back and the shaved undercoat may have trouble growing back as it's supposed to. At times, the undercoat tangles with the top coat as it grows.
  5. Last but not least, if you thought that by shaving your double-coated dog you'll have less hair around think again. Shaving your dog will not reduce the shedding. The hair shed will be shorter, but you'll be doing nothing to decrease the shedding in the first place. Actually, according to Friendly Paws Pet Supplies and Grooming, by shaving your dog's top coat, the undercoat will be allowed now to grow inhibited which only leads to more shedding!

Of course, there are exceptions. If your dog has hot spots, you want to shave the area to help it dry out and heal properly. If your dog's coat is full of mats, you may also want a groomer to shave the coat so to prevent irritations. Your vet may also recommend shaving to help treat medical conditions of the skin. Dogs with long hair around their back end may also benefit from a trim back there to keep the area clean. Dr. Karen Becker in the video below discusses how shaving dogs in the summer can often be a subject of controversy. She also states how dog owners should grant their dog's wishes if a particular dog appears to be happier once shaved, and the dog lives indoors for the most part, and when outdoors is supervised. See the video below for more details.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

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Adrienne Farricelli (author) on June 20, 2015:

You can help them cool down by wetting their belly and their paws before heading out. Their coats help insulate them from the heat, but this doesn't mean they can stay in the sun more, it just means their coat helps them out. A wading pool can be enjoyed. I know some Pry owners shave the belly and between the paw pads area only. Many groomers will object to shaving a Pry because of the risk of sun burn and the hair may never grow back or it'll grow back thicker. Some Pry also develop skin sensitivities as the hairs grow back.

Deborah on June 02, 2015:

This info is good but does it go for great pyrenees who live in heat over 100 degrees.? They don't stay out side but to do there seems the get upset stomach more then they use to ...i moved to the desert from Michigan...any advice would be great..

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on June 28, 2014:

Thanks Suhail for sharing your first hand experience. It will be much helpful to others!

Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent from Mississauga, ON on June 28, 2014:

Thanks for a very timely article.

I have a Kuvasz boy, who has a double coat. I used to get him shaved off through a groomer. Last year after seeing my pictures of him posted on the Facebook, some Kuvasz breeders and fans advised me not to do it and the reasons cited were exactly per your article.

There is one more reason and may be peculiar to some dog breeds. The breeders and fans suggested that there is a great risk of coat not growing back to optimal level for older dogs.

I am having my boy retain his coat for this summer. I brush him a lot so as to get rid of loose hair, but he is still looking gorgeous, unlike last year when he looked like a water rat.

Mary Hyatt from Florida on June 28, 2014:

I am so glad I found your informative Hub today! I was trying to decide if I should have my little Miniature Schnauzer cut very short. It is now 90 degrees here in Florida now, and I really thought that by shaving her, she would be cooler. Now I know better.

Baby has beautiful white curly hair when it is longer, and I love that look. I have also had her cut very short because of my budget. Her hair grows extremely fast, and so I try to have her hair cut last for at least six weeks.

When I have had her almost shaved, she is so embarrassed....honestly, she will sulk for a day or too!

Thanks for the good info. Voted up, shared here and on Google+, will also Pin to my Pets board.

torrilynn on June 27, 2014:

I think that dogs should be shaved in the summer mostly because they are going to shed that winter coat all over your floor anywaays. thanks for the article.

Charlie Cheesman from England on June 21, 2014:

Hi Great Hub

I agree with you its there lovely outside coat that makes them look so good so no shaving.

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on June 20, 2014:

Hello grand old lady, my male Rottie used to get hot spots when we lived in humid places and we had to shave around the area to keep it dry and help it heal. Now that we are back to dry Arizona, fortunately the issue hasn't come up --at least, not yet!

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on June 20, 2014:

Thank you heidithorne, you are very well informed on the topic!~ thanks for the votes up and shares

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on June 20, 2014:

Thank you DDE. We used to shave our Persian cat in the summer, but mostly because she always had mats. We once shaved her in the winter and she acted withdrawn and shivered. In the summer instead, she always acted happy and frisky. As much as I loved my Persian cat, I would not get another one, too much care in the grooming department and she dreaded being brushed. I felt sorry for her.

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on June 20, 2014:

Billybuc, butt shaving is always a good practice, things can get messy back there in long-haired dogs!

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on June 20, 2014:

Yes it's very interesting Alphadogg16, and you can literally see those sweaty paws on the examination table when vets visit anxious dogs. I have a client whose dog gets so nervous, he leaves wet footprints and once she told me he even left a puddle from sweating from his paws!

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on June 20, 2014:

Bob, I am guessing the groomers must turn on you because shaving down in the summer may play a big part of their seasonal income. I know though a few ethical groomers who will refuse to shave down dogs upon request of owners because of the issues you cite. In a perfect world, dog's overall wellbeing should always come first. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

Mona Sabalones Gonzalez from Philippines on June 20, 2014:

This is a very helpful hub. I used to give one of my dogs a "summer cut" (shave it all off) because her hair was so long. This hub explains why a "summer cut" is a waste of money and of no help to the dog, even in tropical summers.

Heidi Thorne from Chicago Area on June 20, 2014:

While my goldens get groomed every few months, I NEVER have shaved them for summer... even though my girl has a huge top and undercoat. Totally aware of the sun issues. Thanks for spreading the word on this important summer tip! Voted up and sharing!

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on June 20, 2014:

I never shaved my dogs in the summer your idea sounds great. A big NO for sure. Interesting and most helpful tips here.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on June 20, 2014:

Good to know. We don't shave ours, and it's nice to read some confirmation. We do share our Aussie around her butt for cleanliness, but that's it.

Bob Bamberg on June 20, 2014:

Great hub, Adrienne! There are too few articles like this one. Most of what you read on summer shaving is just tip-toeing around the issue. I've long advocated against shaving, for the reasons you cite and because their coat protects them from scratches as they walk through brush. I often taken some heat for my position.

Whenever I write about skin, coat, anal glands, nails, etc. I acknowledge the benefits of professional grooming, but when I write about shaving, the groomers turn on me.

I address the issue about this time each year in my newspaper column and get stopped in the supermarket, etc. by people who have been shaving their dogs for years because they think the dog needs it. It's one of a couple of topics that generate the most emails.

I'm really glad that you wrote this because you have a lot of credibility with readers and maybe it will click with many of them. As usual, you stated your case artfully. The ensuing comment stream should prove interesting. Voted up, useful and interesting.

Kevin W from Texas on June 20, 2014:

This was a very interesting & informative hub alexadry, as I have 2 German Shepards & was actually contemplating shaving them. I was unaware dogs perspired through the pads of their paws. Big thumbs up on your hub.

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