Shaving Dogs in Summer: Is It a Good Idea?
Shaving dogs in summer is generally a no-no, but it’s essential to understand the science around why. This means examining different types of canine coats, how your dog’s body stays cool, and the best ways you can support their summer health.
As summer gets into full swing, many concerned pet owners see their dogs panting and worry about heatstroke in dogs. Some might even be wondering, “Is it ok to shave your dog?”
Different Types of Dog Coats
It’s important to know the different types of dog coats, so you can understand why shaving dogs in summer isn’t a good idea. Your dog's coat keeps them warm in the winter, but it also plays a role in cooling them in the summer. Different dog coat types include:
- No coat (hairless dogs)
- Smooth/short coat
- Wire coat
- Long coat
- Curly coat
- Double coat
Hairless or Patchy Coated Dogs
Not all dogs even have a coat! You’re probably not wondering about shaving your dog if you have a hairless or almost-hairless breed, but hairless is still technically a dog coat type. Hairless dogs like Chinese Cresteds tend to be a good choice for folks with pet allergies because they are considered a hypoallergenic breed.
Smooth or Short-coated Dogs
Some dogs have a short, single-layered coat that is often smooth. Breeds that have short-coats include Jack Russel Terriers, Dachshunds, and Doberman Pinschers.
Some dogs like Airedales have a short coat that is wiry and coarse. These are called wire-haired or wire-coated dogs. Because of its rough texture, the wire coat doesn’t shed as easily as other furs. It can sometimes require special grooming techniques.
Dogs with Long Coats
Of course, no conversation about dog coat types would be complete without acknowledging the silky, long coat of the Afghan Hound. Other dogs with long coats include Bearded Collies and Maltese. Long-coated dogs don’t all have hair as long as the Afghan Hound, but they all need consistent grooming to keep their coats healthy and unmatted.
Many hypoallergenic dogs have curly coats, including Poodles and Portuguese Water Dogs. They are considered slightly lower maintenance than long-coated dogs, but they still require regular grooming.
The Double-Coated Dog
You’ve probably heard the term, but what does double-coated mean on a dog? Double-coated dogs, such as Australian Shepherds and Huskies, actually have two different types of coats layered on top of one another. Often, the topcoat is longer and softer or smoother, while the undercoat is fuzzy and short. Different breeds of double-coated dogs will have different textures and characteristics to both their under and outer coats.
How Your Dog Stays Cool in Summer
Now that you understand all the different dog coats, you have probably identified which category your dog falls into the most. So what do dog coats have to do with summertime cooling? Let’s look at how your dogs’ coat helps keep them cool, why you shouldn’t shave your dog in summer, and what happens to a shaved dog in hot weather.
How Your Dog’s Coat Keeps Them Cool
If you’ve ever tried to blast the air conditioner on a hot day in a drafty room, you understand how a dog’s coat keeps them cool. It’s all about insulation. Your dog’s coat is working some magic in that summer heat: it’s capturing cool air in those fluffy threads of undercoat and holding it close to your dog’s skin to keep them cool. Your dog's coat helps maintain a cooler temperature in the body rather than being at the mercy of the outdoor temperature.
Why You Shouldn’t Shave Dogs in Summer
While it’s not absolutely forbidden to give a short trim to a dog with a super thick single-layer coat, you never, ever want to shave a double-coated dog. This reduces their ability to stay cool and insulate properly. Furthermore, you should shave no dog down to the skin because it presents other risks, as explained below.
That said, a poorly groomed, matted, or overly thick undercoat also puts your dog at risk of overheating. Double-coated dogs typically shed most of their undercoat in the summer, allowing for greater airflow and cooling. This is why it’s important to brush your dog regularly – especially in the summer.
What Happens to a Shaved Dog
There are a lot of risks to shaving a dog, even if they aren’t double-coated. In addition to overheating, a shaved dog is also at risk of sunburn and skin cancer. Your dog’s coat also protects from bug bites, so shaving can put them at risk of being chewed on by summer bugs.
The process of growing back a coat after shaving can also present health risks for your dog. A dog’s coat might not grow back in time for the winter season, leaving your poor pooch exposed to the cold. Shaving can also cause follicle damage that will cause the coat to grow back improperly. With double-coated dogs, sometimes the fluffy underlayer will grow back more quickly than their outer coat. This means the overcoat doesn’t have as much room to grow, and your dog ends up with a less-than-sufficient outer coat to protect them.
Other Ways to Keep Your Pooch Cool in the Heat
So, shaving dogs in summer isn’t a good way to keep your canine companion cool and comfortable. But that doesn’t mean you can’t support your pooch in enjoying the hot weather. There are plenty of ways to help your dog stay safe in the heat, such as:
- Regular grooming
- A shady, water-laden environment
- Scheduling exercise carefully
Grooming is one of the best ways to support your dog’s healthy cooling in summer. By giving them frequent cool baths and brushing their fur, you ensure their coat can do its job. Your dog’s coat should be free from mats, bugs, and debris at all times.
A Safe Environment
Always keep your dog’s surroundings safe in the summertime, with plenty of access to fresh drinking water and shade. Know the signs of heatstroke and watch your dog to ensure your canine companion is comfortable and relaxed.
Exercise At Cooler Times
Schedule your dog’s outside time – walks, backyard time, games of fetch – for the cooler parts of the day. Don’t encourage your dog to engage physically in the hottest parts of the day. Save their exercise for morning and evening.
Be Safe in Hot Weather, But Don’t Shave Your Dog
Is it ok to shave your dog in summer? Now you know the answer – no. While proper grooming, safe hot weather practices, and even a short trim can help your dog battle the heat, shaving dogs in summer is not a good idea. Canines have evolved for many centuries – let the coat do its job!