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Is it okay to shave your dog in summer?

Approx. 3 minutes read

Summer has arrived and so has the blazing heat and the burning sun. As we strip off our clothes and put on those swimming costumes or board shorts, we may wonder if we should take the fur coats off our dogs as well. Does shaving dogs help them cool down? It’s not that simple. Consider the following:

When you should shave your dog

Health issues related to heat can easily be seen in brachycephalic (flat-faced) dogs, especially the long-haired breeds like the Pekingese, Lhasa apso, shih tzu, and Cavalier King Charles spaniel, and especially if they enjoy their exercise. Flat-faced dogs can truly benefit from being shaved in the South African heat, but if you’re uncertain whether it’s best for your dog, speak to your vet or groomer.

Shaving your dog in summer generally does have positive benefits, like keeping her cool during periods of excessive heat, and she’ll be easier to groom. It also makes detecting injuries or tick and flea infestations easier, as well as cleaning and treating such problems. All of these benefits sound great and may make the choice of shaving your dog seem simple. But for some breeds, there are negative long-term implications for a shaved coat.

When should you NOT shave your dog?

All dogs’ fur is different. Some dogs have a single coat, which can be shaved and will easily grow back, while those dogs with double and even triple coats have all these thick layers for a reason. Yes, they stay nice and cosy in winter, but a double coat also protects them in summer – insulating them from the summer heat and enabling them to regulate their body temperature.

Dogs with double coats include breeds such as huskies, German shepherds and border collies, and shaving these has several implications:

  • A dog’s shaved double coat can, ironically, make her overheat since her natural temperature regulation system has been removed. This physiological imbalance can also have a negative effect on her mental wellbeing and she can become depressed by the discomfort.
  • A shaved double coat can make your dog more susceptible to sunburn, especially if her skin has never been exposed to the sun before. This increases her risk of skin cancer.
  • Undercoats aren’t meant to be shaved, so they can grow back either very thin, in patches or even a different texture. This is called ‘post-clipping alopecia’ and it can affect your dog’s ability to regulate her temperature for the rest of her life.

In these instances, it’s better to just leave your dog’s coat intact and opt instead for regular, thorough grooming to ensure her double coat does what it’s meant to do and keeps her cool in summer. Brush your dog regularly to remove any loose hair and to make her thick coat more efficient at keeping her cool.

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Do dogs feel better after being shaved?

Dogs with longer coats that are easy to manage (like mini schnauzers, poodles, shih tzus, Maltese and spaniels) actually enjoy having their fur removed. After being shaved, these dogs behave as though they’ve been set free, running around and playing! They act happier and more excited. These dogs simply prefer short hair, just as many humans do.

To help prevent the summer risks of sunburn and skin cancer, do not cut your dog’s hair too short. If you take your dog to a groomer, ask for a ‘puppy cut’ or a ‘winter cut’ – which involves removing the long annoying hair, but otherwise protects the skin. There are many sunblock products that you can use on your dog if he or she is a tanner. Ask your vet about the correct sunblock for your dog.

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If you are not sure if shaving your pet is a good idea, especially if she’s a mixed breed and you’re unsure if she has a double coat, ask your vet for their advice. Learn to groom your dog yourself and take control of her comfort, no matter the season!

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