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Shaving Dogs for Summer

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. Is a shaved dog more comfortable?

Considerations for shaving dogs

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 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 maybe it’s not that simple.

Considerations for NOT shaving dogs

Some dogs’ coats have several layers that are essential to their comfort in the cold AND the heat. Dogs with undercoats include the working breeds like huskies, German shepherds and border collies, and shaving a dog with an undercoat has several implications: 

  • Robbing your dog of this natural cooling system can, quite ironically, lead to discomfort and overheating. A dog with a shaved undercoat may even behave as though you’ve stripped away her superpower; she can become depressed and upset, especially if this messes with her physiological ability to regulate her temperature and comfort. 
  • Keeping your dog cool isn’t the only reason to leave her coat intact. Her coat also prevents her from getting sunburn and reduces her chances of developing skin cancer.
  • Also, 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.

Shaved and happy!

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.

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 professional input.

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