Does your dog look uncomfortably hot? Think twice before reaching for the dog clippers. Your dog’s coat is perfectly engineered to protect from the elements, and shaving them could do more harm than good.
1. Shaving a Dog with a Double Coat Can Lead to Permanent Hair Damage
Most dogs have double coats. Dogs like the Newfoundland and Australian shepherd have pretty thick coats, but even smooth- and short-haired breeds like the basset hound and the whippet sport a double coat.
When you shave a double-coated dog, you run the risk of causing alopecia. This can present as patchy or widespread hair loss. Alopecia is often congenital, but damage to hair follicles can also trigger hair loss.
2. Your Dog’s Coat Insulates from Heat AND Cold
Your dog’s coat acts like the insulation in the walls of your house. Closest to your dog’s skin is a soft, downy undercoat that helps to keep your four-legged friend comfortable when the mercury rises or falls. The outer hairs, or guard hairs, are stiffer and protect your dog from elements like wind, water, sun, and debris.
3. Shaving Can Cause Itching
Your dog’s outer guard hairs grow much slower than the soft undercoat. After shaving your dog, their hair will grow unevenly, and your pup will feel pretty uncomfortable. And if they scratch to relieve the itch, then they could damage their hair follicles and cause hair loss.
4. Sunburn Is a Risk
Just like humans, dogs can get sunburned. And like humans, dogs with lighter hair tend to have light or pink skin that’s more susceptible to sunburn. However, a dog’s fur protects them from the sun, and this is another reason not to shave your pup.
5. Dogs May Experience Embarrassment
Any groomer knows that praising a dog with a new haircut is mandatory, and some dogs even seem to feel embarrassed in front of their dog buddies in some situations. Telltale signs that your dog is embarrassed are a tucked tail, flattened ears, and hiding.
Shaving a Dog’s Hair Might Be Okay if They Have a Single Coat
While most dogs have double coats, some have single coats only, and they don’t shed nearly as much. A few breeds with single coats include:
- Shih Tzus
- Silky terriers
- Portuguese water dogs
Dogs with single coats do need to be trimmed and occasionally even shaved. Their hair grows continuously, and if it gets too long, then it can wrap around existing hair and become painfully matted. Talk to your groomer to decide what’s best for your pup.
Steps to Keep Your Pup Cool
Shaving your dog might not be an option, but there are still lots of things you can do to help your pup beat the heat during the summer months. Here are some ideas:
- Brush your pup daily to remove dead or loose hair
- Exercise during the coolest parts of the day
- Offer plenty of natural shade
- Keep water bowls cool and fresh
- Add ice to their water
- Freeze their favorite treats
- Buy an elevated bed for better air circulation