It’s a common misconception that shaving a dog’s coat will make her cooler in the hot summer months. However, a dog’s coat helps regulate body temperature.
What groomers refer to as “clipping” (and pet parents call “shaving”) a dog’s hair, can keep your dog cooler, but up to a certain length. Taking the coat right down to the skin has the opposite effect as the coat helps to regulate body temperature. It also protects your dog’s sensitive skin from sunburns and pests.
Which dog breeds should not be shaved?
According to Nicole Kallish, education manager at Andis, most double-coated, shedding dogs should not be shaved. These dog breeds include:
- Golden Retrievers
- Bernese Mountain Dogs
- German Shepherd Dogs
- Australian Shepherds
- Siberian Husky
- Border Collie
“Often, the coat doesn’t grow back correctly,” she explains. “Consequently, it can look sparse and patchy because the undercoat and guard hairs don’t grow at the same rate. Post-clipping alopecia (baldness) is often seen in these dog breeds, too.
“Instead, a dog with a double coat will benefit from regular baths, blowouts and brushing and combing to remove excess undercoat. You can also trim length from feet, tail and furnishings using a straight or curved shear. This is often referred to as an outline trim,” she adds.
Dogs who have hair instead of fur can be candidates for a summer cut. These include
- Yorkshire Terriers
- Cocker Spaniels
- Shih Tzu
More active dogs, or dogs who love to spend time in the water, can benefit from a shorter hair cut to prevent mats and tangles and constant grooming maintenance.
Grooming tools to clip or shave your dog
Depending on the dog breed, clipping down to a ¼ inch is considered short and best achieved with a #5 blade. A #7 blade will make it fractionally shorter and a #4 blade will leave the coat a little longer.
Shaved dog do’s and don’ts
When shaving your dog at home, follow these guidelines:
- Pull any loose skin areas taught while clipping.
- Take extra care around the armpits and sanitary areas.
- The “flanks” — the skin in front of the rear legs — are the trickiest.
- Bathe, dry, and brush your dog thoroughly before clipping
- Protect your dog’s skin with dog-safe sunscreen or light-weight clothing
“Always clip flat against the skin. If your dog has dew claws, know where they are to avoid catching them with the blade,” says Nicole.
When it comes time to use clippers or shears on your dog’s coat, its best to work on a clean coat, advises Julia Blackwell, founder of Pupwell, an at-home grooming education and tools company.
“Bathe your dog with professional grooming shampoo and conditioner, and dry with a high-velocity blow dryer. Make sure the coat is brushed out and tangle-free. A very matted coat should be professionally groomed to prevent inadvertently cutting into the skin,” she adds.
Shaved dogs and sunburns
If your dog has been shaved down due to matting, protect her skin from sunburn. Doggie sunscreens are one option. Another is a lightweight T-shirt or bodysuit. Goldpaw makes a range of UV protection t-shirts, designed to block 98% of the sun’s UV rays.