Our Groomer´s Opinion: "You Should Never Shave a Double-coated Dog"


Sun is out, temperatures are rising and we can feel that very hot summer weather just around the corner. Just as with cold weather, warm weather does not only affect us humans, but it also affects our beloved furry companions.

You take a walk and you see your dog breathing heavily because he's just too hot! What to do now? In this article, you will find information about breeds and their single and double coats, reasons why you should not shave your double-coated dog and most important, how to maintain all this fur during the warmest months of the year.

First and most important, let us clarify: dogs DO feel the heat (in the same way they DO feel the cold). Having said this, we feel it's important to start with the various types of dog coats that exist.


Single-Coated Doggie VS Double-Coated Doggie

The first thing to do when considering the idea of shaving your dog (or giving them a “summer cut”), is to make sure you know what type of coat your dog has.

A double coat consists of the outer layer (guard hair) and the inner layer (undercoat). These 2 layers help as a protection shield for your dog´s body - it helps to keep them cool in the warmer months and warm in the colder months (thermal shield).

The outer layer, called the guard hair, is mainly tougher hairs protecting against all elements such as, snow, ice, insects and sunburn. The inner layer is a thick, but smooth layer of fur called the undercoat. This undercoat controls the body temperature, while repelling and protecting the doggie from the elements and the environment. Overall, your dog's coat serves as a natural insulation from both hot and cold weather.

As there are single-coated dogs and double-coated dogs, there are also short and long-haired dogs, and all of these combinations can result in confusion when contemplating shaving your dog. Contrary to popular beliefs - it is not necessary to shave a long-haired dog (and/or double-coated dog) during the summer time. The length of the hair has nothing to do with the level of heat they will feel - rather it all goes back to the type of coat.

Here at Sit! Stay! Dog Emporium we strongly recommend not to shave your double-coated doggie, in order to protect its coat’s health. We understand there might be instances where there is no other option but to shave down to the skin - for example if a Vet recommends it or your dog is going in for surgery and has to have it done. To add to this, we also know that some pet parents simply like the looks of a shaved dog and we will always respect this decision. But we feel it is our duty as your neighbourhood Dog Boutique and responsible team to present you with useful information that you can base your decision on.

Single-coated dogs have an advantage: there’s no undercoat to put at risk. So, shaving down is not going to have the same risks as if it were a double-coated case. Their hair grows back normally and easily, allowing you to give them any ‘summer cut’ or ‘winter cut’ you have in mind. Still, we don’t recommend shaving them down to the skin - not even in very hot months.


We have put together 4 illustrations that will further explain the types of coat a dog may have and to help you compare and contrast:


Photo 1: Short Coat - Single Coat  (Whippet)
Photo 2: Short Coat - Double Coat  (German Pointer)
Photo 3: Long Coat - Single Coat  (Shih Tzu)
Photo 4: Long Coat - Double Coat  (Golden Retriever)
 


We could assume that a long-haired and double-coated dog must feel a lot more heat compared to a short-coated and single-coat dog. The truth is, they feel the same amount of heat. Very much the opposite to common belief, shaving a dog down does not help to keep them ‘cool’ in the summertime. When you shave the double-coat, you are disrupting the temperature regulation process. Doing this can actually CAUSE more problems than SOLVE them. Here is why:
 

Thinking that shaving your puppy down will help with shedding is also a no-no. Your dog WILL continue to shed. This will happen because even if you go shorter on the length of the hair, its cycle will always be the same: they grow and die. They will continue to shed because length has nothing to do with the rate at which the hair sheds. It is just a natural process. You will continue to see dog hair - shorter - but still, you’ll see it.

There can be permanent damage on your dog’s coat such as not growing back properly. In some cases, top coat (guard hair) might not ever grow back. There are also other risks such as hair more prone to getting matted or knotted, leading to more skin irritations and hot spots. What happens is that the undercoat is the only thing that is ‘left’, so because the undercoat grows faster than the guard hairs, it takes forever for the guard hairs to grow and catch up.

It can be even hotter in the summer! Without the protection of both types of hair (guard hair and undercoat) there is no natural temperature regulation, allowing the sun to penetrate into your doggy's skin a lot more. Many of the double-coated breeds will have very pale skin, (just like humans) it is a type of skin very susceptible to sunburn and harmful UV rays, exposing them to the risk of overheating and potential danger to the skin. (Melanoma)

There are people allergic to dogs or cats, but what they don’t know is that they are not actually allergic to the dogs hair, but to something called “dander” - basically, dead skin cells that collect in the undercoat of the dog. So when you shave down your pooch you’re exposing yourself to even more dander, allowing them to become airborne and allowing more chances of direct contact. Think about his double coat saving you from sneezing all the time.

Nature is amazing, right? We truly believe every little hair is there for a purpose. We have to observe our dogs in their whole natural composition and make the decisions that are in their best interest.



So let’s help them stay cool, shall we?

You may be thinking about what can you do in order to help your dog survive this heat that we can all feel approaching. We believe in being proactive. As such, our team recommends what we feel are the best solutions for our pets in any situation. Accordingly, there is a long list of things you can do to help your doggie - from simple home-remedies to things you can find in our store:

  • Take a water bottle to share with your dog on walks (even if it's a short walk). At Sit! Stay! we carry water bottles with a special lid that doubles as a drinking cup - you can find them in 2 sizes and in different colours! It is definitely a MUST for this summer.
 

  • Monitor his activity - watch out for signs and have them take plenty of breaks to catch air, drink water and lay in the shadows.


  • Always brush at home - it will definitely help with the natural shedding process. Brushing helps more than you can imagine, it will keep your dog’s coat condition impeccable, removing any dirt and preventing tangles! If you feel comfortable and know how to use an undercoat rake, you can always complement brushing time with this de-shedding help you can provide to your pet. It’s a grooming tool every double-coated pet parent should have!

 

  • Let them get wet! - take them to natural environments such as lakes, rivers, ponds, or even a muddy river! A natural way to cool them off.

  • Bring your dog for a grooming session at our Boutique - a nice bath, good brushing & deshedding will help to maintain the coat’s condition.
  • Another way to help them feel cool, is a Pet Cooling Pad (perfect for indoor or outdoor activities). Our Cooling Pads are pressure activated, which means no soaking or freezing is necessary, it is as simple as having your dog lay down on it and the cooling gel will start to do its magic! Our team has both dogs and cats and it has proven to work for both!



  • If you have a dog that gets very hot and you see it is a bit of a struggle to take them for walks, a Cooling Collar can do the work! Its gels activate when soaking in water. Wrap around the neck, leash on and ready for the walk!
     


It is sticky and hot out there and will continue to be, but it is no reason to put our dogs' skin in danger. We really hope this information was useful and we welcome you to come in and talk to our team about any concerns and questions you may have in terms of shaving, grooming and related topics.

Regardless of all the things you do to help them cool off - hands down, the best one is not to shave them down. Be patient when it comes to grooming at home and let nature do the magic!
 
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ATTACHMENTS

Examples of Single and Double Coated Breeds

SINGLE COATED BREEDS
DOUBLE COATED BREEDS
Maltese
Siberian Husky
Shih Tzu
German Shepherd
Poodle
Saint Bernard
Chinese Crested
Pomeranian
Havanese
Samoyed
Boxer
Border Collie
Yorkshire Terrier
Labrador Retriever
French Bulldog
Bernese Mountain Dog
Bichon Frise
Newfounland

1 comment

  • Andy Senyi

    Well written, informative article!

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