Should You Shave Your Double-Coated Dog?

To shave or not to shave double-coated dogs is a hot topic among professional groomers, according toPet Age Magazine. Apparently, it’s also a controversial issue among lots of breeders, owners and professionals within the veterinary community.

Some owners shave down their dogs, because they believe it helps keep them cool during the summer, while others do it to slow down shedding and avoid matting.

What exactly is a double-coated dog?

Double-coated dogs have a dense undercoat of short hairs that are woolly in texture covered by a coat of longer guard hairs. Double-coated breeds include:

  • golden retrievers
  • akitas
  • huskies
  • Australian shepherds
  • Shetland sheepdogs
  • Bernese Mountains
  • Great Pyrenees
  • Newfoundlands
  • Pomeranians

Many animal welfare organizations, including the ASPCA, advise dog owners not to shave double-coated dogs. This is because the dense undercoat protects a dog from both hot and cold temperatures. It keeps dogs from getting cold in the winter and protects them from overheating in the summer.

According to ASPCA experts, robbing a dog of his or her natural cooling system can lead to discomfort, overheating and other serious dangers like sunburn or skin cancer.

Learning about the growth cycle of your dog’s double coat is an important step in making an informed decision. Grooming experts at the Morris Animal Inn in New Jersey offer the following facts about double coats:

  • “The undercoat grows on a different cycle than the primary hairs.
  • The secondary hairs are on a shorter growth cycle.
  • Primary hairs do not shed as often and can take years to regrow.
  • If shaved, the coat may never come back in the same way.
  • Repeated shaving can permanently change the ratio of secondary to primary hairs resulting in either a thicker coat that is more difficult to maintain or a sparse patchy coat.”

Pros and Cons of Shaving a Double-Coated Dog

Holistic veterinarianKaren Beckerdoesn’t recommend shaving a dog’s coat unless it’s a medical or hygienic necessity or the dog just happens to prefer short hair and there’s no risk of overexposure to the sun or extremes in temperature. Becker recommends “puppy cuts” for dogs who are clearly happier with less hair. These cuts remove long, annoying hair but stop well short of a full buzz cut.

According to the ASPCA there are better alternatives to shaving such as bathing, trimming and brushing, especially during warm weather. This includes trimming the fur on the belly and the “feather” fur on the legs and tail along with the use of a high-velocity dryer to blow out the dead undercoat.

Corinne Telgheder, a professional groomer and owner of Shampoochie Salon and Boutique in Washingtonville, NY, said you can’t paint every dog with the same brush and assume that no double-coated dog should ever be shaved. She makes sure dog owners understand the risks and rewards of shaving before she goes to work with the clippers.

“If a dog was shaved down and spending most of his time outside, I would consider that cruel,” said Telgheder, who has been grooming dogs for more than 10 years. “But the dogs I groom are spending most of their time indoors in climate-controlled environments. My clients love their dogs. They sleep with them and want to hang out with them, but they just can’t deal with all the hair around the house.”

Every dog is an individual and every situation is different, Telgheder said. When it comes to staying cool in the summer, she believes that shaving likely doesn’t make much difference to a Labrador or golden retriever but would probably help a Newfoundland.

Recently she shaved down Koko, a double-coated beagle mix, who was suffering from oily, flaky and smelly skin that was causing her hair to fall out in chunks. Medicated shampoo prescribed by the veterinarian wasn’t able to penetrate Koko’s undercoat to help her skin.

Should you shave your double-coated dog?

Professional groomer Corinne Telgheder owner of Shampoochie Salon and Boutique with Koko who was shaved down to help relieve a skin condition. Photo courtesy of Corinne Telgheder.

“Once we shaved her we shampooed regularly, and all her hair started growing back in,” Telgheder said. “Of course the hair texture and color are different now, but it’s better than being bald and sickly looking.”

Many people think that shaving down a dog means bald to the skin, but that’s not the case Telgheder said. The shortest she will go on any dog is a 7-inch blade, where the hair is just long enough so that no skin will show through.

An Alternative to Shaving Your Dog

For clients who don’t want to shave their dogs but are frustrated at the excessive shedding, Telgheder recommends a FURminator bath. The dogs are bathed with a de-shedding shampoo and a heavy de-shedding conditioner.

This service includes an extra 40 to 45 minutes of brushing until all the dead hair on the undercoat is removed. The procedure is repeated about every four weeks during the shedding season.

“The dog is still going to leave the salon shedding but it’s just not going to be as severe,” Telgheder said.

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65 comments

Renata B
Renata Babout an hour ago

I wouldn't dream to shave them. When you choose a dog: think, just think. Take into consideration all what that involve: long, thick hair: a huge amount of hair in the house. Alternatively buy a stuffed toy: they don't shed.

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Chad A
Chad Andersonabout a month ago

Thank you.

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John W
John Wabout a month ago

TYFST

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Leo C
Leo Cabout a month ago

Thank you for posting!

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Connie O
Connie Oabout a month ago

Thank you.

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hELEN hEARFIELD
hELEN habout a month ago

tyfs

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Sonia M
Sonia Mabout a month ago

Good to know,thanks for sharing

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Karen Martinez
Karen Martinezabout a month ago

We had a long haired dog that we would get shaved during the summers. We live in a tropical region with high humidity, and he behaved as though he appreciated the hair cuts. Yes, he spent most of the time in the house, but he was far more active after being groomed than he was with just regular brushing.

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Amanda M
Amanda Mabout a month ago

Thanks for sharing

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Amanda M
Amanda Mabout a month ago

Thanks for sharing

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