How I Met My Dog

Buzz Cut Season: Tips for Deciding if you Should Shave your Dog this Summer

Have you ever wondered if your dog is overheating under that big coat of fluff? Many dog breeds in the Shepherd, Collie, and Retriever families (plus many others) have thick top and bottom coats of fluff and hair that don’t seem to suit the heat of the summer months. While it may seem like clear logic to give your longhaired, thick-coated dog a summer hair cut, you may actually be putting them at a higher risk for overheating and sunburn by shaving their coat. Check out these pointers for understanding different breed’s natural coats and how to manage them in warmer weather.

Double Coat Drama

Some breeds like the Husky, Pomeranian, Shiba Inu, Golden Retriever, Australian Shepherd, Havanese and Labrador Retriever (just to name a few) have something called a “double coat.” A double coat on a dog is a two-layered set of fur. The base layer consists of shorter thicker hairs that regulate temperature and the top layer has longer, smoother hairs that have moisture and dirt repelling properties. Dogs with a double coat often require regular grooming all year long.

When the summer months are upon us, double-coated dogs often shed out their thick undercoat and leave the topcoat to provide sun protection and allow air circulation. If your dog hasn’t fully shed their undercoat, using a grooming rake to safely remove some of your dog’s excess fluff will help keep them cool without exposing their skin to sunburn. If your vet recommends it, or you feel that it is absolutely necessary to shave your dog’s coat in the summer, we highly suggest letting a professional do the clipping. Managing blade temperature, keeping your dog safe and calm and keeping your dog’s fur at least 1 inch long off their skin to leave them protected from the sun, are all things that a professional groomer is trained to do.

If you choose to shave your double-coated dog, you run the risk of damaging their coat for the long term and rendering it less effective for keeping your dog warm in the winter and protected from the sun in the summer.

Single Coat Secrets

Breeds like the Poodle, Bichon Frisé, Maltese and Yorkie have what is called a “single coat.” Single coats are often more even in length and tend to shed less. Shaving a single coated dog does not change the texture of their hair. Often times, single coated dogs don’t struggle with heat the way double coated dogs do and you may not find yourself compelled to shave them down for the summer. If you do choose to shave your single coated dog, remember to apply the 1-inch rule to protect their skin from sunburn. 

Keep it Cool

No matter what type of coat your dog has, keeping your dog cool in the summer is important. Supplying your dog with plenty of water, a shady & cool place to rest and allowing them to take a swim to cool off are all great ways to keep your dog from overheating. To learn more about ways you can keep your dog cool in the summer months check out our articles Ice Ice Baby: 4 Easy Ice Cube Tricks to Help your Dog Beat the Summer Heat and Sun’s out Tongues Out: 4 Things to Know about Taking your Dog on Adventures in Warm Weather.

Just for Looks

Styling your dog's coat to look a specific way is often harmless and cute but be sure to consider your dog's comfort when deciding to change the way nature intended them to look.

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