Is a Shaved Dog More Comfortable? Not Always—And Here's Why
It's totally natural to think a shaved dog will remain calm, cool, and collected when the temperature rises. After all, they have all that fur (well, except for the Mexican hairless dog!) which has to be uncomfortable.
While all dogs need regular grooming, they rarely—yep, you read that correctly—require shaving. Why? Susan Divine Sholar, president of the American Professional Pet Groomers Association, says dogs don't necessarily ever 'need' to be shaved. "Their coats serve a purpose for the environment and activities they live in," she says. "Most groomers are happy to help you understand what's necessary in maintaining your pet and how often the pet should see the groomer."
But Should I Shave My Dog for Summer?
Not really. Think less about shaving and more about frequent brushing to remove loose hair and a consistent trimming routine. Here's an important point: Sholar says some breeds might need clipper work or scissoring according to their breed standard. "This is generally the undetermined coat length breeds," she says. "By undetermined, we're referring to breeds that genetically have coats that continuously grow."
By understanding the type of coat your dog has, you'll know which dog breeds shouldn't be shaved. Christies Direct notes there are six dog coat types:
- Combination: a mix of longer and shorter hair in different places, like what you find on cocker spaniels or golden retrievers.
- Curly or Wooly: thick with a lot of volume, this is what bichon frises or various poodles have.
- Long: sometimes silky, other times rough, long-coated dogs include Afghan hounds, Old English sheepdogs, Maltese, and shih tzus.
- Short: this is actually a dense and short two-layered coat, commonly seen on beagles, Labrador retrievers, and pugs.
- Smooth: although also short, this is a shiny, low-textured coat worn by greyhounds and German shorthaired pointers.
- Wire: a highly-textured coarse coat shared by dogs such as West Highland white terriers and miniature Schnauzers.
Sholar says the best way to know if shaving your dog is necessary is to ask a breeder for a couple of lessons on proper maintenance. But what if you don't have access to one? Or your pup is a hybrid, and genetics created a funky coat mix? What if you adopted a rescue and have no idea who his breed parents are? Here again is when a professional groomer will be your best resource.
For example, if you have a Yorkie, she'll likely have a long, silky, 'hair-like' coat that, just like human hair, grows continuously. A groomer might recommend a variety of trim options to help keep her cool, including a clip that leaves about an inch of fur across most of her body.
On the other hand, short-haired breeds, like beagles, should never be shaved, Sholar says. "The coat protects their skin and prevents sunburn—yes, dogs can get sunburned just as we can," she adds. "The only time I ever shaved a short-coated dog was at the request of a veterinarian, which is rare."
The Dangers of Shaving Double-Coated Dogs
You know what other dog breeds shouldn't be shaved? Ever? Double-coated dogs—the ones that 'blow coat' about twice a year, which has you cleaning up dog fur for weeks! Sometimes you might find pictures online of a shaved husky dog, like a Siberian husky or an Alaskan Klee Kai, or a shaved Bernese mountain dog, but that only causes unsolvable problems in the coat's texture and growth.
Double coats serve a specific purpose, especially for dogs that live in colder climates. "The soft undercoat protects a dog when the weather is cold," Sholar says. "The outer coat protects the dog's undercoat from rain and snow during cold seasons." In warmer weather, the undercoat sheds (a lot!) but the outer coat, with its guard hairs, allows for air circulation and protects a pupper's skin from the heat as well as potential sun damage.
That's right: all that fur is actually a highly-sophisticated thermal control mechanism!
When Is It OK to Shave a Dog?
So if you're wondering "can I shave my dog?" leave it to the professionals who have the training and breed coat understanding to know how to handle specific situations when it might be necessary.
"A dog may need to be shaved if it's matted—I'm not referring to 'a few' mats, I'm referring to a semi- to heavily-matted dog," Sholar says. "Groomers generally see dogs in this condition when they're rescue dogs just adopted and the new owner is going through all the steps of getting them healthy and in good condition." Another reason for shaving, she adds, is when people don't brush their dogs regularly or aren't brushing the fur from the skin out. This might create a mess 'o mats, too.
As well as we know our pup pals, Sholar says owners could inadvertently cause more harm than good by shaving at home because they might injure the dog with clippers.
So the best way to avoid the buzz-buzz altogether is to establish a regular care routine based on the breed coat specifics. Even a weekly brushing gives you a chance to spot any issues before they become worse. Here are some terrific grooming tips and tools to help you get started!