When You Love Your Dog but Hate the Shedding. What do you do?
As temperatures rise many owners begin seeking ways to keep their pups comfortable throughout the summer. I am asked quite frequently to shave dogs to help them stay cool and this is a great option for some breeds but most certainly not all. Read on to learn how to keep your dog comfortable in the heat of the summer.
What type of coat does your dog have?
Dogs generally fall into one of two categories : single coated or double coated.
Single coated breeds tend to have hair that will continually grow. Dogs that fall into this category include Shih-Tzus, Maltese, Yorkshire Terriers, and Lhasa Apsos. These breeds can be shaved and styled short with little to no negative impact on their hair as long as there are no underlying medical conditions.
Double coated breeds have thick fur that does not continually grow longer and include breeds like Labradors, Golden Retrievers, German Shepherds, and Siberian Huskys. Breeds with double coats are not meant to be shaved and doing so can be detrimental to both their skin and coat.
What is a double coat?
Breeds with a double coat have two layers: undercoat and guard hairs.
Undercoat is what you will usually find materializing as tumble weeds and the fur that you find around your house. This coat protects them from snow or extreme cold (Siberian Huskys, Akitas, Chow Chows); or from water (Golden Retrievers, Labradors, German Shepherds).
Guard hairs are the longer hairs that lay over the undercoat. These are usually softer and have a beautiful color to them.
When a double coated breed is shaved down both coats are shaved but the dense undercoat will grow back first, oftentimes thicker and fluffier than before. Shaving disrupts the growth cycle and the outer guard hairs may take a long time to grow back; IF they grow back.
This is where a vicious cycle begins - owners want their dogs to stay cool, but their coat is naturally designed to keep them cool in hot environments and warm in cold environments. Their coat is designed to naturally regulate their body temperature. When the undercoat grows back in it essentially acts as an insulator and dogs lose their ability to regulate their body temperature - the heat becomes trapped. Imagine wearing a wool sweater in the summer. Repeated shaving can cause irreparable damage. Oftentimes the pet will need to continue to be shaved because their coat no longer functions properly.
Dogs that are shaved become susceptible to many dangerous conditions - heat stroke, sunburn, alopecia, and skin cancer among many others.
How to Groom a Double Coated Dog
Correct grooming for double coated breeds include nail/ear maintenance, bathing, and a good blow out with a high velocity dryer. There will be times throughout the year that your dog will "blow their coat" and shed even more than usual, but that is a topic for another post!
Oak City Pets and many other grooming salons offer Low Shed or De-Shed services for dogs which involves thorough undercoat removal through extra brushing and high velocity drying. Not only is this the best option for your dog but also your wallet as well - chances are a shave-down on your dog is going to be a lot more expensive than regular maintenance through bathing and brushing. Please remember to keep your pet's best interest in mind when ultimately deciding on their grooming style.
This advice is often controversial among professional pet stylists, veterinarians, and pet owners. Comment down below and let me know what you think. What have your experiences been?