Shaving your dog’s coat – should you or shouldn’t you?

by: Jennifer Oldfield

After the following photo post on our Facebook page was so popular, we thought a blog post on the topic of shaving would be a good follow-up.

Structure of the coat on a double coated dog

Structure of the coat on a double coated dog (Image created by Brook Wilkins)

There are several different types of textures on dog’s fur, but in a general breakdown there are two coat types; single coated and double coated.  A single coat means that there is only a top (or over) coat that grows all over the body with no different undercoat.  Breeds such as Shih Tzus, Poodles, Bichons, for example, are ones with a single coat.  These breeds can be shaven generally with the only thing potentially occurring to the coat is over time it may become softer or it may have a slight colour change.  Even with only a single coat you want to be careful on when you shave them, especially if you shave them right down, as this, although may appear to feel cooler, leaves the dog exposed to the possibility of sunburn.  A dog with a coat shaved right down in the height of summer should not spend any length of time in direct sunlight.  With the simple fact that there is only one coat the hair grows back normally and even after a shaving.

A double coat means there is both a top (or over) coat made of tougher guard hairs and a bottom or (under) coat that is thick and soft.  Breeds such as Pomeranians, Shetland Sheepdogs, Siberian Huskies, Samoyeds, are examples of double coated dogs.  With a double coated dog they need to be groomed by brushing throughout the year but most heavily done  in the spring when a major shedding period occurs.  As the weather warms up the thick undercoat starts to do a complete shed, it detaches from the body and is often described as molting.  When you look at a dog in shed, they have “tufts” of fur that is soft and dense peaking through the longer guard hairs of the topcoat, this is called molting.

A double coated dog in a full blown shed

A double coated dog in a full blown shed

All this dense undercoat needs to be brushed out of the dog or Stage 3  from the top image above occurs.  The coat becomes impacted and matted, preventing air from being able to move between the dog’s topcoat and their skin.   Once all this undercoat is removed the air can circulate between and through the hairs of the topcoat keeping the dog cool, while the topcoat keeps the skin protected from the sun.  This topcoat can also protect the dog’s skin from fly and mosquito bites.

The question still remains then, why not shave them and just keep them out of the sun?  For one, they may not actually be cool even if they are out of the sun, the topcoat can help to keep the heat off the skin itself  and unlike people, dogs do not sweat through their skin.  Dogs sweat by panting and in all but northern breeds, through the pads of the feet.  Shaving them actually removes some of their natural ability to stay cool.  Another reason is that when the hair does begin to grow back it tends to do strange things.  For some, it may mean having patches that don’t grow at all, or that don’t grow both types of coat layers (top and under), older dogs often have issues with proper regrowth and then for others (which happens most often) the undercoat grows in faster than the topcoat (since the topcoat isn’t meant to shed extensively it grows extremely slowly) so now that protective topcoat is matted into the undercoat.  Dogs like this generally appear as though they have thyroid issues.  The hair looks fuzzy and varies in length all over the body.  This doesn’t mean the coat will forever stay this way.   Most of the time with regular brushing and the next shed cycle the topcoat will get longer while the undercoat sheds away, eventually leaving the coat the way it once was with long topcoat guard hairs and a thick shorter undercoat.  One other thing to note about those topcoat guard hairs – they actually prevent the dog from getting wet.  Due to the coarseness of the guard hairs water rolls off of this topcoat keeping the undercoat dry, which in the winter is important to keeping the dog warm and dry.

All of this being said there may be times where it is necessary to shave a double coated dog.  In surgical/medical situations the coat must be shaved or if the undercoat has become so matted it can not be combed out, shaving is the only solution.  Once the coat begins to grow in, keeping them brushed and free of matting will prevent the need to shave them in the future.

Bottom line?

The ideal situation: Keep the hair brushed, remove all the undercoat and allow the dog to remain with their natural ability to keep themselves cool and protected from the sun and some bug bites in the summer and warm and dry in the winter.

Additional sources of information:

http://blog.aspca.org/content/heat-wave-should-you-shave-your-pet

http://www.examiner.com/article/why-you-shouldn-t-shave-your-double-coated-dog

http://www.chetekvetclinic.com/groomingblog/postclippingalopecia.html

http://woof.doggyloot.com/truths-and-myths-about-shaving-dogs-with-double-coats/

http://blog.sergeants.com/2012/05/22/to-shave-or-not-to-shave/

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98 Comments

  1. We’ve had this debate in our breed recently and were glad to see a thorough researched article on the subject. Looks like nature has it all built right in. Thank you so much for clearing this up for us.

    Reply
  2. Wil

     /  June 7, 2014

    A lot of people shave the Bouvier des Flandres and claim helps the dog stay cooler. Where does the Bouvier fit in when it comes to shave down, since they really do not shed that much.

    Reply
    • I would think since the Bouvier also has that separation of a wiry topcoat and soft, fine undercoat, they probably should not be shaved either. A good brushing out to remove the shedding undercoat is probably all they need to stay cool. However because their top coat isn’t as course and long, its regrowth would probably not be as affected like in the northern breeds when they are shaved.

      Reply
  3. Holly

     /  June 9, 2014

    Thanks for putting it in print. When I tell people they say it’s my opinion. I just speak the truth.
    Bottom line. .My opinion. A lot of people are lazy and have the dog shaved… Groomers never get a dog that’s not matted and have it shaved. Most groomers will shave for the money and the repeat business. I see it all the time here in Arizona. It’s sad and wrong.

    Reply
    • Connie

       /  July 15, 2014

      As a professional groomer I will take offense to the statement we do it for the money. While some may I do not. I recommend deshed treatments first unless the dog is very matted in which case there is little else you can do. I always recommend they leave hair but am most times shot down by the OWNER saying their dog is hot and they want it naked. I also get the once a year people. Also known as “animal control came and he has to get shaved or they’ll take him away”. Do not blame the groomer as most of the time what I see is bad owners.

      Reply
  4. Jessica armenta

     /  June 10, 2014

    I shave all of my pets (3 cats and a dog) during the summer due to the excessive shedding and hair balls. They are mostly indoor. They act really happy after they are shaved as if it feels amazing. I don’t agree w this article, as a dog groomer myself.. I shave tons of dogs and lots of my clients say their pet seems cooler and happier. The only thing is that certain breeds such as huskies and Pomeranians, it is true that their hair has the possibility to grow back differently overtime, almost less full and more wirey. Lots of breeds are not even meant to be in certain types of climates so this article doesn’t make sense. If you really want to be natural if you have a husky then move somewhere where it snows!!! Yeah didn’t think so 😉 Plus many ppl don’t brush their dog and in my opinion it’s better to keep it shaved then to allow it to become matted. I have seen many complications from matted dogs .. Such as blood bruising and hot spots. My advice: do whatever you think is best for your dog, you are the owner so you can tell if your dog is happy or not.

    Reply
    • Thank you for your feedback – yes, certainly, a shaved dog (or cat) is by far better than a completely matted one. Although, where we are there is snow, lots… for much of the year… it doesn’t mean that these breeds with proper coat care can’t live in warmer climates. They will stay cooler with a properly brushed out coat without the shaving. Because these dogs, as you mentioned, aren’t really designed for warmer climates, it also means that their skin isn’t designed to be exposed to the heat of the sun either. Sun burns are real and possible in dogs as well as skin cancer. Ultimately the best choice is to leave the coat and care for it as it is meant, however, if someone is unable or unwilling to do so, then better shaved than matted. People should always be made aware though that the coat may not come back properly and, especially if in colder climates, this can be a problem for the dog in the winter.

      Reply
    • Annie

       /  April 8, 2015

      Yes, shaved is better then matted but still worst then simply properly groomed. This article makes sense as it is how the dogs coat works, it is true. Hence why many double coated dogs who are often shaved get skin conditions, obviously this is not always the case but it is common. Also a groomer… Have seen many dogs develop skin issues due to people shaving instead of maintaining their dogs coat the way it is supposed to be. Personally do not shave double coated dogs unless medically necessary or to matted.

      Reply
  5. Joel

     /  July 15, 2014

    My dog is very dark brown and if shaved is tan.He loved being shaved and in the winter still was good to go in 0 degree weather (I saw him lying on the ice covered pavement)But the in between times he looked like hell.So It depends on a lot of factors.Caveats

    Reply
  6. dee

     /  July 21, 2014

    And THIS makes perfect sense, but as a dog groomer…There are people who do not do maintenance at home and when their dogs come in to be groomed, the dogs are MATTED to the skin. So in cases like this, you have no other choice but to Shave the dogs down. And advise the Client, that they must either keep their dogs combed out at home in between grooming appointments, or come in on a regular basis to have their dogs maintained for them. But once those mats form and are beyond combing out..it’s too late to save the coat.

    Reply
  7. Hi everyone. I want you to take note that while this article is very well written (almost as good as I have done myself) this chart explaining undercoat and its effects was designed and is owned by myself, Brook Wilkins. It has been circulating the globe since its release a couple of years ago, including being used in several grooming seminars by very successful and educated groomers. If you agree- or dont agree with it- that is your choice but facts are facts, and science wins above all else.

    Reply
    • Thank you Brook for letting us know where this chart came from. I searched for it’s origin but was unsuccessful (I will edit the post to include you are the creator of it).

      Reply
      • Thank You very much! I’ve had a few people trying to steal my work and try to credit it as their own and have come very close to taking them to court. I appreciate giving the credit where it is due. 🙂

  8. Reblogged this on kennelBoy.

    Reply
  9. Rachel

     /  April 4, 2015

    Thank you for posting this, almost every double coated dog I have seen with a shaved coat developing post clipping alopecia. Once the coat is clippered it is never the same. If a breed, such as a Siberian Husky has an impacted coat, heat and good products (lots of conditioner) will remove the undercoat. 🙂 And thank you to Brook Wilkins for making such a wonderful chart.

    Reply
  10. Jeanette McKell

     /  April 5, 2015

    What about just clipping with a number 3 or 4 blade on our 3 Golden Retrievers who love & use our pool daily? I will not shave to where their skin is visible. This blade still leaves about 3 inches of fur but not as full coated. Any thoughts on this?

    Reply
    • A 3 blade leaves half an inch and a 4 blade even less. Using any blade on a dog is a shave so it will fall under the Do not shave catagory. All goldens need are daily brushings and montly professional desheds. Trimming around the feet, tail, chest, feathers is fine.

      Reply
  11. Katrina

     /  April 6, 2015

    This graphic was done by Brook Wilkins.

    Reply
  12. I discuss this subject in my training classes, and totally agree with this article! I wish more people would listen and do the right thing. Yes, it takes time and ‘elbow grease’ to get that undercoat out, but it is definitely worth the effort! There certainly are good grooming tools that help though!

    Reply
  13. Susie

     /  April 8, 2015

    Thank you! I’ve been saying this for years and owners/groomer’s would disagree with me. As a groomer, I’ve studied how different dogs coats work. I refuse to shave down double coated breeds unless there is no other recourse. As a dog lover, I won’t do anything that may potentially cause harm.

    Reply
    • Question, if a dog has mats that can only be removed by shaving or cutting them out, is there a better time of year to accomplish this?

      Reply
      • It is ideal to remove a mat as soon as it is discovered so it doesn’t get worse. If the mat is at all close to the skin do not cut it out as the risk of cutting the skin is too great, shave it instead. If there are a lot of mats where shaving the entire dog is the only option, this likely is happening in the spring or fall during the two biggest shedding cycles, which would also be the ideal time to shave – when the weather is neither too hot nor too cold. It is important after that to regularily brush the coat as it is coming in to help reduce the chance of the guard coat and undercoat becoming entangled with each other.

  14. Kevin Lawrence

     /  April 12, 2015

    The idea that the makeup of the fur can keep them cooler, is a theory. In Theory, because of the way their fur is designed, it will keep them cooler. Please provide a study that supports this theory. I have read at least 100 articles over the last two years stating that long haired dogs are cooler, but none of them are actually supported by anything other than the design of their hair.

    This article links to a bunch of sources, but none of those sources have any sources. It is just a bunch of other people who agree with this idea.

    I want to know which is better. I know that my Newfounland is pants all day long during the summer, and when I shave her, she no longer pants all day long. That is not proof, that is just one dog.

    Reply
    • They pant to cool themselves down. When the dog no longer pants it can no longer properly regulate its temperature. A panting dog is a healthy dog! Plus you will notice her hair is not growing back correctly after being shaved. This is Post Clipping Alopecia.

      Reply
      • Kevin Lawrence

         /  May 15, 2015

        A panting dog is panting to cool off. Once they are cooled off, they no longer pant. Lack of panting is a sign of a dog that is not too hot.

  15. Micah Tripp

     /  April 13, 2015

    We have a golden doodle, what type of coat would you say this breed has?

    Reply
    • Generally most golden doodles have a more poodle like coat. So the curly thick coat without a real undercoat. This can easily be shaved with no ill effect to the dog’s future coat growth.

      Reply
    • Goldendoodles are a mixed breed so they can come in several coat types. All of these mixes will have combination coat of hair and fur though. Their coat is most commonly clipped due to having more hair then fur.

      Reply
  16. divya sundararajan

     /  May 19, 2015

    As far as i understand, Labs and goldies are also double coated and should not be shaved right?

    Reply
    • Labs and goldens both have double coats and although a very different coat type than the northern breeds, with proper grooming there is no need to shave either of these breeds, especially the lab with its short coat.

      Reply
  17. Sarah

     /  June 3, 2015

    Great article! Thank you! It may be important to add that the grooming tools used is also important. Double coated breeds should stay clear of the Furminator. Which is basically the same tool they use on Sporting and Terrier breeds (called a Stripping Blade of Stripping Knife) to shorten the back (saddle) hair. It’s essentially a cutting tool/blade in between each of the teeth. I put this image together for our facebook page to show how stripping knives and Furminators are one in the same. Hope you can see the image: https://www.facebook.com/KarnovandaKennels/photos/a.256149214454849.59239.255731767829927/498080153595086/?type=3&theater

    Instead these are the tools we recommend:

    Reply
    • Good point Sarah – thank you for your comment and the links!

      Reply
    • Bella Leal

       /  July 7, 2015

      I plan to have a Border Collie in the future, which is also a double coat breed. I suppose I shouldn’t use a FURminator too, but what about a Mars Coat King?

      Reply
      • A furminator breaks the coat, so no it should not be used. I am not familiar with the Mars Coat King. A slicker brush works well or a rake when the undercoat is in full blown shed.

      • Debbie S.

         /  August 2, 2015

        Border collies can be easily maintained with a good slicker brush, comb and undercoat rake. The Mars Coat King can cut the topcoat (the blades have cutting edges on them). The longer furnishing on the legs and underline can be trimmed with scissors to a more easily maintained length.

  18. Really good to know, but I would think that it isn’t too bad to probably cut the furs a little short so it makes for easier brushing and washing.

    Reply
  19. Brilliant advice as I’ve been wondering about our Long Haired Tibetian…..she’s beautiful and would hate to trim her but have been worried about the heat for her… she’s a white one and seems to love the sun and is brushed at least once a day if not twice as every walk we go on brings back loads of debris on her feathers. Not washed often though as she seems to self clean, is this bad? Also let our aged Long Haired Dachs feathers and coat grow out as we can brush her, something my aged mother couldn’t…she seems so much better for it… Advice on if we’re doing right would be appreciated..

    Reply
    • Sounds like you are doing a great job caring for your pet’s coats. Feathers can be trimmed if needed (for example dogs that run through brush and stuff a lot and get burrs and such caught in the feathers). Not washing often is actually a good thing. Unless it is vet recommended or absolutely necessary you really should only bath them once every few months or less. Often 2 times a year is frequent enough for most. Bathing too often can cause coat and skin to become overly dry, removing the naturally occuring oils in the skin.

      Reply
  20. As an owner, rescuer, handler, and breeder of kuvasz over several decades it was impossible to find the right grooming tool to leave the top coat while getting out the dead undercoat.

    Finally, I just designed what I wanted for myself, friends, and puppy buyers and you can buy one too.
    http://rescuerake.com

    Reply
    • Thank you for sharing, the rescue rake looks similar to a regular rake but with longer teeth…. is that correct? It is hard to tell in the photos.

      Reply
      • Major difference is the pins have round tips and the entire length of the pin is polished, so the living hair is not broken or caught on anything. The animal’s skin is not scratched by over zealous raking. The other difference is the slant angle is easier on the user’s wrist. Made in the USA to my specifications by a small shop that makes tools for surgeons, you can actually feel the quality as soon as you pick it up. You can drop it on the floor several times without ruining it, like so many poor quality grooming tools.

        For grooming shops or vet clinics or shelters that want the animals to have a positive experience and their workers to have pain free wrists longer, RescueRake is the answer.
        You can see more photos and reviews from users on our FB page
        https://www.facebook.com/rescuerake?fref=ts

  21. regi

     /  July 20, 2015

    Ok.as I read this and most all the comments .I Have to wonder if my Aussie should not be shaved . And by no means do we shave him hair less.but we knock off some of the outer coat. We live in South texas . And he is almost 14 years old.we just want to make him comfortable.he pants either with or without the cut.We brush him fairly regularly.not daily but monthly. He is a.pampered pooch indoor dog mostly .we also have a Shih Tzu that regularly goes to the groomer . Honestly we didn’t start the cuts until about about 3 years ago. We only cut him into the summer months we used to pay someone but I think it stressed him out to much now we do it ourselves. I thought I researched the whole thing thoroughly .and mostly it was biased on personal opinion..

    Reply
    • Essentially the Aussie shouldn’t be shaved, brushing out all the undercoat so only the top coat remains should leave him in the most comfortable state. Although often substantially older dogs don’t tolerate all the brusing well and it becomes about what is working for him in his final years.

      Reply
  22. Mufiski

     /  July 31, 2015

    What about schnauzers and other breeds that need stripping? Where you strip the fur they clearly have two layers. The chest is an example of the undercoat growing faster blocking the overcoat. But what about he legs? apart from few german lines they all have only undercoat on them, right? What would you recommend to do with this type of breeds?

    Reply
    • The stripping or plucking of breeds like schanuzers I believe is for the purpose of removing the dense undercoat without changing the integrity of the top coat. These breeds usually have a coat that lies close to the body unlike for example a Malamute where the hair stands out from the body. The recommendation is to strip or pluck them, although those that do get shaved don’t seem to have as big of an issue with the way the two coats grow back as those with guard hairs that stand out from the body.

      Reply
  23. I will share this article with my friends who shave their dogs. I’m always trying to convince them to brush out the undercoat instead of cutting the top coat, but I’m not all that effective. Maybe this will help!

    That said, one of my dogs has heavy fur on his belly and HATES for me to brush him there. I do shave his belly in the summer, to avoid conflict and misery. Tender belly skin plus heavy undercoat equals lots of stress.

    The other dogs are “cool” with me brushing them all over, so they don’t get any clipping at all.

    Reply
  24. I have only shaved one dog one time. My daughter’s Sheltie managed to get into a large patch of forget me nots and thistles. We weren’t home for a few days and she was doing her job of bringing cows home on time by herself. We tried to get her cleaned up, and finally took her to the groomer and had her shaved. We also made sure she was in the house when she wasn’t working until her coat started growing back and was thick enough to protect her. We also limited her working so she wouldn’t get sunburnt. She was NOT a happy dog for a few weeks-especially not being able to work as much as she figured she should.

    Reply
  25. My GSD/Husky cross has the dreaded double coat. This summer he was diagnosed with a dermal staph infection. After the first antibiotic didn’t work; it was cultured and showed to be a resistant form of staph. His antibiotic was changed, but still no effect. After contacting the state veterinary college (LSU) a compounded topical spray will be tried next. BUT, because of his dense coat; shaving is recommended for the course of the treatment. I certainly hope my boy will be cured, but now concerned the shaving will open a new can of worms.

    Reply
    • We hope your dog is doing well and apologize for the delay in response (for some reason wordpress was not notifying us of new comments). In cases like this always go with the recommendation of the vet, the skin health and treatment outweights the cons of shaving. Hopefully the shave will only have been a one time deal and in future you can just keep him well brushed instead.

      Reply
  26. Nancy

     /  August 1, 2015

    Regarding FURminators – you indicate thay should not be used on double coated dogs but can be used on Goldens? We have two mixed breed grandpuppies – 1/2 golden, 1/4 Bernese Mountain and 1/4 St Bernard. In body shape & size, one more closely resembles a St Bernard and the other the golden. They have an undercoat, but not sure how thick. All I know is the fur coming off them doesn’t create dust bunnies, it creates tumbleweeds in our house. How do we know if they have a moderate or heavy undercoat and whether we should use a FURminator on them. We have been using a FURminator for at least 6 months and they certainly seem happier in our hot humid weather. How do we know if it’s causing damage? It seems to only be removing the undercoat.

    Reply
  27. Pat S.

     /  August 2, 2015

    What about spaniels? They typically get shaved (neck and back, top of the back legs) if they’re not being shown. Is this also bad? I have a 9 year old English Cocker Spaniel that I shave (not down to the skin but short) but I don’t want to be doing something that is bad for him. Will his top coat grow back normally if I stop? Because it does seem like all undercoat now. Thanks!

    Reply
    • If your dog has been shaved for a long time it is hard to say whether the coat will grow back normally now if you stop. Tt likely is more undercoat because of the varying rate at which the two layers grow. You could stop shaving and groom out the undercoat to see how the top coat comes in.

      Reply
  28. Fantastic article

    Reply
  29. Ewoksmum

     /  January 21, 2016

    This is a great article thanks Jennifer! I do get some strange looks when I tell people I don’t shave my dog because he has a double coat.
    I adopted my dog 8 months ago and have no idea what breed he is. But I know he has a double coat after doing the research to find out how to tell, it’s very clear there’s a double coat there!
    His coat was good when i adopted him, the vet shaved around his bum (he was in a bad state after a week in their shelter) and I know his previous owner had him shaved (due to heavy matting, probably only once as he’s quite young).
    In Spring I used a deshedding tool (like the fuminator) to remove the bottom coat. His coat has looked ‘smaller’ ever since.
    Ive brushed him thouroughly every weekend and done my best to keep any matted parts from forming but recently his bottom coat is starting to feel impacted (like in the image in you article). Brushing doesn’t seem to help and I’m not quite sure how to tackle the matting or avoid having this happen again.
    I would really prefer not to have him shaved. Can you suggest a tool and/or method to tackle the bottom coat?

    Reply
    • A rake works really well for tackling the undercoat as it grabs all the loose molting pieces while leaving the top coat intacted. If you read through the comments, another reader also had a suggestiong for another tool she uses that is similar to a rake, I believe she provided a link.

      Reply
  30. I invented the Rescue Rake™ so owners have a tool that does NOT use blades or sharp points on their animals. We offer both long and short pin lengths for all your needs. I donate Rescue Rake™ to charities of the buyer’s choice AND offer discounts to Clubs for fundraisers and to breeders who include the Rescue Rake™ in their “puppy go home pak”.

    Please check out this high quality tool, made in the USA, invented by a kuvasz owner, breeder, rescuer, and gives back to our community.

    Reply
  31. Great post by the way

    Reply
  32. Carmelle Kuehn

     /  April 2, 2016

    I live in a high tick rural area. If I shave my long haired dog, it is because I know I can never hope to find them all in my dense furred dog. I can barely find them in the short haired dog. I am hoping to start them on the oral tick medication this year,because I ave heard that is better than the frontline. If the ticks stay off or bite and die, I will consider not getting him shaved this year.

    Reply
    • Where we are, we don’t have Frontline, for ticks our most popular products are: Advantix (ticks do not have to bite with this product, it cycles through the layers of skin, creating a “hot foot” response in ticks, treatment is every 3-4 weeks), Revolution (need to treat every 3-4 weeks, ticks have to bite), and Bravecto (one treatment lasts approximately 3 months, ticks have to bite). Talk to your veterinarian about what product would be best for you based on your pet’s lifestyle and where you live. With or without shaving, in a high tick area it is probably best to use some sort of treatment.

      Reply
  33. TamaraRene Harmon

     /  April 3, 2016

    my little pom has groomer induced alopecia on his back — is there any hope for his coat growing back in ??? i trusted my EX-groomer and would have never done this had i known of the repercussions

    Reply
    • This question would best be answered by your veterinarian, who would have seen the extent of the alopecia and hairloss.

      Reply
  34. Anna @ BTBS

     /  April 24, 2016

    Brook Wilkins…I love this graphic image and it helps me explain double coats to my clients but my brain constantly gets stuck on the type O of…”the Suns SAYS will bounce off…”

    Reply
  35. Victoria Anne

     /  April 30, 2016

    So, I shave my Sammy/Aussie Shepherd mix. I do not do it to keep her cool or because she sheds. I do it because when I let it grow in during the summer months in Florida she gets horrible sores and rashes, no matter what I try to do to prevent it. When she gets shaved, all problem areas dry up and she is markedly HAPPIER. It is beyond obvious to me after having her in my life for 16 years, 8 of which we have been living in FL and shaving her, that she is more active, more alert and more comfortable being shorn. Her coat grows back in just fine in the winter months when we do a lot of brushing. I deliberated long and hard when I first did it, but I have zero doubts that it was and is right for my dog.

    Reply
    • As I mentioned above quality of life has to be the most important factor. Yes the coat has a purpose, but even when it is being brushed out and taken care of, certainly things can happen where shaving is the best option. It is good you tried things first before just jumping into shaving, but if shaving is what prevents the skin issues, then it makes the most sense to do so.

      Reply
  36. Anon

     /  May 10, 2016

    What if you cut the fur short, but not really shave? I don’t live at home any more, and my family does not take good enough care of our dog. We do not yet have a way to get him a more well-suited home. (We were misled about what breed he was, and he has turned out to be bigger, more rambunctious, and less intelligent than we expected or could easily handle.) I spent a good two hours dematting and bathing him the other day when I was home for a bit. He does have a double coat, so what can I do to help keep him comfortable when I’m not there?

    Reply
    • Ultimately, quality of life is has to be the most important factor. If there is no one available to take care of the coat, contact a groomer and see if they can do a deshedding groom on him. This will remove the extra undercoat and help to reduce matting.

      Reply
  37. i have a 10 year old Cavalier king charles who has long wavy fine hair which mats easily, and especially the ears. Groomers have always been able to work around the mats before and i never would get the rest of his hair cut short, leaving at least an inch and a half or two inches on his back and sides, and this all grows out between grooming. He’s difficult for me to brush because he’s very reluctant and resistant, i always use treats but it’s hard.

    Anyway. last year end of the year, i was out of town with him, far from home, and it rained for three days. He got very wet, this has never happened before in his life because we don’t have much rain where i live, there’s a drought. i always would put a rain coat on him when walking in the rain, it was minimal, we have a backyard. I wasn’t prepared for what was going to happen when it rained on him for three days last year, all his hair got matted, ears much worse than before, and already not good, and body hair matted too, never had that before, near the skin, small mats all over.

    So, two days ago, i took him to be groomed, and i was not surprised to hear them say they had to shave him. i knew it was necessary, even though i asked if they could leave some of the ear hair. they couldn’t , and i asked them to leave an inch or inch and a half on the body hair. They said there was no way. I asked that they not express his anal glands because he was showing no problems related to that and never has.

    Since i’ve brought him home, he is showing some different behaviors. He seems happy enough but he shakes his body and his head, now and then, not often, and when i first got him at the groomer, his penis was hanging out of the shaft and all the way home in the car, didn’t go back in, and i was worried. It’s not like he was excited or anything. When we got home, it seemed to sort of partly go back in and then it was all the way in and mostly has been since then. i googled it and learned it can be a problem that happens connected with neutering sometimes. He seems ok with that now. i thought maybe the shaving sensations did something temporary to the nerves.

    He’s doing more scratching than usual and drags his butt on the floor, he wasn’t doing that before. i had asked her not to express the anal glands. Last night when i was fixing his dinner, remarkably, he wasn’t standing there focused on what i was doing, he always does that, he knew what i was doing but he was in the next room where he couldn’t see me and he was licking some part of him intently. Not like him.

    This morning when i got up, we walked toward the door for me to let him out, usually he can’t wait to get out. Today, he was lagging behind, and he had done this last night too but he doesn’t always want to go out. In the morning he does, but today, he was curled up licking some part of him, some feet from the door, he licks different parts different times. He was making little noises, like when he’s really intent on something, not pain noises. But he didn’t care about going outside. He never did want to go out. Finally i went out and had one of his balsl and he did follow me outside because i had the ball, and he chased it eagerly. but something is different about him.

    The main thing i wanted to ask is if anyone has ever heard of something the previous groomer i used to go to told me.

    On two different occasions, after i left him off, they called me at home to tell me they were going to have to remove a lot of hair from his ears because of the mats and they wanted to let me know that his balance might be affected. I had never heard that before, they had removed a lot of hair before, but they wanted to warn me about it. When i got him back he never showed any sign of imbalance or any other problem. The second time, same thing, same outcome, they were expressing real concern when they called on the phone to alert me, and this was something they had seen before or were aware of.

    So i wondered if that might account for any of his abnormal behaviors. I googled it and was surprised i could not find anything about it, not so far, i didn’t look for very long yet. i am just wondering if any one has ever heard of that. The previous groomer told me that the change in the weight of the ears could affect balance, and again, she sounded very concerned. i called and asked the current groomer about it and he had never heard of it but said he was going to research it. He thought the behaviors probably were related to new sensations and should stop over the next couple of days at most.

    thanks

    Reply
    • I have never heard of trimming the ears affecting balance. As for the scooting of the bum that usually has to do with anal glands. You may want to confirm with the groomer that they were not done. If he continues to not be himself or is really licking a lot in specific places it would be best to contact your veterinarian for advice or for an exam.

      Reply
  38. Kate Kingan

     /  May 29, 2016

    Please can you tell me what you advise about ticks and grass seeds hidden in and under long coats?

    Reply
    • There are treatments that can be used for ticks – discuss that with your veterinarian. There are several great products on the market. Grass seeds are a very dangerous thing, it would be recommended to avoid those and foxtails. If they can’t be avoided, a thorough check of the entire body including feet should be done to avoid the hazards that can occur when the grass awns begin to migrate. For an example of a client we saw recently on what can happen with them, watch our video https://youtu.be/hQm-Dd70SWs

      Reply
  39. Letha

     /  June 13, 2016

    Thank you so much for this! Only thing I might add would be the potential for heatstroke.

    Reply
  40. Char Schermers

     /  July 22, 2016

    What about a mixed breed coat like a poodle and a Labrador retriever? Single coat with. Double coat.

    Reply
    • It will all depend – if the coat is more like a poodle than shaving it would be much like shaving a poodle. However if it is a short coat like the lab, there is no need to shave it.

      Reply
  41. Please make note on the coat image as to the creator. It is shown on our copy.

    Reply
  42. I noticed in your article that links to mine, you have a link to a furminator as a great tool to use on your pet’s coat. This “brush” actually cuts while you brush and can ruin the top coat. A rake is a better tool to use for removing the dense undercoat.

    Reply
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