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The Great Shave Debate: 5 Things to Consider Before You Shave Your Dog

For years, dogs owners, dog trainers, and even veterinarians have argued about whether it’s ok, or even beneficial, to shave your dog’s coat.

So…to shave or not to shave…what is the right choice?

As a dog owner myself, I know that the answer isn’t necessarily black or white.

In fact, there are many factors (both positive and negative) that need to be considered when making such a decision for your pup.

So, with that in mind, I’m simply going to leave you with some considerations to ponder as you make your decision.

Here are a few thoughts rooted in factual information that might help you determine if a shave is a good idea for your dog…

Consideration #1 – What Type of Dog Do You Have?

There are two main types of dog coats.

The first type of dog coat is a double coat.

Dogs with a double coat have two layers of fur—a fluffy bottom coat that helps keep them warm and insulated and a stronger top coat that helps repel water and dirt.

Some of the more common breeds that have these types of coats are…

  • Huskies
  • Chows
  • Pomeranians
  • German Shepherds
  • Collies
  • Corgis
  • Golden Retrievers

The second type of coat is a single-layer coat.

Just as the name explains, a single coat means your dog only has one layer of fur that helps keep him warm and protected.

Common dog breeds with single coats are…

  • Hound dogs
  • Bulldogs
  • Dalmatians
  • Brittany spaniels
  • Pugs
  • Pitbulls
  • Pointers
  • Boxers

If you’re unsure of whether your dog has a single or double coat, Google it. You should be able to find out pretty fast with a quick online search.

In general, it’s not ideal to shave your dog if it has a double coat.

The reason: The double coat is actually designed to shield and protect your dog from the heat and keep him cool. If you remove that double coat, he will have a harder time staying cool in the long run.

This isn’t to say that there aren’t circumstances in which a double-coated dog may be better off shaved but you need to do a good amount of research on the topic first.

A jolly good brush: If your dog has a double coat and a thick layer underneath then one very simple solution is to give them a good brush in the summer when they shed a lot of their fluffy hair. When I used to brush Peanut we could sometimes get a couple of buckets of hair off her over the course of a month. We would do it several times a week and she would be very very grateful.

If you are still unsure then use this information and talk to your vet or dog groomer before making the decision.

Consideration #2 – What Climate Do You Live In?

Most people make the decision to shave their dog because they live in a hot climate and worry about their dog overheating.

This is a very valid concern—especially if your dog spends a lot of time outdoors.

In this case, I would say it’s probably ok to consider shaving your dog (if he doesn’t have a double coat that’s designed to protect against heat).

That being said, it’s far more important to simply ensure your dog has access to cold, fresh water, air conditioning, and shaded outdoor areas.

Additionally, if you live in a hot climate and haven’t adopted a dog yet, I suggest you look for breeds that do well in hot climates.

For example, if you live in Florida, adopting a husky might not be the best decision.

Consideration #3 – How Long Is Your Dog’s Fur?

You don’t necessarily have to cut all your dog’s fur off to keep him cool.

In fact, if you have a dog with very long fur (such as a bearded collie or Havanese), a trim might be just enough to give him the relief he needs, without destroying his coat and causing health problems.

A little trim can also help protect against other health issues such as…

  • Matted fur
  • Hotspots
  • Myiasis (a condition where maggots infest long fur)

Instead of shaving your dog’s entire body, talk to your groomer about trimming up your dog instead.

Consideration #4 – Where Does Your Dog Spend Most of His Time?

If you own a husky that spends most of his time lying around your air-conditioned home, then there really is no reason to shave your dog.

He’ll be more than ok to go outside to do his business or for a daily walk.

However, if you own a dog that lives outside full-time or spends most of the day outside in the heat and has trouble staying cool, then it might be worth getting him shaved.

Once again, keep in mind the rule of double-coated vs single-coated dogs.

If you have a double-coated dog, it’s a safer option to ensure he has access to shade and water instead of getting him shaved.

If it’s a single-coated dog, I don’t see any reason why a shave would hurt.

Here are a few other great ideas for how you can keep any dog cool in the heat!

Consideration #5 – Exposure

Last, but certainly not least, it’s important to remember that dogs have fur coats for a reason.

They offer protection from the sun, rain, heat, cold, etc.

If you shave your dog’s coat too thin, and he spends a lot of time outside, he’s naturally going to be more at risk for…

  • Getting sunburned/developing skin cancer.
  • Becoming ill due to exposure to cold weather/rain.
  • Experiencing skin infections/irritations due to less protection from outside irritants.

The Bottom Line

At the end of the day, it’s up to you to determine what is best for your dog.

Be sure to take into consideration…

  • What type of dog you own.
  • Does your dog have a single or double coat.
  • Where he spends most of his time.
  • What risk factors he’s exposed to on a daily basis.

And don’t forget…

There’s no one size fits all approach to grooming your dog. Sometimes just a little grooming will make your dog feel much better preventing annoying issues for dogs, such as having their fur cover their eyes.

It can also prevent them from developing dreadlock-type mats that cause skin irritations and other issues.

However with other breeds you need to think twice, especially if your dog has a double coat. So do your research first and remember you can cool your dog by brushing out that under coat in the summer.

Keeping these things in mind, I have no doubt that you’ll make the right decision on behalf of your canine companion.

In an effort to help you make the best decision possible, I’ve put together a FREE checklist that includes 5 questions you should always ask your groomer before getting your dog’s fur cut.

↓ You can download it here for FREE! ↓

Cheers,

Doggy Dan Signature
~Doggy Dan

Doggy Dan

Doggy Dan is the founder of The Online Dog Trainer, a wildly successful online training program for dog owners. His goal is to continue to share his unique approach to dog training with like-minded people who wish to make a difference in the world of dogs. His training methods focus on creating and building the connection between dogs and dog owners, and are shared and used around the world.

9 Responses

    1. Hi Helen….when I refer to ‘shaving’ a dog I simply mean to clipper or trim their hair to a very short length, almost right to the skin so that only a very short length of hair remains…so not totally bald back to the skin only. Hope that clears thing up…best, Doggy Dan

  1. I sooo appreciate u taking the time to send great info about dogs!!! I wish there were more people like u to take the time to be so helpful!!! Thank you & God Bless!!!
    I just rescued a puppy that is half Brussels Griffon ( his face) w a body of a Shitzu!!! Lol
    I live in Fl so I believe she will be more comfortable w a short puppy cut!!! Your info helped me make that decision!! She loves to play outside!! My old dog is part Maltese, poodle & God knows what else! Lol. He perks up after a groom, so I know he feels better w a shave, yet I leave enuf fur to prevent sunburn!! Thank u again!

    1. Thanks Carole, I love sharing all the info I can to help dog owners, so I’m glad you found this Blog helpful…best, Doggy Dan

    1. Hi Kathlyn,
      Doing some off-leash training and using some treats can also be a great way to show your puppy that sticking by your side is a good thing. You would use your voice more here, and maybe a gentle tap on your thigh to encourage them to come with you. As your puppy approaches the heel position you can say the word ‘heel’ and when they hit the right spot say the word again, give them a treat and praise them.
      When doing on-leash work try either stopping or changing direction as soon as your puppy gets past the heel position and is in front of you. If you choose to stop then you can guide your puppy back to your side by calling them and maybe a treat also. Changing direction and calling them to come with you as you do, helps them understand that being in front of you results in a change in direction and will prompt them to be more aware of where you are and sticking closer to you. For young puppies remember to keep training sessions short and positive as well!
      My website TheOnlineDogTrainer.com has instructional videos to help achieve this…maybe take a quick look…its a $1 trial for 3 days…all the best Doggy Dan

  2. Hey Dan,

    thanks for such a helpful post. I know you said that you don’t need o cut your dogs hair off to keep them cool, but this other post that recommended you guys said it works.

    I’m also noticing that my dog seems to recently have caught fleas and wanted to know if shaving her would be a good idea.

    I know you’re a busy man but would appreciate if you could help me out and let me know whether the clippers they recommend here: https://www.retrieversareus.com/best-dog-clippers-for-thick-coats/ are any good from your experience with golden retrievers.

    Thanks in advance

    1. Hi Jenny,
      Unfortunately I am not an expert when it comes to dog grooming…all my dogs have short coats! Any advice I give in relation to grooming is only on a very basic level and so I would actually recommend having a chat to a dog groomer in your area to seek some more knowledgeable advice. I’m sorry I couldn’t be more helpful but I don’t want to give you any advice that may be incorrect! Best, Doggy Dan

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