During the summer, shaving your dog may seem like the obvious choice. It seems like it would help keep them cool during the warming temperatures. However, shaving is not always the best option.
Unlike humans, some dogs rely on their coats for temperature regulation. Specifically, the dog breeds that have a double coat. Double coats combine long and stiff guard hairs and short, fluffy dense hairs. This type of coat is familiar to many breeds including retrievers, terriers, and herding breeds. The double coat is waterproof, and protective, and insulates the dog not only from the cold but also from the heat. The fur acts as insulation and helps keep cool temperatures in and hot temperatures out during the summer. Shaving this off can be damaging to your dog’s body temperature regulation.
There are certain circumstances in which a double-coated dog needs shaven. It could be that your dog is older and needs help to self-groom, your dog needs surgery, the dog experienced neglect and has matted hair, and has skin diseases like hot spots or myiasis.
A shaven coat also makes your dog more susceptible to health issues related to the sun. There is a greater risk of sunburn, a greater risk of skin cancer, and a greater risk of heat stroke. When shaving a double-coated dog, the coat may take a long time to recover since the protective guard hairs grow much slower than the fluffy base layer.
If you are concerned still about your double-coated dog dealing with the heat, an alternative to shaving could be consistently brushing your dog with a brush that focuses on the dog’s undercoat. Brushing them consistently will help prevent shedding as well, which will make fur less of an issue for your household.
Overall, it may be possible that your dog just prefers a summer cut, but this is not usually recommended, no matter how hot it gets. If you have any questions, feel free to contact Dr. Olsen at Olsen Veterinary Clinic at 618-656-5868.