Should You Shave Your Dog?

It’s generally not a good idea to shave your dog. Dogs with double coats can thrive in warm areas, and unless a dog is terribly matted, there’s no benefit.

May 17, 2024By Sara Payne
should you shave your dog

Shaving your dog is generally a last-ditch effort if the animal is terribly matted, suffers from mange, or has a serious skin condition. It’s not recommended for a variety of reasons, namely, that dogs cool off differently than we do.

So, that Husky basking in the sun? He’s not suffering. Thanks to his double coat, he can regulate both cool and warm temperatures. Shaving the dog’s coat could lead to long-term complications, both with how the fur grows back and how the dog naturally cools off.

Shaving Your Dog Usually Isn’t Recommended

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You should not shave certain coat types, such as double-coated dogs like German Shepherds and Golden Retrievers. Shaving these dogs’ coats can damage their coats long-term. You can shave single-coated dogs, but even then, experts do not recommend shaving your dog close to the skin.

A dog’s coat protects the skin from the sun and insect bites. It also provides insulation that keeps your dog warm in winter and keeps out some heat in summer. Removing this protection can expose their skin to the damaging effects of UV rays, leading to various skin conditions.

Yet, there are some reasons it may be appropriate to get your dog’s coat shaved. One of the most common reasons a dog needs a shave is fur matting. It is best to consult with a professional groomer before making the decision.

Does Shaving Your Dog Cool Them Down?

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Many people choose to shave their dogs as the temperatures warm up. These dog owners believe a low-cut shave keeps dogs cooler, but is this true?

Our canine companions do not sweat to cool down as humans do. Dogs pant to regulate their body temperature. When dogs pant, they rapidly inhale air, humidify it, and exhale. This process increases the evaporation of water in your dog’s respiratory system, literally cooling the body from the inside out.

Dogs also lie on cooler surfaces to transfer body heat. Their blood vessels also expand as the temperatures rise, allowing more heat to be lost from the blood. Their coats, which act as insulation, also keep some hot air out.

Shaving dogs does not cool them down significantly, since they use other processes to keep cool. However, single-coated dogs do sometimes benefit from a shave, but you should consult a professional groomer for the best advice for your dog. Many groomers suggest keeping the legs trimmed to allow for better cooling.

Can You Shave a Dog to Control Shedding?

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Another reason owners may shave their dogs is to control shedding. Shedding can be very frustrating and get everywhere in your home. You may feel like it never ends. However, here’s some good news. If you have a thick-coated dog, like a Shetland Sheepdog or Chow Chow, they might be “blowing their coat.” It’s a short-term flurry of fur, but thankfully doesn’t last more than a few weeks.

Blowing coat is a term used to describe the process some dogs go through to remove their downy underlayer of fur when the temperatures get warmer. If you shave your dog’s coat during this time, it doesn’t stop the process of shedding; it just makes the shedding hair shorter. More importantly, shaving their coat could prevent it from growing back properly.

Shaving a Matted Dog Is Sometimes Necessary

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Matted fur is a problem that often happens in medium to long-haired dogs. It’s a common problem in Poodles, as their fine hair can get easily tangled if not routinely combed.

Matting is when the fur attaches to itself and creates a mass of tangles or knots that stick together. These are often due to a lack of brushing, but they also are caused by dirt, sticky substances, and other foreign objects getting into the fur.

There are various levels of matting. Some matting is minor and can be removed with a large comb and some conditioner. When matting is severe, it can cause issues for your dog. Mild hair mats may cause skin irritation that can lead to infections. Severe matting can lead to flea and tick infestations, strangulating wounds, and open sores.

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If the matting cannot be brushed out or it has progressed and is causing your dog irritation, do not cut them out with scissors. If the dog jerks, you could cut him. It’s best to seek a veterinarian or professional groomer. A severely matted dog, no matter his coat type, may need to be sedated and have its full body shaved.

Grooming Tips to Keep Your Dog’s Fur Healthy

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There are several ways to keep your dog’s coat under control and prevent the need for shaving. You should brush your dog’s fur regularly. There are many distinct types of dog brushes available on the market. Different dog breeds need their hair brushed at different intervals. Be sure to research your breed’s requirements.

Regular brushing prevents matting, gets rid of dead hair that will fall out around your house, and provides better air circulation which keeps your dog cooler.

Also, keep their paws trimmed of excess fur. Dogs have cooling sweat glands on the bottoms of their paws. Your dog should also be bathed regularly. This frequency varies based on your dog’s fur type.

Talk to Your Groomer Before Dog Shaving

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Shaving your dog may seem like an easy way to cool him down in summer or to control shedding, but you need to understand the grooming needs of your dog’s fur type. Different fur types require different care.

Double-coated dogs should not be shaved, and all coats should not be shaved shorter than one inch. However, if a dog has severe matting, shaving may be a necessity. Still, there are many ways to prevent severe matting, control shedding, and keep your dog cool that reduce the need for shaving your canine companion.

Sara Payne
By Sara Payne

Sara is a mother of two and a high school English teacher who rediscovered her love of writing during the pandemic. She has 5 rescue cats: Neville and Luna, who are white cats with black and grey spots, and Ginny, Blue, and Fairy, who are calicos. Besides taking care of humans and fur babies, Sara enjoys gardening, crafting, and spending time in nature.