This is the time of year that we hear the question, “Should I shave my dog to keep him cooler?” If you do a quick search on the internet, what you will primarily see is “NO! NEVER SHAVE YOUR DOG! Their coat acts as a natural A/C!!!” This is only true if you are consistently brushing your dog and getting the loose hair off and out of the coat. These posts are generally written by “dog enthusiasts” who commit a lot of time to grooming their dogs.
However, if you (like me) are not somebody that regularly and completely brushes out your dog’s coat, that loose hair actually traps heat next to your dog’s skin, making the situation worse.The bottom line is that if your dog is getting AIR to his skin, he will be cooler. Having a well-brushed out coat can protect your pup from sunburn and bug bites.
(I’m not going to address “the coat will never grow back the same” debate. I have kept my Chow mix shaved his entire 17 years, so for me personally, I don’t care how his coat grows back. He’s not a show dog. Also, if you’ve met me, it’s no secret that my “blondness” isn’t natural, and my hair will never be the same, but again, I don’t care. You will have to decide if this really matters to you, but personally the only time I’ve seen it grow in “weird” is when a dog gets really old and their coat starts to thin due to age. Will it grow in coarser? Maybe. But you – again, you - have to make the decision if that matters to you.)
In addition, *I believe* that you need to consider your dog’s lifestyle. If your dog is primarily an indoor dog that goes out to potty and play for a little bit each day, then they are not acclimated to the heat and therefore are as affected as we are to the change from A/C to 100+ temps. These pups will probably benefit from a “summer cut”. However, if your dog spends most of it’s time outside then they have become used to the higher temperatures gradually, and if their coat is well taken care of, could benefit from having their coat left as-is.
Now to the most important part—how to give yourself a choice!
A couple of months ago, I wrote a blog post about matted dogs and how to brush them to avoid that situation:
You see, once your dog gets really matted, you’ve got no choice—you will have to shave your dog.
(Eyes blacked out below to protect the innocent!)
As you can see, there was no way any air was getting to these dogs’ skin, and unfortunately had to be shaved all the way down. Both were due to getting the dogs wet (baths or swimming) without fully brushing them beforehand. Again, see post I linked to before on how to properly brush your dog.
If you do decide to get your pup a “summer cut”, please be very aware of sunburn. Make sure they have plenty of shade, don’t walk them during the hottest part of the days, in essence everything you would do for yourself to prevent sunburns.
Feature Image: Yes, it is the same dog! Photo from PetSugar.com.