Should You Shave Your Double-coated Dog During The Summer?

When the hot weather is on its way and we begin to roll out our summer wardrobes of lighter clothing, it is only natural to think about the temperature and comfort of our dogs, dressed as they are year-round in their thick fur coats! This is often particularly true of dog owners who own double-coated dog breeds, or dogs that have a longer top layer of fur with dense, warm hairs underneath, which are designed to weather colder climates.

A great many breeds of dog have double coats, including the Siberian Husky, Golden Retriever, and German shepherd, and it is only natural to feel a little sorry for dogs with heavy coats when the weather is at its hottest. However, does this mean that your dog would benefit from being clipped or shaved for the summer, or are they best left alone? Read on to find out.

The role of the double coat

Double-coated dogs have two distinctive layers to their fur, each of which fulfils a different role. In order to understand whether shaving or clipping them off is a good idea, first, you must gain a basic understanding of why the dog has a double coat, and how it works.

The undercoat of double-coated dogs is constructed of dense, wavy hairs that are designed to retain heat, and keep your dog warm when the weather is cold. The top coat consists of longer guard hairs, which protect the undercoat and keep rain, muck and dirt from penetrating deeply into the coat. The outer fur helps rain to just roll off the coat, allowing the undercoat to stay nice and warm, and dry.

As well as being perfectly designed to protect the dog during cold weather, the functionality of the double coat is also naturally designed to help the dog to stay comfortable during the hotter months too. The top layer of fur protects the skin and fine fur underneath from attacks by biting summer bugs, and also, UVA and UVB radiation from the sun. Remove this coat by clipping and shaving it, and its natural protection will be removed with it!

One thing that all owners of double-coated dog breeds know is that double-coated dogs are prolific shedders, and will usually blow their coats once or twice a year. The summer shedding or coat blow removes the dense undercoat of thick winter fur, and allows a much finer, less dense undercoat to replace it, which is perfectly suited to the summer months and warmer weather.

Is shaving a double-coated dog in the summer a good idea or not?

While it is natural to be a little worried about how thick-coated dogs will tolerate the heat, as a general rule, the coat is best left alone to do what it does naturally, and like all dogs, your dog will benefit the most from being kept cool with plenty of water and access to shaded areas.

There are few advantages to shaving your dog’s coat for the summer, but plenty of good reasons not to! Some of the best reasons to leave your dog’s coat well alone in the summer include:

  • Dog’s coats are naturally designed to adapt to differing weather conditions and regions of the world, and how much fur your dog grows and sheds in a year is naturally maintained to allow for the differences in the weather.
  • A full, long coat that is not clipped off will provide protection against biting bugs and insects, and removing this coat and leaving your dog suddenly bare will make them more prone to being bitten by insects and bugs, and potentially having a bad reaction to it.
  • During the colder months, your dog’s fur is designed to trap and retain heat, but during the summer, it also works the other way and allows your dog to keep themselves cool and comfortable by insulating against the hot rays of the sun.
  • A full coat provides protection against UVA and UVB radiation, and fulfils the role of a natural sunscreen for your dog.
  • When you clip, shave or otherwise alter your dog’s coat, the process of re-growth can take a long time, and may be patchy or affect the coat’s colour, looking potentially unsightly. Clipping both layers of fur can actually affect proper regrowth, causing the top coat and the lower layer of fur to grow matted and tangled.
  • Clipping or shaving your dog will not reduce their shedding or coat blows, as you might imagine it could; instead, it just means that the shed hairs will be shorter and possibly rather sharp!
  • Interfering with the dog’s natural process of coat shedding and growth can make it hard for your dog’s body to naturally adjust to the changes in the weather, and the process of growing and shedding a coat appropriate for their living conditions.

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