There is a popular myth going around that if you shave your dog’s coat off it will help keep them cooler in the hot months. This is totally not true and I will help you to understand why. Before making a decision to shave your dog I recommend reading this entire blog to help you make a more educated decision.
To Shave or Not to Shave
Let’s begin with some of the reasons why you want to shave down your dog.
There is hair all over the house:
You can eliminate this problem or cut it down to a minimum by brushing and bathing your dog regularly. You may also consider adding a coat and skin supplement to his/her diet.
No time to deal with all that hair:
Sometimes we just don’t have the time to keep up with maintaining our dog’s coat. Don’t wait till it gets out of control! Consider taking your dog to a professional groomer to get the proper care his/her coat needs.
You are hot and looking at your dog with all that hair makes you think he must be hot too:
This is all in your head, it is actually quite the opposite. A dog’s coat acts as insulation against the heat just like it does to keep them warm in the colder months. Furthermore, it protects them from the harmful UV rays of the sun.
Your dog is constantly scratching his/ herself:
This has nothing to do with the hair on your dog. If he/she is scratching it may be due to skin irritation caused by fleas and ticks. Over bathing, not rinsing out all the shampoo and poor diet will also cause your dog’s skin to be irritated.
Your dog’s hair is tangled and matted:
Before making that decision to shave it all off try to brush the hair out the best you can. It is better to save as much hair as possible. You can shave out the mats that won’t brush out rather than completely shave down your dog. Although there are times when a shave down can not be avoided, these are rare times when the dog’s coat becomes so completely matted that none of it is brushable.
Why you should Avoid a Shave Down
- Overheating: Shaving down your dog can cause him/her to overheat in the hot months. Dogs have tiny muscles at the base of each hair that allows the hair to stand up and take in the breeze. This captures the lower temperature which in turn cools down your dog. The dog’s coat is like insulation against the heat.
- Sunburn: Dog’s skin is not used to direct sunlight and will burn very easily. By removing his protective coat you run the risk of skin damage by the sun. Sunburn can be very painful to your dog just like it is for us humans. Too much exposure to the sun’s UV rays can lead to skin cancer.
- Illnesses: Your dog’s coat acts as insulation in the cold months to help keep him/her warm. Removing the hair will put him/her at a higher risk of getting illnesses. Which may include, hypothermia, frostbite, infectious tracheobronchitis, and the common cold.
- Skin Irritation: Your dog’s coat also acts as a barrier to keep out dust mites, pollen and other irritants in the air. A dog with no hair puts the skin in direct contact with everything in his/her environment. This can lead to many kinds of skin irritations and allergies.
- A Stressed Out Dog: Your dog may feel awkward and get upset, he/she may even go into hiding. I have had customers tell me that their dog wouldn’t eat for days after being shaved down. If you have ever gotten a very short hair cut after having long hair you will be able to relate to how awkward it feels.
When a Shave Down is the Only Option
It doesn’t matter what type of coat or hair your dog has, it is there for a reason. Completely removing it can cause more harm than good unless you have no other option. When a dog’s coat is entirely matted it becomes a breeding ground for parasites and bacteria. This can cause many skin and health problems for your dog. So what to do if your dog is completely matted with no way to brush out any of the hair? I recommend you taking your dog to a professional groomer to have the shave down done correctly. If you have a good groomer he/she will try to save as much hair as possible. A groomer that is well trained in animal care knows that it is not a good practice to shave down a dog unless it is the only option.
Shave your Dog at Home
If you feel confident enough to try it yourself follow these instructions. This is not recommended for anyone who has never used a clipper on a dog.
- First, you will need a professional grade grooming clipper and blades.
- Start with a #5F blade to see if it will cut through starting at the base of the neck working your way to the tail and down the outer parts of his/her legs. If this will not work try a #7F blade, you are doing this to try to save as much hair length as possible. Never use a #4F, #5F or #7F on the belly, butt, face, inner part of the back legs, or under the front legs(armpit).
- You may need to result in using a #10 blade all over if the other blades won’t cut it. If this is the case then please make sure you are checking the blade often so it does not become too hot and burn your dog’s skin. It would be a good idea to have more than one #10 blade. This will allow you to change blades giving the hot blade time to cool down.
- Do not bath your dog until you have removed all the matted hair.
Care for After the Shave Down
A dog with no hair will require special care. It is very important that you do not leave your dog outside for long periods of time. Do not take him for walks at the hottest times of the day. When taking him/her outside apply sunscreen to your dog’s back. You can also use a T-shirt to help protect his/her skin from the sun or a sweater to help keep your dog warm.
Your dog’s skin may get irritated from being shaved. If you notice any red spots you can apply a cream or lotion made especially for dogs to help heal razor burn. Pay close attention to your dog’s skin for a few days after he/she has been shaved down. Especially to the more sensitive parts of the body like the face and belly areas because razor burn may not appear right away. Razor burn can be painful and itchy, try to prevent your dog from scratching the sore as it will make it worse.
As the hair begins growing you will need to get back into the routine of regular brushing because you do not want this to happen again. Most of all remember your dog depends on you to take care of him/her and in return, you receive his/her unconditional love and affection.
Always reward your dog after every procedure with a good belly rub and/or a good dental treat!
I hope you found this blog to be helpful in answering your questions on “should I shave down my dog?” If you have any question please leave a comment and I’ll be happy to help you.