Should you shave your dog for summer?
With the summer heat, you may be wondering how your canine companion is handling it – and many times the question of whether to shave their coat or not for the summer months comes up. While some breeds do very well with having their coats shaved for the summer, others do better if you leave their natural coat the way it is. So how do you tell what is the best for your pet? The first thing to keep in mind is that not all dog coats are the same; they can differ in not only colour, texture and length, but divided into 2 more main categories: single coat and double coat.
What is a Double Coat?
A double coat is essentially a dual-layered coat, with the base being a dense undercoat that almost feels like wool, and a top coat of much longer hairs (guard hairs). Visually, you can usually tell if a dog is double coated if they appear to be “fluffier” (Pomeranians, Huskies, etc.). They will have 2 layers to their coat:
- A thicker and more dense undercoat to protect a dog from both hot and cold temperatures.
- A top coat that acts as a barrier to help keep dirt and moisture off of the dog – almost like an outer shell of a rain jacket.
Common Double Coated Dog Breeds:
- Great Pyrenees
- Chow Chows
- German Shepherds
- Labrador Retrievers
- Golden Retrievers
- Miniature Schnauzers
- Alaskan and Siberian Huskies
- Shiba Inus
- Australian Shepherds
- Bernese Mountain Dogs
- Alaskan Malamutes
Best Grooming Practices for Double Coated Dog Breeds
A first thought when owning a double coated dog breed like a Husky or a Malamute in warmer temperatures (for example B.C. vs Alaska) is that to keep them cooler during the summer their coat should be shaved, which in reality would be a mistake.
Shaving a double coated dog exposes it’s skin to ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun – causing them to heat up more quickly. The best way to think of the under coat, is like built-in protection for the dog – shielding them from the light of the sun which can cause sunburns and overheating – which is a very serious and potentially fatal condition.
Alternate ways to keep your pet cool
- Encourage them to stay in shaded areas and away from direct sunlight
- Purchase a gel cooling pad for indoors
- Put down damp towels for them to lie on indoors or outdoors
- Get a sprinkler or small pool for them to cool off in outside
- Have plenty of cool water available at all times!