Is It Bad To Shave Your Dog?

Dogs are one of our most prized pets. They are loyal, loving and we have created a special bond with them. Having them in our homes gives us such comfort that we cannot imagine a life without them. To most of us, dogs are not just pets but also our companions, friends, and family members. So, you’ll want your pooch to look her best by regularly grooming her. But is it bad to shave your dog?

There are different kinds of dogs, each with its own uniqueness and aesthetic beauty. You’ll find those with more fur than others, which most people often choose to groom and shave. There are various reasons for shaving such dogs. For example, some people might shave their dogs to minimize the shedding of fur. Others might shave them for health and cosmetics reasons. However, most people do it to keep their dogs cool during the hot summer days.

Although most dog parents believe it is okay to shave their dogs, others feel that it is a cruel act. These contradictions encourage a raging debate on the matter. Here, we discuss and explain if it is okay to shave your dog and whether or not it causes any harm to the dog.

Is It Bad To Shave Your Dog?

The response to this mainly depends on who you ask. Some might consider it wrong, while others, like professional dog groomers, consider it essential. It also depends on whether the dog is short-haired, single-coated, or double-coated. There are dogs that you can shave and others that you cannot.

Due to these two conflicting viewpoints, new dog owners find it extremely confusing to decide whether or not to shave their pets. Often, many will look to their family, friends, or fellow dog owners for advice and will be met with lots of conflicting opinions, furthering the confusion and uncertainties on the subject.

Short-haired Boxer
Short-haired Boxer

While researching this matter, we spoke to many dog lovers who refused to shave their pets entirely. They maintain that shaving a dog’s hair, fur, or whiskers is an unnecessary procedure since they will grow back. They also say that it can have serious health effects on the dog.

These sentiments are also becoming more evident online, with many websites and blogs advocating against the shaving of dogs and other pets. Ultimately, it comes as no surprise that most dog owners choose to keep their dogs indoors during summer instead of shaving their fur.

The History of Shaving Dogs

For centuries, humans have bred certain dogs to have much thicker coats than others. These breeds generally need a little help cooling off, especially during the summer heat. Therefore, if you have a dog with an extremely thick coat and seems to suffer from heat, you can help by shaving their fur. 

However, refrain from shaving short-haired breeds. Stickney gives the reason behind this caution that not only do such dogs gain no benefit from shaving, but they also run the risk of sunburn. Of course, any dog can suffer sunburn, so if you choose to shave your thick-coated pup, ensure you leave an inch or so of hair to protect him from sun rays.

You may also shave a dog that stays outside all the time, has a matted coat, or is likely to be wet for longer periods. Under these circumstances, a dog can develop an unpleasant condition called myiasis, where maggots live in its fur.

Dog with maggots
Dog with maggots

How Your Dog’s Coat Dictate Whether You Shave It or Not

Dog coats vary, meaning it will be wrong to shave certain dogs. For example, French Bulldogs are short-haired, meaning you should never shave them. 

All dogs fall within two main distinct types of coats: single and double-coated. Some dogs have thicker fur (double-coated), while others have thinner fur (single-coated). The thinner-coated dog breeds often have short, wiry hair, while thicker-coated ones have longer, curlier hair. 

Double-Coated Dog Breeds

Double-coated dogs typically have a soft, inner coat of hair close to their skin that helps keep them warm during colder weather and cool in hot weather. Your dog’s coat acts as an insulator. In summer, your dog will shed a bit of this underlayer, but what remains will help capture air between the two coat layers. This aspect allows the dog to keep the heat at bay and regulate his body temperature. 

However, the outer coat, which consists of longer hair that gives a dog his color, is not shed. Shaving this coat to reduce shedding or to keep the dog cool eliminates that insulating layer of fur, making the dog susceptible to heatstroke. It can also result in improper hair growth and the possibility of follicle damage. 

Examples of double-coated dog breeds are Border Collies, Golden Retrievers, German Shepherd Dogs, Siberian Huskies, Labrador Retrievers, and English Springer Spaniels.

Shaving a double-coated dog can also cause long-term damage. When you shave it down to the skin, your dog’s undercoat hair will grow back quicker and even crowd out the slower-growing guard hairs. This irregularity can change the texture and color of a dog’s coat and make it appear patchy and unattractive.

Double-coated Husky
Double-coated Husky

Single-Coated Dogs

Single-coated dogs include Poodles, Greyhounds, Boxers, Maltese, Dalmatians, and Afghan Hounds. Such dogs can have short or long hair, which can be smooth, curly, or wiry, but all have uniform-looking hairs without a soft undercoat.

However, some single-coated pups can benefit from professional shaving occasionally to reduce matting and keep them cool. However, never shave their coats down to the skin. Since these dogs do not have the extra insulation of the undercoat, they need to keep some hair for warmth and protection. It is advisable to leave at least one inch of hair to protect them from sunburn, skin cancer, and bug bites. 

Single-coated English Bull Dog
Single-coated English Bull Dog

Tips On How To Shave Your Pet

After confirming the type of dog you have and whether it is eligible for a shave, you can decide to have his shaves. If you do choose to shave your pooch for the summer seasons, vets and pet groomers offer these simple tips:

  • Hire a professional groomer. Most pet owners have little experience grooming dogs, and your pet can be skittish, raising the risk of painful accidents. Hiring a pro is a lot cheaper than dealing with a laceration repair.
  • Keep clippers cool. It only takes a few minutes of shaving for clipper blades to get hot, which could burn your dog. Consider taking frequent breaks to let the clippers cool down. Also, use the lubricant that often comes with them to help clippers stay cool.
  • Leave an inch of hair. Be sure to leave at least an inch of hair when shaving your pet. This layer gives your pet enough coat to protect from sunburn and chilly summer nights.
  • No close shaves. Always resist the temptation to shave your dog close to the skin. Apart from increasing the risk of painful sunburn, a close shave can leave guard hair embedded under the skin. This may lead to irregular fur growth and skin problems since new hair will not grow until these ends fall out.

5 Tips to Keep Pets Cool in the Summer

Apart from shaving their coats, there are other means to keep dogs cool during the summer. Below are some efficient tips to guide you.

Never leave your pooch in a parked car. It gets hot quickly inside a parked vehicle, and that can be deadly. Therefore, to keep your pet chill, do not leave them in a parked car, even for a short time.

  • Provide clean and cool water. Always ensure that cats and dogs have plenty of cool water. On hot days, try placing ice cubes in your dog’s water bowl – some pets enjoy it.
  • Shelter them from the sun. Dogs mainly cool themselves through panting. This works best if the air around them is way cooler than their body temperature. Therefore, always ensure that your pooch and kitty have a shady place to rest.
  • Keep pets inside when it is hot. The typical body temperature of your pet can range between 100-103 F. If the weather is just as hot or even hotter outside, dogs might find it impossible to keep cool through panting. For this reason, you need to bring your dog indoors during hot days.
  • Brush your pet. Gently brushing your pet removes the dead undercoat, aiding air circulation near the skin, which keeps pets cooler. Additionally, your pup can get bitten by insects, resulting in moist dermatitis, a skin infection you can solve by removing dead, matted hair. If you have the time and energy, ensure to brush your pet daily.

If your pet does overheat, move with speed. Take your pooch to the vet immediately since it could save your dog’s life. Common signs that your pet may be overheated include excessive panting, problems breathing, stupor, drooling, weakness, and an elevated heart rate. Other symptoms may include seizures, vomiting, a temperature over 104 F, and bloody diarrhea.

Dogs swimming
Dogs swimming

FAQs:

What dog breeds should never get shaved?

As established, it is a delicate business to shave a dog, whether in the summer, winter, or anytime, more so for certain double-coated breeds. Below are some dog breeds that you should never shave.

  • Siberian Husky
  • Australian Shepherd
  • Labrador Retriever
  • Golden Retriever
  • Shiba Inu
  • Akita
  • German Shepherd
  • Beagle
  • Border Collie
  • Yorkshire Terrier
  • Welsh Corgi

Can you shave a single-coated dog?

Interestingly, unlike their thick-haired cousins, you can shave single-coated dogs from time to time. However, this only applies to dog breeds that require a lot of maintenance to keep their coats healthy. Likewise, shaving may sometimes be necessary if your dog is about to undergo an operation, such as spaying a female dog.

There are multiple rules you must follow in case you decide to get your single-coated dog shaved. One of the most critical rules is never to shave your dog to the skin. 

Besides, dogs can get tans just like humans, but their hair offers them a degree of protection from sun rays. Shaving them to the extent of leaving the skin bear denies them this protection. The dog might then suffer effects such as tans or even skin cancer. It also increases the odds of them suffering from other complications during the summer months, such as bug bites, dehydration, skin infections, and sunstroke.

Is It Wrong to Shave Your Dog Bald?

Yes, it is fundamentally wrong to shave a dog bald. Not only can you inflict injuries by cutting them, but they will also suffer all year round, whether during summers and winters. Their fur can also grow back differently than before, causing all manner of health complications.

Is it wrong to trim your dog’s whiskers?

It is wrong to shave a dog’s whiskers around their face because some dogs can use them to supplement their primary senses.

Does shaving a dog hurt them?

Typically, shaving can hurt a dog if you get too close to his skin. It also leaves the dog more prone to sunburn, leading to skin cancers.

Conclusion

Like humans, dogs are also complex creatures. They have their own unique needs that require care and attention. While short-haired dogs don’t require much grooming, long-haired, single-coated dogs can be shaved. However, you must be certain about the type of coat your dog has and consult with your vet before you go ahead. 

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