Why Shaving The Undercoat Is Undesirable
BY NICOLE IPSON | July 24, 2017
Since 2005 I have been working directly with dogs and learning as much as I can. One thing that is requested often is shaving a double coated pet. Unfortunately, a rather large amount of dog owners misunderstand the purpose of their pet’s thick coat and the damage caused by the removal of that coat.
It is all too common that I will have a customer walk into the salon with a double coated dog and say: “My dog is panting a lot I need to shave his/her hair off to help them cool off.” Unfortunately, is not how this issue is fixed. The first thing that I would like to do is a quick break down. Dog’s are unable to sweat as a person does, they only sweat through the areas that do not grow fur (paws, nose, etc). Secondly, they can only exert heat 2 ways. These are by releasing sweat, but this plays a minor role and lastly panting. Panting takes the cake when it comes to cooling down your friend! I like to point out to people as well if we as humans could not release excess heat through our skin and could only pant we wouldn’t view this so differently. We as humans see the response coming from our dogs and feel we need to do something. This small realization is what starts the downward spiral for double coated dogs.
Of course, we as dog owners have nothing but good intentions in mind when wanting to cool our pet. Our first thought is compared to, “when I’m hot I take clothes off so I’ll do the same for fluffy!” The difference being when you remove an undercoat you are removing both natural protection from sunburn and insulation for cooling.
Your Dogs Coat & Its Purpose
During the winter your pup has both a soft undercoat and guard hairs. The soft undercoat is what keeps in the heat making fluffy warm when the snow falls. The guard hairs protect him from debris such as snow, ice, and even excess water also helping the cold not get to the skin.
In the summer your pup sheds the soft fluffy coat so that the guard hairs can keep the skin cool. At this point, those hairs act as a “reflective surface” against the sun while letting cool air through to keep the body cool. As hair is removed by shaving a few things happen: One your pet becomes susceptible to sun burn. Next, the guard hairs are no longer there to keep them cool. Lastly, the soft undercoat grows in more slowly keeping that coat closer to the skin and actually causing a higher risk for increased body temperature.
For these reasons and a few more almost every groomer will advise against shaving of double coated dogs. So help keep your pup’s coat healthy and keep them cool. There are other grooming techniques that can be applied to help cut back on excess fur and help cool your pet, so speak with your groomer today!
Art/Images By- © 2017, Nicole Ipson
Dogs Naturally, “Why You Shouldn’t Shave Your Dog In The Summer” Julia Henriques,dogsnaturallymagazine.com. (2017)
Pets 4 Homes, “Dog Breeds With Double Coats” Pets4Homes.co.uk (2017)
American Kennel Club, “Healthy Temperature Setting For Dogs In The Winter” AKC.org (2015)