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Double Coated Dogs – Should They Be Shaved?

Summer weather in the city is like no other time – the streets are full of people and their pups ready to enjoy the long-awaited heat!  With the shedding of clothing, the humans of these pups think they should rid their furry companions of their annoying fur so they can enjoy the summer as well!   This can be helpful with some breeds; however, what doesn’t seem to be common knowledge to most people is that dogs with double coats SHOULD NOT be shaved!

What is a double coat you ask? A double coat consists of 2 layers:

  1. The soft undercoat. This finer coat acts as insulation for your pup! It’s the coat that thickens up in winter to keep them nice and warm but also sheds away in the summer.  You will notice an extra dog or two come out in the spring when brushing your dog – this is the undercoat!
  2. Long guard hairs. These hairs usually do not shed away from the dog.  They are important in the summer as they protect the pup from the sun, and after the undercoat has shed, helps circulate air which keeps them cool. In winter, the guard hairs protect the pup from environmental forces like snow and ice. They can even shed water – you’ll see this in winter when the snow beads off on their coats and their skin/undercoat doesn’t even seem wet.

As you can see, each coat serves a purpose.  When you shave a double coated dog, many problems can occur.  In the summer, your dog will not be protected from the sun and will be more susceptible to sun burns. The air will also NOT be circulated through their hair, causing them to be even hotter than if they had their coat.  Another big problem is after you shave a double-coated dog, the fur never grows back the same.  They will be colder in winter and their skin will be left exposed to the harsh elements.

It is important to give your dog extra brushing in the Spring/Summer to help them shed that undercoat.  Use a FURminator – it works great with my double-coated pup! Regular brushing in all seasons is important to remove the undercoat but also to prevent hair mats.  If you take your double-coated dog to the groomer to get a good bath and blow out, make sure they know that you don’t want your pup to be shaved.

Examples of breeds that have double coats:

Bernese Mountain Dog
Golden Retriever
Shiba Inu
Australian Shepherd
(to name only a few!)

So the next time you see a very hairy dog in the summertime and feel bad that the owner hasn’t groomed them, make sure they aren’t a double-coated breed before you pass on any judgement!

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