Many dog owners will shave their dogs. Whether that’s during the hot summer months to help cool them, to keep their long hair under control, or for cosmetic purposes, it’s extremely common. Shaving your dog can also appeal to pet owners looking for a solution to cope with dogs that shed lots of hair.
But is it ok to shave your dog, does it hurt them, and does the time of year make a difference? I decided to research it, with my findings below for each given scenario.
Is it bad to shave your dog… period?
It depends on who you ask. It will also depend on whether they are a short-haired dog, single coated, or double coated. Some people do think it’s bad to shave your dog, no matter what the situation is.
Whilst researching, I spoke to large amount of dog lovers who refuse to shave their dogs entirely. They believe that shaving a dog’s fur, hair, or whiskers is a cruel and unnecessary procedure – they will grow back, but it can have negative effects.
This sentiment is also becoming more and more evident online, with numerous websites and blogs beginning to advocate against the shaving of dogs and other pets.
Due to these two conflicting viewpoints, it can be an extremely confusing experience for new dog owners who are trying to decide if shaving is a safe option. Instead, many will look to their friends, family members, or fellow dog owners for guidance and will be met with conflicting opinions, furthering their confusion and uncertainty on the subject.
Therefore, it comes as no surprise that a large percentage of dog owners choose to keep their dogs inside during the summer months rather than opting to shave their fur.
This is particularly true for owners of double-coated breeds of dogs, who are often at a loss, not knowing what action to take to keep their pooch cool. This can also present a problem to those of us who enjoy taking our pups to dog groomers.
So, is it bad to shave your dog during summer to keep them cool. Or could it be detrimental to your furry friend’s health in the long run? Likewise, does shaving a dog hurt them, and if so, what’s the best way to do it?
You can find out below.
Your dog’s coat will dictate whether you shave or not
Dog coats vary, meaning it will be bad to shave certain dogs. For example, look at my French Bulldog in these photos. He’s short-haired and I would never shave him. Thankfully he was in a playful mood for the photoshoot though!
As you know, dogs come in all different shapes and sizes, and their coats are no different. Some dogs have thicker fur whilst others have thinner.
The thinner coated dogs often have short and wiry hair whilst the thicker coated dogs often have longer and curlier hair.
However, this can vary by breed.
Similarly, dog’s coats come in a variety of colors, and mutations between these colors are widespread. When it comes to their coats, all dogs fall into two distinct types of categories – either single or double-coated.
Double coated dogs are unique as they sport a soft, inner coat of hair that serves as an insulator, keeping them warm whenever winter decides to roll in. However, what people do not realize is how effectively double-coated dogs can handle warmer weather, too.
During the summer months, most double-coated dogs will shed a large amount of their under layer of fur, usually resulting in copious amounts of it floating around the yard.
Interestingly, this change essentially allows dogs to capture air between their two coat layers, effectively giving them the ability to control their body temperature and remain cool.
This means that it would be bad to shave dogs like this in the summer and winter.
Is it bad to shave your dog in the summer?
No, but it depends on the coat.
Despite the ability to regulate body temperature, many dogs (typically larger breeds) are still at risk of overheating when the temperature rises. If you live in a region of the country that is extremely hot, then you should be careful not to go out at midday during summer.
Additionally, you should provide them with plenty of water and shade in the yard and when taking them out for a walk.
As the name suggests, single-coated dogs are different from double-coated dogs in that they only have one layer of fur instead of two layers.
This coat is known as a topcoat and it helps to protect them from harmful UV rays, insect bites, and other dangerous ailments that can affect their skin.
Furthermore, single-coated dogs are usually better at dealing with the heat compared to their thicker haired cousins, due in part to the thinness of their coats.
Despite this, they can still run the risk of overheating in summer and are way less equipped to deal with colder weather than double-coated dogs.
Likewise, certain breeds of single-coated dogs can still have long or thick hair.
In cases like this, you might feel inclined to shave your dog, as it can’t be a bad thing in the summer and heat.
It is bad to shave dogs with double-coats though!
After reading how double-coated dogs can regulate their body temperatures it should come as no surprise why shaving is seen as bad, unnecessary and cruel.
Unfortunately, many owners of double-coated breeds are unaware that their dogs can deal with warmer climates on their own and will make the mistake of completely shaving them.
This is particularly true for new dog owners, who will sometimes shave their dogs due to the misguided advice of friends or family members.
Therefore, it is important to understand which type of coat your dog has before trying to shave or trim them in any way – asking an expert or vet is usually the best way to determine this.
Not only is shaving double coated dogs bad and unnecessary, but it is also dangerous for the health of their coats and can have long-lasting implications.
For example, shaving a double-coated dog’s fur down to the skin can cause the undercoat hair to grow back faster than the top layer.
This can result in your dog’s fur taking on a drastically different look, sometimes becoming patchy or turning a different color. Additionally, the top layer of hair can turn extremely coarse, making it easier for dirt, burrs, and other objects to stick to it.
Lastly, their hairs can stick to each other, becoming a tangled mess that is nearly impossible to brush. This can then result in knotting and matting of the fur, causing lumps of hair to form in your dog’s armpits, groins, and on the belly or behind the ears.
Unfortunately, as a by-product of this, skin irritations and infections can quickly arise in dogs suffering from this unfortunate scenario.
Hopefully, after reading this segment, you will have gained a better understanding of why so many dog owners and authorities are against shaving double-coated dogs.
Not only is it irresponsible, but it is potentially life-changing for any dogs who are unfortunate enough to go through this shaving process. Sadly, across the world, many owners still shave their dogs due to outdated beliefs.
What dog breeds should not be shaved?
As established, it’s bad to shave a dog in the summer, winter, or anytime if they are double coated. Here are some examples of breeds of dogs with double-coats
- Siberian Husky
- Australian Shepherd
- Labrador Retriever
- Golden Retriever
- Shiba Inu
- German Shepherd
- Border Collie
- Yorkshire Terrier
- Welsh Corgi
Can you shave a single-coated dog?
Moving on, you might be wondering if the same rule applies to single-coated canines. After all, there is quite a big difference between the two coat types.
Interestingly, unlike their thicker haired cousins, single-coated dogs can be shaved from time to time. Usually, this only applies to dog breeds that need a lot of maintenance to keep their coats healthy – helping to prevent matting and curling in longer-haired breeds.
However, there are still some rules you should follow if you do decide to get your single-coated dog shaved, which we will touch on below.
Likewise, shaving is sometimes a requirement if your dog is about to undergo an operation.
Although light shaving and a trim is fine, dogs with single coats should never be shaved to the skin. When completely shaved, dogs are at a much higher risk of getting sunburnt and developing skin cancer… particularly those dogs that like to lay in the sun.
Did You Know? Dogs can get tans just like we do, but their hair offers them a degree of protection from the sun’s rays.
This can also increase the odds of them suffering from other complications during the summer months – such as bug bites, skin infections, and sunstroke or dehydration.
The sun is the primary reason why you should not shave your dog in the summer.
Examples of breeds of dogs with single-coats include:
- Bichon Frise
- American Staffordshire Terrier
- Afghan Hound
- Miniature Schnauzer
If it’s bad to trim a dog’s fur what are alternatives?
Thankfully, there are many alternatives to shaving that will keep your dog cool during summer and not hurt them.
For example, keeping water easily accessible for your dog can make all the difference.
Although we have touched on this topic before, water is the number one most essential thing that will help them to keep cool and hydrated. Providing shade is also very important and you should make sure that there are several areas in your yard where your dog can escape the sun.
Handy Hint: For more on keeping dogs cool please read my guide for dogs who live in kennels in the hotter summer months.
Additionally, keeping your home cool can go a long way in making your pooch feel comfortable. When leaving your dog at home, make sure to leave the air conditioning on and close the drapes.
If you have no AC, turn on a fan and leave a couple of windows open (security permitting, of course). Leaving damp or chilled towels out in suitable areas for your dog to lie on can also help them to stay cool and relaxed.
What else I learned about dog shaving being bad
I hope I’ve given you enough information on whether it’s a good idea to shave your dog’s fur or not. Here are some additional aspects I learned whilst researching this topic.
Is it bad to shave your dog bald?
Yes, it is bad to shave a dog bald. Not only can you cut them, but they will also suffer all year around including summers and winters. Their fur can also grow back in a different way than before so don’t shave them down to the skin.
Is it bad to trim your dog’s whiskers?
It is bad to shave a dog’s whiskers around their face because some dog’s can use them to supplement their primary senses. I explain the why in this blog post about cutting whiskers.
Does shaving a dog hurt them?
Shaving can hurt a dog if you get too close to their skin. It will also mean they are more prone to sunburn leading to skin cancers.
Whilst I have a short-haired dog who you can see in the photos in this guide, many friends do shave their dog’s fur. But the ones that do are very aware of the type of coat their dog has, so please check first.