It’s getting hotter and many dog owners are exploring options to help their pets stay cool. We get many requests to shave dogs down for the summer and in some cases like the single coated breeds such as Shih-tzus and Bichon Frise this is a great option because their hair will grow back, like our hair.
Many other breeds such as the Golden Retriever and Siberian Huskies have a double coat to protect them from harsh weather conditions (cold and hot) and when shaved often doesn’t grow back resulting in alopecia, or it grows in very thick and uneven ruining your dog’s coat. This often takes a long time resulting in a false coat.
When we shave a double coat it removes the dog's natural insulation and causes his system to kick into high gear. By the time that false coat grows out enough to protect the dog from sunburn, scrapes and bites (the usual job of the top coat), it is so thick that the poor dog might as well be wearing thermal underwear.
You can request a bath, brush and blow-out at the groomers. A modern professional grooming salon will have the tools to get this job done right such as a high velocity dryer which can literally blast the dead undercoat out of your dog's hair after a thorough bathing and brushing. The benefit to your dog is a healthy, balanced coat. If you opt for the shave-down you'll more than likely be back for another “shave-down” because your dog is baking in its own hair and it's growing in uneven and unmanageable. Come winter time you’ll most likely fall into the cycle of intentionally letting your dog's woolly false coat grow out all winter only to have it shaved off again in the spring. By spring under that thick layer of fuzz the coat is matting, retaining water and mud, and possibly even mildewing from staying cold and wet for hours. Do you see the vicious cycle that started? Mildew can be a huge issue that starts a whole host of other health problems.
In some cases, owners really don't have a choice. If there's an underlying skin condition, requiring removal of the hair, obviously shaving is the lesser of two evils or if the coat is so matted that shaving is truly the most humane option.
If your sole motivation for shaving your dog in the spring is to “keep him cool,” you can actually be creating a far worse situation than you think and sometimes other irreversible health conditions such as skin cancer can result as well. Talk it over with your professional groomer and if needed your veterinarian to come up with the most humane situation for your dog. Sometimes all that’s needed is more brushing or more frequent trips to the grooming salon.