Should a dog's fur be cut shorter in the summer to keep cool ?
Updated: Jun 17
Many dog owners are unsure how to keep their pets cool in the summer sun. Not all dogs can stand the sun. We like to find ways to assist them as caring owners.
In the summer, some dog owners opt to shave their dog's coat, believing that removing the extra coat would help the dog stay cool. It seems to make sense, similar to removing a layer of clothes. However, depending on the dog's coat style, grooming them may be the worst thing you can do, as they can lose their capacity to safeguard themselves from the sun and cool themselves.
Dog coats come in a wide variety of types. Understanding your dog's coat and the function it once served for the breed can help you determine whether or not clipping them will be beneficial.
What type of fur has your dog got?
Long and short coats are the two primary types of dog coats. However, there is a wide variety of coat types under these groups.
The smooth coat is the shortest (except for hairless dogs). Whippets and greyhounds, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, Dobermans, Great Danes, chihuahuas, and French Bulldogs are all smooth-coated dogs. The dog's coat has very fine individual hairs that are arranged in a single layer close to the body. Dogs with smooth coats shed a lot.
The short coat is next, with hairs that are longer than the smooth coat but still lie flat against the fur. The hairs are coarser than those on a smooth coat. Labrador retrievers, beagles, Belgium Malinois, and some terrier breeds are also considered short-coated. These breeds, including the smooth coats, shed a lot.
The wire hair coat, which is often seen on terriers and some sports dogs, is the last of the short coat types. The undercoat of these dogs is fluffy and sheds seasonally, while the topcoat is stiff or coarse. To keep the dog's coat in good shape, the outer guard hairs must be hand-stripped. Wire-coated dogs include Cairn terriers, Border terriers, and Otterhounds.
The dog's fur is made up of long silky hairs and short smooth hairs in the hybrid coat style. The Golden Retriever is a good example of this, as it has long fur on much of its body but smooth short hair around the head and ears. This includes the Australian Shepherd, Papillon, and Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.
A dog with a double coat has a thick undercoat and a topcoat made up of long guard hairs. The undercoat is built to shield the dog from harsh weather conditions, while the top coat protects the dog from the sun's rays and keeps them dry in wet weather. These coats are so effective that getting the dog fully wet while bathing them can be difficult. The Malamute and short-haired German Shepherd are examples of double-coated dogs with a relatively short thick coat, whereas the Shetland Sheepdog and some border collies have a thicker coat. The undercoat of certain short-coated breeds, such as the Labrador Retriever, is also present.
The long, silky smooth coat is single-layered. The face and body are shorter, but the legs and undercarriage are longer. It's susceptible to forming small knots. Spaniels and setters are breeds with silky hair.
The long or drop coat grows indefinitely and is usually non-shedding, but this is not always the case. The hair is close to the body and hangs down. The Bearded Collie, Yorkshire Terrier, and Lhaso Apso are examples of breeds with this coat style. These dogs can be trimmed to make them look more presentable.
Poodles and Irish Water Spaniels, for example, have curly or wavy coats. They grow indefinitely, do not shed, and must be trimmed.
Why dogs have different coats
. Dogs have grown a wide range of different coat styles for two main reasons:
When working, the dog must be protected from its surroundings.
For a show dog's decorative appearance in some breeds.
Consider some of the silky long-haired breeds as an example of this comparison. For cosmetic purposes, show dogs' silky coats have been allowed to grow longer in certain instances. Consider a Yorkshire Terrier in a full show coat, fur flowing to the ground. That isn't to suggest that some working dogs don't have silky coats or that they don't serve a useful function, but in some breeds, it has been created for aesthetics rather than utility.
All dogs, on the other hand, need their coats to control temperature, protect them from the sun's harmful rays, and protect them from cuts and scratches. Owing to their short coats or lack of coats, certain breeds with very short coats or hairless dogs are more susceptible to skin tears or sunburn.
Working dogs have stiff guard hairs that repel water and make it easier for dirt to slip off. Although some breeds' dense undercoat is thought to aid buoyancy in water by trapping air (such as with the Labrador retriever).
Even hairless dogs may have small quantities or tufts of guard hair. Although only certain dogs have a downy undercoat, all dogs have guard hairs.
will clipping off my dog keep it cooler?
It will seem reasonable that removing some of your dog's coat would help to cool him down if he is hot in the summer. Clipping the coat is required for some breeds that never shed, such as poodles, unless the owner wants to try anything like poodle dreadlocks. Tangles and mats arise from not clipping the coat and not combing or brushing it.
Also with these breeds, though, clipping the coat back to the skin can cause issues and does not always help your dog stay cool in the summer.
When you consider shaving your dog, keep in mind that you are actually removing the top or guard hairs of the coat, which protect the dog's skin from damage.
The guard hairs shield the dog's skin from the sun's harmful UV rays; without them, sunburn is a possibility. Dogs' skin is smoother than humans', and they burn even more easily. Sunburn, even if it is mild, can cause skin cancer in dogs
Dogs without guard hairs are also more likely to overheat. People sometimes mistake a dog's coat for a woolly sweater, but this is not the case. While it keeps them warm in the winter, it also serves as a sunshade in the summer, keeping their fragile skin cool and protected from the sun. Shaving it off eliminates the barrier of protection.
In the summer, the dog's coat even protects him from biting insects. Insects and mites find it easier to latch onto the dog's skin without it.
Finally, shaving the coat will cause it to grow back unevenly or coarsely. It's possible that the coat would never look as healthy and full as it once did.
Never clip off a double-coated dog.
Anyone who owns a dog with a double coat is rightly worried that their pet will suffer more from the heat than a dog with a single coat. Some double-coated breeds originate in extremely cold climates, adding to the breed's vulnerability in the summer.
In fact, the double coat is a brilliant evolutionary adaptation that allows a dog to stay cool in the summer and warm in the winter.
Cutting away the outer guard hairs of the double-coat decreases the dog's defense against sunburn, overheating, and insect bites, as discussed above. The undercoat is thick, fluffy, and close to the surface. It offers insulation in the winter when it is thickest, but it sheds and thins out in the summer.
By removing the excess undercoat with a comb or slicker brush on a regular basis, you can help your dog stay cooler by allowing cool air to circulate under the guard hairs.
Heat would not bother a well-groomed double-coated dog because the guard hairs deflect the sun away from the skin. Your dog's fur will feel hot on the surface, but if you press your fingers underneath it, his skin may feel cooler. Many double-coated dogs, in particular, are more tolerant of heat than single-coat breeds with shorter coats.
Is there any breed of dog that needs to be completely clipped off during the Summer?
Although most dog groomers agree that shaving a long-coated dog, particularly one with a double coat, isn't a good idea in the summer, there are some exceptions to the rule.
This may be a dog that has a skin disorder or is otherwise ill and prefers to be shaved. It's possible that the dog has such a difficult time being groomed that the only way to keep its coat in good condition is to shave it off. Some single-coated breeds, such as Lhaso Apsos and Yorkshire Terriers, have their coats shaved daily
.In the summer, however, most dogs, particularly those with a double coat, should be left un-shaved.
If your dog has to be shaved for medical reasons, it's important that you look after its skin.
If the shave is very close to the body, you can use sun cream to avoid burning.
Keep your dog out of direct sunlight and keep an eye on them for signs of overheating.
Since they no longer have their coat, spraying with a dog-safe insect repellent can shield them from bites, and look out for grass seeds that can pierce exposed skin.
Be mindful that your dog's coat can grow back poorly, and that it may be more susceptible to matting or knotting as it grows, so brush or comb the dog on a regular basis.
In the end, the decision to shave a dog in the summer is a personal one, but the extraordinary canine coat makes it largely unnecessary and counterproductive for keeping your pet cool.