I live in Colorado, where we have, from time to time, experienced snow in July and 90-degree days in November. But if you can rely on one thing in Colorado, it’s that we’ll have a fairly hot summer. Many people shave their dogs during the summer, ostensibly to help them stay cool. However, depending upon your dog’s coat type, shaving might actually do more harm than good. Should you shave your dog for the summer? That depends on the dog, the weather, and what you do with the dog.
When to Shave Your Dog
If you live in a hot climate or a hot and humid climate, and have a dog whose breed is normally shown clipped or hand-stripped, you might consider a close clip for the summer. If your dog is often outdoors and will spend the summer doing activities like hunting or tracking that expose it to burrs and mud, you may want to have its feathers and belly lightly trimmed to reduce its need for combing and baths after every outing.
If you’re not sure if your dog’s breed is normally shown clipped or hand-stripped, try looking at the American Kennel Club’s website. Look up your dog’s breed and see how the coat is shown in the illustration. That’s how it is shown in the ring. If the dog in the AKC illustration appears clipped, your dog probably has a single coat that can handle clipping. If not, the dog probably has a double coat and should not be shaved.
When Not to Shave a Dog
Don’t shave a dog with a double coat (top coat and undercoat). Northern breeds like the Husky and Malamute should absolutely never be shaved. The natural coloration and coat characteristics of Northern breeds reflect light and heat, allowing the thick coat to act as insulation in the winter and an air conditioner in the summer. Shaved Huskies and Malamutes are actually more likely to overheat than the same breeds with a full coat!
Any dog with an undercoat shouldn’t be shaved unless it is absolutely necessary. If you rescue a dog with terrible mats, that’s one thing, but for routine grooming, just break out the brush and comb. Dogs with double coats will develop bald patches if clipped repeatedly, and their coat will never grow back as good as new after even one clip. Instead, keep these dogs cool by providing trampoline-style beds and a wading pool during the summer.
If You Do Clip Your Dog
If you’re going to clip your dog for the summer, take it to a professional groomer. Look for someone with both formal schooling and work experience, who is willing to provide you with references. Does that seem like a lot of work just to pick someone to shave your dog? It’s a cakewalk compared to rushing your dog to the vet because an unskilled groomer cut off a chunk of their ear with clippers! Unless you are sure you know exactly how to do it and were taught by someone very experienced, don’t shave your own dog. There are too many risks, and most owners don’t have a grooming table, professional quality clippers, and enough experience to handle a wriggling dog and sharp clipper blades at the same time.