Holistic Tails

Holistic Tails

Monday, February 22, 2016

To Shave or Not to Shave

Well, with summer coming and with all that hair, owners are looking at their pets and wondering if cutting all that hair off might make their dog feel cooler. Owners of breeds like Golden Retrievers, Siberian Huskies, German Shepherds, Spitz type dogs and similarly coated breeds are often faced with a choice between shaving their pets down in the summer or not.

Generally for double coated breeds, such as the Husky, German Shepherd, and Collie, the easy answer is no.  Double coated means that the dog has an outer coat of coarser guard hairs and an inner coat of softer hair that thickens in the winter months and is shed during the summer.  Most pets shed their hair regularly, even short haired breeds such as the Pug and Chihuahua.  Exceptions to that are Poodles, Maltese, Shih Tzu, Portuguese Water Dogs, and similar "hair" type coats. These coats are not double coated and are often shaved down during the warmer months.

Cocker Spaniels often grow thick, wavy coats that are totally unmanageable for their owners and shaving is definitely helpful.

In preparation for summer, the excess undercoat is shed and must be removed by brushing, curry combing or "Furminator".  These methods are covered in an earlier blog.

Dogs don't sweat but rather pant to cool themselves down, so removing the hair won't really keep them cooler.  And that undercoat insulation actually helps them to regulate their body temperature. Their skin can be very sensitive and the coat helps to protect it from the Sun and the elements.  So you are not doing them any favors by shaving down their coats.

As a groomer, I was required by clients to shave these breeds.  I can tell you that they will not retain their "breed" look, and when the coat grows in, it is never the same as the virgin coat.  There might be uneven growth, bald patches and discolored parts.  It's the rare dog that grows back a really beautiful coat.

I have found that many Golden Retriever owners do shave their dogs coats during the warm months. The effect is that they look similar to a Labrador Retriever.  I don't find that look as unpleasant as a Husky that has been shaved.  I have also found that the dogs themselves seem to be a little bit embarrassed when they are shaved down.

I have heard horror stories of people who took their dog to the groomer for a light trim and ended up with their dog shaved. Some of these stories may merely be a miscommunication, and it's helpful to know appropriate terms when speaking to your groomer. Some terms that groomers use for shaving a dog are:  buzz clip, strip, shave down, kennel clip, etc.  If you just want a light trim, say so and specify exactly how much hair you want removed.

It's also important to find a skilled groomer.  Shaving a dog may seem easy, but it's not. It's not really a good DIY project.  If it's not done correctly you will end up with uneven hair and find shave marks which will look very unattractive. And it's easy to nick or cut a dog if you are not very skilled and careful.

If you're in the East San Diego area, try my friend's groom shop, Essential Grooming in Santee. I used to work for her years ago and she's a true animal lover and an amazing groomer.  She also does a wonderful job with CATS, and a lot of groomers don't!

Love, Georgia

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