Why shouldn’t we shave double coated breeds?
I am often requested to clip down the coats of double coated breeds such as Japanese Spitz, Pomeranians, Shetland Sheep Dogs, Huskies, Malamutes and Golden Retrievers and my reluctance to do this is met with some negativity. So why my reluctance and concern?
There are three main reasons people want to clip their double coated dogs. 1) To keep them cool. 2) For easy maintenance. 3) To make them look cuter. Let me examine each of these in more detail.
TO KEEP THEM COOL
As the name suggests, double coated breeds have coats made up of two layers, an undercoat which is fine and fluffy and which sheds and a topcoat of tougher guard hairs that do not shed. The undercoat traps air and acts like a continental quilt, insulating the dog and keeping it warm in winter and cool in summer. The guard coat acts as a barrier, protecting the skin from the sun as well as brambles and insect bites.
By clipping the coat you are removing the dog’s natural insulation which actually protects them from the heat and remember, dogs don’t cool themselves through their skin, their main way of cooling comes from panting.
Instead of clipping, make sure your dog is regularly brushed out to loosen the undercoat and prevent matting, allowing the skin to breath, and take it for regular de shedding treatments. For dogs that still find it difficult to cool themselves down it is possible to shave a ‘runway’ on their belly.
FOR EASY MAINTENANCE
It is understandable that some owners want to clip their dog’s coat to make it easier to manage, whether because brushing has become a chore or because the dog’s lifestyle means it is always getting tangled up and dirty. Some also think that clipping will stop the coat shedding but this is not the case.
There are, however, alternatives that we can consider instead. Often it is the leg furnishings that get tangled up so these can be trimmed a bit shorter, or the undercoat can be brushed, removing the dead coat, allowing for the outer coat to be scissored slightly shorter to make it more manageable, leaving the coat intact.
TO MAKE THEM LOOK CUTER
Yes, some breeds such as Pomeranians look really cute when they are shaved and some owners like to keep them looking like puppies but after reading the points above, is it really worth it?
Remember that shaving a double coat can have long term effects. In some cases it can alter the coat texture and thickness forever and some of the coat may never grow back the same, or at all, resulting in what is known as ‘coat funk’. Some of the coated areas may go completely bald and the texture may have a ‘velcro’ effect which can make it even more difficult to look after in the future.
The best way to keep them cool and comfortable is to regularly bath and brush them. The only reason a double coated breed would need to be shaved is if their coat is so matted that it would be unkind to brush it out, or on the advice of a vet.
“By clipping the coat you are removing the dog’s natural insulation which actually protects them from the heat.”
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