Shaving a sheep might be fine, but what about dogs? Many of you might get this thought of shaving your dog whenever summer approaches or when you face problems like excessive shedding.
I have a Labrador and many people ask me regarding shaving of my Labrador during summer and i strictly say them “No”. I main reason why i say no is because Labradors are double coated dogs. Yes, Labradors belong to the category of double coated dogs like many other breeds like German shepherds, Golden retrievers and Pomeranians.
What are these dogs with double coats? Why shaving double coated dogs is not a good idea?
Have a look at the 5 reasons why shaving your double coated dog can be harmful in the below article.
Shaving double coated dogs
Before discussing shaving double coated dogs, it is necessary to discuss certain terms like single coated and double coated. What do they mean exactly?
What is a double coated dog?
A double coated dog is a dog with two layers of fur. Nature has given it this coat as a protective measure from extreme climates. This kind of coat is especially seen in mountain dogs as a protection measure against harsh climate.
The double coated dog has two coats, one is the top guard coat and the other one is the underneath undercoat. The guard coat repels water and dust and acts as a natural barrier to the dog’s skin. The undercoat helps in protecting the dogs from extreme climate changes and keeps a dog warm during cold climate and cool during hot climate.
Then what about single coated dogs?
Many people know about single coated dogs as “dogs that dont shed”. Actually, single coated dogs do not have an undercoat like that of double coated dogs. They just have a single layer of fur. To say in simple words they are nothing but dog breeds without undercoat.
Since they are dogs with no undercoat, they do not shed like the double coated dogs and these are mostly hypoallergenic dogs. For example, a single coated dog like Maltese sheds minimal or almost no fur when compared with a double coated one. Here no fur doesn’t mean zero fur, it just means that it is completely minimal when compared with a double coated dog. But the hair that falls out as a natural process falls out anyway.
There are many single coated dogs with minimal shedding such as the poodle, Bichon Frise and many other dog breeds.
Double coated dog breeds
There are many dog breeds that are double coated. Have a look at some list of double coated dog breeds.
Bernese Mountain Dog
How to tell if a dog has a double coat?
Many people have these questions, like, does my dog have a double coat? Or what kind of coat does my dog have?
The best way to determine your dog’s coat type is to have a look regarding your dog breed in the American Kennel Club guide. If you can’t find your breed in the guide or if your dog is a mongrel, i mean a mixed breed, you need to determine its coat type by yourself. Just have a look at the ways to find out if your dogs have a double coat.
1. Shedding is not only the sign
Single coated dogs do not shed a lot, that does not mean they do not shed at all. Hence you can observe the fallen coat hair here and there inside your house.
Some dogs even though single coated lose a lot of fur due to underlying health issues and lack of proper grooming. Hence shedding cannot be the key parameter to determine whether a dog is single coated or double coated.
2. Use your hands
It is easy to find out whether your dog is double coated if you simply run your hands through its coat. You can feel the rough guard hair on the top and when you move your fingers a little deeper, you can feel the soft undercoat.
3. By observation
Hold your dog closer, part its fur and observe its coat carefully. See if you can find any difference in coat underneath. You can find softer and fluffy hairs at the bottom. Hence if you notice such kind of underneath coat, probably your dog is a double coated dog.
4. By hair fall pattern
If your dog is a double coat dog you can observe its fur falling out all around the year. Your dog will also have heavy shedding during the spring and before the arrival of the winter season.
If you observe the hair closely you can observe a combination of rough sharp hair and smooth fluffy hair
which means the hair which the dog is losing consists of both the undercoat and outer coat.
In the case of single coated dogs, the amount of hair fall is relatively very less and you can observe only a single type of coat falling on the ground.
Shaving double coated dogs. Why is it harmful?
Shaving dogs is always not a good idea, especially the double coated dogs. Actually shaving a dog with a double coat can cause more harm to your dog than what you think.
Many people have several misconceptions regarding shaving dogs and prefer to shave them due to various reasons. Hence it is important to understand the detrimental effects of shaving double coated dogs.
Have a look at the disadvantages of shaving and its harmful side effects.
1. Destruction of the protective layer
Nature has provided the dog with a double layer of fur not just for aesthetic purposes. The double has its job to do. It keeps the dog safe from the external environment, especially the temperature changes. It acts as a natural thermostat for the dog.
Shaving your dog makes your dog more vulnerable to the harsh environment. Your dog feels hotter during summers and it even gets exposed to harsher cold climate.
It can cause allergic reactions to your dog’s skin so easily because the skin is completely exposed to the outer environment due to shaving.
2. Makes your dog feel hotter
When you shave your dog’s coat, the undercoat grows quickly when compared with the outer coat. The undercoat which grows after shaving has thicker, coarse and unruly texture. This thicker regrown dogs undercoat obstructs the air from reaching your dog’s skin. This makes your dog feel hotter during summers.
Many people prefer to shave their dogs to make them cooler and comfortable during summers, but actually, the reverse happens. Hence it is a bad idea to shave your double coated dog during summers.
3. Increased risk of sunburn and skin cancer
Do you expect your dog’s skin to be cool and comfortable after shaving? No this does not happen. Because shaving is nothing is but the removal of its protective coat provided by nature.
Your dog’s skin is more sensitive when compared with the human skin, hence they are at a greater risk of sunburns than humans. Removal of the protective coat by shaving removes all the guard hairs that provide protection to your dog from harmful sun rays. Hence this increases your dog’s risk of sunburns.
Excess exposure to harmful sun rays can also keep your dog at risk of skin cancers.
4. Damages the coat texture
When you shave a dog with a double coat, the regrown coat will never be the same. Whenever you shave the fur, the undercoat starts growing immediately as a protective mechanism. But the guard hairs, i mean the outer coat does not grow quickly like the undercoat.
The regrown undercoat tends to be thick, unruly and coarse and gathers dust and dirt more easily when your dog goes out. This thick undercoat tends to be rough and gets tangled easily. The regrown coat appears to be completely damaged.
5. Causes more allergies to you
Many people are allergic to dogs. In the United States, almost 3 people among 10 with allergies get allergic reactions due to dogs. It is not the fur that causes allergies but the pet dander that actually cause allergies in humans.
When you remove the fur by shaving your dog, you are exposing yourself more to this pet dander. This dander flies in the air and you are at greater risk of allergic reactions.
If you are allergic to dogs, then shaving increases the risk of these allergic reactions.
Does dog hair grow back after shaving?
If your dog can have proper regrown hair even after shaving its coat your dog might be really lucky. Because i have seen many dogs with improper hair regrowth after shaving.
Sometimes the hair does not grow properly or it takes a lot of time to grow. Even if the hair regrows after shaving, it will not be the same as before. The texture of the regrown coat changes completely.
The regrown undercoat appears to be thick, dull and frizzy. And some dogs do not regrow the guard hair at all, and it indicates permanent coat damage. This happens in double coat dog breeds and it is not the case with single coated dog breeds.
Hence shaving a dog with a double coat alters the texture of its coat completely and causes permanent damage to its beautiful coat.
What to do instead of shaving?
Shaving dogs with undercoats is a bad idea. Instead, the best way to take care of your dog’s coat is proper grooming with proper tools. It is important for you to understand how to groom a double coated dog properly.
As soon as the summer approaches, your dog will shed its undercoat into a thinner version to keep itself cool during the summer heat. It is a natural process and there is no necessity of human intervention by shaving the coat. All you need to do it to facilitate its natural shedding process more easily.
For this, you can use a Furminator to remove the undercoat and loose hair without causing damage to your dog’s skin. This can be the best brush for double coated dogs.
Or you can use a Slicker brush to brush your dog deep through the coat and this helps in removing the undercoat. Along with the removal of loose undercoat gently, it also helps in removing the tangles and matted hair from your dog’s fur.
Does shaving a dog help with shedding?
Shedding is a natural process of removal of dead and damaged hair.
After shaving your dog, you may think that the shedding has reduced. But actually, that does not happen. The dog will continue to shed its hair and you may feel so because the hair will be shorter in length.
Shorter hair will be messier and will be more widespread throughout the house. The shorter hair starts getting stuck to the furniture and clothes and is more difficult to remove and clean up.
Due to shaving, the growth of undercoat becomes and quicker and irregular and this can contribute to increased and irregular shedding.
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