Many lab owners think of shaving their Labrador’s coat for various reasons. Some want to do it to provide relief to their dog from the scorching summer heat. Some prefer shaving their lab to reduce shedding, as labs shed a lot. And even some owners think of doing this to deal with issues like dog fleas and other allergic conditions related to the dog.
But does shaving the coat serve the purpose? Can you shave a lab?
If you shave him, what problems will a shaved Labrador face? Or will it enjoy the benefits of shaving its coat?
I will provide you with all the information you need to know about shaving a Labrador dog in this comprehensive article.
Can you shave a Lab?
“Can i shave my lab?” I hear this common question most of the time whenever summer approaches.
We get our hair trimmed short to escape the summer heat and sweat. Similarly, when we notice our dog panting and feeling hot, we think of shaving our dog too to make him feel cool and comfortable. Or else whenever we notice excessive shedding in our Labrador, we think of shaving him to minimize the shedding issue.
Firstly it is very important to remember that the hair on your body and the hair on your dog’s body is not the same. Nature has given the dog’s coat specific purposes and it has its job to do.
It is important to have a little understanding of the Labrador coat before talking about shaving and trimming the dog’s coat so that you can understand the topic clearly.
Labrador double coat
The Labrador coat type is a bit special and it is called a double coat. What is this double coat actually?
All dogs are not the same, there exist differences in their coat type. One of the major differentiation between dogs is whether they are single coated or double coated.
A double coated dog breed like Labrador retriever has two layers of fur. Yes, you can feel this when you move your fingers slowly through its coat.
The top layer is called the guard coat or outer coat, and the coat underneath is called the undercoat. The outer coat is made up of longer guard hair which tends to be abrasive, whereas the undercoat is made up of denser coarse hair which is softer to touch.
The Labrador’s coat, whether it may be the undercoat or the outer one, it is not simply for aesthetics. Nature has designed its role for specific purposes.
The purpose of a double coat
A Labrador has its genetics closely related to cold temperatures and waters. Hence nature has provided its coat in such a way to protect itself from the external environment.
The outer coat repels water, ice and even dirt. Hence it acts as a natural barrier to the dog’s skin. Whereas the undercoat which is thick and dense plays a very important role in protecting your lab from rapid temperature changes. It keeps him warmer when the climate is too cold and it keeps him cooler when the climate is too hot.
The coat functions as a natural body temperature regulator. Thus the double coat, which is the double-layered fur offers protection from extreme weather, water, ice, dust and other environmental factors.
Why you don’t need to shave your lab?
It is not necessary to shave or trim your Labrador’s fur to keep him cool during the summer. Because your dog sheds the undercoat automatically into a thinner version in order to prepare itself for the summer heat.
Even though our labs shed all around the year, there is something called the Labrador shedding season. This is the season during which the Labrador sheds its coat in greater quantities. This is called Coat blow. Have you observed this? Hence whenever summer approaches, your dog blows its coat and makes the transition from winter to summer. Similarly, this coat blow occurs again when there is a necessity of transition from summer to winter, to protect itself.
Nature designed the dog’s body to adapt itself to the changing climates. Hence shaving your lab is nothing but interfering and disturbing its natural process of coat change. There might be a reason dogs don’t shed themselves completely bald, that is how nature wanted it.
5 Disadvantages of shaving a Labrador
If you are thinking of shaving your Labrador, your dog is likely to suffer from its side effects.
1. The texture of the regrown coat changes
If you shave your lab, trust me, the regrown coat will never be the same.
Whenever you shave your dog’s coat, the undercoat starts growing immediately whereas the outer coat takes time to grow. I’d say that the time it takes for the undercoat to grow back is double quicker when the coat is shaved.
In summers a dog naturally sheds the undercoat and makes it thinner to cope up with the heat. Interfering and shaving the coat causes the regrown coat to be thick, unruly and coarse which prevents the air from reaching the skin. This makes the dog feel too hot in summer.
The newly grown coat tends to be rough and sticky which will attract all the dirt and dust on your dog’s coat.
2. Makes your lab feel hotter
Do you think that you can make your dog feel cool and comfortable by shaving him? No, it does not serve the purpose and instead, the reverse happens.
Shaving your lab causes the growth of thick unruly coat which prevents the air from reaching his skin. Because of this your lab will feel hotter during summer days.
3. Causes sunburn to your Labrador
Dogs skin is far more sensitive than human skin. So if you are at the risk of sunburn in summers, What about your dog?
Shaving your Labrador removes the guard hairs that act as a barrier between the skin and the sun rays. The guard hairs reflect the sun rays and protect your dog’s skin.
Hence it not only sunburns, but there is also a greater risk of skin cancer by shaving your lab which removes the protective guard hairs.
4. Can cause horrible skin problems
Shaving your dog’s coat can make him prone to more allergies more skin problems and hot spots. I won’t say that this happens to every dog. But i have seen many dogs suffering from horrible skin problems after getting completely shaved.
Even hot spots take more time to get healed. By shaving your Labrador, you are just removing its protective fur and exposing its pale sensitive skin to the harsh outer environment.
5. Causes more allergies to you
Some people are allergic to dogs. They assume that they are allergic to dog’s fur, but actually, it is the pet dander that causes allergic reactions in them. Pet dander is nothing but tiny and microscopic flecks of skin shed by dogs.
Shaving the dog can increase the allergies as you are in more contact with dog dander directly. And the dander flows in the air more easily and you will more be affected with allergies. Hence shaving will not improve problems for anyone allergic to dogs, and can even make those problems worse.
Alternatives to shaving a Labrador
Hence instead of shaving your Labrador, you must adopt other methods to keep your dog comfortable and to deal with its coat problems.
1. Firstly regular grooming
If anyone tells you to shave your lab to reduce shedding, they are wrong. So if you have this thought of shaving your Labrador just because of its excessive shedding, regular grooming is the best solution.
Even my Labrador had excess shedding, and I was irritated with fur everywhere in the house. But as soon as i started a regular grooming schedule, the amount of excess shedding reduced greatly.
Hence proper grooming with proper grooming tools will minimize the shedding to an extent that you no longer feel uncomfortable.
Let me suggest you the best brush for labs which i use for my labs too. Furminator is the best de-shedding tool for your lab’s undercoat. This tool removes loose hair and undercoat without any skin damage.
Later you can use a bristle brush to remove the dust and distribute the oil all over your lab’s body for a smooth, shiny coat. This can be used as a final grooming step after using Furminator.
In the case of excessive shedding, you need to adopt proper methods to minimize the condition. Have a look at our article to stop labrador hair fall with proven solutions
2. Cool alternatives for your lab
If you feel that your dog is being excess heated in summer, then shaving is definitely not the option. Because shaving away the coat cannot keep your dog cool.
Always provide your dog with a sufficient amount of clean water. Because proper hydration is the key to cool your dog. A dog with sufficient hydration cools its body naturally and more efficiently by way of panting. You can use a Dog water dispenser to ensure that water is available to your dog all round the clock.
Make sure that your dog is resting under the shade. Also, prefer to keep your dog indoors especially during summer months.
Change your dog’s timing of play and exercise according to the temperature outside.
3. For other skin issues and parasites
When you want to shave your dog to deal with issues like fleas and other skin conditions shaving is not the right solution. Because it is necessary to treat the condition by solving the actual problem rather than adopting methods like shaving.
Unless there exists any medical reason which interferes with the growth of your lab’s coat, it is not necessary and advisable to shave your Labrador.
Even though your dog has a medical reason to shave its fur, it is necessary to discuss with your vet regarding shaving the dog and check if any other alternatives are available rather than shaving him completely.
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