Brother it’s HOT out here! Should I get rid of this coat?
Let’s keep something in mind. While we wouldn’t wear our winter coats during the summer months, even if we’re trying to start a new fashion trend, your dog’s coat is completely different. We came without a coat and so we have to add one to keep us warm through cold temps. Your dog came with his coat, already installed! It’s there for a reason, year ’round.
“A dog’s coat is kind of like insulation for your house,” explains Dr. Louise Murray, Vice President of the ASPCA Animal Hospital. “Insulation stops your home from getting too cold in winter, but it also keeps it from overheating in summer—and your dog’s coat does the same thing.”
Dogs’ coats have several layers, and these layers are essential to your dog’s comfort in the heat. Robbing your dog of this natural cooling system can lead to discomfort and overheating. And keeping your dog cool isn’t the only reason to leave his coat intact, Dr. Murray warns. Your dog’s coat prevents your pup from getting sunburn and helps protect her from skin cancer.
The “no shave” rule doesn’t just apply to super-furry northern breeds like Samoyeds, Huskies or Malamutes, but to other double-coated breeds as well. Herding breeds like Aussie Shepherds, Border Collies and Shelties are double-coated. So are Golden Retrievers, Newfoundlands, Bernese Mountain Dogs and many more.
About Double Coats
Double-coated breeds have two layers to protect against arctic weather. The long guard hairs form the outer layer and protect against snow or ice and even shed water. The soft undercoat lies close to the skin and keeps your dog warm and dry. In winter this undercoat can be so thick you may have trouble finding your dog’s skin.
In summer, your dog should shed his soft undercoat, leaving just the guard hairs. The job of the guard hairs in warm weather is to protect your dog from sunburn and insulate him against the heat. Without the undercoat, air can circulate through the guard hairs, cooling the skin.
Unlike single coated breeds, who have hair that just keeps growing, double coats grow to a certain length and don’t get any longer. So you can shave a single-coated breed down and the coat will grow back again without really changing it. But that’s not true for double coats.
Shaving a double-coated breed can really ruin the coat.
How Much Time Your Dog Spends Outdoors Should Also Factor Into Any Shaving Decision
If your dog lives indoors in air conditioning, it doesn’t really matter if she’s shaved. If she likes being shaved, that’s great. Dogs with responsible owners are never outside long enough to truly overheat, because their owners are right there, managing the time of day the dog goes out, her level of physical exertion, and how much direct sunlight she’s exposed to.
If your dog lives inside and loves a short haircut or shave, I say honor her wishes! As long as you’re a smart pet guardian, she won’t get sunburned.
On the other hand, if your dog spends a lot of time outdoors – especially unsupervised – you should leave his coat at its normal length. Providing a cooling pool, plenty of shade, a fan if you can arrange it, and a constant supply of clean fresh water, and keeping him brushed and bathed regularly, is a very important part of helping your canine companion stay cool and comfortable in warm weather.