Moab is hot in the summer, and we get flooded with requests to shave pets once it starts to get warm. There are dog coats that are meant to be shaved and those we do not recommend for it. Many times there are complications that come from shaving a dog’s coat that is not meant to be trimmed and some are more permanent than others.
Dogs have a wide variety of coat types, and a mix of coat types on one dog is often common too, but to break it down simply there are dogs that have hair and dogs that have a double coat. Dogs with hair shed very little (mostly guard hair in each follicle), and dogs with a double coat (guard hair and multiple undercoat hairs in each follicle) shed a lot!
The dogs that have a double coat are not recommended for shaving. This includes breeds like Golden Retrievers, Labradors, Shepherds, Collies, Nordic Breeds, Pomeranians, and any mix in which you can usually rub a hand through a get a handful of soft undercoat that sticks to you and everything you don’t want it to!
Below is a list of pros and cons for both shaving and de-shedding a double coated dog.
The pros of de-shedding a double coat dog are:
• Coat is maintained to highest quality and will protect skin and provide cooling buffer for the summer and warming insulation for winter.
• Undercoat is fully removed along with dirt, debris and dead skin.
• Dog looks their best
• No trauma to hair follicles
The cons of de-shedding a double coat dog are:
• Takes the most time and effort to achieve (lots of brushing, bathing and blow-drying)
• Often taking longer than shaving and costing just as much if not more money
The pros of shaving a double coat dog are:
• The hair is gone
• This method vs de-shedding takes least amount of time
The cons of shaving a double coat dog are:
• Dogs skin is much thinner than human skin so UV exposure is very high, putting dog at risk for skin cancer and complications of sun burns
• Hair follicles can be permanently damaged, this means that the guard hairs do not grow back, only the undercoat does. This results in a thin and/or patchy coat, and is common in older dogs and some breeds.
• Coat no longer has insulation and dogs must be protected from extreme cold and hot.
• Undercoat hairs typically grow in varying stages, and when shaved can also grow back all at once often resulting in a very thick coat or thick patches that mat much faster.
Dogs that go to the groomer for a de-shedding go through a multi-stage treatment that leaves the coat in the best condition, and has the longest lasting benefits. First they are often brushed with a slicker and pre-treated with a coat conditioner to release undercoat. Then a de-shedding shampoo and conditioner are used to remove as much debris and dead skin from the coat and leave the hair smooth and ready to be brushed.
A high velocity dryer will loosen and remove the bulk of undercoat and leave the soft top coat (or guard hairs) showing off the shiny and smooth luster that gets dulled with dander and dirt. Usually a stripping blade, Furminator or shedding blade, depending on coat type, will finish the groom to remove the maximum amount of loose hair. This process often takes an hour or two and will make your dog look and smell great for days if not weeks.
Dogs come for a de-shedding treatment at a minimum of seasonally, but often every 4-6 weeks to keep a dogs coat in optimum condition. Often after this treatment dogs will continue to loose extra hairs for a day or two after the groom, and often seasonal shedding takes multiple treatments if the coat is super dense or the coat is severely matted.
Dogs that go to the groomer for a shave are typically shaved with a close blade (1/16 or 1/8 inch) to get under the matted coat. Blades can’t cut matted coat, they can go under but not through a matted clump of coat. If a longer blade can be used most groomers will try and keep it as long as possible to protect the skin. Once the coat is removed they are bathed to remove any debris and dead skin, then dried and neatened up. This process is a little faster for the dog, and makes the coat as short as possible.
Both shaving and de-shedding have benefits and drawbacks, but maintaining your dog’s coat is an important part of their health and well-being. The Moab BARKery offers a wide variety of services in grooming, and we offer even more support with our self-serve dog wash and at home products available in the store.