The period of heat has arrived and the question also arrives: should I shave my dog in the summer ? Although it seems obvious, the answer is quite different than expected. The effectiveness of shaving to relieve the heat depends on many variables, that is, some dogs benefit and others may even be harmed by the shave and feel even more heat.
Did you find it complicated? So, come with us and we will explain everything to you.
How do dogs keep cool?
Before talking about grooming in the summer, it is necessary to understand that, in order to cool off, dogs have several mechanisms for exchanging heat.
The main one has nothing to do with fur, but with breathing. It’s just that dogs sweat through their muzzle, tongue and pads (paw pads). And that’s why they get out of breath after a physical exercise, for example.
In the same way that humans perspire through their skin and, therefore, lose heat, in the case of dogs this evaporation takes place in the humidity of the respiratory region, when they put their tongue out, they salivate a lot.
In addition, there are other forms of heat loss that, indeed, are related to the coat:
- Convection: it is when the body loses heat in contact with the air, as when it is windy, for example;
- Conduction: if the body is in direct contact with a cold surface. That’s why iced rugs work so well;
- Radiation: when sunlight reflects off hair. In this case, dogs with light coats absorb less heat than those with dark coats;
Each race loses heat in a different way.
From these four ways of exchanging heat with the environment and keeping cool, each breed – according to their coat type – will behave in a different way. And that’s why we said it depends when you ask if you should shave a dog in the heat.
See what influences:
- Hair density, i.e. how many hairs there are per cm² of skin
- Hair thickness, whether it is thick or thin
- fur length
- Angle of inclination of the hair in relation to the skin
- Hair color, whether it is more or less pigmented
- Animal fat, which serves as a thermal insulator.
That way, when you shave your dog’s hair, you change these properties and, with that, you also change the way the body loses heat.
Which dogs can be shorn
The dogs that benefit the most from grooming are those of:
Smooth coat, acute angle and undercoat
These are Border Collie, Golden Retriever, Shetland Shepherd, Cocker Spaniel and others. The coat is smooth, angled very close to the skin and with plenty of undercoat. This is because the angle and density of the undercoat act as a thermal insulator and make it difficult for air and wind to pass through.
Grooming also helps with walking and eliminating parasites and microorganisms that can cause skin diseases.
In addition to regular grooming, it is important to brush the hair frequently to remove impurities and untangle knots, which also hinder heat loss. Fine-toothed combs even help to eliminate undercoat.
These are the Poodle, Bichon Frisé and Airedale Terrier breeds, among others. As the coat is curly and has an angle perpendicular to the skin, even if there is not much undercoat (as is the case with Poodles), airflow is compromised.
Grooming in the summer will help your dog cool off and can even help with movement, as these breeds’ hair grows regularly.
Which dogs can’t shave?
Smooth coat, but no undercoat
These are Yorkshire, Shih-Tzu , Lhasa Apso, Maltese and others.
In this case, it is not that the dog will be harmed by the clipping, but it is simply not effective against the heat. As there is no undercoat or they exist in low density, convection, that is, the exchange of heat with the air, already takes place.
It is true that the smooth hair itself provides the thermal insulation, however, for the grooming to work, the dog would need to be completely hairless, which can be dangerous. The skin would be exposed to the sun, with the risk of skin diseases.
To help your puppy, just brush the fur to avoid knots. And you can also shave it for aesthetic reasons, of course.
Dogs with thermal fur
Thermal fur is that double coat, which protects dogs from the cold, especially in icy regions. This is the case with the Siberian Husky, German Spitz, Samoyed, Chow Chow, Alaskan Malamute and others.
The density of the undercoats is very high, so you immediately think: I should shave my dog in the summer! However, it is not quite like that.
In fact, the fur warms the animal, however, if your dog were exposed directly to the sun, the clipping would get in the way, as the thermal fur also helps protect from the sun’s rays.
In addition, these dogs are more likely to develop “post-shave alopecia”, a hair loss that can be temporary or even permanent.
Here the recommendation is to do trimming, a shearing technique that trims the hair with scissors, but does not remove the underhair.
Is there an ideal age for dog grooming?
For breeds that can be clipped, the recommendation to perform the first clipping in the summer is between 7 and 14 months of age. At this age, the fur changes and the pet makes its transition between the puppy and adult stages.
Before shearing, consult the veterinarian to know the ideal behavior for your puppy.
Summer dog care
If the heat is too much, there are some steps you can take to help your pet cool off.
- Keep the water always fresh in the drinking fountain;
- Groom only the ventral region, on the belly, to help when the dog lies down on the cold floor;
- Use the cold mat;
- Put a fan or air conditioning in the house;
- When walking, avoid hot hours. Stroll before 10am and after 4pm;
- If you have, release the pool or hose to the puppy, taking care to protect the ears to avoid otitis. Dry it with a cold dryer afterwards, to remove moisture and prevent fungus and dermatitis.