Summer Haircuts for Dogs

Dog groomers hear the same question each year as warm weather returns: Should I have my dog shaved down for summer to keep him cool?

By | Posted: July 17, 2012, 10 a.m. EDT

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Mixed Breed dog with summer haircutThe answer is rather ambiguous: Not necessarily.

If you have been diligent about keeping your dog well brushed and he is not heavily matted or solidly packed with shed hair, he can still be cool without stripping him of his coat.  Like most things found in nature, the dog’s coat has a purpose.  It protects him from the elements in winter by insulating him from cold.  In double-coated breeds, the downy undercoat acts as his thermal underwear, waterproofing him as well.  In warm weather, the well-brushed coat “lofts” as the dog moves, air cooling him all the way to the skin.

Some breeds have hair that grows constantly so it needs to be trimmed.  They include the Poodle, Bichon Frise, and Cocker Spaniel and, unless they are show dogs, the Shih Tzu, Maltese, Lhasa Apso and Havanese. Some require expert trimming in order to look like their breed standard - the Schnauzer, Kerry Blue, Wirehaired Fox TerrierScottish and West Highland terriers, for example. Unless they were clipped right down to the skin, a short clip would not ruin their coats except in the case of dogs that are customarily hand-stripped, having their topcoats periodically removed by plucking out the dead hair to preserve that coarse terrier texture.  Shaving coats like these may also dilute their color. 

But for some Northern breed types like the Husky, SamoyedChow Chow, American Eskimo and their smaller cousin the Pomeranian, shaving their coats off can damage the follicles of the outer coat, or guard hairs, creating a condition known as “clipper alopecia” where only the fuzzy undercoat will grow back.  This unfortunate occurrence is a permanent condition and can result in a dog whose coat will forever look balding and moth-eaten.

Many owners of dogs with big hairy coats do choose to give them close summer clips without adverse results but there is a better alternative for purebreds and Mixed Breeds alike.  We often do a “thin and trim,” sculpting the coat with a #7 blade and/or using a #1, #1/12, #2 or #A comb attachment to leave enough hair on to still look beautiful.  We do a finishing touch-up with our shears to complete this shorter-but-shaped look. Your groomer may call this trim a “Teddy Bear” or “Puppy Cut.”

Despite today’s plethora of detangling sprays and leave-in conditioners used in the bathtub to expedite brushing, pet groomers still encounter dogs so severely matted that there is no choice but to shave them, but if possible, these types of summer cuts are a happier alternative.

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Angela   Maryville, Tennessee

4/6/2013 4:43:03 AM

I am a proff. Groomer, in my shop we clipper long haired breeds for the summer all the time! If you live in a region where it's hot during summers, clipper your long haired pup down, it does not hurt anything. This article is not credible. Talk to your groomer, they KNOW what's best for your dog.

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skiw9748   Hartford, AL

11/24/2012 7:38:27 AM

Good advice on having dogs shaved or cliped for summer, I wish I knew this I had my pom, cut for second summer this year, now her hair dont look as pretty !

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Melian and Tiny   E, CA

9/24/2012 10:53:38 PM

This is not the article I clicked on.

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