Updated January 13, 2021
Have you heard this? The hair of double coated dog breeds doesn’t grow back properly after being shaved.
Right now you’re either in one of two camps. Either you’re nodding because your breeder has already warned you, or you’re thinking, “how ridiculous!”
The truth is that this is a myth, and a dangerous one. I have spent 25 years watching dogs’ coats be shaved and regrow in regular cycles and instead of harm, only seeing good in our climate. Yet many owners of breeds with thick hair are too scared to ever touch their dog’s coat.
I don’t blame them; it’s the myth that needs tackling. So in a minute I’m going to give you the proof you need to give your dog a haircut. But why would we want to clip a dog’s coat anyway?
Why Dogs Need Haircuts
There are at least five reasons why a dog may need their coat clipped off:
- To prevent or treat matting
- To maintain good skin hygiene
- For medical reasons
- Grass seed prevention
- For temperature control
The first four are obvious, but what about keeping cool? Believe it or not there’s even a myth about this.
You will hear otherwise sensible people tell you that a double coat helps keep a dog cool by insulating them. Once again, ridiculous. That might be true if dogs were lizards, but the constant production of heat by the body has to go somewhere.
You’ve only got to look at how much perkier a dog gets in an Australian summer after clipping. As I’ve said before, dogs can’t sweat and most aren’t bred for hot weather.
Not that I’m a clipping fanatic. If you can keep your dog cool through summer, I’m perfectly fine with a thick coat. But I see huge numbers of dogs that would be so much more comfortable, if only they could be shorn.
And by winter time, when they need it, their coat has grown back just fine.
The Proof Of Hair Regrowth
There’s nothing like seeing it with your own eyes. So what I’ve done is to trawl through online image folders, looking for the same dogs. As people post pictures over their dogs’ lives, you can see their coat come and go with the seasons.
In each case, the picture with hair is taken after the one with the haircut. If this doesn’t convince you that the coat grows back properly, click on the source links at the end and check out the dogs themselves.
These dogs look funny, don’t they? That’s often the hardest thing for an owner to accept. I repeat: these are the same dogs!!!
Other double coated breeds might be Old English Sheepdog, Bearded Collie, Newfoundland or Spitz (see more at the link below). I sometimes think that more people would keep these handsome dogs if they knew that they could clip them each summer.
Of course, vets know that areas they shave (e.g. for surgery) will regrow in time to become indistinguishable from the surrounding coat. Note that shaving in a dog sense means close clipping, not the use of a razor!
One potential downside of clipping a dog may be increasing the chance of sunburn. I haven’t seen it, but it could happen easily for the first few weeks after clipping if your dog is a sunbather. The same of course applies to the more commonly clipped breeds like poodles.
One last comment is that clipping is not an alternative to good coat care. All the other things that are required to keep your dog’s coat in good condition still need to be done.
Why Dog Hair Doesn’t Regrow
Sometimes, after grooming or clipping, the hair doesn’t grow back properly. It’s these events that have created the myths around haircuts.
With certain diseases, the hair cycle shuts down completely, but the hair doesn’t fall out. It just stops being renewed. You’ll only know this has happened by either:
- The coat looking shabbier than usual, or
- Failure to regrow after clipping
If it happens to your dog, don’t blame the clipping, look for the disease. There’s nearly always a hormonal imbalance like cushing’s disease or hypothyroidism at the heart of the problem. By fixing it, your dog won’t just have a better coat, they’ll feel a whole lot better.
By Andrew Spanner BVSc(Hons) MVetStud, a vet in Adelaide, Australia. These blogs are from a series regularly posted on email and Twitter. Subscribe via email here to never miss a story!
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Without these dedicated dog lovers, none of this would have been possible.
Border Collie before
Border Collie after
German Shepherd before
German Shepherd after
Chow Chow before
Chow Chow after
Bernese Mountain Dog before
Bernese Mountain Dog after