Can All Dog Breeds Have Summer Haircuts?

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:

  1. To prevent or treat matting
  2. To maintain good skin hygiene
  3. For medical reasons
  4. Grass seed prevention
  5. 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.

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:

  1. The coat looking shabbier than usual, or
  2. 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.

Related: All About Dog Grooming | A List Of Dogs With Double Coats

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!
Have something to add? Comments are welcome below and will appear within 24 hours of lodging.

Image Credits

Without these dedicated dog lovers, none of this would have been possible.

Border Collie before
Border Collie after
German Shepherd before
German Shepherd after
Collie before
Collie after
Chow Chow before
Chow Chow after
Husky before
Husky after
Pomeranian before
Pomeranian after
Samoyed before
Samoyed after
Bernese Mountain Dog before
Bernese Mountain Dog after
Malamute before
Malamute after

Also don’t forget the Pyrenean Mountain Dog at the start (called Great Pyrenees in the USA). Image credits: before & after.


26 Replies to “Can All Dog Breeds Have Summer Haircuts?”

  1. Hi. My terrier mixed breed had a small hairless area develop with some inflammation. The vet shaved her whole chest and treated with cortisone. None of the shaved area has grown back in well over a year. Any thoughts?

    1. Hi Dave. If your dog is still receiving prednisolone, that is likely to be the cause. You could ask about a dose reduction or the use of Apoquel or Cytopoint instead. Otherwise, consider hormonal or parasitic causes; a skin scraping for Demodex mites is a good idea, followed by blood testing if normal.

  2. This guy Andrew is an idiot vet who, if he has a license, obviously got it WAY down under. DO NOT BELIEVE THIS ARTICLE. it is terrible nonsense, dangerous, and completely unsubstantiated with no factual basis. If you have a dog with double coated fur their insulating coat keeps them cool in the summer, not hotter, and without their guard hairs their skin is exposed to harmful ultraviolet rays, making it easy for the dog to get melanoma. Aside from this it will never grow back correctly. As the undercoat continues to regrow, the guard hairs do not, and they may never grow back completely. If you shave a dog’s coat – and please do not! – then you must keep it inside out of the sun, else the sun’s rays can kill it! And yes I have known owners whose dogs have died from melanoma because of this. This is not a myth, but Andrew the Vet is promoting an extremely dangerous one. Do the canine world a favor Andrew: stop giving deadly advice and go work at McDonald’s.

    1. Hi Don. It’s certainly a divisive topic and I think your strong feelings are shared by many other people. However, I hope the evidence of coat regrowth speaks for itself and I have equally strong feelings about the comfort of dogs in hot climates like ours. As for melanoma, that’s worth discussing too. Canine melanoma, although common, is not associated with exposure to the sun in the way it is in people. Most dogs that die of melanoma have an oral form. Sun-associated skin cancer of dogs is generally either squamous cell carcinoma or haemangioma. Here you are correct that dogs with very short hair and pink skin should be protected from the sun, but it’s surprising how short the hair needs to be. In our clinic, most skin cancer is only seen on the hairless and pink areas of individuals that sunbathe, usually the abdominal skin, and almost never on the back or head even of short-haired breeds.

    1. Hi Melanie. What I said above also applies just as well to Golden retrievers. The hair takes approximately three months to grow back, but like most dogs with longer hair it doesn’t look completely natural until about six months.

      1. Hi Aishwarya. Yes it will, but it will take longer due to the length of the hair. That could be 6 to 12 months to full shape.

    1. Hi Barbara. Shi tzus are not a double coated dog, and therefore not the subject of this article. Please see a groomer ASAP.

    1. Hi Abby. Shi Tzus generally need regular grooming as their hair will otherwise grow continuously and get matted – you can brush every day but most people get them clipped between every six and 12 weeks.

  3. Thank you for this piece. As a former vet tech and now human nurse, I heard this nonsense for the very first time today, having owned my dog for 14 years and having him intermittently professionally groomed, as well as doing this myself at home. Today I paid someone $60USD to try to lecture me about double-coated breeds and how his hair won’t grow back, or it will grow back changed. I told her that I have never heard this in my life, and what I should have said was that’s crazy and you sound ridiculous. Instead, perhaps I’ll print this and mail it to her. I know people who have had chemo with hair changes and wonder if that’s how this started, without understanding the physiologic changes that chemotherapy can cause? Regardless, it’s just dumb, and shows the utter willingness of people to believe everything they hear.

  4. I’ve been super worried about this but shaving my GSD with his long white coat had to be done. He had surgery and was shaved all over the place, and had mats for lack of proper grooming before that. I needed this reset button and was happy to see the picture of the white Pyrenees! Looks a lot like my boy. I’m relieved and hope his coat grows back to its former glory. I got him a nice jacket to keep him warm now that it’s winter. Thanks!

  5. Interesting article Andrew.
    My choice of breed ( Akita Japanese), are double coated spitz breed and they naturally go through a shedding period several times a year = normal… everywhere.

    However, I have known some Akita owners who have a long coated, ( LC) Akita, ( a recessive gene), & who have clipped their dogs thinking it would help with keeping them cool. No, no , no !

    Fast forward, besides their undercoat & top coat acting as a natural insulator from the elements, some of these LC JA’s have developed Sebaceous Adenitis, ( SA), which is an autoimmune skin disease, and the likely trigger was due to clipping their dogs.

    I cannot comment on other breeds. Yet know my own breed, should not be clipped, except for medical intervention(s) , having a good grooming session, ( with hydrating shampoo properties), every 6-8 weeks approx. and I brush my dog’s daily with certain grooming spray – never brush a dog with dry fur.

    Just my contribution. Thank you.

    1. Hi I have had 2 Akita’s and my sister has as well, one of hers being a long haired Akita… We chose to clip all of our dogs as well as the Red Heeler females I have had over the years as well… All dogs were notably happier and more active after they were clipped…
      Please take the word of an actual owner breeder of Akita’s, not that of someone who knows someone!!! Please…
      All Akita’s are very prone to autoimmune skins diseases, including one of mine and nothing to do with clipping…

      As a qualified hair dresser and now a nurse, think about the physiology of the skin and hair growth and you will certainly choose to clip these poor dogs that should not be in our climate ..
      Help these poor animals and clip them…

  6. Interesting. I have a Norwegian Elkhound, and we moved to Auckland earlier this year. We lived in the UK before that, so although my dog didn’t enjoy the summer heat, it didn’t last long and we coped by walking early morning and evening.
    In Auckland we’re doing the same, but my dog is not enjoying the heat, even in spring.
    Elkhound breeders and owners will all tell you not to clip them, and some in the Facebook Elkie owners groups have recounted how their rescue dogs came to them having been clipped, and the coat did take an age to recover. It does seem from the article by the groomer that you linked, that the guard hairs might indeed take a long time to grow back, depending on where the hair is in its growth cycle?
    I can’t see there being a problem with regrowth of undercoat, as that never seems to stop growing.
    So I’m thinking about going for it. I guess a comfortable dog whose coat looks a bit crap is better than a good looking overheated dog.
    I might discuss it with my vet when we go for annual health check in a few weeks. And if I go for clipping, I might not mention it on Facebook!
    Should have also said, my dog is 11.5 years old, neutered, and weighs a few kilos more than he should.

    1. Hi Nicky. You make some sensible points (including not posting on Facebook! – I certainly regret it). It’s true – the speed at which guard hairs will regrow depends on the stage the dog’s coat cycle is in. Weight loss is also an excellent idea as you seem to already know.

    1. Hi Noeline. That’s certainly what you are told but we see many Border Collies that are clipped for each summer without any problems, and they certainly seem more comfortable on hot days. There’s one pictured above.

  7. Great article.. what gets me are those who shave pugs because of the hair shedding. If you have airconditioning and cool mats pugs don’t need shaving unless for medical issues.

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