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.

Andrew

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

  1. 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…..hair 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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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