These breeds heavily shed a few times a year. They will often start losing the winter undercoat they have built up and a lighter, more appropriate undercoat for the summer months will start growing in its place. They normally will go through another serious shedding cycle in the fall when the lighter summer undercoat falls out to allow for the heavier winter undercoat to grow in. This twice a year shedding cycle is a little different than the normal, ongoing hair shed and growth process, so while these double-coated breeds do shed all year around, it is worse during the spring and fall. It is not healthy or necessary to clip dogs short in the summertime and clipping dogs short can actually make them hotter.
Double coated breeds include Labs, Golden Retrievers, Husky’s, Beagles, Pugs – dogs that have fur rather than dogs with hair that would just continue growing longer and longer like human hair, such as poodles. The best thing you can do for your double-coated breed to keep it comfortable is to have it bathed, brushed, and groomed regularly. Surprisingly – the worst thing you can do is have it shaved or clipped short! A dog’s cooling systems works very differently from the way human bodies work. A dog’s “coat” is nothing like us wearing a coat and taking it off when we are warm. Removing a dog’s “coat” can make them hotter, shed worse, have skin problems, expose them to too much sun, and more. The cycle of hair growing and shedding is set up to work perfectly for dogs and we do a disservice to dogs when we shave them and interrupt that cycle (unless, of course, there is a medical reason to do so.) Dogs cool off a few different ways, of course, there is panting. A simplified explanation of panting is that heat within the dog enters the blood supply, that circulates, and fluid evaporates off the dog’s tongue while panting allowing the dog to get rid of heat. Dogs also have sweat glands in their feet and ears that play a small role in keeping them cool. A major way dogs cooldown is that their blood flow is increased (dogs have proportionality larger spleens than humans, the spleen helps store blood and control heat.) Blood carries excess heat to the skin where it circulates. There are muscles in the dog’s skin that help raise guard hairs (the harsher outer coat of a double-coated breed,) and allow for the heat to dissipate off the dog’s skin. When that hair is removed it changes the way air flows over the dog’s skin. This is how shaving a double-coated dog can make a dog hotter. What can contribute to a dog becoming too hot is not brushing out dead and or shedding coat and allowing it to become stuck in the other hair. This blocks airflow to the dog’s skin. Cutting a double-coated breed’s hair really short can actually increase shedding later as well because the way their coat and skin function is so disrupted when the coat is clipped very short. When you notice your dog starting the excessive spring shedding it’s time to get it to the groomer for a good bath, de-shed, high-velocity drying, and brush out. As temperatures increase it is also important to make sure your dog has plenty of water as it plays an important role in the process of keeping them comfortable.
Here’s an image of damage done to a Pomeranian’s skin and coat after being clipped just a few times:
Notice the change in color between the dog’s head (not shaved/clipped) and it’s body. This is outer coat (red,) vs undercoat (blonde.) It takes much longer for the outer coat to grow in this breed and the skin may have been so damaged it may not grow back!
Common reasons people want these dog’s shaved/clipped short:
- Clipping these breeds short does NOT help with this and can make them shed worse in three months when the coat starts coming back in. The cycle will be out of sync. Also, they still shed – just shorter hair.
- Shaving these breeds short makes them hotter, their hair insulates them from the heat. Most dogs that are too hot are this way because they are overweight. Excess fat will cause dogs to be hot. Having them regularly groomed to keep packed undercoat is the best option. If you are really concerned buy a cooling mat for your dog to lay on.
In short, different breeds were created with coats that work best for them. For breeds such as Golden Retrievers, Pomeranians, Labrador Retrievers, Pugs, and other double-coated breeds. It is NOT necessary or in the best interest of their health and care.