Monday, July 20, 2015

Summer Haircuts

Reasons to NOT cut or shave your dog's coat.
Most breeds of dogs naturally have a double coat. There is a longer outer coat composed of guard hairs, and a fluffy soft undercoat. The dog's coat insulates him from heat in the summer and cold in the winter. It protects his skin from sunburn, insect bites and environmental allergens. Brushing the coat regularly will remove the undercoat in the summer when it sheds naturally, leaving the guard hairs which help to keep him cool.
Cutting the coat will not make your dog cooler. Dogs don't perspire. They cool off through their nose and mouth, and a bit through the pads of their paws, not their skin as humans do.
Cutting down the coat will NOT make him shed less. The undercoat will shed twice a year whether he is cut down or not.
Cutting down the coat will NOT protect humans from dog dander allergies. Dander is produced by the skin, not the hair. Cutting down the coat will actually increase the amount of dander production, inducing more allergic response in susceptible humans.
Cutting the coat often permanently damages the condition of the coat. Besides the poor esthetics of removing the beautiful, glossy longer outer guard hairs, this outer coat protects the undercoat from becoming brittle when exposed to air and UV rays of the sun.
Cutting the coat interrupts the natural hair cycle, makes shedding time unpredictable and can leave the coat sparse and just plain ugly. In severe cases, the coat may never grow back.
Regular brushing and grooming are all that is necessary and advisable to keep your dog's coat in its best condition. As long as your dog isn't shaved, cut down or severely matted, his coat will do its job and keep his temperature regulated in all seasons. Regular bathing and brushing will reduce the amount of dog dander in the environment and hair on your furniture.
I cringe when I see popular culture dogs like “Boo” the Pomeranian with the coat cut down. With so many breeds to choose from, if you don't like the look of a big coat, then select a short-coated breed or a breed that has little to no undercoat that will satisfy your craving for hairstyling, like a poodle, Yorkie, or Maltese.
Well groomed on the left. Assault by clippers on the right. Get a stuffed animal if you want "cute" more than "cared for properly".


  1. It would be interesting to study core body temperature, as well as skin and extremity temperature, in clipped vs brushed dogs of the same body size, condition, and coat type.

    If you handle a completely hairless breed in hot weather, you'll discover that dogs DO sweat -- just not in a quantity sufficient to notice when there's any hair present at all.

  2. Dogs do have apocrine glands, primarily on the pads of their feet. These do not have an appreciable efect on cooling. The primary canine cooling mechanism is not via sweat, but by air exchange in the mouth and nose. From a veterinary study:
    "The dog’s nose is specialized to dissipate heat through the nasal conchae. These are covered in a large, vascularized mucous membrane, which cools the air by evaporation during inspiration. Both lingual and nasal blood flow increase during panting, to facilitate heat exchange. The lateral nasal gland (glandula nasalis lateralis) facilitates this process of rapid heat exchange via secreting fluid into the nasal vestibule and onto the conchae, potentiating evaporation. The function of these glands is analogous to that of sweat glands in humans. This allows effective thermoregulation, and accounts for 19%–36% of the increase in respiratory evaporation associated with thermal panting. As such, restricted nasal ventilation has a great impact on dogs’ thermoregulatory abilities."

    Hence the severe hampering of cooling abilities when the dog is brachycephalic (which is the subject of another article I suppose!)