Should You Shave Your Dog for Summer?

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Last week, we posted an article about a German Shepherd dog on our FaceBook page. The story was that the owner had taken their dog to a local groomer for grooming and the dog ended up being shaved with only his head and tip of his tail unshaved.
The owner was distraught and threatening to sue the groomers. I was a bit horrified until I read the full story and heard the groomers side of things. They stated the woman asked for this cut, they advised against it, even showing her a small patch of what it would look like, but she insisted. I had less sympathy for the owner after that – maybe she was at fault?
In most situations like this of “he said – she said”, the truth is somewhere in the middle. It’s a shame for the dog. Not only does he look goofy, but GSD’s are not meant to be shaved to the skin. A dog’s coat protects them from many things, the sun being an obvious one and rather than keeping the dog cooler for summer, his insulation is removed and his skin exposed to the sun.

Shaving your Dog

Shaving your Dog

The post stirred up some controversy on my FB page with some folks calling for the groomers head…and groomers defending their craft. Some folks said the groomers should have refused, and that seems a good compromise, but that only works if you are self-employed or work for a groomer who has high standards. If you get penalized for denying service to a customer…you might just end up without a job.
Many folks said, and I agree, it comes down to owner education. I think some owners get frustrated with the care and effort required to keep a dog’s coat in shape. (Even though a GSD coat doesn’t seem too difficult to me). Shaving becomes a simple solution. While it may be better than letting your dog become matted, it’s not always the answer.
There are certainly breeds that are traditionally groomed and shaved or trimmed (poodles, obviously), but it’s not a good solution for every dog. Double-coated dogs, like Jack and Maggie should never be shaved as their double coats protect them from the elements and act as an insulator from the heat ( as well as the cold in winter). Shaving them would likely ruin the coat.
And the idea that shaving a dog will prevent shedding is just WRONG. Dogs shed…full stop. If you don’t want dog hair in your house and on your clothes, don’t get a dog, get a gekko.
Interestingly, there is evidence that some dogs actually love to rid themselves of some of their extra hair and a trim or cut actually improves their spirits. The dog in the article and many others, exhibit signs of anxiety and discomfort after being shaved. Think about how you would feel if your hairdresser shaved your head!
If you do decide to shave your dog, it’s recommended to leave at least an inch of hair to protects the dogs skin.
Additional Readings:

Three Reasons You Shouldn’t Shave Your Pet
One of the Most Controversial Pet Care Questions Hotly Debated by All Stakeholders
Truths and Myths About Shaving Dogs with Double Coats

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  1. Thank you for posting this; shaving a double coated breed can do so much damage to their fur. We see it so often here in the Midwest and I don’t know if it’s just a lack of education or what. The saddest part about it is that owners think they’re doing the right thing; usually it would make complete sense to rid a dog of all that extra fur in the summer.
    Jen Gabbard recently posted…Why Do Female Dogs Get Blamed For Dead Grass?My Profile

  2. I was horrified when I saw the article. I have German shepherds. They’re really not that difficult to groom. They’re pretty much wash and wear. I brush them once a week or so, and bathe them when they get stinky. Yes, they shed like crazy, but I own a Dyson vacuum cleaner so it doesn’t really bother me. By the way, lizards shed too!
    Kelley recently posted…Oh No, Jedi’s Coughing!My Profile

  3. Groomers may want to get everything in writing after this experience. People can be strange sometimes.
    jan recently posted…Remembering…My Profile

  4. A lot of the dogs who have behavioral problems after getting their hair trimmed is due to the owners attitude about the haircut. Seriously. If you make a big deal out of the haircut, of course the dog is going to act differently. They pick up on our emotions and they go right down the leash.

    Just fyi, you can’t always leave an inch of hair. Especially if they are matted to the skin or on thick coats. The blades do not go through. Many dogs do just fine shaved down and I’ve had owners tell me that they feel much better afterwords. Some have even stated that once all the hair is gone their older dogs act like puppies again.

    While I don’t recommend shaving of double coated breeds, sometimes you have to. If the owner has neglected to keep up with the grooming and the undercoat is matted it’s much gentler to the dog if the coat is shaved off versus hours on end of pulling and de-matting. Also, some times dogs have to be shaved down due to medical issues or in the case of hunting dogs where it is safer to shave the coat off than be covered in burs and foxtails.

    Honestly, I just wish that people who are not in the field would stop giving out advice on grooming when they have no idea what they are talking about.
    Lauren Miller (ZoePhee) recently posted…Memorial DayMy Profile

  5. Oh gosh, shaving a German Shepherd is probably one of the worst things you can do to this beautiful breed grooming wise…it’s probably a matter of not being familiar with the GSD, and assuming that his coat is too warm for the summer. Yikes.
    Barbara Rivers recently posted…Enjoy Memorial Day With These Pet Safety TipsMy Profile

  6. Other than breeds that require grooming, as you mentioned, and even that within a reason, I’d never shave a dog. Particularly not those with double coat.
    Jana Rade recently posted…Probiotics, Prebiotics … What Does It All Mean for Your Dog?My Profile

  7. Great information, so true we need to educate, if clients come to our groomer and want a dog shaved that shouldn’t be she explains and won’t do it. Some people will shop around til they find one that will do it and that is sad.
    Sand spring Chesapeakes recently posted…Grain Free Greenies~@chewy.comMy Profile

  8. Years ago, I had a very thick coated Golden that I used to have shaved down in the summer. I lived in an area with terrible ticks, and they were impossible to find in his coat. He had no problems with it; his coat was thick enough that no bare skin showed, and we were both happier that I could get the ticks off him.

    FWIW, I live in the UK now, and all reputable groomers refused to demat a matted dog. They can be done for cruelty as it can be very painful for the dog.

    • I can understand doing it for health or sanitary purposes as you did – that makes sense. It’s the purely cosmetic over-grooming that just doesn’t seem right.
      mkob recently posted…Overview of a Good Dog FoodMy Profile

  9. The only time I allow my girls to b shaved is for surgical prep, period. Their beautiful Golden Retriever double coats are not meant to be shaved for any other reason. They insulate the dogs from summer’s heat — and winter’s cold — and protect their skin from sun damage. The same goes for Ducky, even though her coat is short like her Lab ancestors (rather than long and fluffy like her Corgi ancestors).

    While I understand where Lauren is coming from, even professional groomers differ in their opinions about this hot topic. At least they do around here.
    Callie, Shadow, and Ducky’s Mom recently posted…Wearing Ducky OutMy Profile

    • I didn’t realize it was such a hot topic until my post. Seems like it should be common sense.
      mkob recently posted…Overview of a Good Dog FoodMy Profile

  10. Oh my!!! I know situations like this all too well. I admin for a Siberian Husky FB group, which has over 8,000 members, and it’s no secret that you are not suppose to shave huskies!! The second someone posts about how they shaved their husky, or asks if they should, everyone instantly jumps down their throat. I think it is important to educate people about this. It can just do so much damage rather than good.
    ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!
    Jenna,Mark “HuskyCrazed” Drady recently posted…Family Fun At The Lilac FestivalMy Profile

  11. I’m glad you posted this. I never shave Sam down all the way, his pink skin would burn in a minute at our mile high elevation. 🙂
    Monika recently posted…Home of the FreeMy Profile

  12. No shaving here…well, I sometimes get my lips shaved a bit or some other sensitive areas, but just a tiny shave. We love and need our furs!
    Emma recently posted…RaceMy Profile

  13. Maybe I’ve got to hop over to the FB article and check this out – who shaves a German Shepard? I’ve never shaved Harley, at best he will get a summer cut so that he’s not on fire during the middle of the summer. I agree with you, it’s a catch twenty two for the groomer, however, I have heard a few decline services when they felt it wasn’t in the best interest or health of the dog. I can respect that policy in an establishment who’s first concern is of the animal. Going to FB now…
    Groovy Goldendoodles recently posted…CAN DOGS SHARE?My Profile

  14. Hmm, I’ve seen the horror reactions, and I am still not convinced ;-).

    This could be because I have a poodle now, and people get up to all sorts of wackiness with their coats. (Mine is in a short-all-over wash and go trim.)

    Taking a dog’s coat down with a #4 blade should not expose any skin. And I’d rather see even a double coated breed clipped off rather than matted; mats can be very uncomfortable, and some owners neglect to brush. I include myself in that group! That’s why I keep my dog short.

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