Looking at a dog with a heavy, thick fur coat, it’s natural to assume that the dog would be cooler without all of that fur. Believe it or not, this is a controversial issue. Many people are strongly against shaving a dog’s fur in the summer months as they feel that the coat actually helps the dog regulate its body temperature. The fur, in effect, acts as insulation from both hot and cold temperatures, similar to how the insulation in your house is a barrier to both heat and cold. This makes sense, considering that dogs don’t sweat to regulate body temperature, but rather pant to dissipate heat and only sweat through their foot pads.
However, many breeds with thick fur coats bred for cold climates find themselves living in a hot, humid environment for which they are less well-adapted. In some cases, very thick, long or dark fur can stop acting as insulation and can begin to retain heat. Trimming the coat can help keep these pets more comfortable, and less likely to develop mats. A shorter coat will also keep your dog cleaner during the summer months when your dog spends more time outside and is easier to maintain for dogs that like to swim.
If you do shave your dog’s fur, make sure his newly-shaven skin is protected from the sun to prevent serious sunburn. Leaving about 1 inch of fur will help protect your dog’s skin from the sun. If your dog is heavily matted or you are not experienced with shaving your dog, consider using a professional groomer to shave your dog. You can also consider using a tool such as a FURminator to strip just the heavy undercoat from your dog’s coat.
Whether or not you elect to shave your dog, to prevent hyperthermia in the warm summer months, it is imperative to never leave your dog unattended in a parked car, or outside for a long period of time without access to shade and a source of cool water.
What are your thoughts on shaving your dog for the summer months?