To cut or not to cut? That is the question...for dog owners when the warmer months roll around. But the answer isn't as straightforward as you might think. This is because dogs have different types of fur and coats, and messing with them could disrupt their natural cooling system. So before you run to the groomers, read on to see if your dog needs a summer haircut:
Dogs have a higher risk of overheating than humans, which can quickly become dangerous and turn into heatstroke. A summer haircut is one way to help keep your dog cool and combat these risks, particularly for dogs with naturally heavy fur or thick double-coats. This is because a dog's coat can act as insulation, which is great for winter but not for the warmer months. Just make sure to take your dog to a professional groomer, since they'll know exactly how short to go and to avoid clipping down to the undercoat.
Pro Tip: Another perk of a summer haircut is that it can reduce shedding in double-coated dogs who are prone to shed.
Dogs have natural, physical mechanisms to keep them cool, such as panting, shedding and sweating through their paw pads. But most people don't know that a dog's fur can also keep them cool. Their coat actually traps air closest to the skin and keeps its at degrees similar to their ideal body temperature. Because of this, summer haircuts may actually be harmful to some dogs, as it can disrupt this natural cooling system.
Don't Shave Your Dog
On a related note, it's also a good idea to avoid shaving your dog during the warm months. This is because your dog's fur also serves to protect them from the elements, like the sun and its UV rays. Shaving your dog exposes them to harsh sunlight and puts them at a greater risk for sunburn, overheating or heatstroke, and even skin cancer.
Breeds That Can Get A Summer Cut
In general, dogs with heavier coats - be it longer or thicker fur - can benefit from a summer haircut. Examples include "hypoallergenic" breeds with long, fine hair (not fur) that traps their undercoat against their bodies; winter breeds that have thick fur that retains more heat; and breeds that tend to require regular, year-round grooming in general. Specific breeds include (but are not limited to):
- Afghan Hound
- Bernese Mountain Dog
- Bichon Frise
- Portuguese Water Dog
- Shih Tzu
- St. Bernard
- Yorkshire Terrier
Just remember that every dog is different, so you'll need to evaluate your pup and situation accordingly.