Is It Safe To Shave Your Dog During The Summer?

It could hurt more than just his pride.

When temperatures spike, dog owners may think they’re doing their pup a favor by reaching for the electric razor, but shaving your dog in the summer may not necessarily be the best option when it comes to keeping your pet cool.

It’s important to keep in mind that dog and cat fur is not the same as human hair, and pet parents should consider their dog’s breed and coat before taking a little off the top, the ASPCA notes. Animals’ coats insulate them from the cold and the heat, making their fluff a secret weapon when it comes to repelling snow or beating the sun’s rays.

A dog’s coat is kind of like insulation for your house,” Dr. Louise Murray, vice president of the ASPCA Animal Hospital, explains in a press release. “Insulation stops your home from getting too cold in winter, but it also keeps it from overheating in summer — and your dog’s coat does the same thing.” So a shaved dog is no laughing matter.

A good rule of thumb is to not shave any dog that sheds, particularly double-coated breeds. Dogs with this coat type, such as the Alaskan husky, Pomeranian, Australian shepherd and Pembroke Welsh corgi, have both a downy, insulative undercoat and longer, protective outer “guard hairs” to repel moisture. These dogs will naturally shed, according to Dr. Chris Reeder, veterinary dermatologist with BluePearl Veterinary Partners, so that they have a lighter-weight coat in the summer; this means you may notice more fur on your pillows and sofa as the warm weather approaches.

“Some folks shave dogs and cats to help cut down on shedding, which is driven by the number of daylight hours,” Dr. Reeder tells The Dodo. During the summertime, longer days will mean more shedding, whereas in the winter, when the days are shorter, dogs and cats are more likely to retain their coats, Dr. Reeder explains.

However, shaving your pet because the long summer days are making your cat or dog release a little extra fur could do some serious damage to their lustrous, thick coats.

The natural shedding process and thinning undercoat allow room for air to circulate near your pup’s skin, providing a type of natural cooling system. Shaving a double-coated dog could do irreparable damage to their coat’s texture when it grows back, so unless there is a medical reason, such as a skin infection, put down those clippers, Dr. Reeder says.

For double-coated breeds, the only maintenance their coats need in the summer is regular brushing and bathing, according to Dr. Reeder, so the hairs do not become matted and can continue to ventilate.

If your pup does not shed and has hair that is constantly growing, such as a poodle or bichon frise, you can feel free to give him a shorter summer cut to keep it from getting matted and easier to maintain.

“If there is excess matting of hair or medical needs, shaving is ideal,” Dr. Reeder says. “Most of our pets are indoors and thus do not require full-coat shaving. I recommend to not shave below a medium-hair coat length and have a professional groomer shave the pet.”

Fur provides protection from the sun, which keeps your pup from getting sunburned and minimizes risk of skin cancer, so owners should always leave at least an inch of fur to act as natural sunscreen. Bring your pup to a professional groomer for their haircut to make sure it is done right, and “never shave down to the skin or try to cut the hair yourself with scissors,” the ASPCA warns. As long as your pet has plenty of shade and cool, clean water to drink during the summer he'll be happy!