With summer in Seattle and across the nation ramping up, now is a good time to revisit a controversial topic: shaving your double-coated dog. The original article from 2012, found here has garnered a whopping 400 comments and counting. Some common threads from those will be addressed in this article.
Double-coated dogs shed or “blow” their under-coat twice a year (spring and fall) requiring regular brushing. In the spring, a double-coated dog will shed the densely grown under-coat they sported for winter. They regrow a less dense summer under-coat which protects their skin. While this keeps your pet warm in winter, it also keeps the heat out in summer. This is not the same as a human (who sweats through the skin) wearing a fur coat. It is similar to the insulation in your home, keeping the indoors at a relatively ambient temperature compared to the weather outside. So getting rid of a double-coated dogs layers of fur (whether you call it shaving or trimming) removes this insulation. The hot sun will heat the dog more than if the fur is present to insulate him. You also increase the risk of sun burn and bug bites.
Will the hair grow back the way it was? The under-coat will likely come back, but it’s the top layer (guard hair) that may not. This is dog, rather than breed specific. And while guard hairs do shed, they shed and replace themselves similarly to human head hair.
Is a double-coated dog happier after a shave? He may be happy, or may be reacting to the novelty of a state that isn't his norm. We project human attributes to animals all the time; it’s our nature. And yes, humans have had a hand in molding our dogs along with natural evolution but to varying degrees.
Are dogs like Malamutes and Huskies uncomfortable in weather warmer than what they were designed for? It is likely, but there are more effective ways to keep your double-coated pet cool. Cool, fresh water at all times, frozen treats, access to shade if outside, or air conditioning inside, etc.
Like any hot button topic where there are opposing sides, you find clash. Whether or not you decide to shave your pooch is entirely up to you. Shaving down a Shih Tzu is an entirely different than shaving both layers (top and under-coat) of a Husky or Pomeranian. Take this information and do right by your best friend, not just yourself. Are there legit medical reasons to shave a double-coated dog? Yes. Folks should be aware of the effects however.