To Shave or Not to Shave! In general there are two type of textures on dog’s fur: single coated and double coated.
To Shave or Not to Shave – Single Coated Dogs
In single coated dogs there is a top coat the grows all over the body with no undercoat. Breeds with this type of coat can be shaven with the only thing potentially occurring to the coat is over time it may become softer or it may have a slight color change. Even when your dog is a single coated you have to be careful, if you shave them and the coat remains very short, although may appear to feel cooler or leaves the dog exposed to sunburn. With the simple fact that there is only one coat, the hair grows back normally after shaving.
To Shave or Not to Shave – Doyble Coated Dogs
In double coated dogs there is a over coat made of thicker protecting hairs, and an under coat made of dense and soft hair. This type of coat is found in breeds such as Siberia Huskies, Alaskan Malamutes, Samoyeds and many others. Having a double coated dog means that they should be groomed by brushing throughout the year but most often done in spring when is the major shedding period of the year. When the weather becomes more and more warm the dense undercoat starts to do a complete shed. When you look at a dog in shed, they have “tufts” of fur that is soft and dense peaking through the longer guard hairs of the topcoat, this is called molting.
You should brush all this dense coat out of the dog. This coat becomes very compact and matted, preventing air to move between topcoat and skin. Well all the undercoat is removed the air can circulate between and through the hairs of the topcoat keeping the dog cool, while the topcoat keeps the skin protected from the sun. This topcoat can also protect the dog’s skin from fly and mosquito bites.
But the big question that remains is: Why not shave them and keep them away from sun? First of all, the may not be cool even if they are our of the sun, topcoat helps them keeping the heat off the skin and differently from people dogs do not sweat by their skin, they sweat by panting and in most of them except northern breeds, through the pads of the feet. So by shaving them you remove some of their ability to stay cool. An other reason is that when the hair grow back again tend to do strange things. In some cases there are patches that don’t grow at all, or in some cases there are patches that don’t grow both type of coats.
Older dogs have problems with proper regrowth of the coat, in other cases (most often) the undercoat grows in faster than the topcoat (since the topcoat isn’t meant to shed extensively it grows extremely slowly) so now that protective topcoat is matted into the undercoat.
Dogs like this generally appear as though they have thyroid issues. Usually in this cases the coat looks fuzzy and varies in length allover the body, but this doesn’t mean that the coat will not be back to normally. With regular brushing and the next shed cycle the topcoat will get longer and the undercoat will go away leaving the coat the way it was before shaving. Also an important thing to know about the thick protecting hairs is that they prevent the dog from getting wet. Due to the coarseness of the guard hairs water rolls off of this topcoat keeping the undercoat dry, which in the winter is important to keeping the dog warm and dry.
After all this being said there may be times where shaving its a necessity. In surgical/medical situations the coat must be shaved or if the undercoat is too matted it can not be combed out shaving is the only choice. Just remember to brush them regularly after the coat start to grow in, this way you can keep it free of matting and preventing shaves in the future.
The ideal situation: Keep the hair brushed, remove all the undercoat and allow the dog to remain with their natural ability to keep themselves cool and protected from the sun and some bug bites in the summer and warm and dry in the winter.