As a dog groomer, I am frequently asked if you should clip or shave a double coated breed i.e retrievers, collies, etc. People generally want to do this for two reasons:
– to help keep their dog cooler. This is not the case as it hinders the natural function of the double coat. The double coat consists of a top coat (guard coat) which functions to protect your dog’s skin. It also has a softer undercoat to keep your dog warm.
When the weather is colder a dog produces more undercoat and when warmer this coat dies off and is shedded. This is by nature’s design and functions well. Regular brushing helps to remove this dead coat and prevent matting.
This thermal image shows a dog that has had the rear end clipped and the front is the natural double coat. As you can see the natural coat area is cooler than the shaved area by over 6 degrees.
– to reduce shedding. This may result in increased shedding as the coat often grows back thicker producing more undercoat. This can mess up the natural function of the coat. It also tends to make the coat more prone to matting.
Some Vets recommend clipping or shaving the coat if your dog as bad skin issues so the skin can have better airflow. This is something best to discuss with your vet but I feel brushing out the undercoat would have the same result.
In some cases, if your dog is very matted clipping may be the only option.
The downside to clipping or shaving a double coated dog
The downside to clipping or shaving is that it can alter their coat resulting in it growing back thicker, coarser and even patchy. This change in coat varies from dog to dog with some dogs showing very little change and others it can spoil the coat. Therefore it may result in them shedding even more and doesn’t make them cooler as it hinders the natural function of the double coat. By cutting or shaving the guard coat which is designed to protect your dog’s skin may increase the risk of sunburn.
My recommendation is that if you have had your dog clipped or shaved before and are happy with the result continue to do it.
However, if you have never done it I would recommend having your dog deshedded i.e all dead coat is removed. This will result in keeping your dog cooler and reduce the fur left around the home. I also feel it looks nicer than a clipped or shaved off dog. Read How to brush a dog for more information
A further way to keep them cool is to clip under the chest and belly only.