Is Dog Shaving A Good Idea? What To Consider Before You Get Clipping
Does it make sense to shave your dog's hair? Is there ever a right time? How do you start and what tools do you use? Here we cover all these questions - and more.
Like any loving dog parent, you might’ve wondered if your buddy’s thick, lush coat might bother them in these blazing hot summer months. But before you get to clipping your dog’s hair, consider: does dog shaving make sense in the first place? Is it a good idea for your buddy’s breed? And is your timing right?
A lot can go wrong when shaving or trimming your dog’s fur. So in this article, we’re going to cover some important points to keep in mind when clipping dog hair – and what else you need to consider. Let’s get started.
Table of contents
- When does it make sense to shave your dog’s hair?
- When & how often should you shave or trim your dog’s hair?
- The right tools for a smooth dog shave
- Clipping dog fur: Your step by step guide to getting started
- Clipping dog fur at your local grooming service
- Dog shaving: Good, great, or just gross?
When does it make sense to shave your dog’s hair?
To clip or not to clip – what’s the best choice for your dog? There are a ton of different opinions on whether dog shaving makes sense, or whether you should leave their natural coat untouched. Ultimately, you’ll need to consider factors like your dog’s breed, coat type, and their health.
First things first: check the condition of your dog’s coat. Clipping dog hair can depend entirely on this factor. But before we get started, here’s a quick distinction between your dog’s top coat and their undercoat.
- Your dog’s top coat is what you see first. It determines the color of the coat on the outside. Top coats protect your dog from outside elements like the weather – or attacks from other animals. With a well-groomed top coat, your buddy won’t just be happy, but also healthy for the long term.
- Your dog’s undercoat is a dense layer of hair which helps them regulate their body temperature. So your buddy is protected both from the cold in winter and from the heat and summer. Like top coats, undercoats best help protect your dog when they’re kept well-groomed.
⚠️ Dog shaving is a terrible idea for breeds with a double layer of fur (i.e. both undercoat and top coat). Doing so can mess up their natural hair growth and quality. In some cases, shaving off a dog’s double coat can damage their hair follicles and might even increase their risk of developing alopecia!1 So double check if your dog belongs to a double coat breed – like, for example, Siberian Huskies, Samoyeds, or part of the Shepherd or Retriever families.
Clipping dog hair: pros, perks & when it makes sense
When it comes to certain dog breeds, dog shaving might actually be a good idea:
- It’s a great fit for dogs with constantly regrowing fur. Some examples of these breeds include Havanese dogs, Yorkshire terriers, Maltese dogs, Poodles, Bichon Frisé and Portuguese water dogs.
For some of these breeds, like with Poodles, their coats can grow so long that it’s generally a good idea to clip (if not trim) it regularly. In others, like with Yorkies, their coats are usually left long and only brushed regularly to keep it in good condition.
- If your dog has skin conditions like dermatitis or a bacterial infection, trimming their coat can help speed up treatment and recovery. Removing excess fur can help better ventilate their skin, which can help them heal quicker.
- Clipping long, thick hair can make dog grooming an easier, more enjoyable experience. It can also help keep your dog’s skin clean and healthy. Less fur can also reduce the risk of matting and bacterial infections.
- Most dogs can regulate their own body temperature – through their natural coat, panting, and more. But for some dogs, clipping their fur can help dissipate their body heat more easily. This can be a great relief for dogs with joint problems or cardiovascular issues, since they might be more likely to overheat than healthier dogs.3
Clipping dog hair: cons, challenges & when it doesn’t make sense
For many breeds, their coat helps them regulate their body temperature naturally. So they’re protected during both cold winters and hot summers. Clipping their fur can make them more vulnerable to extreme weather conditions.⚠️
- If you shave your dog’s coat too short, they might be more vulnerable to sunburn.
- Similarly, they might be more vulnerable to colds after bathing, because they no longer have their protective coat.
- In general, you should always clip your dog’s fur with caution. There’s always a risk for cuts and skin injuries – especially if your buddy is a more high-energy breed or if you’re not used to dog shaving.
- If you shave off your dog’s top coat, they’re more likely to accumulate water and moisture. With time, this can increase their risk of bacterial infections and other parasites, like ticks and fleas.
In a nutshell: there’s no simple “yes” or “no” answer to the question of whether dog shaving is a good idea. While it’s a relief for some dog breeds, it’s an absolute no-no for some others.
In all cases, we strongly advise you to consult with your veterinarian before clipping your dog’s hair.
When & how often should you shave or trim your dog’s hair?
In short: when and how often you should give your dog a trim depends on their breed, coat type, and their individual needs. Some dogs might only need clipping once a year – others, every few months, depending on how quickly their coat grows back.
If your dog’s coat regrows constantly, you might be concerned about the summer months. So in this case, it makes sense to clip their fur around springtime. But watch out – a too-close shave can increase their risk of sunburn!
Some dogs have seasonal coat changes. If you’re planning on clipping your dog’s fur, it’s smart to do it before their big coat change. This makes it easier to thin out their coat and make the process less stressful for your buddy.
As always, make sure to coordinate with your local vet on the timing and frequency of dog shaving.
The right tools for a smooth dog shave
When clipping your dog’s fur, here are a couple of tips and tricks that will make the process as comfortable and stress-free as possible for your dog. To start, make sure you have everything you need for a smooth dog shaving experience.
- Dog-friendly shampoo and conditioner to help you wash your dog before clipping. This can help you remove dirt and loose hair. In general, we’d recommend avoiding using hair products built for humans, as they might contain chemicals that are harmful for your dog.
- Towels and a blow dryer to dry your buddy’s coat before clipping. Ideally, you should use a vet-approved blow dryer – a regular one might be too hot for your dog.
- Dog clippers that are built for your dog’s claws. In general, a guillotine-style blade is ideal for most pets. Keep clear of traditional clippers for humans, as they aren’t suited for dogs.
- Trimmers with different lengths to allow for different cuts and styles.
- Combing attachments which you can add on to your clippers to vary the length of your dog’s fur-cut.
- Dog-friendly brushes and combs which can help you de-tangle and brush your dog’s coat before clipping. This can also help you remove loose hair afterwards.
- Scissors to help you trim specific areas, like around the ears or eyes and for smoothing out any irregularities after clipping. Be extra careful with these!
We cover a number of vet-approved hairbrushes, shampoos, and nail care products in our guide to easy dog grooming tips you can do at home. Check it out to get started right away!
Clipping dog fur: Your step by step guide to getting started
Prepping your buddy
- Washing and drying: Start by washing your dog with a mild dog-friendly shampoo. By removing dirt and loose hair, this will make the the clipping process a whole lot easier. Make sure to dry them well after.
- Brushing: Brush your dog’s coat thoroughly to remove any tangles or knots. This is an important step as clippers can get stuck in matted fur.
- Choose a quiet, familiar place: ideally without distractions, so your dog feels more at ease. For example, a non-slip table can come in handy.
- Prep your clippers: Make sure your clippers are clean, well-oiled, and equipped with the right blade.
- Get clipping: Clip in the direction of your dog’s hair growth. Start at a spot where they’re most comfortable, like their back. Use a gentle, even motion with the clippers around your dog’s body.
- Be mindful of your dog’s skin: especially in areas where your dog’s skin is thin or wrinkled, like their neck, underarms, or genital areas. Gently pull the skin taut as needed.
- Gently use scissors: around your dog’s face, ears, and paws. Be extra careful to avoid injury!
- Rewards: Once you’re done clipping, give your buddy a ton of pats and praise for cooperating. This can help them learn that fur clipping is a safe, positive experience.
- Clean your equipment: Clean your clippers and blades after use. Oil your blades before storing them away. Make sure to put them away in a clean, dry place.
- Ongoing care: Brush your dog’s hair regularly over the next few days to prevent any skin irritation. This will also prevent knots from forming.
More tips & tricks
- Be extra careful around sensitive parts of your dog’s body – like the head, ears, paws, or genitals.
- If you’re clipping your dog’s fur for the first time, we’d recommend putting the clippers away. Instead, use scissors with rounded corners.
- We also advise starting slow and steady. Get your dog used to clippers or other shearing devices – and the noise they make.
For example, start by turning on the clipper – but don’t use it at first. Else, you might be more likely to scare your dog if they’re caught unawares. The point is to get them used to the sound gradually, so they don’t panic when you approach them with it.
Here’s a video on how to help your dog get used to clippers:
- During clipping, guide your clipper head close to your dog’s body without any pressure on their skin.
- Don’t set your machine down – you’ll be more likely to end up with an unwanted coat pattern if you do.
- Much like humans, dogs can also benefit from conditioning lotion or cream after clipping. This can help soothe their skin and prevent irritation.
If you’re shearing your dog for the first time, make sure to watch some tutorials beforehand. Or even better, ask a professional for advice.
Most importantly: be patient with your buddy. Take regular breaks when they need them. And don’t forget to offer them a ton of hugs and praise for cooperating with you during the process.
Clipping dog fur at your local grooming service
Like many loving dog parents around the world, you might hesitate clipping your dog’s fur by yourself. Maybe you don’t have the time – or you want to leave some jobs to the pros. So it’s a smart choice to have your dog’s fur trimmed at your local grooming service.
A trained professional is a great choice to keep your buddy safely groomed. Many services offer a full package that includes washing, drying, clipping, brushing, claw trimming, ear cleaning, and tons of pampering for your dog. The whole process might be a little overwhelming at first, but most dogs adjust happily to the care and attention after any initial uncertainty.
Dog shaving: Good, great, or just gross?
Clipping dog hair makes a ton of sense in some cases. In others, it really doesn’t. So make sure to consider your buddy’s breed, coat texture, and their individual needs.
- In most cases, your dog’s coat is natural protection against the weather. Clipping their fur can interfere with this function.
- In other cases, dog shaving can provide a ton of relief – especially for breeds with long or thick coats.
And in all cases, make sure you’re well-informed about the pros and cons specific to your dog’s breed. Keep in touch with your local vet and make sure to thoroughly discuss your options.
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