One of the first things people do when the weather gets hotter is to start shedding some clothing.
After all, who wants to wear a heavy winter coat on a 100° day?
So many pet owners feel that their dogs should get a summer haircut because surely they must be hot in their heavy fur coats. Are they right or wrong? Both. As with so many things related to dogs, there is no one answer that's right for every dog.
Dogs’ Fur Coats are Versatile
Overall, dogs are engineered pretty well. Their fur coats are no exception. As a general rule, if a dog is regularly groomed, her fur will keep her comfortably warm in the winter and cool in the summer.
Many breeds of dogs are double-coated. They have a downy undercoat that works to keep them warm in the winter. They shed that coat in the summer. If that undercoat is brushed out and their longer outer coat is kept clean and free from mats, the bouncy movement of the outer coat cools the skin, keeping the dog cool.
Mats in the fur or a dirty coat are a different story, though. Both can hold moisture which can cause skin irritation, hot spots, and other skin issues. Dogs' coats should be kept free of mats and kept clean.
The activity of your dog can also be a factor. If you brush your dog every day or two and she spends most of her summer in the house soaking up air-conditioned air, she probably doesn't need a special hairdo for the summer.
But if your fuzzy friend is more of a tomboy and less of a lady and loves to roll in the mud, run through the forest, and thinks being clean is for sissies, you may want to give her a trim. She'll be easier to bathe, and shorter fur will be less likely to mat or pick up foreign articles, like burs. It will also make it easier for you to see fleas or ticks on her.
Trim Your Dog’s Coat Properly
If you do decide to get your dog clipped, most vets and groomer recommend against shaving your dog. Your dog should have at least one inch of fur to help protect her from the sun's rays, which can cause both sunburn and skin cancer.
A poorly cut double-coated dog can suffer from alopecia, which can cause the fur to grow back with blotches or bald spots. It can affect the color of the coat. This can cause permanent damage to the coat.
If you cut your dog's hair yourself, be careful with the dog clippers. They can heat to the point they can burn your dog in only a few minutes.
You may want to use a professional groomer to clip your dog. The groomer can help you decide what kind of cut to give your dog, and will know what's best for your dog's fur. The groomer will help you pick a cut that's long enough to protect your dog from the sun, keep her cool, and will save your dog the embarrassment of a poorly done home cut.
You can always consider getting your dog a trim if she seems to hot this summer. But if her fur is kept clean, she's brushed regularly, and she's kept at a healthy weight, she should be able to stay cool all summer long even with her full fur coat.
Pam Hair is a pet industry copywriter with Fuzzy Friends Writer, where she combines her three passions: a love of animals, a strong desire to help other people, and the joy of writing. She has been a pet parent over the years to dogs, cats, and a variety of rodents. Currently she and her husband share their home with two guinea pigs.