- Kailyn Pennington
Double Coat Double-Take
Do you have a big fluffy dog that doesn't like the summer heat? Do you find them panting heavily and lazing about more in the hotter months? Do you think to yourself that maybe you should shave them to make them more comfortable? Well meaning as that is, it would actually be the opposite of helpful.
Your double coated dog has two types of fur: the guard coat, and the undercoat. The guard coat is extremely important for their temperature regulation. A dog's skin is vastly different from ours. Dogs have muscles in their skin that specifically lift the guard hairs and their blood carries heat to the skin. The lifted guard hairs allow for air circulation, and this air flow combined with the released heat allow the dog to cool itself down. But, when you shave them, they actually lose their ability to create that air flow. When shaved dogs lose their guard coat it can actually trap the heat under their undercoat. Now they're hotter than ever and prone to sunburn!
Some people like to shave their dogs to cut down on shedding. But, shaving your double coated dog will actually make the shedding problem worse! Those hairs that would normally be longer and just sit on your couch, waiting to be vacuumed or lint-rolled up, now have a sharper cut end to them and can embed themselves into your furniture. Not just that, but they can get stuck in your clothes, making you itchy, and can actually embed into your skin. That's a hair splinter and they're awful, just ask your groomer.
Shaving your dog can have lasting cosmetic effects as well. Your dog's beautiful coat may grow back a different texture. Or if the skin gets damaged, it may not grow back at all, leaving bald spots. The color of your dog's guard coat and undercoat are likely different, and because the guard coat grows much more slowly than the undercoat, your dog will have seemingly changed color!
Lastly, what dogs even have double coats? The answer may surprise you. While the obvious answer is: the fluffy ones. The Great Pyrenees, Pomeranian, Husky, and German Shepherds. All of these jump to mind. But Golden Retrievers, Labs, Havanese, and Beagles are also double coated. There are many, many more. If you don't know if your dog is double coated, just ask us! We'll let you know.
But what can you do to help keep your dog cool then? Brushing them, offering them shade and water when you can, and avoiding being out in the heat for too long are the best answers. Regular bathing and grooming are a must for our double coated dogs to stay cool, and to cut down on the shed fur they leave behind in your home.
It's getting pretty warm out now, with summer quickly approaching book an appointment for a de-shed with your favorite groomer today! See you soon!