Is it ever a good idea to shave your dog?

June 28, 2024 - 6 min read

The information in this article has been reviewed by Dr. Rebecca MacMillan on June 28, 2024 . Although it may provide helpful guidance, it should not be substituted for professional veterinary advice.

A split-image showing a poodle with curly, untrimmed fur on the left and neatly groomed fur on the right.

Shaving dogs might seem like a great way to help them stay cool during hot months, but it might not be as straightforward as it appears.

Before taking the clippers to your furry friend, it's crucial to understand the implications. Today, we'll get into the pros and cons of shaving dogs, exploring the reasons behind the practice and alternatives to keep your pet comfortable and well-groomed.

First, let's get into some of the most common reasons why pet parents consider shaving their pup.

Common reasons pet parents shave their dog

shaved pekingese dog stands on grass outside

What are some of the main reasons many pet parents choose to get their dogs shaved?

#1. It's hot out

Many pup parents believe that shaving will help dogs stay cool in hot weather.

#2. Shedding is out of control

Shaving is sometimes seen as a way to manage excessive shedding.

#3. They like how it looks

Remember Boo, the adorable Pomeranian with a teddy bear haircut? Lots of pup parents go nuts for adorable cuts or styles.

#4. The vet recommended it

In cases of extreme matting or other issues, a vet might recommend shaving to alleviate discomfort and make treatments easier.

But do these reasons hold up against the facts? Well, let's get a little deeper into the point of a pup's fur or hair.

What's the purpose of a dog's coat?

yorkie being shaved by a groomer on top of a table

Does a dog's fluffy coat do more than make them cute or fun to cuddle? Yup. Whether it's fur or hair, it serves multiple functions:

  • Regulates body temperature: Fur is particularly effective for insulation, which helps to keep dogs warm in the winter.

  • Protects from sun and injuries: The coat shields the skin from harmful UV rays and reduces the risk of injuries from environmental factors. Dogs that are hairless or have thin areas in their coat might need extra sun protection due to the increase in skin exposure.

  • Maintains skin health: A healthy coat helps prevent skin infections and irritations by providing a barrier against dirt and parasites.

Dogs that are hairless or have thin areas in their coat might need extra sun protection due to the increase in skin exposure.

While some dogs are designed to live quite happily without a coat, most dog's coats are pretty crucial, whether they're double- or single-coated. Here's a bit more information about coat types, fur vs. hair, and how to tell which your dog has.

Types of coats in dogs

Dogs can have either single or double coats, each serving distinct purposes based on a dog's history and origins.

To make matters a bit more confusing, their coats can be classified as fur or hair, each with unique characteristics and maintenance needs.

Fur tends to be shorter, denser, and has a more uniform growth cycle, leading to seasonal shedding. The hair grows to a predetermined length and then stops. Fur is common in double-coated breeds.

close up image of white dog fur

Hair, on the other hand, grows longer and has a more extended growth cycle, resulting in less shedding and requiring regular haircuts. Single-coated breeds often have hair.

close up of cream colored dog fur

Here's a bit more on single vs. double-coated breeds and examples of each.

Single-coated dog breeds

Italian Greyhound puppy with ears flopped over to the side sits against a beige background

Single-coated dog breeds have one layer of fur or hair that's generally shorter and provides less insulation.

Here are some examples of single-coated breeds:

These dogs typically shed less, making them easier to groom (and sometimes slightly more hypoallergenic).

However, their shorter fur or hair offers less protection against the elements; some may be more prone to sunburn and require sunscreen or protective clothing when it's too hot or cold out.

Double-coated dog breeds

Image of a middle-aged Golden Retriever looking to the sideDouble-coated dog breeds have a thick undercoat that insulates against the cold, topped with an outer layer that protects against the elements.

Some examples of double-coated breeds:

The undercoat traps warm air in the winter, while the top layer repels moisture and dirt. Their dense fur also provides excellent protection against the sun, reducing the risk of sunburn.

German Shepherd dog looking right while sitting on grass in the sun

As any German Shepherd owner will tell you, double-coated dogstend to shed heavily—especially during the spring and fall when they "blow" their coats—so regular grooming is a must.

The cons of shaving your dog

Is shaving a good way to deal with your Husky's near-constant shedding?

While it might temporarily give your vacuum and brush a break, shaving your dog might not be in their best interest.

Here are a couple of potential drawbacks of shaving a dog, particularly if they have a double coat.

Con #1: Your dog may be more prone to sunburns and injuries.

shaved pekingese dog sits on grass outside

Without the protective layer of fur, dogs may be more susceptible to insect bites and other injuries. The fur acts as a barrier against environmental hazards, and removing it can leave the skin exposed and vulnerable.

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That said, when dogs are clipped, they are usually left with a layer of short hair (most people don’t clip their dogs completely bald!). So while it is important to be aware of sunburn, in reality, it is unlikely to be a big issue.

Con #2: It might cause regrowth issues.

pomeranian with alopecia x being blow dried

Fur regrowth—particularly for double-coated breeds—can be unpredictable, leading to patchy, uneven, or slower regrowth. This is usually the biggest consideration when deciding whether to clip your dog.

Some breeds may experience changes in the texture or color of the regrown fur, and in some cases, the coat may take a few years to return to its original state.

top view of a pomeranian's back showing alopecia x

This has to do with the life cycle of the hairs, and in relation to this, the dog is clipped. In many cases, the undercoat is quicker to grow back than the tough outer coat, giving the dog a fluffy appearance.

shaved white pomeranian in harness at groomer

Nordic breeds (like Malamutes and Huskies) are said to be more at risk from coat regrowth issues. Without the protection of the outer guard hairs, this softer undercoat can be more difficult to manage.

Dogs with health conditions such as hypothyroidism may also suffer from patchy or slow regrowth.

Is it ever OK to shave your dog?

shaved chow chow dog lays in grass outside

Sun levels and humidity vary in different parts of the world, so there is not one correct answer to this question. If you have a dog that is bred to thrive in ice and snow, they will usually have a thick double coat, which is suitable for these conditions.

However, if this same dog lives somewhere hot and humid, an insulating coat will trap radiating body heat and make it harder for them to cool down. These dogs will be much more likely to struggle and could be at increased risk of heat stroke. Clipping these dogs' coats is likely to be the right answer to help keep them happy and healthy.

In some cases, veterinarians might recommend shaving as part of a treatment plan. For instance, they may shave specific areas to perform surgery, but this is usually limited to just a few spots, not the entire body.

shaved dog's back pictured above wood floor

In other situations, your vet might actually recommend shaving due to extreme matting. Chronically matted hair can cause severe health issues such as skin infections, frequent ear and eye problems, and blockages around the anus. It is also extremely uncomfortable for the dog.

In cases like these, shaving might be the only option to ensure your dog's health and comfort. Always consult with your vet to determine the best course of action for your dog.

Alternatives to shaving your dog

If you're looking for ways to keep your dog comfortable and well-groomed without resorting to shaving, there are several effective alternatives to consider. Here are some options to help you manage your dog's coat and keep them cool.

Keep up the grooming

alaskan malamute being brushed

Frequent brushing and trimming can effectively manage shedding and matting and can help your dog stay cool without resorting to shaving.

Use alternative cool-down strategies

dog sitting on a blue Wilko cooling matTo help keep your dog cool in the hot summer months, consider alternatives like cooling mats, vests, and ensuring they have access to plenty of water.

Providing shaded areas and avoiding outdoor activities during peak sun times can also help keep them from overheating.


Sea Foam Dog Collar And Matching ID Tag

If your main motivation to get your pup shaved is aesthetics, consider switching up their collar, adding bow slides, using bandanas, or treating them to a new leash or harness!

While shaving your dog might seem like a quick fix for heat or shedding, it's important to weigh the potential downsides, especially if you are worried about the aesthetics of your dog’s coat regrowth.

Regular grooming and proper care may provide the benefits you're looking for, but there is no one-size-fits-all answer.

For example, a thick-coated dog that is bred for a cold climate but currently lives in a hot country will probably feel much happier after being clipped. It may be far better for them to have a short and slightly fluffy coat than to be at increased risk of heat stroke.

The bottom line? If you are unsure, always ask your vet before you make any drastic haircut decisions!


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Leanna Zeibak
Content Manager

Leanna Zeibak is a Content Manager at ManyPets. In her spare time, she paints pet portraits and bakes far too many chocolate chip cookies.