Double Coated Dog Maintenance

Double Coated dogs are breeds like Huskies, Labs, German Shepherds, Collies, Golden Retrievers, Etc.  They have two layers of coat, the Undercoat, and the Topcoat.

The Undercoat is soft and fluffy. This is the part of the coat that sheds out leaving little tumbleweeds all over your house each spring and fall. This layer is made to help trap the air and insulate the dog so that it can keep it cool in the summer and warm in the winter.  Often this layer will need help from a professional groomer to get the loose dead hair out of the coat so that there is room for healthy hair to grow and for air to circulate to the skin.  If it’s not removed properly it will become thick and tangled and can cause expensive skin issues and issues with temperature control.

The Topcoat is made up of tougher guard hairs that don’t shed. This coat protects them from painful sunburn, bug bites, and insulates them from the heat. Shaving down this coat will leave the dog vulnerable to all these things as well as expensive skin issues as the coat grows out or the coat becoming damaged and not growing back at all.

So why are you wanting to shave your double-coated dog?

“My dog is so hot it the summer”

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Many people don’t realize that unlike humans dogs do not cool themselves through their skin. The only sweat through their paw pads and their main way of cooling themselves is panting.  So, your dog panting is basically the equivalent of you sweating or fanning yourself to cool down. It is not a sign of him/her being overheated. Making sure your dog has plenty of access to water and shade and keeping them well-groomed and free of loose dead hair will help to keep them cool and comfortable over the summer.

He’s shedding so much”

Clipping a dog down will not make a dog stop shedding. In fact, they will shed just as much or even more when shaved down but it will be smaller pieces of hair that make many people itchy and can cause painful hair splinters under your skin that are very hard to remove.  The hair your dog is shedding is simple dead hair that has gone through its life cycle and done its job on your dog and is now being replaced with new living hair. The life cycle of a dog’s undercoat differs between individual dogs, but regular de-shedding treatments every 4-8 weeks will help to keep that dead hair that’s shedding off from turning into tumbleweeds in your house.

In conclusion, shaving your double-coated dog will cause irreparable damage to their coat and make them more susceptible to sun damage, overheating, and expensive skin issues. Please, feel free to talk to your groomer about getting your pet on a regular schedule of baths with de-shedding treatments.