Three Reasons You Shouldn’t Shave Your Pet

Thursday, July 11, 2013 - 12:00pm
Golden retriever wearing red collar

It’s hot out there! And if your Golden Retriever or long-haired kitty seems to suffer when the mercury rises, you might feel some temptation to break out your grooming tools and give your pets a full shave-down. We get where you’re coming from.

But wait! Put down those clippers! According to experts, you’ll be doing your pet a disservice. Here’s why:

  1. While you or I would hate to sport a fur coat in 100-degree weather, your pets’ fur coats are actually providing them with heat relief.

“A dog’s coat is kind of like insulation for your house,” explains Dr. Louise Murray, Senior Vice President of the ASPCA Animal Hospital. “Insulation stops your home from getting too cold in winter, but it also keeps it from overheating in summer—and your dog’s coat does the same thing.”

Dogs’ coats have several layers, and these layers are essential to your dog’s comfort in the heat. Robbing your dog of this natural cooling system can lead to discomfort and overheating. And keeping your dog cool isn’t the only reason to leave his coat intact, Dr. Murray warns.

  1. Your dog’s coat prevents your pup from getting sunburn and helps protect her from skin cancer.

To protect your pet from sunburn and skin cancer, save longer walks for evenings, and consider applying pet-specific sun block to thinly covered areas like the bridge of your dog’s nose, the tips of his ears and his belly, Dr. Murray suggests, noting that pets with thin coats, as well as those with white or light-colored coats, are especially at risk for sun damage.

  1. There are better ways to manage your pets’ coats to keep them cool: trimming and brushing.

“It’s OK to trim your long-haired dog’s long hair, such as any hair that hangs down on his legs,” Dr. Murray says. Just never attempt to clip mats off your pet’s coat with scissors, Dr. Murray adds. And if you’ve got a long-haired kitty, leave her coat intact. Instead, brush her a little more frequently during the hot summer months.

Of course, pet parents should remember to keep pets inside with plenty of water during hot days—hydration is key! For more important information on summer pet care, visit our Hot-Weather Tips. Stay cool out there!




My cat Tiger is part yak it seems. All 3 cats go in and out as the choose. He cannot clean his 6" long-haired fur with a 2" tongue. I call it a shave-down, but they use a #3 clipper so maybe its not what you mean by shaving. He is far happier when he can clean himself fully. I have to say I disagree for cats with long hair.


This year was my first to shave my labbies. They stay inside every day and spend about 30 minutes total outside. I've been being particularly careful about thier exposure to sunlight, oneof them is white so I know she will burn easily now. They both seem more comfortable without all that fur, (and I don't have to sweep their room as often!) but I definitely wouldn't recommend that anyone that leaves their kiddos outside all day without a large shade structure shave them down. The best thing you can do for your pet is keep them out of the heat, so if all that fur is a major concern because of the heat- maybe you need a new daytime plan for them instead of being outside.


I'm so glad to be seeing so many people who disagree with this article. Everyone else covered most of the points I was going to cover, but one thought bears repeating: Pay close attention to your pets and what makes them happier and more comfortable. If they are more comfortable when they are shaved/trimmed, then by all means, go for it. Perhaps the article was talking about shaving them down to skin... well no, of course don't do that... but very, very few people do that anyway. When most people shave their dog, they just mean that they use clippers to trim the fur down short. In fact, clippering the fur down short is part of regular grooming for many breeds. Certain breeds, of course, should never been shaved down short - such as huskies and similar. As someone else mentioned, their coat will never be the same after that. I would ask a VERY experienced groomer which breeds have coats that withstand shaving and which do not.
I have always personally had short-haired/smooth-haired dogs, so shaving has never been an issue. However, I have had friends over the years that shaved their dogs every summer to no ill effect. The dogs were cooler and happier, and their coat grew back in completely normal by fall.

rescues cats an...

I'm relieved that many people listen to their pets, when trying to help them become comfortable. Experts should 'advise' rather than require. A responsible pet owner can safely trim out a mat with scissors and take the pet to a groomer (or do it themselves) when the poor animal is suffering from excessive heat retention. This article would have done better to list breeds that should never have a trim for cooling purposes, best tools to use to remove mats (I find thinning shears break up the mat while retaining about half the hair), and best length to have for fur on pets that would benefit from a cut. This ASPCA article is clearly too paranoid about lawsuits to really address the issue.


I agree with many of the comments to this article. For one, it doesn't address the needs of different breeds and the variety of coats they come with. As a former groomer I found that most dogs appeared overjoyed to lose their coats (though many times they were matted beyond brushing and required a closer than normal clip). I also agree with others that propose a cut that leaves about an inch so the skin isn't exposed works well for many dogs. Another good way to keep them cool outdoors in 95 + heat is too get them wet - but don't use cold water, lukewarm is good. Also don't over-exert or run them on hot pavement unless their pads are protected. Keep them inside the rest of the time and doggie should be content.

Cindy Wines

I have two Chow mixes and their coat gets so thick, it is like sheep fur. I just had my Chow Akita mix shaved and I only do it once a year. I am getting my Chow Australian Shepard mix shaved next week. Her fur by her rear and hind legs had a very thick matted undercoat. They come in at night and they have shade and plenty of water during the day.


You need to recognize that one size does not fit all. My wife and I are retired farmers who have averaged 12 to 14 "couch" dogs for the last 25 years. Until now, if they showed up, they got to stay. That included neutering, all shots, flea and tick control, probably too much vet observation, and all the love they could handle and we could give.

We currently have 10 dogs because retired people of 70 don't always have the money or strength to do all that is "right", and we had to start cutting back because some of our current family will probably outlive us as it is. We have everything from a 15 pound Scottie something, to a full blooded Pyreneese named Dobie who is about 13 years old. Dobie gets shaved for the Arkansas summers and has since he showed up full grown about 11 years ago. We make sure he doesn't get sunburned, and if he or anyone else starts to get hot, they come into the air conditioned house.

They are farm dogs who do as they please as long as they get along and don't make messes in the house. They get bathed if they get skunked or roll in something, and the 3 or 4 with long hair may get brushed if nothing more pressing comes up or they need a minor injury looked at.

The day after he is shaved and for the next week or so, Dobie jumps around like a all the long haired ones do. We all do the best we can, but one answer doesn't work for everyone. John


Ask yourself whether or not you want someone wielding a sharp blade next to your dog's skin. I took my dog in for a trim last spring and the groomer - without my consent - began to shave him. She sliced into his neck and injured him horrifically. He DIED after 8 weeks of suffering. Groomers in Canada do not need any qualifications - yes, some have them, but there are a lot of dangerous people out there posing as competent and professional groomers. My only solace in sharing my story is that someone out there will be spared my grief and make a more educated decision when it comes to pet grooming.

Just a reader

First........Calm down everyone.
Second....I believe this information was designed to just explain how the dogs fur is designed to work. The article does condone trimming. I don't think it was designed to tell you how to handle every situation with every pet.
Third.......As responsible pet owners, it is our responsibility to research and examine any and all information, and be thankful that we have these resources to help inform us of the possible effects of certain processes. It is just like parenting, we will all find what works best for our "children" that works in our situations.
Keep in mind, it is just information..that's all....what we do with it is up to us, there is no need to get upset or defensive, at the very least, we are all welcomed to our own opinion.

As a few readers mentioned, if you are a responsible pet owner, I am sure you will discuss your pets welfare and how to proceed with proper care and maintenence with both your vets and groomers. You know your pet better than anyone else, and if you are a responsilbe owner we all have faith the you will make the right choice regarding their health. As far as irrespnsible pet owners, I doubt they would even give a crap what anyone said anyway, they would just do what they want regarless of the welfare of the animal.

There will be some breeds of dogs that would not do well if they had their fur shaved, as someone mentioned a Huskys fur will not grow back with the proper texture of shaved, we certainly would not want to compromise their coat in the long term. I guess it would just take a bit or research for any owner to learn specifics about their breed.

I hope you and all of your pets have a safe happy rest of the summer.

Sister Roberta ...

I wonder if shaving would make a pet more available to mosquitoes and, therefore susceptible to west Nile virus? Also, would fly bites be a problem?