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!



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?

Amy Taylor

For labs and other dogs who get "hot spots", many vets, including ours reccomends shaving, but they prefer to do it, versus a groomer, to make sure to much hair is not shaved off. Our labs are so much more comfortable and never get "hot spots" when shaved. Too bad this perspective wasn't presented in this article.


My long-haired Maine Coon is subject to severe mats, especially in summer. I've taken her to the vet a couple times to get a hygiene cut at her back-end so poop doesn't languish and Abby's fine with it. I've had them shave off the mats also and although it looked funny in a couple places, she was also fine with that. Now she's got a ton of mats and I do brush her frequently, but one day no mats - the next day, tons of them. I'm going to take her to the vet again and have her mats removed but ask them to trim her fur close so it doesn't look so weird. She's indoor only and feels so much better without the mats, so I guess the ASPCA and I are at odds with this factoid.

John M Lison

I had my American cocker spaniel groomed every 6 to 8 weeks of his life. When I moved to So Florida, I had him clipped shorter but always left his hair intact. I never shaved him although he often wore a full body crew cut (except of course for his trademark ears). He was definitely more comfortable in the hot FL climate particularly going in and out of the air conditioning. He passed away last February and I now have a mixed Spaniel who's a mix of Brittany and Springer and maybe English Cocker. She's almost 18 months and is looking shaggy so I 'm going to have her trimmed but not cut short like the cocker as she does not have that double layer of hair which the cocker had. She also seems far more tolerant of the hot weather than the cocker and she dries off in half the time he took to dry off after swimming. I'm not sure she would be as comfortable in near freezing water as my cocker was but she would certainly try it out.


I have a 13 year old Golden Retriever and we have him shaved every May, as he swims daily in our pool. He would get skin infections every summer before we started the practice as his coat would hold in the moisture an cause irritation. He is much happier and acts just like a puppy!


I agree with some the these post. I had a pomeranian and he would not even go outside in the summer until i would shave him. Only then was he happy. Also, the coat grows in so nice by winter. I do agree to not shave so short otherwise your pup my get burnt.

George G

I wonder if the good Doctor has ever owned a large pet with lots of thick hair. I owned 2 large German Sheppard/St Bernard mix dogs. They were much cooler shaved, had more energy, panted less, and overall seemed much more comfortable shaved. They loved being shaved, my big male, Yogi, used to fall asleep while I shaved him. I took them out in my boat here in Tampa every weekend, and they never had a sunburn. Dogs release heat from their exhale and thru their paws, but they also release heat from the skin around their muzzle and nose. You can see the moisture collect and form drops of sweat.

I'm sure the doctor is right that extensive brushing and combing will help a long haired dog, but put me in the shaving column. It's easier and they love it!


My cat is crazy. When she was younger she loved to roll around on the driveway, the grass, and in the dirt under the big tree in the back yard. Needless to say, her coat got all knotted and gross.

Try to brush her, are you kidding?? The first time I took her to the vet to get it taken care of, I was so embarrassed because it looked like I neglected her. He cut it all out and shaved it a little bit, but not down to the skin. After a couple of expensive visits, I started taking her to a groomer who does a great job. Not too short, but effective - and she stopped rolling around in the dirt. Maybe a correlation there?

She doesn't go outside too much anymore but I still have her trimmed short only in the summer. She seems to like it.

And YES I give her flea/tick medicine.

George G

Way to go Lindsay! You are 100% correct. It's very interesting how so many of these people think they know and they don't. I think it's a liberal thing.

Amy Lally

Why did you feel the need to bring political affiliation into a decidedly non political discussion?