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!




I totally agree with you Monty. That is what the vet said about my dog, who originated in a much milder and cooler climate. In actuality, his thoughts were the dog should not have been in this area to begin with. I've seen dogs here even more furry (chow chows come to mind, I think that's what they're called) and they look positively miserable in the heat of summer. When one decides on a dog, they must take into consideration the climate that pet originated from and not get a dog just because they like how they look. Coincidentally, you and I both have dogs that originated in Tibet (I now have a Lhasa Apsa). My Lhasa is not comfortable in the summer months with the longer fur they are so known for, but a puppy cut is perfect and absolutely adorable anyway. I'm sure it is the same with your Tibetan Terrier! Those are cute dogs!

And of course, in the cooler seasons, a bit longer fur is just fine. Bottom line: Adjust your dog's fur coat to the seasonal temperatures. I do allow my Lhasa's coat to grow a bit more in the winter as well. Shaving a dog however would never be an option, and most groomers would agree. If a dog needs shaving it's generally due to matting and that is a sign of poor care by their owners. We brush our own hair regularly and should afford our pets the same courtesy!


Could we not be overlooking the fact that many cats and dogs are use to spending most of their time in air-conditioned homes, becoming progressively acclimated to cooler temperatures making it harder to take the hotter temperatures outdoors, especially as they age. If this alters their ability to compensate for the warmer more humid outdoors, then they may actually do better with a little less hair. Otherwise we could just keep them in the cool house, taking them out for walks in the cooler evening temps only.


perplexing to say least! I have a long-coat GSD who also is on Atopica which can cause hair growth - she looks like a bear not a GSD, even a long-coat one. She is miserable and constantly panting always lies on cold floor rather than two different beds in the house. She is inside and I have air-conditioning and plenty of water available. She goes to day-care and they have swimming pools which she loves. I have to clip her down a couple of times because she is miserable. I hate the way she looks - but, she is clearly much more comfortable and spends more time on her beds. I brush her daily, but w/ the amt. of hair it is impossible to stayon top. I think the medication has resulted in an abnormal amt. of hair which this breed is not supposed to be dealing with!

Janice trzeciak

Its because of vets saying things like this we as groomers have issues with people who bring their pets in once or twice a year, severely matted & dont want them shaved. I would like to know what you think we are supposed to do with pets that are severely matted. Trying to brush that out would not only be cruel & inhumane but also not very safe. And how healthy is for a pet to walk around with a matted coat?

Karen Haas

I took my Golden Retriever to a groomer when he was about a year and asked for him to be cut short... he was shaved down when I picked him up and he was NOT happy about it. He was sad! The next time just a trim and he was fine.


My Goldens hike and swim almost 365 days a year. In the summer they get a short do because they take forever to dry and then they get hot spots. They love, love , love their short haircuts!


My pets have to be shaved for reasons of stickers,burs and heat! We live in Texas and my vet is the on who told me to shave my Pom! My groomer works for the vet. She doesn't shave them to the skin she shaves most of the belly. My vet is not in agreement and I will continue doing as my vet recommends. I will also get of ASPCA site if all the smartass people are condisendind towards fellow pet rescuers! I will also stop sending my monthly pledge and work with other rescue groups instead. We are all animal advocates here and you are not smarter than me and my vet. Quit being the grooming police and be nice or up I will block you. Many people choose to groom for different reasons so why don't you post suggestions and drop the superiority additude. I have 5 rescues and have been doing it for 30 yrs. don't need your condescending snarky remarks! Thank you


How stupid can the ASPCA be??? Long hair keeps them cool??? All you have to do is shave a dog that lies around panting all day long to see that the panting stops when the hair comes off. Maybe I'm using the term shaving wrong.... I leave a quarter inch of hair but geez people, whoever came up with the theory that hair keeps them cool must be insane. How can people believe this and keep spreading it around the internet year after year?


I have a foster aussie mix that I would not think to shave. But when I got her she was all matted and had imbedded stickers, plus a large abcess that was from a sticker. My vet had to have her groomed in order to get all the stickers out and treat the sores. She stays in the house mostly due to other issues so she's getting limited exposure.


Why should you never cut mats off with scissors?