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 wouldn't shave my golden, but when we went to FL and Carly went with us, I did have the groomer trim her. She took off just enough extra fur and Carly loved it. She did the "pants" and her "feathers" and thinned out her fur. Carly loved it!


We shave our border collie/golden retriever mix three times each summer. She is clearly happier as a result of the shave. She is 12 years old- but acts like a puppy every time she has a shave. I can understand the concern for sunburn, so you'll have to weigh whether this is right for your pet based on exposure to the sun. However, from our experience (which is for a dog who is either indoors or in the shade) shaving has made our dog much more comfortable and I highly recommend it.


The difference is in the breed of dog. Poodles do best when regularly groomed. They have hair like people, it does not stop growing. I think this article is mostly referring to breeds such as retrievers and shepards, and such. These types of dogs have fur, which will stop growing at a certain length. This is for the reasons stated. (cooling, heating). Yes, having them "tidied up" is ok, not just for looks, but it helps to keep them healthy as well, but to have these types of dogs shaved, is a big no no. Also, because for breeds such as golden retrievers, sometimes, their hair doesnt grow back the same, or at all. So be careful not to lump all dogs into the same category when referring to hair and fur types.

Professional gr...

Body hair can be shortened and still provide protection from the elements. The coat can be left "smooth" without shaving to the skin, thus making grooming easier for the owners. Also less hair to bath and dry and less loose hair all over the furniture.

Jan White Gray

Thanks for the info. I have 2 long haired dogs and they get groomed about every 2months or so. I agree with not shaving them too short and I take them to the groomers if I'm having problems with mats. I know it can be very tempting to cut the mats with scissors, but it is too easy to cut their skin as the mats usually go down to the skin. Not worth the risk of hurting your pet.

Linda M

Depends on the dog, yes, but honestly to think we humans can master evolution ... do we really think we can breed dogs to have exactly the right coat to fit the environment they're living in? Sheesh the foxes living in my area evolved to shed more of their coats in summer and therefore regulate their body temp much better than my triple-layer coated Aussie. Plus foxes can be active at night; most of our dogs can't. I followed this "advice" for a few years then finally brought my poor suffering Aussie to the groomers to be shaved (not bald). The results were dramatic. My dog was a new dog. She went from panting all summer and trying to lay flat on the tile floor to being her happy, bouncy self year round. This advice is silly and simplistic. Disappointing coming from the ASPCA.


Good article. Lots of understandable information. To the point. Thanks!


We have a very long haired cat. I had to have her trimmed. Not all the hair came off but it was a must. Nothing but huge mats! She became more energetic afterwards and is doing fine! But she doesn't go outside either.

Laura Sisk

I would never shave my animals... but make sure they are well brushed to remove any extra loose hair that they have shed.


i mean it makes sense that for most breeds, just leaving their coat as is should work just fine. animals have been around for how long and adjusting to the temperature changed as they should because we are all programmed to do so. however i think some exotics, or animals not native to certain areas could require a different kind of attention. i just think before folks should just go getting their animals shaved, they should visit the reasons behind why they are doing it.