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!



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.

janis b

Well, I shaved my beautiful golden for one reason only, she had terrible skin and hot spots and swam all the time. Her coat did not dry and the hot spots just festered, so I kept her short and that gave me the cushion I needed to stop a hot spot in it's tracks. Now if the ASPCA can give some advice on how to prevent cancer of the liver and spleen, that would be helpful


I have a 20 year old Himalayan and a 15 year old Domestic Long Hair. They are, and have always been, indoor cats only. I get both groomed (the 'lion' cut) every 6 months or so and they both seem so much happier. In my instance I believe it is due to the horrible mats they get in their coats. Neither cat will tolerate being brushed and ignoring the mats can lead to 'hot spots' on their skin which can become infected and cause a lot of problems. The grooming is done at my vet's office since my Himmy has to be lightly sedated ('twilight'). My Long-Hair does not need sedation.


My Maine Coon actually LIKES having all that fur gone. It's really hard for her to keep up with her grooming on her own. And she absolutely does NOT like to be brushed. Yet when she gets home from the groomer it's like she has just been to the spa. With all the interesting smells and the special attention she gets from her goomer, she prances and rolls around on Cloud 9 the rest of the day. I really think it depends on the pet.

patricia byers

I take my cat (long haired Siamese) to the vets for shaving. the vet can put them under enough to keep them calm. I can usually keep her groomed myself but about once every year or two I have to have it done. I also have an older long haired chi who looks like a cotton ball. she is miserable in the summer and the groomer shaves her (tho she still has enough to protect her)