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!




Dogs don't sweat, Dale. That's why they pant.


dogs do NOT sweat! They do not have the same body cooling system that we humans have! Do you pant? we are different biologically and it is important you talk to a vet rather than project your own human ness onto your dog.

Kaye Mitchell

I worked at a well know cancer hospital in Houston. Their department of Experimental Animals would diagnose and treat cancer in pets as a part of their research. My friend took her dog and the diagnosis was: "Cancer of the sweat glands." The cancer was not in his feet.


Right on, as I am one of the groomers, I do NOT shave them skinned, sigh we are not that stupid. my cats and dogs loves it!


I am also a groomer & I will clipper pets with guard combs... I do not like shaving them to the skin unless it's absolutely necessary! And if you are not a groomer, do not pretend to know what thay are supposed to say!


Right on Marcie! We might not be Vets but we are educated in our field and we work with animals day in and day out and we get to know them and their coats. Many times I have sent my clients to Vets to have them checked because I suspected a medical problem and that was in fact what they had. We as groomers often see animals much more often then their doctors and pick up things about them that their parents miss.


Right on Betsy's. We see ALOT as groomers. We should always do what is best for the animal. This article was good, yet vague as far as coat types. Some dogs have fur, some hair. Hair- such as on bichons, yorkies, cockers, etc. must be cut regularly. Fur- double coats- such as labs, goldens, huskies, etc. by and large, but not always, should not be cut. Unfortunately, the biggest problem I see is lack of care of the coat on a regular basis, leading to heavy undercoat and mats. Yes, shaving/cutting may be the best solution for many dogs, regardless of coat type. Skin problems are a huge culprit leading to shaving/cutting. Age is another. We always talk to the owner about their dogs' specific needs. I usually try to talk an owner out of cutting down a double coat. Most of the time the reason they want them cut is that the dog is hot and they shed too much. I explain how a dog's cooling system works, but also try to find out how much attention is spent on coat care between groomings. If an Aussie, for example, is never brushed properly at home to remove undercoat, and there is no indication that brushing will take place, or there are skin problems, then much to my dismay, I will take the coat down, because I know the dog basically has no other option. Yes, groomers can charge more for these cuts, but at what cost down the road. We have essentially ruined these coats in many cases. What you don't often hear is that over time, the coat gets thicker and thicker and has to be cut shorter and shorter because the clippers won't go through the coat without extensive brushing first. Ironic isn't it? Over time the fees can grow. I call this a bad investment. There is no one answer for every pet but for the most part, double coats are best left natural and cared for by both owner and groomer respectively. Cat's are pretty much self sufficient but age, health problems and weight can keep them from taking care of themselves. Owners should regularly brush both dogs and cats regularly. I just don't understand why people take the 'easy' way out. Most cats don't take well to a haircut and the undue stress is unfortunate to say the least. Take the time to do what is right for your pet. What is best for another may not be best for you. Find an experienced groomer that will listen to you and do what is best for your pet. Do your research!! These are our furkids and we are their voice.


I have a boxer/golden retriever/beagle mix. His coat is not even on his body. He has long hair on his ears, hind legs and chest while the rest if him is short and has a few patches of extra long wiry hair. It is almost impossible to keep the hair on his ears and belly from matting up. I want to cut his fur so that it is all one length, but he is extremely hyper so we have not done it yet. As a groomer, would you have any suggestions on how to trim him up? We will brush him and cut the mats only to have them show back up overnight.


All are good points. Thanks.


Actually, animals don't sweat because they don't have sweat glands. That's why they pant.