Friday, 17 January 2014

To Shave Or Not To Shave

The Lovely Coat of a Rough Collie
One of the most common conversations I have with some dog owners is whether to have their double coated dogs coat clipped short.  A double coated breed would be Golden Retrievers, Rough Collies, Border Collies, Siberian Huskies.  These dogs have a layer of undercoat that is close to the skin.  This coat is usually fluffy, and can be quite rough and dull looking (you ever notice clumps of hair coming out of your dogs coat?? That's the undercoat being shed).  Then there are longer hairs that cover the dog.  These are guard hairs.  They are usually quite tough, smooth and can give your dog their lovely rich colour.

This double coat is specially designed to help dogs stay warm in the winter and also to stay cool in the summer.  Unless we are faced with California summers in Ireland (I wish!), your dog will be perfectly happy in his long coat all year round (obviously your dog always needs access to shelter in the winter and shade in the summer, and constant access to fresh water).

Brushing out the dead undercoat of a Tibetan Spaniel
What your groomer will do with this type of coat is simple (but it takes a lot of work).  Most of the dead undercoat can be brushed out (this is the tough part). This will leave your dog feeling a lot lighter, and it will almost look like we clipped some of the hair shorter.  It only looks like that because with all the heavy undercoat gone, the longer top coat lies flat and looks smoother.  Once all this hair is removed we will tidy up some of the long bits that are sticking out (along the legs, bum, ears, and belly).  This gives your dog a much neater silhouette. (Obviously your dog isn't just brushed, a shampoo and condition, a thorough fluff dry, and nail clipping + ear cleaning                                                                                                              are also included in a groom)

In our profession we would never refuse to clip one of these dogs.  What the owner wants, the owner gets, but we do advise against it for the following reasons:

A clipped coat that has grown back very dull and rough
  1. The coat may never grow back the same as before.  The rough and dull looking undercoat grows faster than the lovely looking guard hairs.  This can leave you with a dull and patchy looking dog.  The lovely rich and silky coat may not grow back to it's full glory
  2. Once your dog looks rough and patchy you are going to want to get him groomed more often because he will look a lot smarter when all the hairs are at the same length...this will mean more grooming bills.
  3. The dogs coat has evolved into this double coat for a reason (as described above).  By clipping your dogs coat you are interfering with this ability to regulate their own temperature
In certain cases of extremely matted dogs we are left with no choice but to clip the coat short.  We don't like doing it but in the long run it is better for the dog to have a matted coat removed completely.  In these cases it would be unfair to subject the dog to hours of brushing and de-matting.

I hope that this will be helpful coming into the warmer months and that you might re-think clipping your dog this summer!

Thanks for reading,

Carolyn Zenker
Muttz For Cutz

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