I often hear from groomers and breed aficionados that clipping a dog with a long coat does not cool them down. We have a rough-coated dog that we’ve clipped for a long time (she’s half Puli). She’s black and we know that when her coat starts growing, especially as we live in a hot climate, she feels the heat. She loves being groomed and definitely feels more comfortable. I, too, feel much cooler when I’ve had my hair closely cropped.
So, I’m wondering if there is any real evidence that dogs are cooler with a full coat or if this is an old wives’ tale, possibly perpetuated because breeders can’t stand to see the coat texture change. Maybe it varies from breed to breed? I can’t imagine a Newfie would be comfortable in the tropics, but groomers and vets tell people that their hair makes them cooler. And what about breeds that are clipped normally? Are they somehow immune to this protection from heat that coats provide other breeds?
Stuart Simons advises…
There are many types of coat – hair, fur, combination, silky, even hairless. The way that all of these hair types react to being groomed and cut is completely different.
The Newfoundland, for example, has a thick, oily double coat to protect him from the elements and icy water when working. You have to remember that all of the breeds we see these days were designed by us to perform some type of job. Newfoundlands needed to keep warm in the cold conditions they were exposed to when they were originally bred as water rescue dogs. If you live in a hot country and own a Newfoundland, I can totally understand why you would want to shave him. It would be absolutely excruciating to have a big woolly coat on in hot conditions. Having said that, if he were brushed out and deshedded on a daily basis, and provided you can get a comb through the hair without it stopping, then he should be able to regulate his own temperature – provided he has access to shade and water. The natural well-maintained coat will protect a dog from direct sunlight and help his body automatically adjust to his surroundings.
If a dog gets too hot, he will pant – that’s a dog’s way of cooling themselves down. They don’t sweat like we do (apart from between the pads on their feet). This is essentially why Bulldogs, Pugs and all of the brachycephalic (short-nosed) breeds have such a hard time in a hot climate. The longer the nose, the more effective the cooling system.
Double-coated dogs have the ability to drop hair, depending on weather conditions and the season. That’s why, if you have a double-coated breed, you will find more hair at certain times of the year. We have bred them so that they can adapt to their conditions and survive.
You are absolutely right that if we clip a dog with a double coat, it could change the condition of it. Some dogs even have a problem with alopecia after being clipped because we have messed with their growth and shed cycle. It can take a while to re-establish a clipped double coat that has been damaged, but it isn’t impossible.
So, to sum up, regular grooming for a fur-bearing or double-coated dog is probably more beneficial to a dog’s well-being and coat condition. Having said that, if you can’t commit to that level of grooming, shaving him won’t hurt, but it will risk the coat. However, the dog would be far cooler shaved off than if he were made to live with a matted full coat.
Dogs that are hair-bearing (Poodles and Bichons, for example) can be shaved short or kept long and brushed out too. Either is fine for them. Their coats shouldn’t change condition once clipped.
Combination-coated dogs, like spaniels, should ideally be stripped and trimmed regularly to keep them in tip-top condition.
If you are in doubt about any of these coat types and what the best type of groom for your dog is, check www. thegroomersspotlight.com and find a professional to give you some advice.