Tips for Grooming Dogs in Summer
It’s summertime! For dog parents, that means spending more time outdoors playing fetch — and trying to keep your wily pup from stealing people’s plates at the barbeque. (Yes, we see you, Spot).
It also means the weather is warming up. At some point, you may look at your fluffy friend panting in the yard and feel bad for Fido. After all, who wants to wear a parka all summer??
That’s when your well-meaning friends, family and neighbors might offer their summer dog grooming tips. Some may insist you should shave your dog to keep him cooler; others may warn you to totally leave it alone and not change your grooming routine at all.
So when it comes to keeping dogs cool in the summer, what should you really do?
Should I Shave My Dog in Summer?
No matter how fluffy your favorite floofer is, shaving your dog in summer is a very bad idea!
You may think of shaving as something low-risk — (if you don’t like the result, just wait for it to grow back, right?) — but actually, you’re opening yourself up to even more problems when you shear your wooly pup.
As the ASPCA advises:
“While you or I would hate to sport multiple layers in 100-degree weather, your pets’ fur coats are actually providing them with heat relief. Acting like insulation, a dog’s coat keeps him from getting too cold in the winter, but also keeps him from overheating in the summer.
Our pets’ coats have several layers that are essential to their comfort in the heat. Robbing your dog or cat of this natural cooling system can lead to discomfort, overheating and other serious dangers like sunburn or skin cancer.”
This is even true for dogs that were bred for cold climates, like Siberian Huskies and St. Bernards. Remember: just because you live in Miami doesn’t mean Balto needs a full-body shave!
Do Dogs Need a Summer Cut?
Okay, shaving is off the table!
But that still doesn’t answer the question if cutting a dog’s fur keeps them cooler. If your dog seems hot, is it good to cut their hair in summer, at least a little bit?
The answer is…it depends! Some dogs do benefit from a “summer cut” that keeps them cooler and more comfortable. Other dogs are happiest if you continue their normal grooming routine.
Dog breeds that need special grooming in summer include poodles (and mixed oodles) as well as any dog with a double coat. The canine enthusiasts at Rover recommend:
“So-called “hypoallergenic” dogs—like poodles and doodles—have finer, longer hair that prevents their undercoat from falling easily from their bodies. Other breeds, like Saint Bernards and Bernese Mountain Dogs, were bred for harsh winter weather, so their thick, heavy coats are no accident. With more hair on their bodies, these breeds naturally retain heat. Along with any other breed that requires regular grooming (like Yorkies), they would likely benefit from a closer cut as the weather warms up.
Any dog that needs a regular trim for maintenance, like a Bichon Frise, Shih Tzu, Pomeranian, or an Afghan Hound, is on the list for a summer cut as well. Of course, in their cases, they need fresh trims pretty frequently—and summer is no exception. For dogs with naturally short coats, like Boxers or Boston Terriers, a summer cut isn’t necessary.”
So even though your Husky doesn’t need a shave, he’ll certainly feel better with his undercoat de-shedded before it gets too hot. Long-haired breeds like Golden Retrievers may appreciate a slightly closer trim for summer.
How Do I Groom My Dog in Summer?
If you have a dog with a double coat, you’ll know it!
Double-coated dogs “blow” their coat twice a year. Their winter undercoat sheds to prepare for summer, while their summer coat sheds to prepare for winter. This is also known as seasonal shedding.
The pre-summer shed typically happens in spring, but can start as early as January or as late as June. It may feel like there will be massive tumbleweeds of dog fluff blowing around your house and yard forever, but for most breeds it’s only a couple of weeks. Be patient and resist the urge to brush Fido roughly or pull out a razor!
A trip to the groomer will speed up this process immensely. Brushing alone does not completely clear out the undercoat; only a specialized rake or de-shedding tool will do that. Once the undercoat is fully shed, that leaves room for air to circulate against your dog’s skin, making them much more comfortable and cool.
Other breeds don’t really have a summer shed, but still need a summer cut. If you have a long-haired breed like a Yorkie or Maltese and you are determined to give your dog a summer cut at home, be sure to leave at least an inch or two of hair to protect your dog from sunburn. You should only use clippers or scissors designed for use on dogs. Grooming a dog at home can be a fun experience for you both, but there are still safety precautions to consider.
Whether you give your dog a summer cut yourself or take Fido to the professionals, take this opportunity to look over your dog’s skin health and coat quality. Does their skin seem dry or flaky? Is their coat dull or oily? These are signs that you need to change something in your pup’s life, either with their grooming routine or their diet.
Remember, a healthy diet full of natural nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids goes a long way towards giving your dog a shiny coat and soft, healthy skin.
When it comes to grooming your dog in summer, the most important point to remember is to never shave your dog — especially if they have a double coat!
For some breeds, a summer cut is helpful to keep your best pal more comfortable; but for others, it’s unnecessary or even damages their coat. If your dog does need a summer cut, always leave a couple of inches of hair for protection. Be careful of sunburn, particularly if your pup has pale, pink skin. Consult with a groomer first if you’re not sure where on the spectrum your dog’s hair lies.
A well-groomed dog is a happy, healthy dog. When Fido feels fresh, he’ll be ready to enjoy the summer months with you — whether that means hikes in the woods or long, lazy days by the pool!