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The summer heat is upon us, and after a long cold winter we as humans sure do welcome the warm sunny summer days. Our dogs however, don’t take well to the heat. I can speak for my Golden Retriever Ellie, she does not like the heat, and would rather lay on the air conditioning vents inside letting the air cool her belly. If you have a Golden Retriever, perhaps you are thinking of giving your dog a summer haircut to keep them cool. Before you rush out to get your dog groomed, you should read on about how to groom a Golden Retriever in the Summer, and what you should not do.
First, lets talk about the beautiful coat of a Golden Retriever, when properly maintained it is striking to look at. Golden’s have a double coat that serves a purpose.
The Double Coat Of A Golden Retriever Protects Them
The thick water-repellent double coat of a Golden Retriever requires a lot of care to keep it looking its best. The coat consists of a dense undercoat of short hairs that are woolly in texture, and an outer coat of longer hairs called guard hairs.
The undercoat sheds heavily twice a year in the spring and fall, and the rest of the year there is moderate shedding or hair turn-over. The undercoat and outer coat grow at different speeds and lengths from each other. The undercoat is shorter and grows faster whereas the outer coat is longer and grows slower.
In extreme temperatures the undercoat works as an insulator keeping your dog warm in cold, wet weather and cool in hot, and humid weather. The long guard hairs that make up the outer coat work to repel water and catch dirt and debris. The outer coat also protects your dog from the harmful UV rays.
In the summer the undercoat is much thinner because of the shedding, and the outer coat will protect your Golden from sun and heat.
You Should Never Shave A Golden Retriever, Here is Why
So many people believe that shaving a Golden Retriever will keep them cool in the summer, this is absolutely false! Shaving any dog with a double coat is never a good idea. The only time shaving a dog should be done is when necessary. Two such times are 1. when the dogs coat has been neglected and has severe matting, and brushing or trimming them is not an option, and 2. if the dog requires surgery.
Lets look at why you should not shave a Golden Retriever (or any double-coated dog):
- The double-coat protects them, and they have this type of coat for a reason. The undercoat works as an insulator to keep them warm in the winter and cool in the summer. The outer coat with the long guard hairs protects them from harmful UV rays.
- A shaved dog will be at risk for overheating. Your dog will not have the protection of his hair to keep him cool.
- Dogs with double-coats have sensitive skin, and if you shave them your dog is likely to have irritated skin, and you are exposing your dog to the harmful sun. Your dog will be at a greater risk for a sunburn, and skin cancer.
- The thick hair protects them from bug bites, and anything else that your dog encounters while walking or playing outside.
- Shaving a double-coated dog does not make them shed less. Many people are under the impression that shaving a dog will stop the shedding, it does not. Double-coated dogs shed 2x a year and that is the undercoat, the rest of the time the shedding is normal hair turn over, which happens in all animals with hair. Shaving makes the hair pieces smaller but they will still shed.
- Shaving permanently damages the coat, and it will never grow back the same. The coat will grow back less sleek, more fuzzy, and will not lay flat like it did before being shaved.
- Shaving will increase the amount of allergens on the dogs skin. Some people believe that shaving their double-coated dog will help with their allergies, but that is not true. The dander is what people are allergic to and having it exposed on the surface will not help the allergy issues.
- A shaved dog looks ugly. Golden Retrievers with their full beautiful coat look much more attractive than a Golden Retriever that has been shaved.
Shaving Your Golden Retriever Is A Mistake, What Can You Do Instead?
Daily brushing is recommended especially during the shedding seasons to help get rid of the dead loose hair. Regular brushing will help to get any tangles out of the fur and to keep dirt and debris out. Brushing is the easiest way to keep your dogs coat clean and shiny, and it allows you to check your dog for any medical issues. It is also a great bonding experience. In my previous article I discuss the best brushes for Golden Retrievers.
Bathing your dog should also be part of the grooming experience. Make sure to use a gentle shampoo that is specifically made for dogs, as their skin is more sensitive than human skin. A shampoo that is made for humans will have the wrong Ph balance and harsh chemicals that can irritate a dog’s skin and strip away the protective oils from the coat and skin.
Ear cleaning, nail trimming, and brushing your dogs teeth should also be a part of the regular grooming.
Giving your Golden a severe “summer cut” is not recommended, but keeping some areas trimmed will keep your dog looking its best. Areas that need trimming are between the feet and paw pads, the hair in the ears, the feathering on the legs, bum area, and the tail can be trimmed to look neat and sculpted.
Other Ways To Keep Your Dog Cool In The Summer
We’ve determined that shaving a double-coated dog is a bad idea, so what can we do to keep our dog cool in the summer?
- Keep your dog hydrated, always have fresh cool water available for your dog to drink.
- Keep your dog walks short, or walk earlier in the morning and later at night when it is not so hot out.
- Find a shady spot for your dog to rest. Be careful though because temperatures can soar even in the shade. Limit the time spent in the hot outdoors.
- Let your dog go swimming, get a kiddie pool for your backyard.
- Avoid walking on hot asphalt, try keeping your dog on the grass when walking, or invest in some dog boots. The best dog boots are reviewed in my previous article.
I hope this article has made you think twice before shaving your double-coated dog. No matter how hot the temperature gets you should not shave your Golden Retriever. Their double-coat is actually helping them stay cool. After all, their long flowing coat is one of their many beautiful attributes.
Remember to keep your dogs coat groomed with regular brushing, and bathing to keep it looking its best, and to help the coat do its job to protect your dog from extreme temperatures.
How do you keep your Golden Retriever cool in the summer? I would love to hear some of your tips and ideas. Please leave me a comment.