Firstly we must understand what a Double Coat or Heavy Coat is. In short, these are breeds that have a lot of undercoat. Undercoat is the soft fluffy hair that you see typically around the rear and chest of your dog. It is responsible for keeping your dog warm and is shed during warmer weather. In winter, while this hair is still present, there is a considerable reduction.
The two comments that owners generally make are:
Why can’t I clip them? It’ll just grow back?
Technically yes and no. This is a common statement made when a double coated breed has become matted. While it is entirely possible for a dogs coat to grow back, it does not always grow back. This can be due to age, diet or improper grooming. An older dogs hair growth tends to slow down, accompany that with shaving off their entire coat and you could have a hairless dog for quite some time. A dog that is lacking in nutrients may not have the ability to grow the hair back at all or they may only grow it back in sections. A lot of people think that they do not need to groom their dog if the hair is short, they may wait for the hair to become long before they pick up a brush. This is one of the worst things you can do after a double coated breed has been shaved. Failure to provide aftercare via brushing can result in the Primary Coat (also know as Guard Hairs) from being able to grow through the undercoat. These hairs get stuck and the dog becomes matted again. By brushing your dog you are helping to free the coat and allowing it to grow in as it should. More info on this here.
But it’s summer now, he’ll get too hot if I don’t
Sorry that’s not right either. The purpose of your dogs hair is actually to keep them warm in winter and cool in summer. The undercoat is like insulation and the outer coat is like the bricks on a house. Your dog will actually struggle more in the heat after having its coat shaved off since the sun would be directly hitting their skin.
Although in most cases, your dog’s hair will grow back perfectly fine, it’s not the main issue I see with shaving double coated breeds. The main issue I have is with tampering with their natural cooling system.
So how do I keep my fluff ball cool?
This one’s easy! Brush out all the loose hair! And you don’t have to spend hours either 😉 A little bit today and a little bit tomorrow is enough. Removing all the dead and loose hair is what will help keep your dog cool as it allows for proper airflow. Leaving all the loose hair hanging from your dog is similar to them wearing a jacket or being wrapped in a blanket. They’re no longer able to raise the arrector pili muscles to move the hair away from their skin so this hair just sits there – heating up on them.