Should You Shave Your Dog for the Summer?

Just a simple walk around the block when it’s above 70° can leave my cocker spaniels lagging and panting, then I know it’s time for a buzz cut. Afterwards they abound with energy, want to play more, and can walk farther without tiring. But some veterinarians think it’s not a good idea to shave your dog, so should you?

I used to walk Cassie, my springer spaniel, over three miles to work and back each day for

Cocker spaniel before haircut

Chipper before his haircut

exercise, to help the environment, and save money on fuel (I saved a gas tank a month). We did this year round anywhere from 5° to 85° through snow and rain, as long as the weather wasn’t too extreme. But summers, especially the month of May, could be a challenge for the heat, especially for the walk home at 5 pm. May was challenging since our bodies had to adapt to the heat. But I always noticed that Cassie perked up and tolerated the heat a lot more after I gave her a buzz cut.

Advantages to shaving your dog

  • Cools them off
  • Easier to find ticks & fleas
  • Allows better air flow for floppy eared dogs (like my spaniels)
  • Less shedding in the house
  • Easier to groom
  • They look neater
  • Easier to notice if they need to shed a few pounds
  • Easier to trim their nails (especially for dogs that have very hairy paws)
  • Able to clean themselves better with shorter fur under their tail
  • They dry faster—if your dog likes to swim

Disadvantages to shaving your dog

  • Your dog could get sunburn if shaved too close to the skin.
    • My cockers are indoors most of the time and our yard is shady. Buffy’s fur grows so fast, within a month she needs another haircut, so this has not been an issue for my dogs.
  • Breeds with undercoats could become warmer if they are shaved.
  • Shaving of short-haired dogs is not recommended.
  • Fur helps protect your dog from thorns and twigs, so you may not want to have your hunting dog shaved but give them a trim instead.
  • The fur may not grow back evenly
  • Their fur may also help control skin allergies

My experience has been with spaniels, especially cockers who grow fur like sheep.

Should you shave your dog yourself or hire a professional?

  • A professional will definitely do a better job, but could cost a small fortune. When I tried my friend’s groomer, he wanted $70/cocker. This was up from $40/dog where my mom had
    Shaved cocker spaniel

    Chipper after his haircut

    taken them.

  • The groomer will have your dog for a several hours. When I arrived to retrieve Cassie from the groomer, I could hear her frantically barking from the parking lot. They said she had barked since I dropped her off over 4 hours before! For her separation anxiety, it was better for me to shave her.
  • You need to buy a good clipper–the low-cost ones will likely not do a good job.
    • I have two clippers which I switch when they get hot. The Oster Turbo A5 works well for getting most of the fur off, but it is noisier. The Andis AGC 2 speed is better for fine trimming, or finishing, and is quieter. These models are quite old, so they may have changed some. But if you take care of them by cleaning them and oiling with clipper oil, they will last a good many years and so will the blades.
    • Make sure the clipper doesn’t get too hot and burn their skin. This can happen after about fifteen minutes of use, so let it cool or switch shavers.
      • One of my mom’s cockers often developed tiny bumps a day or so after returning from the groomer. They disappeared a few days later and she thought that they were due to small burns from using a hot clipper.
    • Buy attachments for the clipper so you can leave their fur longer in the winter.
  • It will take some time and make a big mess. I usually use my picnic table outside so that I
    Grooming setup to shave a dog

    My grooming station

    don’t have to get all the fur, but now I have a station in the basement for poor weather clipping. Have a bucket or can, broom, and vacuum cleaner nearby. Put the fur in your compost pile.

  • Your dog may not like it and you will need to reinforce your role as alpha. Buffy almost falls asleep until I get to her front paws, which she hates. Chipper gives me a hard time and I need to use the table harness. I also found that if I flip him onto his back and sitting on him, then I can shave his paws and trim his nails a lot easier. He doesn’t like it, but he never holds a grudge. Yes my dogs may be stressed for a little while, but it’s better than being stressed for hours at a strange place.
  • Your dog is not exposed to germs from other dogs. Cassie developed an autoimmune disease and my veterinarian told me not to take her to groomers and dog parks, so I had to groom her myself.

Don’t forget to trim their nails after you shave them and give them a bath to wash away the fine fur. This makes for a tidy, neat and clean dog. Wear old clothes since you may also need a shower afterwards!

Equipment

  • At least one good clipper, two is better (~$100/each)
  • Clipper oil (~$4/4 oz. bottle)
  • Grooming arm with loop (~$45). You may not need this for some dogs
  • A table (I clamp a small rug onto it to make it non-slip)
  • A bucket
  • Wisk broom and broom, maybe a vacuum cleaner
  • Nail clippers
  • Scissors for trimming around their nails (optional)
  • Dog shampoo
  • A laundry tub to wash your dog

Set all this equipment up ahead of time since your dog won’t like being left on the table by himself and may jump off.

Dog getting a bath

Don’t forget the bath!

I’ve been shaving my dogs for many years. Sometimes their haircuts are not perfect, but their fur grows out quickly. It takes me about an hour per dog, and they get haircuts about every six weeks during the summer, less often in the winter. Their first cut in the spring takes a bit longer since I’m removing inches of fur. Shaving my dogs myself has saved me a ton of money and time. They also like the attention.

Let me know your experiences with shaving your dogs by leaving a comment below. Also sign up to receive new posts by email or contact me.

 

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