Should we clip a dog when the weather is hot?
Have you ever asked yourself: Should I have my dog clipped when the weather is hot? And the logical answer would be yes. If we help our dogs to get rid of their “winter accessories” they will feel better in this warm weather. We too get rid of our thick winter coats when it gets warmer…
However, the coat of an animal has many more functions than just keeping the animal warm. It also protects the skin and the whole body from all the effects of the weather: cold, wind, heat and sun radiation.
Simply said – if we remove a dog’s coat, he/she will be hotter than if we leave the coat.
The cover of the dog’s body is its coat, which is composed of individual hairs. The stronger hair we call guard hair; the finer, shorter hair is called the undercoat. The hair, the coat, acts as a protection against trauma, UV radiation, external weather conditions and various chemicals. Dependent on the attacks of the external environment, over time the ends of the hair tend to become damaged and collapse. The coat is replaced by the normal recovery process called moulting. Moulting allows the hair to stay in good condition. The cycle of moulting is affected by many factors including hormonal activity, length of daylight, heat, radiation, stress, and genetics. It is more pronounced in autumn and spring. Serious illness, stress and pregnancy can also cause a dramatic, total but temporary change of hair.
Temperature & conductivity.
Most mammals try to keep an average skin temperature of about 29 degrees Celsius. The sun can warm the hair up to 66 degrees Celsius!
Very important in this case is conductivity. This is the speed taken for the temperature of the skin to equal the temperature of the surface of the coat. The lower the conductivity, the longer the skin stays cool. If the coat is long, for example, 15 cm, the conductivity will be 10.8, and the dog’s skin will remain cool for a long time, but if the same hair is cut to 2.5 cm, the conductivity will be 65 and the skin will be heated very quickly. And if the same hair is clipped to 3mm, the conductivity will be 520! The temperature of the skin will instantly be the same as the ambient temperature.
Double-coated breeds should never be clipped.
Their coat features as an excellent insulation for both heat and frost. Air is a natural insulator, and the air “trapped” between the hair is really effective to maintain the body temperature in equilibrium. Breeds with these types of coat must be regularly brushed, especially in the spring season, when the undercoat is quickly released. This dead mass of hair can interfere with the circulation of air between the skin and the dog’s coat.
Dogs don’t sweat like we do.
An important fact to realise is that dogs are not cooled by sweating like humans or horses. The coat does not stop/prevent a dog’s thermoregulation. Dogs are cooled with intense panting, and they sweat only on their paws.
What about black dogs?
It is true that black or dark colours attract sunlight more than light colours, however, the trimming of such a coat does not eliminate this fact. Black remains black, and we also risk sunburn or even skin cancer by clipping it. The skin of the dog has only 6-10 layers; therefore, it is more prone to sunburn than human skin with its 16-20 layers.**
Unless there are skin issues (e.g. hot spot, skin infection, surgery), or the coat is solid matted… dog’s coat should not be clipped off.
For a dog’s well-being we do best when we brush and comb him/her on a regular basis.
As a dog groomer I can’t stress this enough the importance of regular and thorough brushing and combing. Especially when it comes to breeds like Shih-tzu, Llasa Apso, Poodle, Bichon and also popular “low maintenance” crossbreeds like a Cockerpoo, Poochon, Labradoodle and other doodles and poodle crosses.
It’s common knowledge that dogs with a coat like the poodle don’t moult… Well, they do still lose the dead hair, however you won’t find these on your carpet or sofa, they stay in the coat. These curly and wavy hairs easily tangle with the other hairs. And if they are not removed, they cause matting. Then the coat gets matted, the air can’t move freely within the coat and fulfil its function as a natural insulator. And in the end, if the coat becomes very matted the only humane and discomfort-free option for your dog is to clip it off.
Have a look here at some coat types, how much they shed and how much work you need to put in to keep the coat healthy. I’ll try my best to consider you all 😊
Are you coping with the brushing?
Love, Jitka xx
** Silvia Antalikova and MVDr. M.Stourac, CSc., Pes pritel cloveka, August 2017