My girl, Maddy, is a German and Australian Shepherd mix. I describe her as a seventy pound Pomeranian. Her hair is long and thick. It also has several different textures. She is the most challenging dog I groom. And although I don’t typically advocate shaving shedding breeds, she just has too much hair for this climate. I can tell she suffers from the heat with her full coat. After I give her a haircut, her activity level increases and she is more social. She has had several hair cuts such as the “Smoothie” or “Bikini” (What I call a close shave down) and the Lion Trim (quite darling on her - it shows off her girly figure underneath - without that naked feeling). However, she seems most comfortable when she has a good inch or two of length. It cushions her as she lays and is softer on her sore, dysplastic hips.
Every dog’s needs are different. Not sure how you should groom your furry friends for the summer? Here are a few things to consider while you head to the groomer.
Consider where your pet spends most of their time. Is it indoors? Outdoors? On tile? On dirt? Dogs skin needs to be protected from the elements, just as our own. We need to protect them from sunburns and exposure to the sun that can lead to cancer.
Often, pet owners will grow their pet’s hair out for the winter and shear them short for the summer. Unfortunately, if the pets aren’t groomed between times, tangles, mats and hot spots (open sores on the skin) can form under the coat. Often, we can’t see them until the groomer strips that coat off to reveal the sore skin underneath. And with the difficulty of shearing matted hair, nicks and clipper burns are unfortunately more likely to happen.
To prevent these problems, make sure that your pet’s hair is brushed and trimmed (if needed) on a regular basis.When having your pet shaved, leave enough hair to protect their sensitive skin from the sun. It may mean that they may have to get another haircut or two during the summer months to continue to keep them cool.
Mats make dogs hot. The hair can get packed right up next to the skin, holding in the heat, not letting the skin breathe. Brushing and deshedding helps keep the coat moving freely, keeping your pet cooler. For double coated, shedding breeds, brushing removes undercoat. De-shedding techniques range from treats and special shampoo to blow drying and de-shedding tools. Make brushing at home a part of your pet’s regular grooming. It is important to get out undercoat and mats as well as stickers, foxtails, etc. that are making them uncomfortable.
When brushing, do so gently, pulling the brush away from the skin so you don’t scratch the skin. Grooming tools vary in their effectiveness for different types of coats. Some may find a comb most helpful in keeping their pet detangled and/or the undercoat out, others may find different tools more useful. Ask your groomer to show you some tools and techniques to keep your pet brushed out.
Shaving down certain coat types, such as Goldens, Shepherds, Chows, etc. can result in the coat growing back thinner with a different texture that tends to mat quicker, requiring more maintenance. The long (guard) hairs, act as an insulator from the sun, keeping the dog cooler. Just be sure to get the undercoat brushed out.
Of course, haircuts and de-shedding aren’t the only measures you can take to keep your furry friend comfortable during the heat. Provide plenty of fresh water and a comfortable and cool place to lay down, both indoors and out. Panting, laying on cool surfaces like tile, seeking shade and water are ways your pet cools themselves down.
One final thing to remember, as silly as it seems, pets can get embarrassed when they get a haircut that is a drastic change. Let them know they are cute, adorable and/or handsome, etc. They will respond to you and strut their stuff. If you think they are cute, that is all that matters to them!