"To Shave or Not to Shave?" is one of the most controversial questions pet owners ask vets and groomers. The real question now, though, is about shaving dogs that have double-coats, like the Alaskan Husky. The other breeds that fall into this category are the Akita, Chow-Chow, Keeshond, and Shiba Inu.
A pet owner must weigh the pros and cons of this decision carefully before committing to the shave.
What is a double-coat?
Today.com asked Teri DiMarino, president of the California Professional Pet Groomers Association and a groomer with more than four decades of experience her thoughts on shaving double-coated dogs.
Double-coated dogs have two layers of fur.
"The bottom layer, closer to their skin, is dense and fluffy. The top layer is stiffer. You can think of the two layers as working together like the insulation inside your home's walls, and the walls themselves -- with the inner layer helping to regulate the dog's temperature, and the outer layer protecting the animal against the elements, like rain or dirt. You don't take the insulation out of your house in the summer."
That top layer is to help protect your dog from UV rays and insects. Shaving won't keep them cooler it will just make regulating their temperature more difficult.
Veterinarian Karen Becker, (we are big fans!) also mentions in many articles that this top coat also protects these breeds from not only sunburn but also cancer. She asks that pet owners also consider how much time their dogs spend outdoors. Undercoats can act as an excellent insulator.
"Dogs with responsible owners are never outside long enough to truly overheat, because their owners are right there, managing the time of day the dog goes out, her level of physical exertion, and how much direct sunlight she's exposed to."
When is it appropriate to shave? Is it ever?
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If husky's coat becomes matted, perhaps due to neglect, and there are no alternative options. Double-coated breeds need to be brushed... a lot. So brushing and grooming your Husky is part of what you sign for when you live with the breed!
Brush your dog more is the message here.
Snowdog.guru tells us,
"Shaving your snow dog's coat does much more harm than good. Owners shaving their dogs coat is a major cause of heat stroke. The only time your dog's coat should be shaved is for medical reasons."
The general consensus is unless there is a medical emergency your Husky should not be clipped or shaved. Remember that dogs sweat through their paws! So the pet owner may feel better but the double-coat is there for maximum protection during the summer and winter months. A husky's coat helps protect him from insects as we mentioned above! These insects include mites and parasites. If you saw these nasty critters under a microscope, you would certainly agree that this natural insulator does an efficient job of keeping the body temperature where it needs to be and acts as a bug repellant.
A shaved Husky may also never look the same. If a dog's owner agrees to shave him, a Husky's fur will likely grow back a different color!
Managing your double-coated breed's fur
Regularly grooming your husky to maintain his coat is what experts recommend. Snowdog.guru also suggests,
"During the warmer months their undercoat will come loose, and come out in clumps, this will need to be brushed out with a rake. This allows cool air to reach the skin and circulate, while keeping the topcoat intact to protect from the sun. Leaving the undercoat unmanaged will block cool air from getting to the skin and potentially causing your dog to overheat."
This extra layer of fur has so many benefits!
How do you manage your dog's undercoat? Have you had any issues keeping their coat groomed? Please leave us a comment below!
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