During the hot summer months, it’s totally natural to feel worried about the temperature of your dog. If you’re new to owning a Labrador and you’re wondering how to cool them down, you might be wondering: Should I shave my Labrador?
In short, no, you should never shave a Labrador’s double coat unless your veterinarian states otherwise for a medical reason. By shaving your Lab’s coat, your dog can’t regulate their body temperature and it makes it harder for them to remain cool during summer and warm during winter.
In this article, I will cover some key information about your Labrador’s coat, including whether you should shave them.
So, let’s get started.
Why do Labradors shed?
Labradors have double coats, meaning that they blow their coats out twice a year as well as shed all year long.
Blowing their coat helps them transition from a thick winter coat to help keep them cool during the summer. They also blow their undercoat once more during the fall.
The importance of a Labrador’s coat
Despite being short-haired dogs, a Labrador has a dense, double coat that is similar to the Siberian Husky, German Shepherd, and the Border Collie.
The main thing to know about double coats is that they are made of two layers. The inner layer, and the outer layer.
The outer layer of hair consists of longer and coaster hairs that aren’t as soft to the touch. The outer layer’s purpose is to act as a protective barrier of the dog’s skin and under coat.
The inner layer, commonly known as the under coat is made up of dense, shorter hairs that are soft to the touch.
A Labrador’s coat has several important functions, including temperature regulation, protection, and acting as a natural barrier against dirt.
Your Labrador’s coat is absolutely essential to protect your dog in a variety of different weather conditions.
While the coarse outer layer is designed to repel water and to keep your Lab’s skin protected from water, ice, and dirt, the inner layer helps keep your Lab protected in different temperatures.
In fact, the undercoat works in such a way that it keeps your Labrador cozy and warm during winter, but also works to keep your dog cool and comfortable throughout the summer.
Think of your dog’s undercoat acting in the same way as insulation does in your home. It works to protect your Lab against the natural elements all year round.
How can you stop your Labrador from shedding?
There’s no way of preventing your Lab from shedding, but you can minimize their shedding by maintaining a regular grooming routine.
Why you shouldn’t shave your Lab’s coat
Your Labrador is more susceptible to sunburn
Shaving your Lab in the summer is one of the best ways to ensure that your Lab gets sunburned!
Your dog’s outer coat is a protective barrier that works to stop the sun’s powerful rays from penetrating through to your dog’s skin and burning it.
Not only are dogs incredibly sensitive to sunburn, but if they get burned due to this lack of protection from the harmful UV rays, they will also be at a higher risk of developing skin cancer.
If your dog has been shaved, make sure that you don’t allow it outside during the hottest parts of the day. You will also want to make sure that they remain in the shade as their skin will be incredibly sensitive.
Your Labrador’s coat won’t grow back in the same way
If you’re considering shaving your dog’s coat, you might not realise that it will never, ever be the same again if you do.
Labrador’s are naturally born with a lovely soft and thick inner coat. However, once you have shaved this and it grows back, it will never feel the same again. Instead, the undercoat will grow back rougher and pricklier than it was before.
Instead of those short hairs working to insulate your dog during the winter, harsh, prickly hairs will grow back in their place that irritate your dog’s skin.
They also won’t feel as soft to the touch anymore. However, you will only understand the full extent when it grows back.
Shaving disrupts your dog’s natural insulation system
As I’ve noted above, shaving your dog’s coat changes your dog’s coat forever, and can therefore disrupt your dog’s natural insulation system.
This is never going to be a nice change for your pooch, as they’ve had and relied on this system since birth. Once they are shaved, this changes and they will have to adapt to their new coat.
You also run the risk of their coat not being able to cool them down as well during the summer months, and could notice that they pant more than they used to in the heat.
Regrowing a coat can be incredibly uncomfortable
Hair regrowth can be itchy and comfortable for humans at the best of times, so can you imagine how uncomfortable your pooch would be regrowing their coat over their entire body? It doesn’t sound like much fun, does it.
Shaving your Labrador’s coat removes the soft undercoat that protects their skin. While the new coat is growing out, the hairs will be harsh, prickly, and make your dog itch like crazy!
If your dog constantly itches and scratches, their skin will quickly become irritated and they could end up with big sores that are painful. You’ve also got to think about how much bacteria can be on your dog’s paws. If they keep scratching, they could even transfer bacteria from their paws to their skin and end up with a painful skin infection that could lead to a vet’s appointment that they hate even more!
Shaving your Lab can increase allergies
You might think that it is your dog shedding hair that causes your allergies to play up, and could consider shaving them a good alternative. However, you would be wrong in thinking this!
Shaving your Lab can actually increase your allergies, as it’s not the hair that causes them to flare up, it’s the dander.
By shaving your Lab’s coat, you will unintentionally give the dander an opportunity to spread everywhere and cause more severe allergy symptoms.
Shaved Labradors are more difficult to keep clean
You might think your exercise-loving Lab is hard to clean now, but it’s nothing compared to a shaved labrador.
Your dog’s coat plays a fundamental role in keeping them clean and gives you an easier time of grooming them even if you aren’t aware of it.
In addition to this, having a water-repellent outer coat helps trap all the dirt and moisture and protects you from getting to your dog’s skin.
In order to keep up with all of the mud your dog will be trailing through the house after each walk, you will have to resort to bathing them more often. However, bathing your Lab on a more frequent basis can actually dry out their skin and lead to even more issues if you’re not careful including flaky and itchy skin.
Shaving your Labrador might seem like an excellent idea to cool down your dog during the hot summer months.
However, you should never shave a Labrador unless your veterinarian states otherwise.
Your dog’s health and comfort is the most important factor, and shaving them will just create a variety of different issues that you will want to avoid at all costs.