I’ve heard it a million times…
“Yes, I’d like to make an appointment to get Precious shaved for the summer. She is so hot! She is panting and miserable!”
“What kind of dog is Precious, Mom?”
“She is a husky.”
This is when I break into my regular well-rehearsed schpeal about the way nature has designed the husky’s coat to provide air conditioning in the summer and warmth when it’s cold outside. The key is in the maintenance of this coat!
“Bring her in for a bath and brush out once a month,” I say. “It will cut down on shedding, keep her comfortable and good looking!”
There are always those who insist on the ridiculous procedure anyways. I’ve talked most of them out of it over the years, but to those of you who still think it is a good idea to shave your dog down when it is hot out, let me try to persuade you with a quick lesson on canine coat types and their growth.
Double coat dogs, meaning huskys, golden retrivers, german shepards, cocker spaniels, etc. have two varieties of hair that grow from every one of their hair follicles. The softer hair is more plentiful by far. We call that the undercoat. It grows fast, falls out (sheds) and reproduces. The other hair is called the guard hair. Its job is to protect the dog from sun, rain and snow. It grows slower than the undercoat and there are fewer guard hairs to undercoat hairs. That is why, when we shave a double-coated dog, the coat grows back in soft and fuzzy. Like a sweater. Not a good thing when it is 80 degrees, right? The guard hairs eventually come back but sparsely at first and sometimes not at all! The poor dog is then stuck with this “sweater” for the duration of the season with no protection from the elements.
Single coated dogs such as poodles, poodle mixes, shih tzus, yorkies and maltese don’t have the same problem with very short haircuts. But they can and do get sunburnt! I prefer to see dogs trimmed to an attractive reasonable length in accordance to how much the owner will comb and brush between shop visits.
Owners should ask their professional groomers about how often their dog should come in for a grooming appointment. Ask about which products to use and what grooming tools are best for their particular dog. Groomers want to help their customers by answering all of their questions regarding grooming.
I recommend a thorough (down to the skin) brushing with an appropriate brush for their breed, followed by a comb through with a metal comb to catch tangles before they become mats. This should be done at least 3 times a week.
Bathing can and should be done at least once a month and whenever they get dirty. Use a shampoo designed for dogs. Rinse, lather, repeat and always use a conditioning crème rinse or spray. Most dog shampoos are very concentrated so diluting it in a gallon bottle filled with warm water can greatly assist the rinse cycle! A blow dryer while brushing adds a nice finishing touch!
If your dog’s coat is in tip top shape and free of dirt, mats and tangles, it may inspire you to get out there and show him off a little. Morning and evening walks in the summer before and after the sun heats up the pavement are healthy and great exercise for both you and your dog.
So stay cool this summer and please don’t ask us to shave down Precious!