How to Choose the Right Haircut for your Dog.

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Your dogs hair can be overwhelming. I’m sure on several occasions you’ve wanted to say to your groomer “just shave it all off!” because you feel it will be easier for you to maintain. There’s no brushing to be done and your dog is inside 99.99% of the time anyway.
What if I told you that completely shaving your dog short was only easier for you? It did not serve your dog any purpose, in fact in some cases, it would make their life more difficult. Would you still request they be shaved?
Lets take a look at what actually happens when your dogs hair is cut and what questions to think about when choosing a hairstyle.

Firstly, let’s quickly speak about how amazing your dog’s hair is!
1. It allows your dog to regulate their body temperature. (When properly maintained.)
2. It protects them from the environment. Think bug bites and bumps & scuffs.
3. It protects them from sunburn or becoming excessively hot.

And here’s why you should never shave your dog if they have a double coat.

I bet you’re thinking, “but what about short haired dogs? It’s not like we glue hair back on them for protection?”.
While that’s true, the act of shaving hair is different to the coat of a short haired dog (SHD).

When you shave a long haired dog very short, you affect the normal balance of hair. Dog’s have 3 different types of hair: Primary Hair, Primary Lateral Hair and Secondary Hair/Undercoat. They work together to distribute themselves around the dogs body in order to properly function. Interfering with this harmony without understanding the roles they play can lead to a hot and matted (knotted) dog. A SHD’s coat already contains the right balance of hair, shaving their coats to be even shorter would create the same negative affects that come with shaving a long haired dog. Learn more about your dogs coat here.

Now that the scientific part is out of the way, here are some things to consider before choosing a hairstyle.

  1. How much maintenance do I want to do?
  2. What is my dog’s lifestyle like?
  3. Does my dog spend most of their time inside or outside?
  4. What is their age? Do they have any medical conditions?

How much maintenance do I want to do?
If you’re not able to brush your dog as much as they need in order to maintain their coat then you can certainly opt for a low maintenance haircut. This does not mean NO maintenance. A style that doesn’t require brushing is generally too short to be comfortable for the dog. You can do something like 10mm-13mm all over and have their face, ears and tail trimmed short. This style requires very little brushing and is a nice easy length for at home bathing.

What is my dog’s current lifestyle like?
Knowing how your dog spends their time (either by their choice or yours) is really helpful in determining a hairstyle. I recently gave a poodle who was going in for an operation a “short all over” cut so that her owners didn’t need to bother her with brushing while she was recovering. This was a style choice based on her current lifestyle. She normally has a beautiful poodle cut. (If I do say so myself!) The key word here is “current”, giving your dog the haircut they’ve always had because they’ve always had it, doesn’t help anyone. If your pup spends a lot of time in the water I often recommend leg feathering be trimmed back to prevent debris getting caught while swimming and to make post swim grooming easier.

Does my dog spend most of their time inside or outside?
A dog that sheds a lot, yet basically lives inside, would benefit from a monthly bath to prevent their shedding from happening around the house. If the same dog spent most or all of their time outside they would be just as comfortable with a weekly brush. If you had a Maltese Terrier type dog and you weren’t able to maintain their coat for whatever reason, you would find a happy balance of hair that you can maintain that still provides protection for your dog when outside. In this case, whether the dog were indoors or outdoors would not matter as in this example the owner is unable to manage the Maltese’s long coat either way.

What is their age? Do they have any medical conditions?
If you’ve noticed that a lot of older dogs haircuts tend to get a bit dodgy or really short, that’s because the groomer and owner have decided to care for the dogs coat based on their current physical condition rather than trying to get the best looking haircut. Which is exactly the right thing to do.  💚 
If your dog is struggling with arthritis in their back legs your groomer may choose to trim them so your dog doesn’t have to bend in a way that hurts them. This could mean them having uneven hair but it would be far more comfortable for them. If your dog were prone to hot spots in a particular area your groomer could shave a small section of hair to help keep the area dry.
I often, if not always, shave the inside of droopy-long eared dogs such as Cavaliers and Cocker Spaniels to help prevent ear infections. Shaving the inside helps improve airflow and drying capabilities as well as makes it easier to clean them in between grooming.

If you’re wondering if the weather should be impacting your decision at all, you must be new here. I don’t use temperature (literally at all) when advising a haircut because it rarely makes a difference to my decision, considering your dog has the part of thermoregulation covered.

Long gone are the days where we let our dogs become over grown and matted balls of mess during winter and shorn sheep during summer. We now know better.

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