You love your Golden Retriever, and when the hot temperatures of summer hit, you want him to be comfortable. But how can he be comfortable in the heat with all that thick, heavy fur? Then you think, “I could just shave his fur to keep him cool.” Here’s why shaving a Golden Retriever is a really bad idea.
A Golden Retriever should never be shaved. A Golden has two protective layers of fur, a top-coat and an undercoat. Both coats are vital for protecting a Golden Retriever’s skin (especially during summer). Shaving a Golden Retriever may do irreparable harm to his coat, causing it to never grow back right.
In this article, I’ll explain how a Golden Retriever’s coat works, and how unshaved coat is absolutely necessary to protect him during the warm summer months.
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It’s completely understandable to be concerned about your Golden Retriever’s comfort, and want to do everything you can to keep them healthy and happy. In the winter, it’s a no-brainer to let your heavy coated Golden stay that way – after all, it’s freezing, and that fur looks super toasty. It’s common sense that your Golden Retrievers thick fur coat is keeping him warm during the winter.
In the summer, you probably see your Golden panting away after a walk and feel bad for him. “Why can’t they just take their fur off like I wear fewer clothes in the heat?” This may sound like a logical idea. You’re thinking if you shave them, they’ll be cooler and more comfortable. This, however, is not the case due to the protective nature of a Golden Retriever’s double coat.
Understanding Your Golden Retriever’s Double Coat
While most dog breeds have one layer of fur known as a single coat, Golden Retrievers are among the few dog breeds that sport what’s known as a double coat. A double coated dog’s coat consists of two layers of fur, each designed to protect them in a different way.
A Golden Retriever’s double coat consists of a soft undercoat made of short, densely packed fur designed to protect the dog’s skin from parasites, brambles, and the sun, and an outer coat that grows over the top to repel dirt and water. It’s the under coat that keeps them warm in the winter, and believe it or not, cool in the summer.
A dog’s undercoat does this by helping to regulate a Golden Retrievers body temperature by changing its thickness throughout the year. As a Golden Retriever owner, you know that these dogs are heavy shedders. While they may shed year-round, there are two times of the year when they shed especially heavily.
During the spring, a Golden Retriever will shed his thick winter undercoat, and grow a new, thinner undercoat in order to prepare for the hot summer season. In the fall, he will begin to shed abundantly again to drop his summer undercoat and grow a new, thicker layer for winter.
A Golden Retriever’s undercoat is vital to them being able to control their own body temperatures during both the warm and cold seasons. In addition, during the warm months, this undercoat will protect your Golden Retriever from the sun. Without this protective layer, Goldens are susceptible to UV and sunburn which can damage their skin, and cause cancer.
Recommended Reading: Do Golden Retrievers Have Hair or Fur? (A Golden’s Coat)
Is it Okay to Shave a Golden Retriever?
A double coated dog, like Golden Retrievers, should never be shaved. Shaving the undercoat can cause a range of problems, including alopecia (patchy fur growth), and the undercoat growing back thicker than before, which will sabotage the dog’s ability to withstand cold and heat. Or, it may simply not grow back the same at all.
Still, you may be tempted to clip their fur a little when it gets really blazing hot. Resist this temptation because even clipping a double-coated dog’s fur a little can cause it to not grow back the same. Even more so, never shave the undercoat because that can permanently harm your dog’s appearance and ability to self-regulate their temperature.
It’s logical to think your furry friend isn’t comfortable during the summer, but rest assured, double-coated dogs can withstand all but the most extreme temperatures. Too much sunlight, without the protection of their full double coat, is more dangerous than the heat itself.
In addition, there is a common myth that shaving a dog will keep them from shedding so much, but this isn’t true. It may seem logical – after all, they can’t shed hair if they don’t have extra, right? Nope. Even recently shaved Golden Retrievers will shed tiny hairs, making this an extreme solution that doesn’t really work.
So, to answer the question, no it is not okay to shave a Golden. A shaved Golden Retriever will be left exposed to elements that their coat was designed to protect them from. If a groomer tells you otherwise, you should leave because they don’t know what they are talking about.
How Can I Help My Retriever Stay Cool in the Heat?
Now that you found out you shouldn’t shave a Golden Retriever, you’re probably a little frustrated and at a loss of what to do to help your dog be more comfortable in hot weather. As it turns out, simple and regular grooming can be an effective measure to aid your dog’s coat’s ability to self-regulate their body temperature.
Regular brushing with a slicker brush (Amazon), and occasional brushing with an undercoat rake (Amazon)can remove tangles, mats, knots, and loose fur that interfere with the coat’s ability to withstand hot weather. An important thing to watch out for are bugs like fleas and ticks, who suck dogs’ blood. Being infested causes blood loss, which harms your Golden Retrievers ability to regulate their temperature as well. Regular bathing in conjunction with proper Golden Retriever grooming will keep your dog’s coat in peak condition.
There are also a few other things you can do to keep your Golden cool and comfy when it’s hot outside.
- Plenty of cool drinking water – Make sure that your Golden Retriever always as access to a supply of fresh cool water. Cool drinking water will help bring down his internal temperature. You can even drop in a few ice cubes!
- Take him for a swim – Goldens love the water, and taking a dunk in a pool or lake will certainly help cool him off and give him some much needed exercise at the same time. If you don’t have access to a body of water, try this foldable pet pool from Amazon. Your dog will love it!
- Try a cooling pet pad – Another item that will keep your Golden cool is a pressure-activated cooling mat (Amazon). This mat is filled with a thin layer of gel that is always cool to the touch.
- Take walks in the early morning or after dark – It may be hot, but your Golden Retriever still needs his exercise. By exercising him during the coolest parts of the day, it will keep him from getting overheated.
- Use a misting fan – A warm dog enjoys a cooling breeze on a hot day as much as you do! Try setting up a fan in an area that he likes to lay, or better yet, set up a misting fan (Amazon)outside. He’ll love it, and this will really do the trick!
Recommended Reading: Can Golden Retrievers Live in Hot Climates? (The Facts!)
While shaving a Golden Retriever sounds like a good idea at first, it is a really poor (and potentially harmful) way to keep your Golden cool during the summer months. By keeping a Golden Retriever’s double-coat intact, it can do the job it was meant to do, and protect your Golden from the elements regardless of whether it is hot or cold.