As you continue to spend time with your Golden retriever, many questions will arise as you learn about caring for their coat. A common question is whether this breed’s coat can be shaved or not.
Many owners of Goldens become curious about this as summer approaches, often wondering if shaving their dog would help them deal with heat during warmer months. As you will soon learn, shaving your Golden retriever can introduce several risks to your dog and is generally not recommended.
What Are the Dangers of Shaving Your Golden Retriever?
Generally speaking, all dogs rely on their coat for protection in one way or another. A dog’s coat protects them from the weather and elements throughout the year. The fur helps protect your dog from exposure to the sun and also offers insulation during the colder months.
More directly, a healthy coat also protects your dog’s skin, which is often more sensitive and prone to potential infections in comparison to human skin. Shaving your Golden retriever will remove this layer of protection, leaving your dog significantly more vulnerable to skin infections, irritation, sunburn, unregulated temperature changes, and many other issues.
Although sometimes the coat will continue to grow after shaving, this can cause irreversible damage. As you might expect, the hair or fur on a dog can grow in many different directions. A potential issue that can follow after shaving or clipping is that the fur may grow in the wrong direction and may eventually result in an outcome similar to alopecia, which often leads to permanent fur loss in dogs.
Sometimes the coat may grow back in a completely different condition compared to how it naturally would have emerged. For example, dogs with soft coats often develop coarse coats during continued growth after shaving. Dogs with longer hair may also have the length of growth stunted significantly by shaving or clipping.
It’s important to understand that the risks and damage posed to your Golden retriever through shaving is not only physical. Shaving your Goldie can also impact them on an emotional and psychological level. Unfortunately, some dogs have experienced negative psychological effects from being shaved. Additionally, unnecessary shaving can even lead to behavioral issues and may cause a normally well-behaved dog to become more fearful or aggressive.
Learning About Your Golden Retriever’s Coat
Golden retrievers have a flat double coat, which requires a very specific type of care. The two layers of fur keep your furry friend warm during the winter and are later shed during the summer to help keep the dog cool. With that in mind, shaving the coat can have a negative impact on your Golden retriever throughout the year. As warmer months approach, your dog will naturally begin to shed much of the undercoat that was present during the winter.
If you shave your Golden during warmer months, too much fur may be removed and expose the skin underneath, which will make your dog more likely to experience sunburn. Although you may think that you are very careful and considerate by shaving your dog during the summer, it can be difficult to gauge how much fur needs to be present to prevent sunburn. It’s not uncommon for dogs to experience a less visible sunburn even when their owners believed they left enough fur following the shaving incident.
Similarly, the coat that remains during the warmer months influences the growth of the undercoat for colder months. Shaving a Golden retriever inhibits the natural growth of the undercoat. This can result in the undercoat growing incorrectly or not enough undercoat being produced at all, which can prevent your dog from staying adequately warm during the winter.
Clipping vs. Shaving
Some owners believe that clipping is a better alternative to shaving their Goldie’s coat because they think that it is less invasive and may cause less damage. Although clipping may be less severe in terms of coat and fur loss than shaving, it is still not recommended due to the risks it can pose to dogs and their skin. During general grooming, sometimes a groomer will clip very minimal amounts of the dog’s fur, but this shouldn’t ever be done in excess for the sake of the dog’s skin health.
Since some dog owners do make an effort to groom their dog at home, a common mistake is trying to clip the dog’s fur without any professional guidance. This can be very detrimental to the dog since most owners do not have the knowledge or background in shaving or clipping when compared to a professional groomer. There’s a large risk that you can potentially injure your dog if you attempt to clip or shave it yourself, so please avoid trying this at home!
There are some instances where it is acceptable to shave a Golden retriever’s coat. In situations where the coat is severely matted, or the dog is suffering from mange that prevents the fur from being properly groomed, it is more common to shave the fur for the sake of the dog’s health. Since the coat is typically already dirty and has led to infection in these circumstances, shaving can help the veterinarian and owner to properly treat the dog’s infection and work toward growing out a healthier coat again. However, it is still likely that the dog’s coat will never grow back in the same quality and texture that was present before shaving or clipping.
The second circumstance in which it’s acceptable to clip or shave your Goldie is if it absolutely must be done for a medical procedure. Sometimes shaving is required to proceed with certain types of surgeries. However, the medical staff will only shave the minimal amount necessary to continue with the medical treatment.
Caring for a Previously Shaved Golden Retriever
If you’ve shaved your Golden retriever in the past or you’ve rescued a Goldie that was shaved, you may be wondering what your next steps are for proper care. Although shaving can cause permanent damage, it’s always important to provide the appropriate care that supports your dog’s skin and coat health. The best course of action is to reach out to your veterinarian with the context of the situation and ask for guidance regarding how to care for your dog’s coat now that you’re aware of the risks and potential issues associated with shaving.
A dog that has was previously shaved will often need different grooming products and additional attention to fully address its unique needs, especially if the skin is still exposed. Other examples of issues requiring unique care include hair loss or if the dog’s new coat is growing in much more coarse than before.
Although it’s very considerate to try to keep your Golden retriever cool during the summer months, shaving or clipping their fur is not a recommended way to do it. To avoid causing injury and permanent damage to your dog, the best practice is to continue standard grooming practices.
As hotter days approach, you can provide your dog with cool water and air conditioning; they will appreciate this gesture just as much as you would in the same circumstances!