Shaving a Double Coat; the truths and myths

Shaving a Double Coat; the truths and myths
Double coated dogs are the fluffy dogs breeds that often originated from cold climates. The "double" is used to describe how the dog somewhat has two coats - and undercoat and an outer coat. Some breeds that are double coated are: Golden Retrievers, Bernese Mountain Dogs, Chows, Samoyeds, Pomeranians, Spitz, Border Collies, Aussie Shepherds. 

Shaving a double coat isn’t ideal

A double coat provides a wonderful function working similarly to the insulation in your house’s walls; keeping the dog cool when temperatures are hot and keeping the dog warm when temperatures are cold. It also has a heavy shedding cycle so does not need clipping like say a Poodle that’s hair will keep growing in length.

Because of all of this, groomers will strongly advise to “groom-out” your dog (removing the dead undercoat and creating airflow) rather than clipping the coat.

Nevertheless, there are circumstances in which double coated breeds need to be clipped such as if there is a health reason and the skin needs to be treated or if the hair becomes severely compacted (matting of the undercoat – this can cause the dog to overheat and even be fatal!) Sometimes dog might already have a dodgy coat condition, so it looks a bit neater to tidy up anyway!


After Shaving a double coat

The coat will take quite a long time to restore to its proper function. Dogs with double coats have a lot more hair to grow than other breeds. What’s more, the undercoat grows faster that the guard hairs, so for a while the coat will look dull or frizzy rather than sleek and full. That's because the fuzzy undercoat appears on top rather than the bottom! Growing back a double coat can take quite some time. Generally, if the coat hasn’t grown back after 6 months, it’s time to look into why. 

Make sure you’re stimulating the follicles. Even with a small amount of hair, still brush, wash and condition to remove the dander, dirt and dead skin cells that block the hair follicles. Just like you need to keep on top of your garden bed for flowers to grow, keeping on top of skin health will create the optimal environment for hair to sprout again.

Don’t wear clothes. At the start it is important to help your dog adjust to the big temperature change, so popping on a jumper to keep them warm can be important. However, once the dog has got used to its new haircut it’s time to take off the clothes. Clothing creates friction and doesn’t encourage the hair to grow back.

Age can be a factor. Just like humans that see their hair thin out or even bald, all dogs lose the quality of their hair as they age. In some double coats, older dogs may even lose their coat function, with the insulation factor no longer working. It’s important to keep this in mind when assessing the coat after shaving.

If the hair isn't growing back, many times there's an underlying health issueUsually some easy to fix deficiency but occasionally it maybe conditions like hypothyroidism and hyperadrenocorticism. Quite commonly seen in Pomeranians is the condition Alopecia X, also known as Black Skin Disease. If hair doesn’t seem to be growing back, it’s a good idea to get some bloodwork done at the vet.

Uncanny Animals Pomeranians

Post Clipping Alopecia

The term "Post Clipping Alopecia" is used when referring to a double coated dog that's hair doesn't seem to grow back after it has been shaved. Some speculate that something disturbs the hair cycle during the telogen stage (the resting stage) and possibly the cooling of the skin changes the regrowth pattern.

It must be said though, there is no scientific peer reviewed proof of this condition, only anecdotal experience which it is hotly debated among Pet Parents, Groomers and Vets.

So far Uncanny Animals have personally never witnessed a coat that didn't grow back after shaving unless there was an underlying health issue. Admittedly, some do take quite a long time to restore though.