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July 2018

To Shave Or Not To Shave?

I have had quite a few messages coming in from various outlets asking me for my opinion on this recently shared article online.



There are really only a few *minor statements that I don’t entirely agree with.  For instance, the types of hair on a dog not just being (2) guard hair or undercoat hair, but in fact there being a third type that is sometimes referred to as “tertiary” or secondary undercoat by various educators within our industry. This resides most commonly within the Nordic breeds of dogs and is a lesser hair coat type designed specifically for thermoregulation and adding additional loft and insulation for the body. There are also two types of tactile hairs interspersed within the canine and feline hair coat that serve a definite purpose in the relating of real-time perception and the adaptive systems of the pet and how it relates to its immediate environment. These are important as well.

The porosity of this third undercoat hair coat type and the density with which it creates the overall hair coat of the dog is why it has a propensity to really make a mess of things when you clip certain breeds down short all at once.

I do also feel that undercoat hair sheds much more cyclically than two times a year. This again relies just as much on not just the breed of dog, but within that category, it’s further individual genetic code, living/care  environment, as well as other factors including general physical health, medical and vaccination protocols, etc. So again, proof of the point that this is a case-by-case scenario.

Clipping down a dog with ample undercoat still has an eventual unforeseeable outcome. But this professional decision can be entered into best when you have as much factual information and objective knowledge under your belt as possible.

I am grateful for this article because our industry NEEDS more open minded discussion and less steadfast devotion to one side of the fence or the other. I understand the mines interest in deciding a black-and-white yes or no on anything that is important to our profession and our liability they are in, but as with many other important aspects of life, the important things can rarely be entirely black and white. 😉

I ask you to *please take the time to read through this lengthy article, (you really can’t effectively “skim” it) take mental notes, and bookmark it to hold onto for referral back to, should you have any questions later on.


For those who asked for it, my professional opinion is that clipping down a dog with ample undercoat must be done carefully because there are a host of possible outcomes all of which *you have a certain amount of liability for in the event of an adverse effect as a professional business/caregiver. 

The same goes for Terrier (and TerrierX breeds, all of which cycle coat far different than any other breed class) breeds whose clippering can also alter coat type and the overall health of the dog!

You may find yourself to decide an absolute one way or the other just to keep things simple for your work each day. 

And that decision is entirely individual as much as it is for the pet on your table in front of you.

I will say in my salon that absolutely no dog gets clipped down shorter than a #4F on a double coated breed. And that NONE of that clipping is done until after the dog has been completely bathed, completely dried, and brushed out with its *full natural coat length FIRST*.

Clipping down this type of coat is always done as a final step process which only is completed when I have cared sufficiently for ALL of the coat that the dog initially came in with. 

If you need clarification on that process that I enact at my own salon, and which I recommend within my certification material, please contact me and I will happily delve deeper.



Article on spay-induced coat changes:


Supportive article on thermal animal imaging: