Did you know the most common question dog groomers are asked is why must you shave my dog?
This is particularly true if you take your Poodle, Poodle mix, Maltese, Shih Tzu, Schnauzer, Westie, or similar breed. It’s common for dog groomers to suggest shaving them periodically.
Just note there are many different types of dog coats, and some, like double coats, should never be shaved.
So let’s take a look at questions around shaving a dog or why you may want your particular breed sorted out by a groomer a couple of times a year.
Why groom a dog?
There are numerous benefits to grooming your dog on a regular basis, and some of the reasons aren’t as obvious as you may think.
Here are a few reasons why you should groom a dog on a regular basis:
- Grooming promotes good health, cleanliness, and well-being of your dog.
- Grooming helps establish a good handler/dog relationship (and helps your dog build trust in you).
- Grooming provides a regular opportunity to closely inspect your dog for any skin, coat, or health problems. Skin problems, like itchy skin, dry skin, or rashes, are a telltale sign of an underlying health issue (or diet issue).
How to shave a dog with clippers
Shaving your dog with clippers is perfectly doable at home assuming your dog can remain steady and isn’t overly afraid of clippers.
But… and this is a big but… if your dog has had a run in with clippers in the past, such as you’ve tugged their hair trying to get out a knot, then you may find them panicky and restless. Or perhaps your dog just doesn’t like clippers or doesn’t feel safe, which can also be problematic.
If the above applies to your dog, or if you feel unsure, then it’s worth getting a local dog groomer to clip your dog – they deal with this stuff every day.
Here’s a video which shows an easy way to clip your dog, but you’ll find more in detail videos on YouTube here.
Some quick fire tips on how to shave a dog successfully are as follows:
- Always start with clean, dry fur. This helps the clippers glide more smoothly and reduce the risk of irritation.
- Choose the right blade for your dog’s coat type. A longer blade may be necessary for thicker fur, while a shorter blade can be used for thinner coats.
- Be extra careful around sensitive areas like the face, belly, and anus. It’s best to avoid these areas altogether if possible.
If you’re not confident in your ability to shave your dog safely, it’s best to seek out the assistance of a professional groomer. With their experience and expertise, they can help ensure your pet has a smooth, comfortable experience. This can also help your dog feel safer if you clip them in the future!
How to shave a dog with matted hair
If you have a dog with matted hair, there are a few things you need to do before you shave them.
First, you need to make sure that the area you’re shaving is clean. This means using a dog shampoo and spending some time brushing the fur to loosen any knots.
Once the area is clean, you can use a pair of scissors to trim the mats away from the skin. Be careful not to cut the skin! Also do your best not to make sure the scissors don’t pull the skin.
Keep in mind any pain may be remembered by your dog and make it harder to shave them in the future.
Once the mats have been removed, you can shave the area with a pet-safe razor. Make sure to shave in the direction of the fur to avoid irritation.
Finally, apply a dog conditioner to help keep the fur soft and healthy. It’s worth keeping an eye on the area and watch for any irritation your dog may be feeling – watch for licking or biting of the area.
I’ve covered undercoat de-shedding in this post, so won’t go into detail here. This is particularly necessary for breeds such as Collies, Golden Retrievers, Labradors, and Cocker Spaniels – all profuse shedders!
Undercoat de-shedding is the process of getting rid of the dead coat which sticks around and causes your dog to malt or get hot.
Usually a dog will shed their undercoat twice a year, and it’s easy to spot when because you’ll get balls of hair floating around the house.
Undercoat de-shedding tools are the best way to tackle this and save your vacuum cleaner.
Shaving a dog with a double coat
Shaving a dog with a double coat isn’t recommended – they use the two layers of coat to regulate their temperature in both hot and cold weather, and it also helps keep them clean and dirt free.
Once a double coated dog has been shaved, it may never grow back fully or prove effective in the future.
If your double coated dog has been previously shaved, then you’ll find they can overheat in the Australian summers. That may require you to shave them annually, so I’ll cover the steps to shave a double coat if this applies to you.
The first step is to brush your dog’s fur to remove any knots or tangles. You don’t want the clipper tugging at these and causing your dog pain – he won’t forget about it.
Next, use a clipper to trim the fur down to about an inch in length. Be sure to go slowly and avoid clipping too close to the skin.
Once the fur has been trimmed, it’s time to shave.
Start by wetting the fur and lathering up with shaving cream. Using a razor, shave in the direction of fur growth.
Don’t press too hard – you just want to remove the top layer of fur.
When you’re finished shaving, rinse the area with warm water and apply a bit of dog conditioner to help prevent matting.
It takes a bit of patience and practice, but as long as you’re careful not to cause your dog pain you’ll be alright!
Or call a dog groomer!
How to shave a dog’s paw pads
Most of us dog owners have absolutely no idea how to shave a dog’s paw pads, but at times there are reasons why we should.
Here are a few reasons:
- If your dog’s pads have become matted with debris then shaving them can help clean them up.
- A lot of hair between the pads can lead to bacteria growth and sometimes infection. A telltale sign is your dog persistently licking his paws, but note itchy paws are also a side effect of poor diet (namely wheat or cereal-based kibbles).
- Some people shave their dog’s paw pads in the summertime to help keep them cooler. Whether it has any noticeable difference for your dog I don’t know – do you!?
Shaving a dog’s paw pads is certainly a grooming task which requires some care, but it’s not overly hard.
The first step is brushing the fur around your dog’s paw pads to remove any mats or tangles. Just make sure you don’t tug any and cause your dog pain – if you can’t get knots out with a brush, then you can do it in the next step.
Using a pair of scissors carefully trim the hair around the paw pads. Be sure not to cut too close to the skin as you don’t want to cut your dog (this can cause infection as well as pain).
Once the fur has been trimmed, you can begin shaving the paw pads with a clipper designed for animal use.
Start by shaving in the direction of hair growth, and be very careful once again not to clip too close to the skin.
When you’re finished, brush the area again to remove any remaining hair. Finally, give your dog a good shampooing and rinse thoroughly. A well-groomed dog is a happy dog!
Why clip a dog’s ears?
Dogs with floppy ears are often the subject of jokes, but there’s actually a very practical reason why some breeds have their ears clipped.
If your dog is prone to ear infections, the long folds of skin around the ear can trap moisture and provide a perfect environment for bacteria to grow.
By clipping the hair and removing the folds of skin, you can help to reduce the risk of ear infections.
In addition, clipping can also help improve airflow to the ear and prevent wax build-up. If this sums up your dog, regular ear clipping may be necessary in keeping them healthy and happy.
Some people have their dogs ears clipped for aesthetic reasons too. Some breeds of dogs (such as hounds) are typically shown with clipped ears, so if you’re planning to show your dog you may need to have the procedure done.
Ear clipping is a relatively simple procedure that can be done at home or by a groomer. Overall ear clipping can be considered a safe and easy way to maintain your dog’s appearance and health.
Will shaving a dog help with fleas?
Fleas are a nightmare, especially when they go unnoticed for any length of time. Anyone who’s fought a battle with fleas will tell you it’s best to attack them from every angle.
Shaving your dog might help fight fleas, but there isn’t a great deal of evidence a shorter coat will stop them breeding. If you have a double-coated dog (more info here) then think long and hard before you damage their coat with shaving.
Fleas are known to thrive in warm, humid environments, so for this reason fleas might breed more readily in a long coated dog.
It’s also much easier to spot fleas on a dog which has been shaved, whereas on a long or thick coated dog it’s nigh on impossible. Some dogs don’t even scratch when they have fleas, so it’s easy to let them go unnoticed!
If your dog has fleas, then make sure you speak to your veterinarian about a suitable flea treatment (I personally found some off the shelf spot-on treatments were completely ineffective).
You will also need to treat your house (and possibly yard), as fleas are often 30% on your pet and 70% in the environment.
As such, shaving your dog may help you fight fleas, but it’s far from a solution.