There are many reasons why someone may think it’s a good idea to shave their Golden Retriever. It may seem to make sense that in the heat of the summer shaving your dog’s fur could help them feel cooler.
It may also seem like grooming could be a lot easier if you remove all the hair, and what about shedding… could that go away with a shave?
These are all pertinent questions, but the thing that should be at the forefront of our mind is how does it really affect our dogs?
The answer may surprise you. Shaving them can have some pretty negative outcomes.
As a general rule, you should never shave a Golden Retriever. Shaving your dog’s undercoat does much more harm than good it will take away their natural protection from the elements. The only time your Golden Retriever’s coat should be shaved is for medical reasons or excessive matting.
Let’s dive into the reasons why you should never shave your double-coated dog and the things that you can do instead to help with the issues that may make it seem like a good idea in the first place.
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Why you shouldn’t shave your Golden Retriever
It’s important to understand how your Golden Retriever’s fur grows and its function.
Golden Retriever have a unique double-coat of hair which essentially means they have two layers of fur. The bottom layer, closest to the skin, is dense and fluffy. The top layer is stiff and water repellent.
The two layers work together as a natural protection for your dog.
The outer layer protects your dog from dirt, rain, and elements. The inner layer provides insulation from the heat or the cold and helps to regulate your Golden Retriever’s body temperature.
Dog hair is a lot thicker than I’ve made it look in the following image, but I wanted to give a clear picture of the 2 different types of hair.
In the summer your dog’s undercoat (if it is fluffed, dry, and free from tangles) will trap a layer of cool air, and keep your dog from overheating. Of course, this has limitations.
You don’t want to leave your dog in extreme temperatures no matter what, but for the most part, having these two layers of hair will protect your dog from the hot summer sun. This double coat not only can help them stay cool, it also protects them from sunburns and skin cancer.
In the winter or cold parts of the year, your dog’s hair gets even thicker. The thicker under-coat helps keep in heat and can protect your dog from hypothermia and frostbite. The topcoat which is water-resistant helps keep the undercoat protected and able to do its job. This works optimally if your dog’s coat is clean and free of mats.
One owner I talked with said brushing her Golden Retriever was a pain due to his thick fur. After trying a few different brushes, she finally used this amazing brush that she found on Amazon. It made brushing her dog’s hair quick and easy.
When you shave your Golden Retriever you are making the two layers of hair at an even length.
This is a problem because the undercoat will naturally grow back faster and cause problems with the guard coat growing back. When more undercoat grows back it will interrupt your dog’s natural shedding cycle it will mat easier and shed more.
Shaving your dog also has the potential to cause permanent coat damage and could result in hair loss and bald spots. Once the topcoat starts to grow back, the texture feels much different. It can be like Velcro and attract burrs, grass, seeds, and anything else that your dog touches.
Shaving does not stop shedding
Dogs are amazing creatures and have for thousands of years been able to adapt to survive and thrive in their environment. This is why when the seasons change your Golden Retriever will start to shed and lose a lot of hair towards the end of the cold winter months heading into spring and summer.
It may be a pain to find hair everywhere and tempting to shave it all off thinking this will help with shedding, but let me assure it this is not the solution.
Shaving your dog’s coat will not stop shedding! They will just shed shorter hair and most likely they will even shed more hair than they would have if they hadn’t been shaved.
Let me explain:
Undercoat hairs shed and re-grow several times per year. Guard hairs only shed and re-grow every few years. When the undercoat grows back faster and thicker your dog will have more undergrow which sheds more often than the topcoat. So now you have more hair shedding more often than you did before!
More hair in the undercoat also makes it a lot easier to mat and tangle and will require more brushing and grooming to keep it from needing to be shaved again.
How to reduce shedding in your Golden Retriever
Regular brushing, professional grooming, and monthly baths can help to prevent excessive shedding in your Golden Retriever. These practices will help to remove the dead/loose undercoat and reduce the amount of fur that covers you and your home.
I have written an article that goes in-depth about your Golden Retriever’s shedding, including 11 hacks from owners that will help you get the fur under control!
This is also the best way to keep your dog’s coat clean, shiny, and naturally healthy! Keeping a regular schedule of grooming and increasing it during the spring shed can help you stay on top of the massive amount of hair that may come off your dog which will help to prevent rats and matting.
The best type of grooming is a vigorous undercoat raking which you can request from your groomer or do yourself. When you do take your dog to the groomers be very specific with your groomer that you do not want your dog to be shaved at all!! It may be a good idea to have it in writing because even still it can sometimes happen!
Here is one owner’s experience of taking her Golden Retriever to the groomer.
Took my sweet girl to get groomed and they shaved her. I asked for a sanitary trim in the back and to clean up and line the legs and stomach. And specifically said NO shaving.Chloe A.
Here are some tools to help you handle the shedding at home.
Do be careful when using a Furminator not to overdo it. It should only be used a few times during heavy shedding season. Using it too much can damage your dog’s coat.
SleekEZ Deshedding Grooming Tool for Dogs – Patented Undercoat Brush for Short & Long Hair
Painlessly Remove 95% of Loose Hair, Fur & Dirt
Shaving does not cool them down
It seems like a natural idea to shave your dog to help them stay cool in the summer, but when you remove all their hair they are unable to retain a cool layer of air close to their skin.
The combination of both coats growing in at the same time will make your Golden Retriever even hotter since the undercoat will keep air from circulating. The changed texture of the long guard hairs will actually absorb heat from the sun to make your dog much more susceptible to overheating.
Keeping your Golden Retriever cool
Your Golden Retriever can handle quite the range of temperatures, but there are some things that you can do to help your dog to be more comfortable in the heat of the summer.
Dogs don’t have sweat glands the same as we do. They sweat from the pads of their feet and their panting can help cool them down but it may not be enough. Here are some tips to keep your Golden Retriever cool in the summertime.
- Make sure your dog has plenty of cool water
- Provide a shady spot for your dog to rest
- If it gets too hot outside allow your dog to come indoors to a cooler environment
- Exercise your dog in the morning and evening hours when it’s cooler
- Never leave your dog unattended in a car! Even for a few minutes, the temperature can heat up FAST
- Get a cooling bandana
- Keep your dog’s paws trimmed
- Keep their legs and groin and stomach trimmed
When it is ok to shave your Golden Retriever?
That are certain instances when the benefits of shaving a Golden Retriever will out way the negatives. A few of these include when a dog is severely matted, a senior dog that has health conditions, or certain parts of all Golden Retriever.
Severe matting and neglect
It is always heartbreaking to hear stories of neglect but if you have ever adopted a dog from a rescue or shelter chances are that their matted coat is only one of the problems that you may be dealing with while trying to help your Golden Retriever have a better life.
The goal is to help your rescued dog have a much better life with causing as little added pain as possible. In this case, it’s important to work with a professional groomer to assess if it is possible to get through a dog’s coat with special tools that can help to carefully cut away some of the mats and make it achievable for regular brushing to continue.
There are cases when a dog has been so severely neglected and the matting is extreme to a point that it is too painful and not possible to get through its coat, in this case, there is little choice but to shave the dog’s coat.
Pro Tip: Make sure to have regular grooming and brushing sessions with your dog a few times a week. This will help to prevent severe matting. Severe matting is the number one reason groomers give to why it may be necessary to shave all the hair off.
Senior dogs who have health problems
Thinning your dog’s hair from a winter coat to a summer coat can take a lot of time and energy from you and your Golden Retriever. If your dog is older and it’s difficult for them to stand through a long grooming session or they have arthritis or other conditions that make grooming more painful then shaving them might be a better option.
This should always be done out of consideration of the dog’s age and health. If this is the case then you should take precautions to keep your dog indoors and out of the elements where she is more likely to get sunburned or overheat.
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Certain parts of your Golden Retriever can be shaved
When we are discussing shaving your dog we are talking about their entire body. It’s rarely a good idea to shave their entire body, but there are certain parts of their bodies that can be helpful to have shaved.
- The hair between the pads of the feet. This helps to keep them cool and comfortable and it keeps the hair from matting as they walk on it.
- The groin area. They naturally have less hair here and it’s important for sanitary and cleanliness reasons.
- The hair around their anus. If they are prone to getting poop stuck to their bum this one is usually a no-brainer. Sometimes it’s enough to just trim the hair around their bottom and not shave the entire area.
When your Golden Retriever gets spayed or neutered it is customary for them to be shaved around the surgical site before surgery. This helps to make sure that the hair is out of the way for the surgeon which will make it safer for your dog.
How to Trim or Shave Your Golden Retrievers Paws?
If you are interested in shaving/trimming your dog’s legs and paws you can learn how to do this at home. This video has a great overview of how to do it carefully.
Will your Golden Retriever’s hair grow back if it is shaved?
So maybe you are like the pups (pictured above) and your groomer has gone against your wishes and shaved your beautiful Golden Retriever until you hardly recognize him, or you have unintentionally shaved your dog now knowing the harm it would do, or you’ve had no other choice because of matting or medical reasons then your next questions might be will it grow back and what to do!?
Yes, the hair will grow back, but it most likely will not be the same texture. You can take steps to help your Golden Retriever‘s hair return to normal but it could take up to a year or more to return to how it was. The more times they are shaved the longer it will take to return to full growth and the more unlikely it will be to ever return to that state.
If your Golden Retriever has been shaved and you are trying to get their hair back to normal then it will require a lot of extra grooming for you. Working towards brushing it every day to keep the undercoat under control and mat-free is an important step.
It generally takes 3-7 months for your Retrievers hair to grow back to a normal length after being shaved.
Pro TIP: We have tried a few different brushes to keep our dog’s hair mat-free, but we weren’t truly happy with any of them until we found this brush on Amazon. As a bonus, it was pretty inexpensive and really helped us to keep our dog’s hair shiny and free of tangles.
Making sure that your dog does not have to be shaved again is important. Following the best grooming practices like we talked about before as well as feeding your dog a high-quality nutrient-dense food like this one can also help.
When you shave your double-coated dog’s hair too short it can result in something called Post Clipping Alopecia. You can tell if this is affecting your dog by noticing if your dog’s regrowth hair is a different color or texture than it was before. If it’s thinner and wispier than its once lush coat, the skin on its body has darkened, or if they have hair loss or a patchy coat of hair.
What is a Golden Retriever Lion Cut?
A Golden Retriever Lion cut is when the dog is shaved everywhere except around the head and neck to make it look as if it has a lion’s mane. The legs and tails are also often left with a bit of a pom pom or poofy look at the tips.
This cut although popular for some breeds is still not the best idea for your dog. Here is a photo from the Golden Retriever Rescue Alliance that shows just how dangerous a cut like this can be.
I hope this article was helpful to you in deciding whether or not you should shave your dog’s coat as well as give you tips for helping your dog grow back hair if it has had a shaved coat.