Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Why I Don’t Shave My Dogs…and Neither Should You

By David E. Neuwirth for Harlo's Healthy Pets

 Different dog breeds have different needs when it comes to grooming, so while it might be OK or even ideal for some dogs to be shaved it is detrimental to shave others.  I have 2 Siberian Huskies (and a Chihuahua) and I live in South Florida.  All of my dogs are rescues and I volunteer with a local Siberian Husky Rescue.  It breaks my heart every time I see a shaved husky in need of a new home.  Unfortunately most of the huskies I see dumped in a shelter or on Craig’s List are shaved.  I don’t think it’s a coincidence that many of the Huskies that are abandoned by their owners are shaved.  These dogs suffer (physically and emotionally) because some human decided Huskies look cool (which they do), or they just watched a movie featuring huskies and purchased one the following week from a puppy mill-selling pet store or back yard breeder.  It is not fair to the dogs, but it happens every day.    
For anyone considering a Siberian Husky or any other double coated type of dog, let me answer a question that I am asked often.  Yes, they do shed year round and when they blow your coat your vacuum will not be able to keep up with the amount fur constantly coming off of them.  There is nothing you can do to change this fact (while being a responsible and knowledgeable husky owner.)  If the thought of seeing a ball of fur blowing across your floor 5 minutes after you just vacuumed, swept or mopped (or all three) is a major issue for you, a double coated dog such as a Husky is not the right dog for you.  Before adding any dog to your family do the research on the specific needs and care required for that breed.  If the breed characteristics and needs don’t match with your lifestyle, do more research and find the right fit for you and your family.  Adding a dog to your family should not be an impulsive decision. 
Many people ask me (often in an accusatory manner) if I’m “torturing” my dogs by not shaving them in the summer.  Some will ask, “How would you like to wear a fur coat all day in the heat?”  For those that are open minded enough to learn I explain that it is not a good analogy or comparison.  Huskies have an undercoat that is their natural insulation.  This undercoat / insulation keeps them warm in cold temperatures; however, it is also the same insulation that protects them from the heat.  A better analogy would be home insulation.  I ask people if they have any type of insulation in their home to keep their home warmer in the winter.  Assuming the answer is yes, I would then ask, “Do you take it out of your home in the summer since it must make your house too hot?”  Of course the answer is no, because the same insulation that helps to keep the house warm in the winter is the same insulation that helps keep the house cooler in the summer.
Shaving Huskies and other double coated dogs can put your dog in danger of suffering from heat stroke, in danger of suffering from skin issues, exposing them to insect and parasite bites, and may cause long term damage to their coat.  The undercoat is a protective layer that functions in many different ways.  Every breed has unique qualities, characteristics, drives and needs.  It is your responsibility (not the groomer’s or even your vet’s responsibility) to know how to best care for your dog to keep him or her happy, healthy, and safe.

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