Pet grooming: When (not)to clip your dog's hair

The summer season calls for hair cuts. And not only yours but also your pets'. But a shorter coat doesn't always mean lower body temperature. On the contrary, sometimes it could be the other way round. How and when to clip our four-legged friends' coat and who should this responsibility fall onto? We've asked the breeder Klára Miketová.

What are the best seasons for clipping dogs' coats and why?

First of all, I would divide the dogs into show dogs, where the clipping should comply with the breeding standard. In this case, the seasons don't play any role. Then we have dogs as family companions when we do the so-called 'pet trim'. The dog is usually groomed at a professional salon and the clipping is done regularly. In the cold winter season, it is better to leave the coat longer. If we decide to clip the coat in winter, it is advised to use dog clothes.

Is coat clipping necessary for all dogs?

Coat clipping is definitely not necessary for all dogs. In some cases, it's even undesirable. Every type of coat is different. There are the Maltese or Yorkshire Terriers who don't have an undercoat and whose coat can be compared to human hair. The regular daily coat care can be very demanding due to the long hair and therefore those who have this type of dog as a companion rather than a show dog, have them clipped regularly. I would also mention Poodles and other water dogs with a long wavy or curly coat which is in need of regular clipping as the fur grows back very quickly.

The rough coat of terriers, schnauzers, wire-haired hounds is also specific and is groomed by stripping. A stripping knife is used to pluck the hair very short and it is then left to grow for some time. Stripping should be done well ahead of a planned show. Many owners shave their wire-haired breeds, as it is much quicker, easier and cheaper. And last I would mention short-haired dogs, who shed hair most of all. In America, the tendency is to shave these types of dogs several times a year because apparently they then shed significantly less hair. However, I don't have a personal experience with this.

Why is hair clipping important for some breeds?

As I've mentioned before, especially breeds whose coat grows back very quickly need to be regularly clipped to maintain it.

How can we tell that it's time to clip the coat?

I personally know the time has come when I can't look at the dog anymore. But the most common problem caused by an overgrown coat is when it starts getting rough. As soon as I have to brush the dog more often to get rid of dreadlocks, it is definitely time to have it clipped.

How is it with thermoregulation in dogs? Can it be influenced by coat clipping?

Yes, surprisingly, a short coat isn't exactly beneficial for a dog. The undercoat provides insulation not only against the cold but also prevents overheating. Not so long ago I watched a documentary about measuring a retriever's body parts before clipping and after. After the clipping, the skin was overheating in the sun by several degrees compared to when the coat was longer.

What is the correct approach towards clipping? What is the process?

I would definitely recommend visiting a dog salon for the first clipping or at least taking a grooming course. Only then would I attempt doing it myself at home. It is crucial to have good-quality clippers, scissors, combs and brushes. Nowadays, you can easily find everything on the internet. If you are a first-time dog owner, always ask those with more experience. Usually, the breeder should explain everything about coat care during the sale of the puppy.

Would you recommend any tools to make the whole process easier?

Other than what I've already mentioned, I would also recommend someone to hold the dog for the first clipping session. Because the whole process is going to be new for the dog, the sound of the buzzing clippers could be uncomfortable. The clippers are sharp, so it's important that the dog is as calm as possible to avoid unpleasant injuries. It is also necessary to bathe and blow-dry the dog before clipping.

Is it good to trim the claws at the same time as clipping the coat?

Yes, always check the claws when clipping the coat and trim them if necessary.

But even the first claw trimming should be left to experienced professionals who know how to do it. I would also recommend checking the ears. If they are dirty, clean them using a suitable product.

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