Can You Shave A Lab? – Why Shaving A Lab Is A Bad Idea

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With the summer almost upon us, you might be concerned about how your Labrador is going to fare under all that thick coat.

If your pooch is already panting and seems like it’s struggling in the heat, you might be tempted to shave your dog. But, can you shave a Lab, or is there something better you can do to keep your pooch safe in the oppressive heat?

Whether you want to keep your pooch cool in the summer, reduce the shedding, or get rid of fleas from their coat, shaving should never be the solution! 

A dog’s coat isn’t the same as human hair, and your Labrador won’t experience any of the benefits you get when cutting your hair in the summer. In fact, your Lab’s fur provides insulation, and shaving it off can cause more harm than good to your pooch.

If you are thinking of shaving your Labrador, put the clippers down and keep on reading.

In this article, I’ll explain the purpose of your dog’s coat and why you should never shave it. 

Contents & Quick Navigation

The True Purpose Of Labrador’s Coat

If you own a Labrador retriever, you already know that this breed has a thick double coat. But do you know what having a double coat means?

Besides Labradors, many other dog breeds have a double coat, including German shepherds, Siberian huskies, and Border collies, just to name a few. 

The main thing you should know about a double coat is that it’s made out of two layers – an outer layer and the inner layer. 

Often called top coat or guard hairs, the outer layer consists of longer and coarser hair that is more abrasive to the touch. The outer layer acts as a sort of barrier, keeping the dirt, debris, and sun rays away from your dog’s skin and undercoat.

The inner layer, also known as the undercoat, is made up of dense, short hairs that usually have a wooly texture and are soft to the touch. In fact, this dense and soft layer produces all those hairs that your Lab is shedding all over your home all year round. 

Besides making your Lab look great, their glorious coat has several important functions, including temperature regulation, protection, and being a natural barrier against dirt. 

A shaved Labrador retriever is essentially stripped naked and no longer can experience any of these vital protections their coat offers. 

The internet proves that many dog owners don’t understand how a double coat works! A simple search will lead you to countless pictures of shaved Labradors, huskies, Pomeranians, and many other dogs that shouldn’t be shaved. 

Essentially, nature equipped the Lab with such a coat to keep it protected in all sorts of weather conditions. The coarse outer layer is water repellant and is designed to keep your Lab’s skin protected from water, ice, and dirt.

The thick and dense undercoat, on the other hand, plays a different role and helps keep your Lab protected in different temperatures. In fact, the undercoat keeps your Labrador nice and warm during winter but acts as an amazing cooling mechanism during summer. 

As it turns out, the undercoat is, in fact, your pup’s insulation system that works non-stop to ensure your Lab is protected against the elements all year round. 

When you shave your Lab’s coat, you are taking away your dog’s natural ability to regulate their body temperature and stay cool during summer and warm during winter.

By the way, while hair is not quite the same as a Labrador Retrievers fur coat, I as a balding man have experienced the importance of hair protecting from the elements.

Just like Michael Jordan I shaved my head as I began balding. Now that I don’t have hair my head is easily sun burnt and gets very warm in the summer months. Meanwhile in the winter months my head gets extremely cold. Hair definitely serves a purpose. I’m not sure why humans evolved to go bald.

Furthermore, you are also stripping your dog of the hair that is used to move essential oils across their skin. This can cause your dog to develop all sorts of skin problems that might require a trip to the veterinarian and prescription medicine. 

Whether you want to keep your Labrador cool in the hot weather, get rid of fleas once and for all, or reduce shedding, shaving your Lab isn’t a solution. 

Why Shaving A Lab To Reduce Shedding Won’t Work? 

At this point, you have a clear picture of why you shouldn’t shave a Lab to keep them cool in the summer, but what about shedding? If you thought you could shave a Lab to minimize the shedding during the shedding season, I’m here to disappoint you!

Shedding is something you will have to live with if you decide to welcome a double-coated dog, such as Labrador, into your home. Unlike dogs with a single coat, double-coated breeds shed all year round and also go through a shedding season.

During the shedding season, your Lab will shed more than usual, and at some point, you’ll wonder how they still have any hairs left on them.

This type of shedding is also known as coat blow, and it is seasonal. So, your Lab will shed its thick undercoat in the spring in preparation for the warmer weather and summer.

There are several things every dog owner needs to know about their dog’s coat, including that shedding is a completely normal part of a dog’s life. Furthermore, your dog must shed its old fur to maintain healthy skin and coat. 

Shedding and coat blowing is nature’s way of helping your dog adapt to temperature changes. Technically speaking, shaving your Lab will reduce the shedding, but only because your dog won’t have any hairs to shed. 

6 Reasons Why You Should Never Shave A Labrador

If you are still unsure about shaving your Lab or are just curious to find out what would happen if you do, keep on reading. 

Also, if you unknowingly already shaved your Labrador retriever or have been shaving them regularly, it is time to stop. There isn’t much you can do now, except wait for their coat to grow. Be on the lookout for the potential side effects of shaving.

Listed below, are the six most common downsides of shaving a Labrador retriever:

1. Your Labrador’s Coat Will Never Be The Same

Most owners who decide to shave their Labs don’t realize that their dog’s coat will never be the same until it’s too late. Labradors naturally have a soft and thick inner coat, but once it is shaved and grows back, the undercoat is rougher, heavier, and prickly.

So, instead of those soft short hairs that have kept your Lab insulated during winter and summer, the new harsher hairs will only irritate their skin. You will understand the full extent of the damage only after your dog’s coat grows back again. But, be prepared that your Labrador’s coat will not be as soft, fluffy, or thick as it was before shaving. 

Also, whenever you shave your dog, the undercoat will start to grow immediately, but the outer layer grows much slower. The new coat usually ends up being unruly and more susceptible to attracting dirt and debris. If this happens, you’ll need to bathe your dog more often than you did before you shaved them. 

2. Shaved Labrador Retrievers Can Get Sunburns

Have you ever wondered how your Lab doesn’t get sunburns, even though they are playing in the direct sun? That’s because your dog’s outer coat serves as a protective barrier that prevents the sun rays from reaching your dog’s skin.

Since dogs have more sensitive skin than people, shaving your Lab puts it at a high risk of getting sunburns and hot spots the first time it goes out in the sun. But, that’s not the worst of it! Without the coat and the protection it offers against UV light, your pooch is also at risk of getting skin cancer. 

If you already shaved your dog, don’t take it outside during the hottest part of the day. Furthermore, consider dressing your dog in a t-shirt that will offer some sort of protection, and also use dog sunscreen to prevent sunburns and other more serious problems.

3. Shaving Your Lab Can Increase Your Allergies

Most people with allergies believe that it’s the dog’s coat and the shedding that is causing the sneezing and a runny nose. In this case, shaving a lab to reduce shedding might seem like the best and the only way to deal with pet allergies. 

However, despite popular beliefs, it’s not the hair, but the dander that causes repetitive sneezing, teary eyes, and runny nose. Pet dander is, in fact, small specks of skin that your dog sheds, whether they have a coat or not.

In fact, shaving your dog increases your contact with dander, since now no fur can trap it and keep it from becoming airborne. By shaving your Lab’s coat, you will unintentionally give the dander an opportunity to spread everywhere and cause more severe allergy symptoms. 

If after shaving your Lab your allergy seems way worse than before, know that this is a common side effect of shaving a dog.

4. Coat Regrowth Can Be Extremely Uncomfortable 

This is one of those things most owners fail to consider before shaving their dog’s coat. Truth be told, hair regrowth is rarely pleasant for both people and dogs and can make your Lab extremely uncomfortable.

When you shave your Labrador’s coat completely, the soft undercoat will be gone for good. While the new coat is growing out, the hairs will be harsh, prickly, and make your dog itchy. 

Itching and scratching go hand in hand, and your dog might inflict painful self-injuries by scratching their sensitive skin. If this happens, your pooch might even transfer bacteria from their paws to their skin and end up with a skin infection. 

Furthermore, the new coarse and prickly hairs will probably scratch you whenever you try to pet or cuddle your pooch. 

5. Shaving Disrupts Your Lab’s Natural Insulation System

The outer coat has the function of protecting the undercoat, while the undercoat has the function of protecting your dog’s skin against the elements. If you carefully observe a recently shaved Labrador retriever, you will quickly spot the negative effects of shaving. 

Due to the lack of coat and the protection it offers, your Lab will become more sensitive to heat, cold, humidity, and wind. The thing most owners realize too late is that shaving makes their dogs more vulnerable to weather conditions, not the other way around. 

The main reason your Lab becomes sensitive is that they no longer have the undercoat to keep them insulated and help regulate their body temperature. 

Furthermore, the undercoat has been insulating your dog from birth, and your Lab has gotten used to this function. So when their coat is shaved, everything changes and your dog no longer has that basic level of insulation.

There is also a chance that once you shave your dog, the quality of the new coat will not be as good at keeping them insulated. There is a chance that the new coat won’t be able to effectively cool your dog in the summer or keep them warm and insulated during winter. 

If this happens, you will notice that your Lab is panting more heavily on hot summer days. This can also explain why your Lab is more easily chilled or shivering during colder winter days. 

6. Shaved Labs Are More Difficult To Keep Clean

An active dog such as a Labrador is bound to become dirty and covered in mud and grime way faster than your average couch potato dog. Having a water-repellant outer coat helps trap all the dirt and moisture away from your dog’s skin. 

While this might not seem like much, your dog’s coat plays a huge role in keeping them clean and easier for you to groom. 

Once you shave your pooch, they will no longer have the coat to trap the dirt from reaching the skin. As a result, your dog will appear dirty all the time, and their coat will be more difficult to maintain and keep clean. There’s also a chance that your pooch will leave dirt and mud all over your bed, sofa, carpet, or any other area they lay on. 

To deal with all this dirt, you will start to bathe your Lab more frequently, which can cause more harm than good. Bathing your dog too often can cause damage to their skin and cause dry, flaky, and itchy skin. 

At the end of the day, you’ll realize that shaving your Lab created more work for you, and that now you have to bathe and groom your dog much more than ever before. 

FAQs About Shaving My Labrador Retriever

Is it OK to shave a Lab?

Being a double-coated dog breed, the Labrador retriever shouldn’t be shaved, unless your veterinarian says otherwise. Although most owners believe they are doing their Labs a favor by shaving them in the summer, it’s the complete opposite. The Lab’s double coat serves as a protective barrier and offers insulation, and once you shave it, you leave your dog defenseless.

Can you shave a Labrador coat?

Shaving your Labrador retriever can cause permanent damage to their coat and also puts them at risk of getting skin burns or skin cancer. The Lab’s coat has several functions and it acts as a protective barrier, keeping the sunrays, dirt, debris, and moisture away from your Lab’s skin and undercoat. 

The coat also helps regulate your dog’s body temperature and provides insulation, keeping them cool during summer and warm during winter. Shaving your Lab’s coat removes the protection it offers and makes it hard for your dog to regulate their body temperature. 

How can I stop my Labrador from shedding?

There are many ways you can reduce your Labrador’s shedding without shaving their coat. To minimize seasonal shedding, brush your Lab every day during the shedding season and use a deshedding tool. Bathing your dog with a shampoo formulated for shedding can help loosen the fur and reduce the loose hair. 

Maintaining a regular grooming routine and brushing your dog at least three times a week can help you reduce the amount of shedding throughout the year. If your Lab suddenly starts to shed more than usual, consult your vet and take your pooch for a check-up if necessary, 

The Final Verdict

Shaving your Lab might seem like a great idea and the best way to keep your pooch cool during summer. But the truth is that you’d be doing more harm than good to your dog!

The main reasons why you shouldn’t shave your Labrador retriever are:

  • Shaving causes permanent damage to your dog’s coat.
  • Shaved Labs can develop sunburns and skin cancer.
  • A growing coat can make your dog itchy and uncomfortable.

Have you ever shaved your lab?

If so, did you notice any of the negative effects mentioned above?

Tell us about your experiences in the comment section below.

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Should I Shave My Lab? Why Shaving Your Labrador Is A Bad Idea - Yellow Lab sitting while being handled by someone - When you shave a Lab, you are permanently damaging their coat. Besides making your Lab prone to sunburns, shaving won’t reduce your dog’s shedding.

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Should I Shave My Lab? – Why Shaving Your Labrador Retriever Is A Bad Idea was last modified: June 23rd, 2021 by LTHQ



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