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In the summer, we humans wear thin, loose clothing to help us stay cool. Since we take off our coats, you might wonder if your dog should do the same. Summer haircuts for dogs are common; many pet parents believe they should trim their dogs' fur to help them stay cool in the summer.

But are summer haircuts for dogs really necessary? Only a few dogs need their coats trimmed in the summer. Your dog's coat naturally regulates their temperature to keep them warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Giving your dog a summer cut is not only potentially unnecessary, but it could make them more susceptible to the heat.

Keep reading to learn more about summer dog haircuts to determine if your dog needs a trim.

Do Dogs Need Summer Haircuts?

You already know your dog's coat is designed to regulate their temperature. After all, a fluffy or shaggy dog needs their coat to stay warm in the winter. However, you might not know that your dog's fur can help keep them cool in the summer to protect your dog in the heat.

Your dog's coat has layers that prevent the outside heat from penetrating their skin, keeping them cooler in the summer. A summer dog haircut may remove this protection, making them overheat and more susceptible to heat stroke and sunburns.1

Whether your dog needs a summer haircut really depends on their breed and the type of fur they have.1 For instance, you might think an Alaskan Husky or Golden Retriever would overheat under their fluffy coats in the summer. However, that's not true because they have a double coat made up of a long and smooth overcoat and a fuzzy undercoat.

The top and bottom layers work together to keep your dog warm in cold weather and cool in warm weather. Without one or the other, your dog could be prone to temperature-related problems. Many of these breeds also shed seasonally to provide them with extra cooling abilities.

On the other hand, dogs with a single coat that grows continuously have hair, not fur.2 These breeds require regular haircuts because their hair continuously grows. Other breeds have a short, single-layer coat with no undercoat. Their fur doesn't continuously grow, and they tend to do well in warm weather because they only have a single layer of fur.

Whether or not a specific dog needs a summer haircut depends on the type of coat they have and where they live. If you have a breed with a thick, double coat, they probably don't need a summer trim because their coat will help to regulate their body temperature. However, these dogs may also be prone to overheating in areas that get hot, humid summers.

So do dogs need haircuts? Technically, no. Not unless they're a breed with continually growing fur or fur that becomes tangled and mats. Ultimately, the only reason to give your dog a summer cut is if their hair or fur becomes unmanageable without regular grooming.

15 Summer Grooming Tips for Dogs

Summer grooming for dogs may be slightly different than it is during any other season because dogs spend more time outside when it's warm. While giving your dog a haircut isn't necessary, that doesn't mean you should stop all your dog's summer grooming activities.

Follow these easy tips for summer dog grooming to help them stay comfortable and safe in warmer weather.

Brushing

Dogs should be brushed regularly to help remove loose fur, facilitate shedding, and prevent tangles that can trap heat and cause discomfort or pain.3 Some experts recommend brushing instead of shaving and haircuts to remove excess hair and fur.2 Here are some tips to help you brush your dog to maintain their beautiful coat this summer:

  • Use the right brush: Different types of dog brushes are designed for various types of hair and fur. For instance, a brush for Golden Retriever grooming is much different than a brush for Poodle grooming.
  • Start early: You should get your dog used to grooming by brushing them early. Being gentle and patient with them can make the processes easier for both of you.
  • Check for mats and tangles: Always check for mats and tangles before brushing. You can work your fingers through them gently to prevent discomfort for your dog. Some mats may need to be cut out as they may be too painful for your dog.
  • Examine their skin: Brushing lets you look closer at your dog's skin. When brushing, you can look for skin issues like rashes, infections, and parasites.

Brushing and bathing tips

Bathing

How often you bathe your dog largely depends on their lifestyle. Dogs that spend more time outside playing in the dirt and mud may require more frequent baths than those who spend most of their time inside.

In addition, dogs with infections or parasites may require a special shampoo on a schedule to treat skin issues. These products may also treat hair loss by targeting the underlying condition that causes it. Here are a few tips to help you bathe your dog:

  • Always brush beforehand: Brushing your dog before a bath removes all mats and tangles, preventing discomfort.
  • Use dog shampoo: You should never use human shampoo on dogs because it may contain chemicals that can affect their overall skin health. Choose a shampoo designed for their specific skin and coat type. For instance, if you have a white dog, you can find a shampoo designed to keep their fur bright.
  • Find the right temperature: Always use lukewarm water to bathe your dog. The water shouldn't be so cold it's unbearable and uncomfortable, but it shouldn't be too hot it causes burns.
  • Avoid the eyes and ears: Keep shampoo and water away from your dog's face. If you choose to wash their face, always use a damp cloth while avoiding the eyes and ears. Shampoo and/or water in their eyes and ears can cause infections and severe discomfort.
  • Dry them thoroughly: Dry your dog completely by blotting them with a towel. You can also use a blow dryer on the cool setting if possible. If your dog doesn't tolerate a blow dryer, you can let your dog dry off on their own in a warm, sunny spot.

Ear Care

Ear care is important year-round because it can prevent painful ear infections. However, dogs that go swimming, play in sprinklers, or get bathed more frequently during the summer are more susceptible to ear infections.

Here are a few tips to prevent painful infections that can affect your dog's health and hearing:

  • Check regularly: Check your dog's eyes and ears regularly for signs of infection. If your dog is scratching their ears, it may signal an infection that may need to be remedied by prescription ear drops.
  • Dry ears after bathing and swimming: Any time your dog's ears get wet, you should dry them to prevent the buildup of moisture that can lead to painful ear infections. You can dry your dog's ears with a drying or cleaning solution designed to prevent ear infections and clean the ear canal.
  • Never use Q-tips: It might be tempting to clean your dog's ears with Q-tips to remove earwax, but it's something you should avoid. Q-tips may force the earwax deeper into the canal, and you run the risk of going too deep with the Q-tip and potentially damaging the ear.

Ear care and nails and paw care tips

Nails and Paw Care

For many dogs, summer means more and longer walks. Your dog spends a lot of time on their feet in the summer. Keeping their nails and paw clean, trimmed, and healthy can improve comfort and mobility, prevent discomfort, and improve traction.

Here are a few tips to help you maintain your dog's paws:

  • Trim nails regularly: How often you trim your dog's nails depends on how quickly they grow. If your dog walks more on sidewalks than the plush grass, they may need trims less frequently. However, if you hear their nails clicking on the floors or asphalt outside, it's time for a trim. Luckily, this is a service your vet or a groomer can handle for you.
  • Never walk on hot pavement: Asphalt can become scorching hot in the summer, potentially causing burns and severe irritation. If you must walk your dog during the sunniest, hottest part of the day, keep them on the grass or in shaded areas. You can also try paw booties to protect their pads.
  • Perform paw inspections: Regular inspections allow you to catch signs of blisters, cuts, scrapes, and cracked paws that can worsen over time or lead to infection. If you notice anything abnormal, discuss it with your vet.

FAQs

Does my dog's coat help keep them cool?

Your dog's coat can keep them cool during warmer months by insulating them from getting too warm. That's not to say that they can't overheat. Heatstroke is a serious risk in the warm summer months, so you should provide your dog with a cool, shaded space and plenty of fresh drinking water if they spend time outside. Additionally, try to keep your walks limited to the cooler parts of the day, early in the morning and later at night.

Your dog's coat protects them from harmful UV rays that can cause sunburn and skin cancer. If your dog has a short coat or is hairless, consider investing in pet-safe sunscreen to protect them during the summer.

How short should a summer cut be?

How short a dog's summer cut should be largely depends on the breed. For instance, a poodle might get a haircut keeping their fur short throughout the summer and longer in the colder winter months. In general, a summer cut should be just enough to make their fur more manageable if it's prone to tangles and matting or if it continuously grows since you don't want them stepping on it or dragging it in the dirt.

Keep in mind that you should never shave your dog because it may not actually keep them cooler. Dogs' fur is an insulator, protecting their skin from the sun and heat. Shaving them removes this insulative layer, making them more susceptible to heat and UV rays.

If your dog's fur or hair doesn't continuously grow or mat, there may not be a need to trim their fur. Dogs naturally shed, producing lighter coats during warmer weather, so we recommend brushing your dog during the spring and summer to remove loose fur.

Which dogs need to get a summer haircut?

The dogs that need summer haircuts don't just need haircuts in the summer; they need them year-round because their hair continues to grow and is prone to matting. A few breeds that require regular grooming include:

  • Poodles
  • Shih Tzus
  • Maltese
  • Yorkshire Terriers
  • Cocker Spaniels

Individual coat types vary by dog, so talk to your vet or a professional groomer to determine whether you should give your dog a summer haircut.

Woman sitting outside on patio chair looking lovingly at her dog

Final Notes

Whether your dog needs a summer haircut depends more on the type of fur or hair they have rather than the season itself. While trimming your dog's fur can keep it cleaner during the summer, it doesn't necessarily keep them cooler.

The only way to determine if you should give your dog a summer haircut is to talk to your vet, who can teach you more about your dog's fur and how it works to regulate their temperature. While your dog might not need a haircut, they still need regular grooming.

Shop our online pet store for the best vet-recommended grooming products, or schedule your appointment with a Dutch vet today to learn more about grooming dogs in the summer.

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References

  1. "Heat Wave Approaching! Should You Shave Your Pet?" ASPCA, www.aspca.org/news/heat-wave-approaching-should-you-shave-your-pet

  2. "Time for a Summer Cut? Tips for Warm Weather Dog Grooming." VMBS News, 16 June 2022, https://vetmed.tamu.edu/news/pet-talk/summer-dog-grooming/

  3. Meyers, Harriet. "Summer Dog Grooming Tips: How to Keep Your Dog Cool in Summer." American Kennel Club, 23 May 2023, www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/at-home-grooming-tips-summer/.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Who is Dutch?

Dutch is an online veterinary pet telehealth service, created by pet parents and board-certified veterinary specialists. We use a science-backed approach to provide pets relief for their everyday physical and behavioral health issues. Dutch connects you with licensed veterinarians over video chat and messaging to help you get care for your dog or cat quickly wherever you are — without the stress or expense of a vet visit. We also partner with pharmacies who can deliver prescription medication (in applicable states only) and over-the-counter treatments directly to your door. Dutch isn’t a veterinary practice or pharmacy, but a company that helps facilitate these services for pet parents to make veterinary care more accessible to all.

What is a visit with Dutch like?

When booking a video call with a vet, you'll be asked a few questions about your pet’s health issue. Depending on the issue, you may also be asked to fill out a longer questionnaire about their symptoms and share photographs of them so our veterinarians can better understand what’s going on. You’ll then pick an appointment time that works best for you.

During your video call, one of our licensed veterinarians will talk to you about the symptoms your pet is experiencing, ask you questions, review your pet’s medical history if you’ve provided it, and answer any questions you have. The vet will ask to see your pet and their environment. And they may ask you to perform some simple checks on them if needed.

After your video call, the vet will send you a message with a custom treatment plan to help your pet feel better, including a link to buy any recommended prescription or over-the-counter medications. Place your order and we’ll ship it free.

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In addition to the base membership plan, our veterinarians may also recommend additional medication (Rx and/or OTC) that you will have the option of adding to your plan at an additional cost.