CVMA | Documents | Close Clipping of the Hair Coat Removes Natural Insulation

Close Clipping of the Hair Coat Removes Natural Insulation

December 7, 2012

Many owners closely clip their dog's long hair coat in the belief that this will keep their dog cool during the hot summer days. Unfortunately, this is not the case. A hair coat actually acts as insulation for a pet, keeping the cold out in winter and the heat out in summer. Close clipping is not a good idea in dogs that are not routinely clipped. The exposure of bare skin will lead to sunburns and dry skin. Removing the full thickness of the coat will produce a lack of insulation that only makes them hotter. Since the only way dogs  can dissipate heat is by panting, they have to pant that much harder to get rid of the extra body heat  when the almost bare skin is exposed.

A hair coat may need to be clipped for therapeutic reasons such as an underlying skin problem or excessive matting of the hair. If in doubt, consult your veterinarian for advice on whether your dog's hair coat can be safely clipped close to the skin.  If it is necessary for therapeutic reasons, applying vet-approved sunscreen, staying out of the mid-day sun or placing a t-shirt over the bare trunk can help prevent sunburn and direct sun ray heating of the sensitive skin.

Using coarse clipping blades removes a very heavy coat but leaves a short coat—usually about 1” (2.2 cm) long and this will provide protection from the sun and a shallow insulation layer which will hold in a bit of heat and moisture but not trap excess heat. This is an ideal clipping length for the very heavily coated dogs.