Samoyed's are known for their gorgeous fluffy white coat! You may have wondered if shaving them during the warmer months will make them more comfortable, and stop all of that shedding! This article will explain fact from myth.
A Samoyed's Coat
Samoyeds just like many arctic dogs have a double coat.
This means their coat is made up of shorter fur which is very soft and fine, as well as longer guard hairs which aren't as soft and feel more coarse to the touch.
Both types of fur have an important role and it's critical that we understand the purpose of each in order to keep our Sammy happy.
The Short Coat
The purpose of the shorter coat is quite simply to insulated the dog from the outside elements. We know that historically the Samoyeds survived and thrived in areas where the temperature commonly reaches −25 °C (−13 °F) however insulation works both ways.
The insulating short coat also helps a Samoyed stay cool in warmer weather too. Difficult to believe right? How can you stay cool in hot weather with all that fur stuck to your body?
The easiest way to understand this is to think about the insulation in your house. If you have a well insulated home you'll find it keeps the inside both warmer in winter, and cooler in summer. The purpose of an insulating layer, be it dog fur, a wetsuit, or insulation around your home is to make it harder for the temperature outside of the insulating layer, to alter impact the temperature inside of the insulating layer. Insulation works regardless if the external temperature is hot, or cold. It makes no difference.
The Guard Fur
The purpose of the longer guard fur is to provide an additional layer of physical protection to the dog.
The short coat is very soft and fine and so the guard furs help to protect the animal from dirt, mud, physical wear and tear, and anything else whcih might damage the insulating layer and the dogs body itself.
Think of it as a coat of armour which keeps your lovable Sammy happy even in really rough conditions. Like a snowstorm in Siberia!
When you SHOULD shave your Samoyed
Now that we have a good understanding of how a Samoyd's coat protects him from the elements, let's talk about when it is ok to shave your Samoyed.
There are some instances where you Samoyed might contract some kind of a skin disease which requires shaving in order to provide effective treatment. However a vet should be consulted before you move forward with the shave.
If your Samoyed has to have surgery, the surgeon may have to clear away the fur in order to make their incisions and prevent any foreign material from entering the wound.
It may also be necessary in order to make it easier to dress the wound and keep it clean during the healing process. Once again, your vet should be consulted in order to minimise the impact on Sammy's coat.
If Sam has been neglected to the point where his fur knots are so bad that they can't be removed with a comb or even cut out individually with special grooming tools, then a shave may be required. However in this scenario the shave should be restricted to the absolute minimum area needed in order to remove the knots, and your vet should once again be consulted to provide guidance on this. Do not blindly trust your local groomer to decide that a shave is required to fix a few knots in the fur.
When you SHOULD NOT shave your Samoyed
There are a variety of reasons why people choose to shave their Samoyed so let's explore the most common ones here.
It keeps them cooler in summer
As we discussed earlier, the Samoyed's double coat acts as an insulating layer which prevents him from getting cold in winter, or too hot in summer.
Regular grooming will ensure that the dogs fur isn't carrying old dead fur fibers and makes it easier for fresh air to circulate closer to the skin, thus making it even easier for him to keep cool during the warmer months.
Use common sense and don't take your dog for a run during the heat of the day. Like we discussed earlier, insulation works both ways so if you conduct activities which heat him up on the inside, it will be harder for him to cool down. Just like if you turned the heating up high in your fully insulated house!
Think about it this way...
Let's say today we took you to live out into the middle of the desert for a month. Would you prefer to spend your time in the desert:
- Inside of a fully insulated house
- Inside a house without any insulation
- Without any house at all
Of course you'd prefer to have the house with the insulation because we know that the insulating layer is going to protect you from the sun, and also from the hot air outside.
So when a Samoyed gets his fur shaved, it's the equivalent of taking away the insulation, the walls, and the roof from your desert home. Probably not a very good thing for his health right?
Here's a diagram which shows exactly how double-coats work to keep dogs comfortable in all conditions.
Plenty of fresh water, access to shade and something cool to lay on like tiles, concrete, or even dirt in the garden will keep your Sammy feeling cool in warmer weather.
To reduce shedding
"If I shave him he won't shed so much fur."
Your Samoyed is going to shed fur at least once a year. Get used to it, because it won't change if he's been shaved.
If you shave him he'll still shed fur, the only difference is that the fur he's shedding will be shorter.
Remember that their amazing fur is one of the key reasons people love this breed, so if you aren't prepared to deal with maintaining their coat then you should have a serious think about whether a Samoyed is the right choice for you.
Because it's cute/funny
Let's be clear.
Shaving your Samoyed to make him look like a french poodle, cartoon character, or anything else is the absolute worst reason to shave your Samoyed's fur and you should be prepared to receive verbal abuse from other dog owners when they find that you've shaved your Samoyed just for the fun of it (seriously, it happens).
As we've discussed previously a Samoyed or any other double coat breed should only be shaved when it's absolutely, medically necessary. If you are considering shaving him for any other non-medically justifiable reason, then you should not shave him.
My Sammy LOVES being shaved!
You know there are a lot of people who love taking heroin. It does not mean that they should do it, and it definitely doesn't mean it's good for them.
What are the risks in shaving your Samoyed
"What's the big deal? It's just going to grow back anyway!"
It's a fair question so let's explore some of the risks your dog is exposed to when his fur is removed.
If you look through to the skin of a Sammy you'll notice that their skin is pink which means they're extremely vulnerable to sunburn without their protective coat. This means that while some people think they're keeping cool without their fur, they're actually exposing their skin directly to the suns radiation, and the hot air of warmer climates.
Nobody likes having sunburn, dogs are no exception, and the fact that dogs have thinner skin than humans do means they burn far more easily!
When double-coat breeds are shaved, often it will cause long-term damage because the fur doesn't grow back normally.
The insulating under coat grows faster than the longer guard hairs which means that as they try to grow longer they become matted in the dense under coat causing a very strange appearance, and a very hot and uncomfortable Samoyed who can't get any fresh air to his skin.
Some dogs will find that they have patches of fur which don't grow back properly, or simply don't grow back at all.
How to avoid the shave
The best way to avoid needing to shave your Samoyed is to conduct regular grooming. A daily brush with an appropriate comb is all that's required to keep Sam's coat looking great, and remove any dead fur which has accumulated. This will ensure that he'll be able to get plenty of fresh air down to his skin and be protected from the elements.
Even after reading all of this, if you still find yourself unsure on how to decide if you should shave your Sammy or not, simply refer to this handy flowchart to make the process easier!