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Why you should NOT shave your Great Pyrenees

Some people think they should have their Pyr’s coat shaved off to help reduce shedding and to keep the dog cool in the summer. The Great Pyrenees is a breed that typically does NOT get haircuts. The exception to this rule is any dog that is so matted that it cannot safely and humanely be brushed out, which usually happens with dogs that have previously been shaved or have been neglected. It is acceptable to have the furnishings on the legs and belly trimmed shorter on older dogs where the hair tends to mat easily to facilitate proper grooming.

 

Shaving is NOT the answer. A dog’s coat provides insulation from the heat and the sun. Dogs do not exhaust heat by sweating the way people do. They only perspire from the pads of their feet, from their noses and by panting. Not only are they expelling heat from their mouths, but panting moves air through the coat, if they aren’t packed with undercoat, that is. When a dog is too warm, his body directs more blood to his skin. Panting moves air over the skin and away from his body. The heat absorbed by that air is also moved away from his body and he is cooler.

 

When we clip the hair short, two things can happen. First, there isn’t as much air trapped in the coat to absorb the excess heat and remove it when the dog pants. And second, we’ve discussed the distance radiant heat from the sun has to travel to reach the skin. That heat takes much less time to reach the skin if it’s traveling down a quarter inch of hair than it does if it’s traveling down 3 or 4 inches of hair. And while a dog in the shade is not absorbing as much radiant heat as one in full sun, he’s still absorbing radiant heat.

 

Most people think their dog is cooler if it’s shaved because we feel cooler when we shed layers of clothing and sit in the shade. But humans sweat. If immediate action isn’t taken when we stop sweating, we can die.  Dogs don’t sweat in the first place so by interfering with their natural method of cooling themselves it is possible they can overheat causing death.

 

Brushing your Pyr at least twice a week will keep your Pyr comfortable and reduce shedding in your house. It will also help you be aware of any skin or coat problems that may occur before the condition becomes critical. Matted coats or coats with packed-in, dead undercoat will restrict airflow to your dog’s skin.

 

In addition to a shaved dog getting sunburned easily, the dog also will lack protection from biting mosquitoes and flies. Not being used to being “naked”, the dog sometimes continues to scratch just as hard as when they had their coat. They can then irritate the already freshly clipped skin, possible creating hot spots and ear hematomas.  Most Pyrs look “ugly” shaved down since the beauty of a Pyr is their fluffy white coat. If you feel the need to shave your Pyr you might want to consider a short haired breed such as a Boxer or Lab.

Shedding:

 

It may seem like a great idea to shave all the hair off. Unfortunately, what you are doing when you shave your Pyr is actually interrupting the natural shedding process. You are cutting into the top coat, possibly damaging it , and causing the undercoat to grow uninhibited, since the undercoat grows much more quickly than the top coat or “guard” coat.

 

The guard coat is the coarser hair that separates the finer undercoat hairs, preventing it from matting. When this coat is clipped, the hair will appear to grow back softer because you are seeing only undercoat as it grows back. This hair is thick and will mat easily and possibly result in patchy, uneven growth until the guard hairs eventually regrow. By then the coat may be so damaged that it will need to shaved down again. Also, by interrupting the natural shedding cycle, you can easily be producing MORE shedding, the exact opposite of what you want!

 

So, by keeping your Pyr thoroughly brushed and combed it will be comfortable even in the hot summer sun.

The beauty of a Great Pyrenees is it's stunningly white abundant coat.