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 © By Martine Lavallée BAA, TSA

We are now winter and curiously I saw a lady with her golden doodle freshly mowed on a leash. Chatting with a friend on the corner of the street, temperature was -20. This dog had no more natural winter protection nor coat to protect him from cold, he shuddered with his whole body. However, this owner probably had good intentions when she groomed her dog. She probably thought that he would lose less hair, he would not moult, he would be more comfortable and it would be less maintenance for her. Now, we must lose one’s human reflexes of anthropomorphism where we believe we know everything, without knowing our pet’s needs. For example, did you know that cats and dogs do not sweat like us, so having bare skin does not help them evacuate heat, on the contrary. Their main method of cooling is panting. Shaved animal finds itself without any fur barrier against the ambient temperature. Which complicates his work of temperature self-regulation.


Fur Composition

The fur is made up of two parts: the hair cover and the undercoat. Like human hair, each hair has a limited life span. Because of external and internal elements, the hair falls after a while, then it is renewed. In autumn, animal summer coat is replaced by the winter one. The latter is voluminous in terms of its thickness, then when the heat of spring arrives, it becomes lighter. This period of  fur lightening is called moulting, which is more or less long depending on the temperature. Pets that stay more often indoors and do not experience seasonal temperature changes, lose hair throughout the year.


The cover hairs are subdivided into two categories: the rinsing hairs and the hairs. The hairs are rigid and provide a support and orientation role of the coat. They hold the ability to stand up, thanks to their horripilator muscle, which is activated under the influence of external conditions. We note in particular that these hairs stand up, when an animal is afraid of something, all along its back and its tail. As for the hair hairs, they have rather a role of protection in particular against the rain. They are shorter and less rigid.


The undercoathas a specific thermal insulation function thanks to its density and structure. It is composed of shorter hairs, finer and located under the hairs of cover. Often, its colour is much lighter and its concentration higher than that of the hair cover. It is permeable, that is to say that it can store a good amount of moisture, but when it is dry, its compactness makes it an excellent bulwark against hot or cold air. It stores air between its fibres creating a very effective natural insulating barrier..


Some animals have a larger undercoat than others, making them even less suitable for shaving. Here are some examples of breeds of dogs and cats with an important undercoat:

- German Shepherd                        -Persian

- Border Collie                                -Norwegian

- Chow-chow                                  -Maine Coon

- Husky                                          -Himalayan

- Pomeranian                                 -Ragdoll

- Shetland                                      - Burma

- Samoyed                                      -Domestic long-haired

- Shiba Inu



Fur Role

The primary role of fur is protection. The coat of hair acts as a protective barrier mainly against cold and heat. But fur also serves as protection against UV rays from the sun, rain or water, and insect bites. The undercoat acts as an insulating layer by its ability to store air a phenomenon that is also found in the bird's fluff and some insulating materials for clothing as well as those for the construction of our homes.



Essentially, winter fur keeps animals warm. Because in this cold season the fur becomes thicker and denser due to the increase of the undercoat, there will be a store of hot air expelled by the body of the animal. This ability to store air and insulation is very appropriate for the adaptation of the seasons.



The bulb of the hair shrinks to let the air circulate and cool the animal. Basically, fur keeps our animals cool in the summer. But it also has a protective role against the sun’s harmful rays, rain and insect bites.

In principle, returned to August our animal has moulted and lost a large part of his undercoat which had the role of keeping him warm in cold weather. If this is not the case, before removing the razor, put your hand over a comb against the moult to remove the obsolete part, this fur in excess which is now useless and even harmful. This too abundant undercoat can become a source of skin infection if left in place. The animal will then emit a distinct smell of mould. Brushing and combing your pet every day during the summer months is a good way to relieve the heat, rather than mow it.


Brushing Technique

The best way to remove the over undercoat is to go small section back hair at a time. To do this we can use either the comb with double rows of teeth (1.) or the Furminator (2.). Once all the surface of the coat well removed from this old undercoat, we can pass the brush (3.) in the direction of the hair to give a neater look.



Shave «Hot Spots»

Dogs spending a lot of time in the water to cool off can develop a painful pyodermatitis more commonly known as “hot spots”. In this case, it is strongly recommended to shave the hair around the lesion to thoroughly clean and disinfect the wound. This is an emergency solution, not a method of prevention. A dog susceptible to this type of lesion must be well dried when it comes out of the water.



Know that to help your pet to better withstand the summer heat and winter cold, while making it as comfortable as possible, remove the winter undercoat (dead hair) that is not yet fallen in the painting-brushing frequently. If you run out of time, a visit to your professional groomer who knows the techniques and has the appropriate equipment, can do a great job. Also, the only reason a person should shave his pet is if the hair is too entangled or has a hot spot. So, the best way to keep our pet comfortable all year long is by brushing it regularly.


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