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DOUBLE-COATED DOGS: risks of clipping and waiver

What does double-coated mean?

Double-coated dogs have two layers of fur: a rough topcoat (at least, rougher than the underlayer) and a soft undercoat.

These two coats grow independently of one another and to different lengths. The soft undercoat sheds; is shorter than the topcoat; and grows faster than it.

The Artful Dog Grooming Parlour advises against clipping any breeds that have a double coat and will only undertake to do so if it is in the welfare interests of the dog.

Examples of Double-Coated Breeds (include, but not limited to): 
• Border Collies

• Cavalier King Charles
• Corgis

• Chows

• Golden and Labrador Retrievers
• German Shepherds

• Great Pyrenees

• Newfoundlands

• Pomeranians
• Siberian Huskies

Reasons not to clip double-coated dogs:
  • A double-coated dog can still regulate its temperature with two layers of coat. The undercoat provides warmth in the winter and cools them in the summer. If your dog has a well-groomed coat, with no dead/loose undercoat, the coat keeps your dog warm in the winter by providing insulation and keeps the dog’s skin dry. In the summer, it provides a sort of air conditioning system. Removing loose undercoat in warmer weather (deshedding) allows air to get to the skin, making the dogs much cooler, whilst keeping the top layer as protection. [However, some dogs with big, thick coats struggle enormously in the Summer heat, and in these circumstances, it is worth having a discussion whether clipping should be considered. Although there are risks... so read on!]

  • It does not make dogs shed less. Double-coated dogs have a big shed of their undercoat twice a year (known as 'blowing the coat'). Many of them also shed all-year round, which is the normal process of old hairs dying and being replaced by new growth. Clipping the coat can seem like a good idea to reduce shedding, but sadly it is a fallacy. The dog will still shed in the same quantity - only the hairs will be shorter.

  • Clipping *may* permanently damage the topcoat and the natural cycle of hair growth, making the frequency and amount of shedding unpredictable, and in some cases, a constant feature. Once removed, the topcoat can take up to two years to fully grow back. Often, the topcoat may not grow back to normal length; it may not grow back at all; it grows back in patches; and/or it grows back with a very different and sub-optimal texture. Severe cases can lead to, or expose an underlying alopecia. A common phrase for a ruined or diseased double-coat is "coat funk." This can also require that you continue shaving your dog for the rest of its life.
    This is serious, and can feel a little scary, so it's important to know about it. But, and this is where it gets tricky, I need to let you know that there's not enough published research and science out there to prove for definite that it is always clipping that causes coat damage, or to indicate why it affects some dogs, or not others. There is also very little info to say what the incidence is, so we can't give any more info on the level of risk, other than to say, there is a risk. It is true that the risks are more pronounced in 'Spitz-type' dogs, including Huskies, Pomeranians, and, obviously, Spitzes, so owners of these dogs need to be cautious about having their dogs clipped, and avoid it if possible.

  • Your dog may become susceptible to sunburn and skin damage related to sun exposure. Clipped skin is exposed to sun rays and too much sun exposure can be very harmful. Precautions such as clothing and/or sunscreen must be taken to protect their skin.  If your dog isn’t clipped or severely matted, his/her coat will regulate temperature.

  • It creates possible skin problems. Your dog could develop razor burn, hot spots, and/or irritated skin due to excessive licking and scratching following their groom.

It is important to weigh all relevant factors before clipping a double-coated dog. Please also note that using scissors to cut short the fur of a double-coated dog (so the scissoring goes down to, or lower than the line of the undercoat) is equally as risky as using clippers to shave them, so it's not an advisable alternative. It is ok to lightly scissor a double-coated dog's fur, in what is called a 'silhouette trim' as long as it is only the topcoat and does not go too short.

If you still want your double-coated dog clipped or scissored short, and if your groomer agrees to do it, you are required to sign the waiver below.



If your double-coated dog is severely matted, then clipping the coat may be the only viable grooming option. You can read more about how to groom a matted dog here. If this is the case the groomer will discuss the risks with you, and will require you to sign the waiver below.


Knowing the above conditions may occur, I hereby release The Artful Dog Grooming Parlour and its employees from any injury, loss, liability, claims and/or otherwise which may arise directly or indirectly as a result of the above mentioned process and any and all medical problems and/or other conditions that may be uncovered and/or occur during and/or as a result of the process.

Once you have read and understand the risks above please click to give your consent.

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