Monday, June 09, 2008

Shaving my Labrador Retriever?

Subject: Shaving my Labrador Retriever - should we consider it?

From: Lee

Labrador Retriever Name: JJ

Reader's E-mail - Lee Writes:

We have a 12 year old male yellow lab. His coat is very thick. My husband takes him on a 3 to 5 mile hike every morning from 7 to 8:30 AM. The rest of the day he’s indoors except for 2 shorter walks. He’s very healthy and has no problems except he pants a great deal. We think he gets very hot on his morning hike. Should we consider shaving him? Any other suggestions for keeping him cool?


All About Labradors Answer:

Hello Lee,

The information given here is to help you learn more about your Labrador Retriever and not to replace your veterinarian's advice. Disclaimer

Thank you for your question and for visiting the All About Labradors blog. I hope you find it to be helpful to you and your Labrador Retriever.

A BIG DEFINITE NO, NO is the answer to your question regarding shaving your Labrador Retriever. Many people believe that by shaving their Labrador Retrievers, it will keep them cooler in the warm weather. What they fail to realize is the undercoat that they are shaving actually helps to keep your Labrador Retriever cool.

Basically, the only time your Labrador will ever need to be shaved, is if your veterinarian needs to for conditions such as "Hot Spots", or for some other surgical procedures.

Here is a really good article for you to take a look at: Why you shouldn't shave your long haired double coated dog.

What you do want to do is to make sure you keep your Labrador Retriever well groomed in the heat of the summer. You can accomplish this by regularly brushing/grooming your Labrador. This will help to remove loose hairs, heavy undercoat and aid in keeping him cool by reducing heat that can be trapped in layers of coat.

In the warmer months of the summer, I like to brush/groom my Labrador retrievers 2 -3 times a week to help keep them cool and clean. Successful tools are a slicker brush or shedding blade. I also like to use a bristle brush after the slicker brush as it helps distribute the oils in your Labrador's coat, and it’s not stressful on their skin.

Other fellow Labrador owners love a product called the Zoom Groom, which is a rubber brush with flexible rubber "fingers", that help to collect loose hairs. This product is made by the Kong company.

I also use a product called the Furminator, which is a great tool in helping to remove any loose, dead undercoat. I really this tool, but I wouldn't use it daily as it can strip the topcoat of hair, which will cause the coat to look dull and thin.

Some other things I recommend:

Taking your walks, hikes in the early cooler hours of the morning (which you are doing), or in the evening to help prevent overheating. Be wary of hot pavement or sidewalks that can burn your Labrador Retrievers pads (has happened to one of my Lab girls).

Water, water, water! Not only for you or your husband, but for your Labrador also. Keeping him hydrated is very important.

For inside your home, keeping and air conditioner or fan on can help. They also have products such as dog cool beds and body cooler mats.

As for panting, this is the way your Labrador Retriever unique way of keeping itself cool.

Make sure you watch for signs of Heat Exhaustion/Stoke in unseasonably high temperatures.

Some signs can include:

Rapid heavy panting

Increased salivation

Confusion and/or weakness


Graying of the gums

What to do if your Labrador Retriever should any of these signs:

Cool your Lab by soak him with cool water. Do not use extremely cold or iced water as it will cause blood vessels to constrict. Supply water to his mouth and throat, and transport to your veterinarian or animal facility.

I hope this will be of help to you and your Labrador. Please feel free to contact me if you don't understand anything or you ever have any other questions (or to just say hello).

As with all the email questions I receive, I always ask a favor of the person writing. If you have any photos of your Labrador Retriever, that you could email me, I would love to post them to the Labrador Retriever Pictures blog.

Last but not least, what is your Labrador Retrievers name.

Take care of yourself and your Labrador,


Reader's E-mail - Lee's Reply:

Dear Fay,

Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! We have had 7 labs, 2 before we raised 5 for Guide Dogs of America. We never have shaved them and seldom give them a soap bath. Your advise is really appreciated. I’m attaching some photos as you requested. JJ(center), is 12, Napa 3 and Cash is 13 weeks. I will definitely keep in touch with you.

Thanks again for advise well taken!

Want to see 12 year old JJ (with Napa and Cash) visit: JJ, Napa and Cash 06/09/08.


Anonymous,  June 22, 2010 12:08 PM  

What I don't understand is why anyone thinks it's OK to take a 12 year old dog on a 3-5 mile hike everyday??? Of course he's tired and hot after 1 mile let alone 5. I can't understand why humans thinks it's OK to be jogging out in 90 degree weather and having Fido trot along miserably with them for miles on end - it seems like cruel neglect and selfishness to me. On the other hand a healthy dog in his prime can go a few miles in COOL weather but anything more is asking for trouble. Keep in mind, 5 miles of hiking...what kind of is panting heavily...? Don't even get me started on dog owners leaving their dogs in hot cars...I appreciate the sensible response about shaving too. I have a yellow lab and because he sheds so much year round thought about doing it but then did the research and now won't ever have it done. Thanks for the opportunity to speak on the subject.

Anonymous,  January 28, 2012 7:37 PM  

3-5 miles is perfectly fine for any dog, I'm sure the owner is very aware of the dogs abilities (since he does it every day), and will cut it short or stop if the dog is struggling. There are far too many overweight dogs and people out there that make up far too many excuses for not exercising.

Keep up the good work Lee.

I'm heading out for a few hours with my lab.

Perth, Australia

Anonymous,  October 20, 2012 2:42 AM  

I have a yellow Lab that starts panting after she chases a ball a couple of times. She runs at top speed so I assume that is why she starts panting or do you think there is another reason I should be concerned about?


Fay October 20, 2012 4:08 PM  

Hi Sue, sounds pretty normal. My two lab girls will run like maniacs and pants like that also.

In extremely high temperatures watch for signs of Heat Exhaustion/Stoke as mentioned in article.

Thanks for your comment.

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