Beating the summer heat for many breeds of dogs includes a trip to the groomer for a sporty clip. While cutting a dog's hair is great idea for most breeds it is not advisable under most conditions for a few breeds. Generally most dogs with longer, double coats can benefit from a summer clip that both thins out the hair as well as shortens both the inner and outer coats, allowing more air circulation against the skin. Generally most of the terrier breeds, especially those with the wiry, coarse outer coat should not be clipped. Clipping can, in fact, seriously damage the coat and it may take several months for the coat to return to normal. These breeds are often stripped instead of clipped, which is a time consuming process to say the least. A groomer or owner actually plucks all the longer, dead hairs out of the coat while still leaving the overall shape and natural coat on the dog. Although this doesn't really specifically cool off the dog it does prevent tangles and mats and will ultimately keep your dog looking wonderful even through the summer months. Since terriers, even the double coated varieties, tend to have less profuse inner coats, often this is all that is needed.
In general most of the northern and spitz type breeds should not be clipped short, but their coat can be trimmed and the inner coat should shed out every spring. Routine grooming can help remove any loose hair and help to keep the coat free from dirt and debris. Clipping the outer coat significantly can damage the coat and if the dog is an outside pet this can really lead to problems in cold or wet weather. The shorter outer coat will not cover the inner coat, resulting in problems with water resistance and cold intolerance. Always check with a breeder or a vet if in doubt, don't always rely on a groomer for advice that is specific for a breed.
Some of the larger double coated breeds such as the Newfoundland, Saint Bernard, Bernese Mountain Dog and even the Great Pyrenees are not general clipped short but rather the coat is thinned and trimmed. Remember these dogs will literally "blow" the inner coat in the spring, resulting in a less dense inner coat over the summer months. Trimming the outer coat by shortening the overall length and shaping the legs, tail and the hair on the body can help increase air circulation along the body and prevent tangles and mats.
Doing It Yourself
In most cases taking your dog to a groomer for a bath and a clip is going to range from between thirty dollars to closer to eighty, largely depending on the size of your dog and the type of coat he or she has. In addition to bathing and grooming the groomer may also have to work on de-matting prior to clipping, which is typically billed over and above routine grooming. This de-matting is often charged on a hourly rate which can range from twenty to fifty dollars per hour, usually dependent on the type of dog and the prices set by the groomer for the service.
Clipping your double coated dog yourself is a way to save money, but you do need to have the right supplies and equipment and a general idea of what you need to do. There are many demo videos on the internet as well as books, CD's and even classes you can take to learn how to correctly clip your dog, at least in the basic sport or puppy cut. For breed specific clips you will need to talk to a groomer, a breeder or read specifically on the acceptable cut styles and methods. It is always a good idea to watch a professional groomer at least one or two times prior to clipping your own dog if you are planning to show them in the near future.
Start by giving your dog a full bath. Generally most breeds should be groomed once before a wet bath as bathing can actually make tangles and knots much worse. Bathe the dog using gentle, herbal or non-tear formula dog shampoos and conditioners, never use human hair products on a dog. Avoid any scented products as these can really cause irritation to the skin, especially if your dog has any history of allergies or reactions.
Once the dog is bathed and thoroughly rinsed, dry them off using a towel, dog blow dryer or allow the coat to dry naturally. For double coated dogs this can take several hours to even a day, so plan well ahead. Before clipping groom again to remove dirt, loose hairs and any debris from the coat.
Using professional quality dog grooming clippings, start with a blade that will remove the hair at the desired length. Blades are numbered to ensure you can use the correct setting on the clipper and keep the hair uniform across the body. Clip against the direction of hair growth, holding both coats, the inner and outer, up and out from the body. Only take small amounts of hair to clip and use a smooth movement, not a rapid or up and down movement. Clip or shave a strip, then move over one blade width and repeat.
Use blunt ended scissor to trim around the ears, eyes, genitals and anal area. Never use clippers on these sensitive body area and always have someone help you hold the dog if you don't have a proper grooming table with a grooming loop.
Take it slowly and give your dog lots of praise for a job well done. With very large dogs you may want to clip smaller sections of the body and take a break until the dog becomes familiar with the process. Finish up with another brushing to remove all the hair from the coat.
Monitor your dog for any signs of irritations or infections, especially if you noted any skin injury or hot spots when you were clipping. Be sure to also clean sterilize all your blades and equipment and dry thoroughly before storing for the next use.