Saturday, May 14, 2011

Why do I do it?!?!

Long time, no blog post.  I know.  My modem decided to kick the bucket,  and until I find the time to contact the company during their business hours (they are so darn picky about that), and get them to send me a new one, I'm forced to use my phone's mobile hotspot option, which is slower than molasses when uploading  photos.  What's a blog post without photos? Really..not as fun.  I've even got a new mohawk photo to show off.  Stay tuned for that.

Check out this handsome guy.  Beautiful right?  This is his BEFORE photo.  I'm sad to say, you won't be impressed with his AFTER.  At this time of year I shave alot of dogs, we've covered that.  Today, I'm going to speak to why I (and other groomers) am forced to shave beautiful Golden Retrievers such as this one.  When I was in grooming school, we were taught to groom dogs as close to their breed standard as possible.  Shaving a double coated breed was considered sacrilege. I was as horrified as you are that someone would clip off such a lovely speciman's coat. 

I got a job working in the northwoods, where lakes are everywhere and hunting breeds such as this are very popular.  These breeds obviously were bred to be water dogs, and up here, they certainly have that as an option.  The problem is that these dogs will stay in the water morning til night, if allowed, and believe me they are allowed.  They never dry off all summer.  Many of them are house pets too.  There is a bit of a problem when the dripping wet dog comes in for the night.  They stay so wet all the time (especially the thick coated ones) that sometimes they actually mildew!  The stench is horrific.  Most groomers around here know exactly what "stinky Golden Retriever" smells like.  I know, you are wondering, why can't the owners keep them out of the water?  Good question.  If I lived on a lake, you can bet my dogs would only jump in if invited.  But, that's me.  This is just one of the many reasons I shave Goldens.  Short-haired dogs dry fast.  You are probably still asking  "why don't they just dry the dog off? " Have you been reading my blog??? My clientele is not going to do that.

Another great reason is directly related to the swimming issue.  Many times these dogs, kept wet for weeks on end, sometimes end up with hot spots,   Now, while any breed can get a hot spot, Goldens seem to attract them.  The thick coat plastered down by lakewater, can set off scratching and digging which leads to a painful hotspot, and a large vet bill for these guys.  We shave them to help avoid this. 

There is a reason that I don't agree with.  My clients use it alot.  The reason they give is "he sheds too much."  Really?  You didn't think your dog would shed?  Plus, it's still going to shed..just shorter hair.  But, apparently that is easier for them to take, and many times, this is the reason for the shave-down.  I try to talk them out of it.  I don't enjoy doing it, especially for a less-than-intelligent reason such as this.  But, in the end, it's their dog, and if I don't do it, someone else will. 

One of the things they told us in grooming school was that if you shave a double coated breed, the coat will grow back in thicker than ever.  This is somewhat true.  It usually takes 5-6 years of clipping before it really starts happening, but it does happen to many dogs.  The worst part, and we warn against this all the time, is the fact that eventually, the dog's coat becomes damaged.  Especially elderly dogs have a problem with this, and sometimes the coat doesn't grow back at all, just peach fuzz left in it's place.  Not attractive at all.

Some Goldens look just like Labradors when we shave them, especially the very light colored ones.  When they are done with the haircut, they really don't look too bad.   The worst are the dark red Goldens like our boy in the photo.  These dogs have light undercoat, and there is no way to blend that pale color into the deep red of the head and legs.  Here is what happens. 

Very sad, I know.  However, this dog will be happily swimming for the summer and he probably loves this haircut.  So, next time you see a shaved down Golden, please try not to judge the groomer, we don't like to do it, but sometimes we just have to.


  1. I never judge the groomers for that! Just the @#$%ass owners :) The hot spot thing is very sad - I've seen it happen to my dogs when one tiny spot is missed so I can only imagine the whole darn dog being wet all the time!

  2. Don't they get sunburned when shaved to the skin like that? Aside from a dog having major skin issues, I flat out refuse to shave a double coated dog. I'll trim them a little, but won't bald them. I just tell the owners "they are going to shed little tiny spiky hairs that get stuck in your skin like splinters".

  3. We do warn against leaving the dog outdoors for long periods of time with this haircut. I worry more about bug bites, no protection against the gnats and mosquitos. I will say we've never had one come back in complaining of sunburn.