Huskies are some of the coolest dogs on earth. Energetic. Playful. Cuddly. Smart. Always up to some kind of shenanigans. All of this…plus sass for days. As a husky mom who has adopted four in her lifetime, I can also attest that these sled dogs have tons of opinions and aren’t shy about expressing them. Who doesn’t melt at the sound of husky howls reverberating throughout their home!?! Gorgeous inside and out, it isn’t surprising that huskies rank as the 12th most popular dog breed in the United States.
Unfortunately, however, huskies shed. A lot. In fact, this may be their single negative trait. Although it is adorable when our huskies play in the snow, it is less charming when they “snow” fur inside our homes. I even made up a new vocabulary word for this phenomenon: “furplexed” – defined as “the sensation of feeling utterly gobsmacked by the sheer volume of fur our huskies throw around.” Ha!
In our household, we’ve vacuumed up and rolled off enough tufts of black, white, and gray fur to sew approximately 100 sweaters, 80 scarves, and 1,000 pairs of gloves. No lie. Not to mention how many of our vacuums have died as a result. As a husky parent, keeping the near-constant shedding under control is likely one of your biggest challenges, too.
And while experts claim that huskies only blow their coats twice a year – in the fall and in the spring – in my experience, they tend to shed closer to four times annually. And it’s a mess.
Regardless of the very real temptation, however, never shave your husky or any double-coated dog.
The Anatomy of Husky Fur
If I had a dime for every time a well-meaning human has insinuated that I am a bad dog mom for not shaving my huskies, I could start my very own husky sanctuary. Whenever we are out in public during the summer – even though I never expose my dogs to intense heat – inevitably someone will quip, “but aren’t your babies super hot!? You ought to shave them immediately, poor things.”
Similarly, people have recommend I shave my huskies to stop them from shedding. Rather than rolling my eyes in either situation, I use these as good opportunities to educate the public about the dangers of shaving double-coated dogs. Because in truth, many people simply do not understand the multifaceted purposes their double-coats serve.
If you don’t believe me, please hear me out.
Let’s start with a brief overview about how husky fur works. Your husky’s glamorous coat isn’t just fashionable. It’s practical, too. Husky fur consists of two crucial layers: a soft, dense undercoat, plus an outer layer of much courser, longer guard hairs. Together – in conjunction with the fur’s low oil content – these layers partner to ensure that huskies are able adapt to various environmental changes and conditions by regulating their body temperature, staving off dirt and debris, repelling excess moisture, and keeping them safe from harmful UV rays. If it seems like husky fur performs several important tasks simultaneously, that’s because it does.
A Built-In HVAC System and Natural SPF 100
Imagine sporting a jacket that magically transformed into a cozy blanket during the winter and then poof! instantly metamorphosed into a cooling pad in the summer. You would probably feel pretty awesome, right? Well, with a natural fur coat that does the same thing, is it any wonder that huskies are so proud?
Huskies’ coats are designed for insulation. In colder seasons, the undercoat grows thicker – trapping warm air close to the skin, while the guard hairs help keep snow and moisture away from the skin to prevent frostbite. During the summer, the undercoat thins out (more shedding!) to allow heat to dissipate, thereby keeping them cool.
So whether you are tired of dealing with the shedding or worried that they are too hot, shaving your husky is never the answer. Far from doing them a favor – removing their fur actually renders them more vulnerable to extreme temperatures.
Shaving also puts them at risk of severe sunburns since their fur is their primary form of sunscreen. This is because the natural pigmentation present in husky fur absorbs and scatters ultraviolet (UV) rays, while its density and thickness deflect sunlight and reduce direct exposure to the skin.
Although you might still wish to dab a little sunscreen on your husky’s delicate nose or anywhere they have bald spots, their fur is a gift, offering fantastic broad spectrum SPF without the hassle of lotions or potions.
Husky Fur Rarely Grows Back the Way it Was
Finally, if all of the reasons above weren’t enough to dissuade you, it is important to know that shaving often permanently alters (if not destroys) the texture and color of your dog’s beautiful fur by damaging or stressing the hair follicles and disrupting its natural growth patterns. Worse, it can also become quite uncomfortable and itchy for your dog once the hair begins to grow back since irregular hair growth irritates the skin.
Proper Grooming All Year Round
In short, the best way to help your husky stay cool during the summer and cope with the many shedding seasons huskies endure is simply to remove excess fur all year round through proper grooming and brushing techniques. A solid and regular grooming routine will go a long way in keeping your dog happy and healthy. If you can afford to do so, it can also be incredibly helpful to take your husky to a professional groomer during each shedpocalypse. Otherwise, you can likely take care of them on your own by following these handy guidelines.
Moreover, there are much safer and far more effective and entertaining ways to ensure your huskies stay refreshed and relaxed in the summer heat. So please ignore any unsolicited advice to shave your dog.
So to be very clear…Unless a veterinarian needs to shave your husky to perform surgery or some other type of medical procedure – or unless your husky has become incredibly matted beyond what a professional groomer can fix – never ever shave your husky. They will thank you for it – in happy howls – I promise.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © LittlePigPower/Shutterstock.com
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