Why shaving is bad for your Labradoodle and what you should do in stead
I see them so often: pictures of shaved Doodles.
And the first thing I wonder is: why do owners fall en masse for the friendly, playful, open character, sweet head and especially the cuddly, fluffy coat and then shave that delicious, soft, fluffy coat to a minimum?
After working in the Doodle business for 9 years and having made Doodle coat care and grooming (and especially teaching owners how to transform their Doodle in to a cuddly pup again) my expertise and maintaining contacts abroad with Doodle owners and Doodle breeders, I also know that most people do this, because it is practical for them.
- Most Doodles have a very tangle-sensitive coat, unrecognizable from the simple, tangle free puppy coat.
- Most Doodles like to romp with each other or with/in the elements of nature, like mud, sand, puddles etc.
- And without the right techniques or time, 1 + 1 is just 2 for most people.
However, everyone also knows that the coat makes the dog and that a Doodle doesn't look like its Doodly self when wet. Shaving the coat has the same optical effect: long, thin, bony legs with a skinny body above them and often a bony, short head that looks more like a Terrier then a Doodle, in short, the appearance of an unhealthy, poor dog.
While a full coat gives the glory of well-being, vitality, muscles and vibrancy.
Being shaved that short, no Doodle looks like its true self (all though some Doodles rock this look, because they don't have skinny bodies)
So why do many owners opt for the easy way out?
Shaving is usually necessary: the coat is felted in such a way that the groomer sees no other option. In their mind it's only hair and hair always grows back.
But there are lots of owners who don't shave out of wanting to prevent tangles and mats from developing, they just shave their Doodle because it is more convenient to them (it saves them lots of time needed to groom the coat and bath their Doodle) AND it saves them a lot of money on grooming costs. Plus in some countries the weather is so humid or hot, that they think a short coat is more comfortable for their Doodle. And I get why you would think that way, if you don't know of another way to help your Doodle and yourself.
But is this really the best solution? And what if I tell you that there's another way of pleasing your Doodle?
A felted coat is a burden to your Doodle, but so is shaving it short with a 10# blade and I wonder if owners worldwide know that, because many people, including groomers and breeders don't give it a minute's thought: the dog is rid of the tangles and the coat will grow back automatically. What if I beg to differ and offer you a different kind of vue?
Have you ever thought about the function of the coat?
The coat is an extension of the skin intended to protect the skin and organs.
Every dog has the coat that best suits his task and environment. Now that is not entirely true with Doodles, but the principle remains the same.
Not only does the coat serve to protect a dog from hypothermia in cold and moisture. And protect the skin from burning when it's hot, the coat is meant as an extra protective layer against damage from the outside (running fast through bushes, with or without thorns, bumping into trees, falling over rocks, but also fighting with other dogs). And what about insect bites? A Doodle without its protective layer will be stung much sooner then a fluffy Doodle, who's coat intervenes so an insect can't get to the skin easily.
But that's not all, the outside air is full of toxic gases and vapors that we may not notice, but can cause a lot of damage to the skin, such as fumes from exhaust pipes.
A skin that is exposed to the elements is literally much more vulnerable and therefore more sensitive to allergies.
Not only outdoors (atopy), but also indoors: house and dust mite allergies, skin reactions to certain substances, odors, cleaning products ... you name it.
Dogs are vulnerable to all these influences that we don't ever notice.
And Doodles are even more sensitive and vulnerable than other dogs, especially white and light-colored Doodles. On the inside and on the outside.
In addition, a matted coat gets so warm and humid that the skin beneath it becomes thin and vulnerable, in such a way that shaving can cause wounds, that the skin can become irritated and also remains sensitive for a long time after shaving. And how about razor burn? Because the clippers have to put in so much effort to get through the felt, the shaving head gets hot, which can cause the skin to burn.
Many Doodles feel strange when they suddenly lose the coat, they can become estranged from the pack, because they look different and they are clearly less comfortable (I can hear you saying "My Doodle seems to feel much better without it's coat" Yes, he will feel much more comfortable without his warm, humid coat, but not if the coat is tangle free, airy and not too long.
For many dog groomers, de-matting equates to dog torture. A matted Doodle has to stand for hours while its owner or groomer is pulling the coat while brushing and detangling.
When the de-matting happens this way I would agree.
But there is another way that isn't harmful OR stressful for your Doodle.
First, you won't hurt your Doodle if you use the right de-matting and detangling methods and tools. Second, your Doodle will be much happier if you save its coat and make it healthy again.
Off course, the best thing you can do for your Doodle is to never let it get that far, then shaving because of tangles or mats isn't even an issue.
When you opt for a shave once a year and ignore your Doodle's coat for the rest of the time (like people did in the past, shaving their dog along with the sheep) you are neglecting your Doodle. And there can't be any breeders who would advise you to do that (unless you talk about breeds with a corded coat or Spanish Water dogs of which the breeders advise the owners NOT to brush them, which I don't have words for)
Fortunately not many Doodle owners think like that. But then again, lots of owners have their Doodle shaved regularly. And not in a good way.
If you knew shaving is so bad AND you would know the techniques that would prevent tangles and mats from developing, would you choose a more comfortable option for your Doodle?
I always say that grooming consists of two essential parts.
The basic (coat) care and the trimming (shaping or modeling) itself, with the basic care covering the inside of your Doodle and the shaping the outside.
For me, the basic care is even more important than the shaping part, because
- The coat must first be completely tangle-free in order to be properly shaped
- The degree of basic care determines the well-being of your Doodle
- The basic care helps to maintain the health of your Doodle, because it consists of:
- Cutting the paws (between the paw pads)
- Cutting the anus
- Cutting the sanitary area
- Clipping the nails
- Cutting the eyes free
- Plucking the ears in a painless and stress-free way
And very important the basic coat care, consisting of:
- The right brushing technique, brushing efficiently and effectively with the right brush in the right way
- Knowing by looking at and feeling the coat which care and shaping look is appropriate
- Thinning the coat to make it airy and less dense (and therefor less tangle sensitive)
- The right detangling and de-matting techniques to remove tangles and mats in a painless, stress free and natural looking way, without any cut or shaving marks
- Knowing how to prevent tangles and mats
Every coat is different and needs a different kind of care.
A coat that has not been properly pre-treated (pre-groomed as in prepared for shaping) cannot be optimally shaped.
And this is where it often goes wrong.
Many owners, breeders and even dog groomers just cut away tangles and mats, leaving holes in the coat that can only be evened out by shaving the rest of the body just as short.
Or they don't even take the time and effort to remove the tangles and mats but just take the clippers and shave the whole body underneath the tangles and mats.
Or they ignore the tangles and mats and just randomly trim over the tangles with straight or bended scissors.
Such a coat may look fairly neat from the outside (although cutting with straight scissors never gives the most beautiful, natural result), but as soon as you try to comb it with a wide toothed comb, you get stuck.
In these cases over time, the mats build up on the skin, forming a full body harness, limiting the Doodle in question in its mobility and playfulness, making the coat dirtier and greasier and the skin more and more fragile… until shaving seems like the final remedy.
You don't want that for your Doodle, do you?
To help owners offer their Doodle the best care and prevent tangles, and as an introduction to the whole grooming process, leaving their Doodle with a positive association, in the Netherlands, where I live, I give private workshops Basic Coat Care to Doodle and Water dog parents in their own home, in which they learn all the techniques described above. Then I shape their Doodle like a fluffy pup again, so that they can see what their Doodle can look like, they don't have to worry about grooming and can use the next 8 weeks for practicing their newly learned skills.
After those 8 weeks, the coat has grown 2 cm's, making the Doodle ready to be trimmed during my Private Doodle grooming workshop, using only thinning scissors (or comb attachments only on the body to save time and if the coat benefits from it)
Because I am not able to come to your home to give you a private grooming workshop and I do believe that a lot of you, who are forced to groom your Doodle yourself, because your regular groomer isn't available at the moment (and who knows for how long) are anxious about how to go about this, I want to offer my help. If it were me having to do something totally new and possibly damaging to my Doodle I would LOVE a professional to take me by the hand and guide me through the whole grooming process step by step.
Now I am not there with you in body, but I am there in mind and with my mission to help EVERY Doodle parent give their Doodle the best care and grooming, making every Doodle look like its fluffy self again, I have had special step by step grooming video's made that make grooming in a natural, fluffy way EASY for everybody. With my Total Grooming Training Program, using my unique grooming and shaping methods, every Doodle owner is NOW able to transform their Doodle to it's fluffy puppy look again. AND keep it tangle free, so shaving is no longer necessary and you can enjoy your Doodle even more!
And since I too am home bound in these uncertain times, having had to cancel all my private workshops. I want to spend my time coaching you in to becoming the best DIY groomer and coat care expert you can be for your Doodle. These techniques can't be learned through any YouTube tutorials, simply because they are not used by many groomers, but I CAN teach you, starting TOMORROW if you want. And I want to spread some Joy in these strange, scary times, so if you feel like I could be your grooming coach, please check out my program/
Let's use this time to spend quality time with our Doodles, giving them the best care care ever, saving lots of money on grooming costs, but even more importantly, becoming self reliant in grooming and gaining even more self confidence.
PS This article contains info that I did research on to write about it in my book. If you want to read more, check my FREE book preview, which are the first 2 chapters of my book
Happy grooming and stay well,
Lots of Doodle love,
Wanda & Joy