Do Labs Need Haircuts (Grooming Guide)

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Your family has just adopted a Lab, and you’re looking forward to giving it a good home, but what about grooming? Do Labs need haircuts? And if so, how often?

Labradors make lovely family pets; they have been the most popular dog breed in America for over twenty years. This breed is lovable, gentle, and intelligent, making them the perfect breed for almost any household. But caring for a Lab (like any dog breed) requires some advanced planning. For example, some dogs need excessive grooming to maintain their coats. The fur helps them stay cool in the summer and protect themselves from diseases like cancer and other skin irritations.

As a general rule, Labs do not need haircuts. The shedding patterns of their coats are finely tuned to protect them from changes in the weather, as well as dirt and disease. However, they need regular grooming and brushing, particularly during shedding season.

Many Lab owners believe that they are helping their dogs by giving them regular haircuts, but doing so can harm your Lab more than help it. Shaving the coat can expose the skin to exposure and will likely be itchy, forcing your dog to scratch shaved areas and possibly create sores. While shaving may make your dog look neater and even cut down on shedding for a short time, the hair that grows back will not be as conducive to the protection from the elements your Lab truly needs.

This article will examine the subject of the grooming needs of Labs. If you are unfamiliar with this breed, we hope to answer some basic questions to ensure your new addition to the household thrives with you, just as you hope.

Do Labs Need Haircuts?

As mentioned above, Labs have coats that do not need to be shaved. Labs have extensive coats of fur that offer protection from the elements while protecting the skin from disease and pests.

Why Do Some Dog Breed Shed and others Don’t?

While it might seem like your puppy is constantly shedding, some breeds are more prone to shedding than others. Like Labradors, Newfoundlands, Pekingese, or Siberian Husky, long-haired dogs shed a lot. While Dachshunds, Terriers, and Maltese are examples of breeds that do not lose as much hair.

For most breeds, shedding is a natural process of coat development. But there are various reasons why you might be shedding more excessively than usual.

  • Natural process
  • Allergies
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Pet health - the disease can increase hair loss
  • Lack of proper grooming

If you suspect your Lab is shedding excessively, consult with a veterinarian to examine your pet. Many vets can prescribe medication, treat anxiety symptoms, or determine if additional factors are causing the dog to lose hair follicles.

What is a Double Coat of Fur?

Breeds that shed a lot often have a double coat of fur, which consists of two layers of hair; an undercoat and a top coat. During the summer and warmer temperatures, the undercoat thins, allowing body heat to be more easily released while trapping cooler air on the skin.

During colder months, the undercoat thickens, trapping a warm insulation area near the skin, and guarding the skin against colder temperatures. The thicker layer prevents the dog from experiencing frostbite or hypothermia. A dog sheds to release the dead and dried follicles of hair grown. In summer, it means losing the heavy winter coat so that a shorter, more compact winter coat can emerge.

When is Shedding Season?

Because your Lab has a double-layered coat, the primary season for shedding is twice per year, once in spring and the fall (and it seems every month in between). As the temperatures warm up, the winter coat is shed, helping your dog prepare for summer, and in the fall, more hair grows in (causing more shedding) as the dog prepares for winter when it will need more insulation from colder temperatures.

Shedding is a natural way for your dog to get rid of old and damaged hair while ensuring healthy skin and its ability to thrive in various climate conditions.

Can Shedding Be Managed?

While it is impossible to stop a dog from shedding completely, regular grooming benefits your pet's health. It might even help minimize the amount of hair floating around the atmosphere. What can be done to help keep all this fur from flying?

Regular Grooming and Brushing

While it may not be possible to stop all the hair your Lab sheds, this breed can benefit from regular grooming (brushing) at least twice to three times a week (and more during shedding season). Regular brushing will help release hairs into the brush rather than into the air and create a unique bonding experience between you and your pet. A classic pet brush will work to get the top coast, and many companies make anti-shedding brushes that can reach down to the lower coat that help remove hairs that might just be rising to the surface. Be sure to follow directions or the advice of groomers for specific recommendations.

There are a variety of different brushes that can be used to combat shedding. For an excellent review of dog brushes to choose from, check out this blog post from AKC.org

Slicker Brushes

Slicker brushes have short wire pins that are angled to avoid the skin and are designed to get loose hair from the lower coat. (For an example of a slicker brush you can order from Chewy.com, follow the link above or click here for the price)

Bristle Brushes

Bristle brushes have many short bristles that are best used on short-haired dogs. Click here for today's price from Chewy.com

Undercoat Rakes

The undercoat rake looks like a small gardening tool. The rake is an excellent supplement to regular brushing by attacking the undercoat and removing loose hair. The rake is perfect for longer breeds with double coats. Check out today’s price on this 2-in-1 tool.

Grooming mitts

Some grooming mitts that fit on the hand are good alternatives to brushes and can effectively remove hair and debris from the coat of your Labrador. Check out a grooming mitt on Chewy.com

Regular Bathing

During shedding season, consider bathing your Lab more often. According to the AKC, labs must be bathed every four to six weeks. The warm water from the bath will help loosen any dead hair and leave it in the water rather than in the air. Be careful not to bathe your pet too often, as many soaps can dry out the skin's oils and create more serious issues down the road.

A best practice is to try and incorporate bathing as a routine from the earliest days of ownership. Labs that used to be bathed regularly as puppies will fight the water less as adults.

Change Your Dog’s Diet

Many times excessive shedding can be caused by a dog’s diet. Many owners try to skimp on dog food by buying the cheapest brand at the store, but these kinds of food may not provide a healthy enough diet for your dog. If your dog is having trouble digesting the food you are giving them, it can translate to additional stressors that can trigger excessive hair loss.

The best kinds of diets are those filled with nutrients and vitamins. Your vet can recommend a dog food that will supply your Labrador with everything it needs. For an excellent review of the best dog foods for Labradors, see dogfoodadvisor.com.

Be Sure Your Dog is Hydrated

A dog that sheds a significant amount of hair may simply be dehydrated. Make sure that you are keeping your Lab’s water bowl replenished. Some owners try to limit the amount of water intake their dog gets each day (mainly because they are battling house-breaking issues - after all, water that goes in has to come out, right?). But in doing so, they are just trading one problem for another.

Walk Your Dog More

One of the best ways to keep a dog healthy is by dedicating time to walking it daily. If your lab is an indoor dog, you need to find a way to ensure that they are getting adequate exercise. (Any hair that gets shed outside by breezes or movement is less hair that gets shed inside your apartment). Daily walking routines should be incorporated into the routine of any pet.

Make Sure Medications are Up To Date

Unfortunately, pet medication to treat common symptoms can be expensive but don’t skip it. If your dog develops fleas or ticks, then the only way for them to combat the issue is to scratch the area. (Medication is designed to keep them from doing precisely that). More scratching leads to more shedding. It can also create sores and open wounds that become infected, creating additional stress and shedding.

Speaking of medications, there may be some medications that your vet can prescribe to help limit shedding. Consult your vet for a discussion regarding what is best for your labrador.

About THE AUTHOR

Mark Brunson

Mark Brunson

Mark is the founder of Everything Labradors and a husband and father of 3. He enjoys spending time with his family, including his dog Molly, a Labrador/Golden Retriever mix. He’s a big fan of the outdoors and loves to travel to new places.

Read more about Mark Brunson