We receive many questions about shaving Bernese Mountain Dogs. From whether or not it’s a good idea, can it cause long-term damage, and will it help keep them cool?
These are all great questions and this article covers everything owners need to know.
Can Bernese Mountain Dogs Be Shaved?
We hear this discussion at the dog park and in online forums: can we shave our Bernese Mountain Dogs? Is it good or bad? And what will happen if we do?
Bernese Mountain Dogs should never be shaved. Shaving does little to keep a Berner cool and may actually have the opposite affect, it can also cause the coat to regrow improperly.
In some situations, a light trim with scissors around troublesome areas can be beneficial. But never shaving. I’ll explain this further below.
The only other exception would be if your Berner needed to be shaved for medical reasons or in preparation for surgery.
While it’s understandable to think shaving may help your Berner, it nearly always has the opposite effect.
5 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Shave Bernese Mountain Dogs
Let us elaborate on what we’ve said above and explain why shaving isn’t recommended.
1. Protection from the sun
The topcoat or otherwise known as “guard hairs” are coarse and stronger than the undercoat. These hairs protect your Berner from direct heat and the sun’s harsh UV rays.
Shaving immediately removes these vital hairs, exposing your Berner’s skin to the sun. This could lead to sunburn and make heatstroke easier.
2. Stopping direct heat
In a similar way to protecting your Berner from UV rays, the outercoat will stop some heat from direct sunshine.
I understand it may seem like the thick hair will absorb and make your Berner feel hotter, but it’s not actually the case! The thick hair will reflect more heat than it traps.
3. Protection from bugs and insects
Something we often forget is how bugs and insects interact with our dogs. As much as we hate pesky mosquitos in the summer, so to do our dogs!
The thick double layer on your Berner does an excellent job of keeping bugs and insects far away from their skin.
Shaving your Berner would immediately lead to more bites, scratching, and skin issues. Some of which may end up with a vet visit!
4. Cold weather protection
While we focus on keeping our Berner cool in summer, we have to remember the winter time too!
The thick double layer keeps Berners warm and safe in winter. If their coat were to be shaved in preparation for summer, it almost certainly wouldn’t be fully regrown by wintertime. Let alone the complications that possibly happen during the regrowth (explained below).
5. Water resistance
The thick topcoat of your Berner has some level of water resistance to is. Although it only repels a small amount of water, this plays a crucial role in keeping your Berner warm and safe in winter.
The moment your Berner’s skin gets wet, they’ll lose their ability to keep themselves warm.
This would make walks a lot harder during winter. Rain, snow, frost, and foggy conditions will all cause problems if your Berner has a shaved coat.
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Shaving Doesn’t Help Your Bernese Mountain Dog Stay Cool
In nearly all cases, owners want to shave their Berner to keep them cool in summer.
While this is completely logical, it doesn’t actually work this way! Shaving will cause your Berner to be hotter.
Shaving both layers down will expose your Berners skin to more direct heat and sunshine than if it wasn’t shaved.
Additionally, the undercoat sheds to regulate body temperature. So during spring, your Berner will “blow” their coat, leaving an air gap between the topcoat and their skin. This allows for plenty of breeze to keep their skin cool. Shaving messes up this process!
I know it really doesn’t seem like it works this way, but many veterinarians and experts have long proven this to be the case. So we gotta trust the professionals on this one!
Shaving Can Potentially Ruin The Coat Long Term
Many owners ask us if shaving can cause long-term coat damage, and the answer is yes. Albeit it doesn’t always cause long term issues, it’s certainly common.
Shaving the two layers back to the same short level can result in tangling, matting, and even cause a velcro-like texture to the coat.
This is all because the undercoat regrows faster than the topcoat. As it tries to outgrow the topcoat, it gets tangled and matted.
For breeds with particularly long coats like Berners, this can cause serious issues if we don’t consistently detangle and monitor the coat. And even with all our efforts, problems can still happen.
If tangling and matting happen, your Berner will not be able to shed properly. This, in turn, will cause further overheating and even skin infections.
Trimming Your Bernese Mountain Dog’s Coat
A light trim with scissors around the paws, ears, underbelly and tail can be beneficial and is recommended for those with extra long hair.
The long hair around these areas can pick up extra dirt and debris will out on walks, especially the paws and underbelly.
The long hair around the ears can sometimes keep water or trap dirt inside the air leading to frequent ear infections. Trimming some of the hair back here will make sure this doesn’t happen.
So yes, a light trim with scissors around these areas is worth doing if your Berner has extra long hair.
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