Does shaving a Golden Retriever help with shedding?

Desperate times call for desperate measures, right? It is another day where you and your vacuum cleaner are chasing your tail as no matter how many that you use it, there is always more hair in your house.

I mean, don’t get me wrong, we all love our Golden Retrievers to death but isn’t there a way to stop the tsunami of hair.

In this article I will try and answer the question does shaving a Golden Retriever help with shedding?

Short Legged Retriever? A cause for concern?

An introduction to a Golden Retriever’s coat…

Golden Retrievers have two coats- an upper and a lower coat. Combined these coats are water repellent. 

Goldies have these wonderful feathers (long strands of hair) at the back of their legs, on the bottom of their tails and on their chests. 

Some Goldies have a rough and curly coat, others have a smoother flatter, finer coat. 

Regardless of the slight differences in their coats, all of them are just beautiful…

What time of year do Golden Retrievers shed most?

Golden Retrievers in truth are shedding hair all year round. 

If you are thinking of getting a Goldie, you will always see bits of hair wafting around on your floors and sticking to your coats.

This is something that you will just have to get used to. 

Vacuuming will help massively but you will never completely get rid of it.

The times of year that they shed much more heavily in the Spring and Fall. 

At these times, after spending 10 minutes brushing one of my dogs, the surrounding area looks as if some small animal has been slaughtered nearby!

Another important point to make, is that at these times of the year I see a massive change in the physical appearance of my dogs.

They shed so much hair that at a certain point I will do a double take as I look at them and can’t quite believe that they look so skinny because the transformation is so radical. 

Does shaving a golden retriever help with shedding? 

Without a doubt, taking your Golden Retriever to the groomers to be shaved or clipped will help with shedding in the short term because your dog will come back from the groomers with less hair.

I think that there is a bigger issue here and that is whether Golden Retrievers should have their coats shaved.

It is quite a contentious issue. Dog grooming is a booming business and more and more dogs are being taken to grooming parlours.

That includes new Golden Retriever owners who think that they are doing the best for their dog by having them shaved or clipped for the summer.

After all, shorter hair is better in hot weather?

Not in the case of Golden Retrievers, it’s not. 

Evolution (unsurprisingly) has resulted in two coats that work in perfect harmony in hot or cold weathers. 

These two coats act as a form of insulation.

It is during the shedding process that most of the undercoat drops out. The thick undercoat which was used to keep the dog warm in winter is no longer needed. 

It is replaced by a lighter, sparser undercoat. Now, if your Goldie gets its top coat clipped it is the top coat that disappears and that leaves them with just a thin undercoat. 

A dog’s coat is similar to insulation and insulation is needed in hot and cold weathers. 

The two coats found on Golden Retrievers act as a barrier, a form of insulation for the skin.

Not only does clipping not help to keep them any cooler (because that function is performed by the interaction between the two coats) any clipping will leave the dog’s skin dangerously exposed to the sun- and we all know how Golden Retrievers at times like nothing more than to doze under the midday sun.  

How to keep your Golden Retriever cool in the summer

So if you shouldn’t get your dog shaved, how can you keep them cool?

[1] Plenty of cool, fresh water. 

Make sure that your dog has easy access to water and change it as often as you can during the day.

Dog bowls are incredible breeding grounds for germs and so try to not just refill the bowl but wash it out as well.

[2] Cool places to sleep or lay down

If you have any hard flooring in your house, such as wood or tile floors try and let you dogs stay in that part of the house in very hot weather.

Laying on it will really help them to keep their body temperature down.

[3] Create a draft.

If you can open a couple of windows to create a draft that flows across a room or through your house, then try this. As long as you aren’t compromising the security of your home. 

[4] Reduce exercise

On hot days, your Golden Retriever won’t need to exercise as much as they do normally. I know that it is hard to believe, but they really don’t.

Just shorten the walks and make sure that they have peed and pooped. Or, if you can’t go a day without a walk (I tend to be in that category) take them out very early in the morning or very late at night when the temperatures are much cooler. 

Whatever you do, on hot days don’t go running or jogging with your dog and don’t throw a ball or stick for them as there is a real danger that they will overheat. 

How can you stop a Golden Retriever shedding?

Simply put, you can’t stop a Goldie from shedding (apart from wrapping them in cling film/ saran wrap!) but there are things that you can do to help.

I do have to say that all of these tips will help to primarily give your Golden Retriever a beautiful coat and as a consequence of this, your dog might shed less. 

[1] Brush them regularly

[2] Bathe them regularly (a few times a month) or if you can’t face the post bath clear up (or hairfest) just hose them in the garden- making sure that you use a “hose gun” with a shower setting. 

This to me is an odd tip because clearing up after a dog bath is much worse than just vacuuming up dry hair on the carpet and floors.

And my dogs hate baths and so the stress of putting them through this, means that I don’t do it.

A natural alternative to this is a trip to the sea or the local river for a play and a swim- with the added bonus of not having to tidy up afterwards. 

[3] Feed them a good diet

One of the spin offs of feeding your dog top quality food is that it will give them a very healthy coat. 

A diet rich in protein and oils will make their coat stronger and more luscious and less likely to shed- although ironically a Goldie who has a “fantastic” coat will also have a thicker coat and isn’t that a coat which is more likely to shed?!

[4] A happy dog is a dog…

That sheds less. If your dog is stressed and anxious they will shed much more. Make sure that your home is a very happy and comfortable place for your dog to be. 

[5] There are no shortcuts

As in many areas of dog care, there are no quick fixes, no guarantees of fantastic results. 

If you see a liquid or a set of pills in a bottle that claim to stop your dog shedding “instantly” don’t be tempted to buy it. 

There is no miracle cure in coping with your dog’s shedding. It is more hard work but another opportunity to build and strengthen that special relationship. 

How long does it take for a Golden Retriever coat to grow back?

It takes around two months for a Golden Retriever’s coat to grow back. 

Depending on a variety of factors, shedding will start in around September and be complete by about November. 

As part of this process, your Goldie doesn’t just grow more hair, it sheds or gets rid of its old hair.

The old hair is too light and so it is shed to be replaced by a thicker coat made up of thicker hairs.

Any period of shedding and growing a new coat is a very energy intensive process for any breed of dog, not just Golden Retrievers

My Golden Retriever sheds excessively more than just twice a year. Should I be worried?

My oldest Golden Retriever, Bumps is like this. It sometimes feels as if she never never stops shedding hair, no matter what the time of year.

But this isn’t true.

 It is just as I see a ball of hair floating across the kitchen floor 10 minutes after vacuuming it, I sometimes want to scream.

There is physically nothing wrong with Bumps, she just has a very thick, curly and vibrant coat which seems to shed an above average amount.

Crucially, this shedding process never leaves bald spots or areas anywhere on her body.

And that is the point at which excessive shedding is concerning enough to warrant a phone call or appointment with your vet. 

Other than that, just try and look on the bright side. It probably means that you have one of the best vacuums on the market because anything less than stellar would have been binned by now.

And in the Spring, particularly as Bumps’ coat is spread all over the garden or a local park, I think of all the birds this loose hair is helping as they build their nests. 

Golden Retriever coat stages 

There are several stages in the development of a Golden Retriever’s coat as they grow older. 

Below I show you seven photos and video that take a puppy from newborn to 16 months old. 

At about 18 month’s old, your dog, in coat terms, will have something have something like the finished article, although in truth a Goldie’s coat will keep changing in small ways for the rest of their life. 

Day 1:

IMG 20160421 192739608
Mia with her puppies hours after they were born

Here is a photo of newborn Golden Retriever puppies. This photo was taken from a phone in 2016 which in parts explains why the clarity isn’t great.

But it is good enough to make out the main features of a newborn’s coat. Covering the whole body apart from the tummy, it is just beautifully fine.

The Mum in this photo is Mia who we tragically lost 5 weeks ago and I have to say that I am in tears just writing this now. 

1 Month Old

IMG 20160522 164551794 e1591169402374
Four puppies aged 4 weeks all squashed together…

4-5 weeks later, this is what the coats on these beauties look like.

Just look how much thicker the fur is and for some Goldies you can see that the fur is different colours. 

2 months (8 weeks)

The fur is much thicker, but this is still very much puppy fur. 

The distinguishing feathers that Goldie’s are so well known for are still nowhere to be seen. 

4 months

IMG 20160807 152325239 Edited
A hot puppy, aged 4 months. Just taking a break…

You can see that for this 4 month old, its colour has got much darker, but there is still no sign of any feathers- which will start to grow from the tail. 

6 months 

A great video of two 6 month old puppies- these are sister and brother. video.

Watch closely as these two are moving a bit fast!

The feathers are appearing on the tail and at the top of the back legs. 

1 year old

1 year old
Sylvie at 12 months

Here you go. The feathers are here.  and this photo shows them on the back of the legs and on the tummy.

Look at the way the feathers go all the way down to her feet- and if these aren’t trimmed regularly they can look very messy- almost Hobbit- like I think!

16 months old

Here is our last video, Sylvie having a kiss and a cuddle with our cat. 

The feathers are everywhere and just look at that beautiful tail. 

Sylvie has a very, very fine coat compared to our other two Goldie’s. 

Do Golden Retrievers shed more than Labs?

I think that this is a trick question because in many ways Labrador Retrievers and Golden Retrievers are very similar.

For instance, they are both breeds with a double coat and both sets of owners will lament the amount of dog hair which is buried in the carpets.

And so strictly speaking, Labrador Retrievers and Golden Retrievers probably shed the same amount if you look at the percentage of hair that they lose at each shedding.

But, apart from the fact that both breeds have a double coat, the look and feel of their coats is completely different.

Goldies tend to have much thicker coats than a Lab and so, they appear to shed much more. 

If it comes down to which breed is going to make your vacuum cleaner work harder in the Spring and Autumn, it has to be a Golden Retriever. 

Closing Thoughts

After all of this, does shaving a Golden Retriever help with shedding?

Strictly speaking, clipping your Goldie will help with shedding but it won’t help your dog as it is the wrong thing to do.

There are numerous “hacks” that you can try to minimise the amount of hair that is left on your floors during the shedding season.

Perhaps the best one is to get into the habit of regularly brushing your dog. 

But ultimately, living with a Golden Retriever will mean that hair will be everywhere in your house, it is just a fact of life.