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We're now well within the dog days of summer, and that got us thinking about how our furry friends handle the heat. It also made us wonder how the owners of those dogs handle the falling fur. Do they strike first by shaving their pets' coats? Or do they let nature take its course and just invest in an efficient vacuum? And, speaking of shedding, which dog breeds do experts think shed the most (and least)?
We polled 2,160 readers and 249 veterinary professionals to get their takes on these questions and were surprised by the differences among the readers' answers and those given by our experts.
First things first: Is shaving a pet's coat ever OK? The majority of readers (62 percent) and veterinary professionals (58 percent) agreed that it depended on the coat. For example, a dog with a very long, thick coat might warrant a close crop, whereas a shorthaired kitty would probably be fine all summer without a trim.
But what's really interesting is that readers were more than twice as likely to think that it wasn't OK to shave a pet. Twenty-two percent of readers said this was never a good practice, while just 10 percent of veterinary professionals felt that way. And, even more interesting, only 8 percent of readers said it was fine for either a dog or a cat, but a whopping 27 percent of veterinary professionals felt that way.
Outside of that, 6 percent of readers said it was fine for dogs only and no one said it was fine for cats only, while veterinary professionals were split at 1 percent for dogs only or cats only. Two percent of readers and 3 percent of veterinary professionals had no opinion.
After seeing where they stood on this practice, we asked our survey participants whether they themselves ever shaved their pets. For as large a discrepancy as there was between readers' answers and veterinary professionals' in the first question, the answers here were remarkably similar, with 21 percent of readers and 25 percent of veterinary professionals saying that, yes, they did this.
Just about one-fifth (19 percent of readers and 21 percent of veterinary professionals) answered that they did not have a pet for which shaving was applicable, and more than half of each group (59 percent of readers and 54 percent of veterinary professionals) said that, no, they didn't shave their pets.
We asked the veterinary professionals to weigh in on which dog breeds shed the most and which shed the least. Of course, keep in mind that all breeds have variances. Just because a breed makes the light-shedders list doesn't mean you should expect a fur-free home.
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