In this helpful guide, we tackle the question “do Labs need haircuts?”
Since grooming requirements are likely to be on your mind before you commit to life with a Labrador, we’ll walk you through what care a Labrador’s coat needs, and whether it extends to trimming their hair too.
Do Labs Need Haircuts?
The Labrador Retriever is America’s favorite family breed, and has been for over twenty years! Labradors have great personalities, and have been used in a number of working roles throughout their history, on top of being a beloved family companion.
This means new owners are often researching the best way to care for their Lab’s lovely coat. Dog haircuts are popular for a lot of fluffy breeds, like the Pomeranian. And, they’re even necessary for some working dogs, like the Poodle. But, Labs don’t need haircuts, even in their working roles. In fact, the Labrador coat is perfectly designed to suit all of their needs, whether they’re kept as a family pet, or used as a formal retriever.
A Closer Look at the Labrador Coat
Labradors, no matter what color fur, have a thick double coat. They shed moderately all year round, and heavily during shedding seasons. Lots of owners don’t realise quite how much maintenance a Labrador Retriever coat can need! A regular grooming routine is really important to keep on top of this shedding and to help your Lab look their best. But, haircuts aren’t a part of this routine.
The Lab coat has a very important role. It serves to keep your Lab nice and warm during those colder months, but also to keep them cool and to protect their skin in the summer. Labradors were originally working dogs, used to retrieve game in water and on land. Their thick, water resistant coat would protect them from all terrains when they were retrieving game for their owners.
Although most Labs are just kept as family dogs nowadays, this thick coat can still protect them when out on walks, or when running about in the dog park. Cutting their fur, or shaving it, can actually cause your Labrador more harm than good. Plus, it can make cleaning shed fur even harder.
The Risks Associated with Labrador Haircuts
Labradors don’t need haircuts, because their coat and shedding patterns are finely tuned to give them complete protection from the weather and outside world. If you live somewhere hot, you may be worried that your Lab isn’t staying cool enough with all that fur. But, most of their double coat will thin out before the hottest time of year. And, their thinner summer coat will protect their sensitive skin from the sun. If you cut or shave their fur in an attempt to cool them down, you may actually just be increasing their risk of sunburn or skin damage.
In the winter, your Labs coat will be thicker in order to keep them warm. This is important, even if they’re kept as a family pet. Without this thick, dense coat, they could get too cold during walks and exercise. And, they may struggle to get warmer once their body heat has dropped.
Trimming or cutting your Lab’s hair might make them look tidier, or temporarily delay shedding. But, overall it will do more harm than good to your Labrador. And, it will likely be itchy when it grows back. But, scratching excessively could damage the newly exposed skin.
Should I Shave My Labrador?
Shaving a Labrador can be very harmful to your dog. It will expose their skin to the sun, and other harmful elements. Labs with shaven coats could suffer from sunburn, or extreme cold, as we mentioned in the section above.
There are times when your veterinarian may need to shave a small part of your Lab’s fur, such as before surgery. But this is very different to shaving them for aesthetic reasons, to control shedding, or to assist body temperature regulation. When vets need to shave a part of your Lab’s fur, it will usually be a very small patch, and won’t disturb the overall coat. You should never shave a Lab’s coat unless specifically ordered to by your vet.
Do Lab Haircuts Stop Shedding?
One of the main reasons people give their Labradors extreme haircuts, or shave them entirely, is an attempt to stop and prevent shedding.
Labs shed moderately all year round, and will shed heavily during shedding seasons. Shaving your Lab, or giving them a haircut won’t solve shedding problems. In fact, the fur that grows back will be shorter. So, when it sheds, you may have more trouble cleaning it up. Many people find that these shorter hairs aren’t picked up by their vacuums, and stay on the carpet.
The best way to control shedding in your Labrador is to set up a strict, regular grooming and cleaning schedule. Bathe your Lab occasionally, groom them at least once a week, and vacuum any hairs around your house weekly. You should also wash their bed regularly, and any bedding or soft toys they use.
How to Groom a Lab
Are you wondering how to groom a black Lab, or how to groom a yellow Lab? Luckily, the answer is the same, no matter whether you have a chocolate, black, or yellow Labrador. Labs need to be brushed once or twice a week, and more frequently during shedding seasons. You can take a look at specific techniques and tools for Labrador grooming in this complete article. Some people like to give their Lab a quick once over every day, and groom more thoroughly once a week. But, do whatever works best for you.
Make sure your Labrador is used to grooming from a young age, so you don’t have to battle with them whenever it’s time to brush them. You can make grooming sessions great fun by giving your Lab treats throughout, or letting them lick some peanut butter out of a Kong toy whilst you’re brushing them.
How Often to Groom a Lab
Grooming doesn’t just involve brushing your Labrador. You will also want to bathe them occasionally. But don’t bathe your Lab too often. Doing so can strip their fur of the natural oils they need for protection.
Some people believe that Lab haircuts are the best way to improve the appearance of their dog’s fur. But, actually regular grooming is the best way to keep your Lab’s coat looking healthy and beautiful. Plus, grooming sessions provide a great opportunity to check your Lab’s health, such as wax in their ears, the length of their nails, and more.
Do Labs Need Haircuts? A Summary
Haircuts are completely unnecessary for Labradors, and can do more harm than good. Some people may trim parts of their Lab’s fur before shows, but this is very different to a real Labrador haircut.
Remember you should never shave your Lab’s fur. Their coats are designed to keep them at the perfect temperature, and to protect them from the weather. Grooming regularly is the best way to minimise shedding and to keep their coat looking shiny.
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References and Resources
- AKC Staff, ‘The Most Popular Dog Breeds of 2019’, AKC (2020)
- De Brito Tavares, S. ‘Behavioral Study of Labrador Retriever in Aquatic Environment’, Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology (2011)
The Labrador Site Founder
Pippa Mattinson is the best selling author of The Happy Puppy Handbook, the Labrador Handbook, Choosing The Perfect Puppy, and Total Recall.
She is also the founder of the Gundog Trust and the Dogsnet Online Training Program
Pippa's online training courses were launched in 2019 and you can find the latest course dates on the Dogsnet website