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Shaving/clipping the old lab

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  • Shaving/clipping the old lab

    My geriatric lab just can't handle the heat this spring. The older she gets, the longer it takes for her to shed, and this year, she hasn't even started to shed and still has a thick winter coat. It's only in the 70's and she is beyond miserable. She sits in front of her fan panting hard all day, too hot to even sleep She went from enjoying 45 minutes walks to being exhausted after 15, even with dips in the creek. So, I'm going to clip her underside. I think she needs her back fur for sun protection, but the dense coat on her belly and sides needs to go.

    So.... How do I clip a dog? I have horse clippers, what blade do I need? If anyone has done a partial clip, how much did you take off? Any tips (especially for an old dog that has never been clipped)?

    Here's a picture of the old lady on her 13th birthday

  • #2
    crap, I lost my entire post! so here's the recap:

    get yourself a 7F/7FC blade (ex: http://www.petedge.com/product/Andis...-7FC/43026.uts), clip in reverse/against the grain. Do a horse-style trace clip, take off the tummy/throat/undertail hair. Hold the skin tight, especially around flanks/armpits/throat. if just taking the underside off isn't enough, start clipping up the sides too. Leave hair on the back/head/legs for protection from sun/etc. I prefer NOT to go right down with a 10 blade, the 7F is short, but leaves enough of a layer of fuzz to protect from prickles/hot surfaces.

    Just a word of caution, due to the nature of lab hair, and her age, the hair will likely never come back the same. But at this point, her comfort is more important than vanity
    Curious about Trans* issues? Feel free to ask!
    Saving Pennies To Get My Own Canoe


    • #3
      She's gorgeous!

      I shaved my girl for the first time last summer. She's 15, and and over heats very quickly. We did exactly what Ceylon Star said, except I did not do her neck. She was anxious while I did her belly & legs, but when I went to do her neck she flipped out. It just wasn't worth the struggle, but if yours is ok with it, I'd do as much as possible. We did it outside, and always had two people - one to hold her, the other to clip.

      As for the hair not coming back, you can't even tell now that we clipped her. She looked ridiculous at the time, since she was too wiggly for me to make it even remotely neat. No clue if it's related or not, but she did grow the most ridiculous coat ever this winter. But, a regular appointment with the furminator kept it mostly in check. She's due for her first clip of the summer soon, since the coat is not shedding nearly as fast as it grew


      • #4
        Originally posted by Ceylon Star View Post
        crap, I lost my entire post! so here's the recap:

        get yourself a 7F/7FC blade (ex: http://www.petedge.com/product/Andis...-7FC/43026.uts), clip in reverse/against the grain. Do a horse-style trace clip, take off the tummy/throat/undertail hair. Hold the skin tight, especially around flanks/armpits/throat. if just taking the underside off isn't enough, start clipping up the sides too. Leave hair on the back/head/legs for protection from sun/etc. I prefer NOT to go right down with a 10 blade, the 7F is short, but leaves enough of a layer of fuzz to protect from prickles/hot surfaces.
        I thought a 7F in reverse is the same as clipping with a #10 with the grain? Or maybe I'm wrong on that but I know that my breeder/groomer has said something to that effect - you can go with the grain and get one length and then switch directions and get it shorter.

        I don't have a lab but I always clip my old guy with the grain of the hair. I'll have to ask my breeder if that is the right way.


        • #5
          7F reverse is almost the same as 10 with, yes, it's just smoother and does leave a light peach fuzz.

          You very well could go with the grain, it's just easier to get a smooth finish going reverse (or so I've found). It's not often that I shave with the grain, I prefer the finish of going reverse, but then I have the luxury of a clippervac system and it's virtually impossible to go with the grain with a clippervac attached. I even clipped my pony using the clippervac, don't think I can use clippers without it again!
          Curious about Trans* issues? Feel free to ask!
          Saving Pennies To Get My Own Canoe


          • #6
            She's just beautiful

            I'm sure she will be more comfortable and very grateful. Those thick black Lab coats are so heavy.


            • #7
              Beautiful girl ! It will be a shame to clip that nice coat, but understandable that comfort comes first. I clipped an area of my old lab (13), and it never grew back the same. It looks dull compared to the rest of her coat. BUT, it was needed and I dont regret it

              Another alternative is an ice pad underneath a blanket. It really helps cool dogs (especially if they can stand on it instead of lay down for a few minutes). The areas where dogs cool fastest are their paw pads and ears. If you can trim the feathers between the toes and ears that will probably help too.

              Has she been tested for hypothyroidism? Sometimes endocrine issues cause them to hang onto their coats and feel "warm". Just something else to think about with the ageing labs. Laryngeal paralysis can also cause them to feel very winded and warm, but doesnt explain the extra heavy coat.


              • #8
                I have a chow/shepherd mix who likes to swim - the problem is that her underside never seems to dry. I used my horse clippers, can't even tell you what blade, and did the equivalent of a trace clip: undersides, and chest, up to throat. Left the tail. took some hair off the legs - that longish hair. It was actually quite easy in spite of the fact that she is a wimp about most things. I had a second dog (chow/golden) who had to get full body clip after the Florida climate sent him to allergy land. Yes, it messed up his coat, but really no choice, and he dried REALLY fast after his pool time.
                We don't get less brave; we get a bigger sense of self-preservation........


                • #9
                  I clipped my elderly Samoyed in the spring with my big ol Osters that I also use for body clipping horses, with the same blade. Worked GREAT and I think she lived a couple additional years with her clip job. By fall, she'd have enough coat to get through winter comfortably and we'd just repeat when it started to warm up.

                  Everyone always seemed to say the coat kept them COOLER but my dog was waaaaaaaaaaaaaay more comfortable with it off for the hot months. I'd do pretty much the whole dog, barring the head, a ruff around the head, the tail and the legs.


                  • #10
                    I clip the Newfie/ Lab mix with the big Oster body clippers. He just kind of goes limp-- the only difficulty is in pulling the skin tight.


                    • #11
                      Have the vet check him - he most likely has a physical issue (ie, hypothyroidism) that can be remedied with (relatively) inexpensive meds that is keeping him from shedding out. Shaving the belly will make it easier for flies to bite....
                      Whatever you do, or dream you can, begin it; Boldness has genius, magic, and power in it ~ Goethe


                      • #12
                        I second the vet check, and check her heart. Heat and exercise can make heart conditions more visible. Hope all goes well with that and then you can post your clipping job pics


                        • #13
                          I would do several things here: first start off by getting out as much of the undercoat as possible. If you have a shop vac you can reverse to a 'blow' setting, take her outside and use it to loosen up as much undercoat as possible. It should fly off the dog. At work (dog groomer here) we use the high velocity dryers for this purpose. If the coat is truly packed in like that, you'll have a heck of a time getting clippers through it.
                          Second, bathe the dog. Clipping goes far faster and looks much better with a clean coat. If I had an old dog who couldn't stand well, I'd do this in stages over the course of a warm day.

                          THEN clip the dog. Doing a blade in reverse will get you the best looking end result on that coat type. I'd do a 4F, 5F or 7F in reverse depending how much hair you want to leave on the dog. The key here will be pulling the skin taught as you work.

                          Make sure you have good clippers. The 'cheapest' ones you'll want to use are the Andis single speeds. They're a solid black generic looking clipper. I prefer the blue two speed version. They are great on your horse too (I have a pair at work and a pair at the barn!). Lighter duty clippers just don't have a strong enough motor to get through thick dog hair.


                          • #14
                            I bought the comb guides that fit on my A-5. I usually clip my border collie to 1/2" in the spring. He does not handle the heat well.
                            Doubled Expectations (Roxy, 2001 APHA)
                            Al Amir (Al, 2005 OTTB)
                            Ten Purposes (Rosie, 2009 OTTB)


                            • Original Poster

                              Thanks for all the help! She was so miserable I ended up clipping with my #10 blades in reverse rather than wait for the #7 I ordered. Definitely SHORT, but I just clipped her belly and inner thighs, so you can't see it unless she rolls over. She was much happier on our walk today Silly old lady thought clipping was fun, once she got over the disappointment I wasn't rubbing her belly. She still hasn't started shedding, so I may clip some more when the new blade arrives. Brushing doesn't work, the hair just isn't ready to come out!

                              I probably should have mentioned that she has had a full senior check up. We were especially worried about thyroid issues, but her blood work was perfect. She's deaf, has cataracts, and arthritic, but the vet said she's doing great, especially for her age. We added tramadol (rymadyl was doing nothing for her) and she seems less stiff in the mornings. We went on a few mile hike today and she kept up great!

                              You can sort of see where I shaved her belly in this picture, compared to the thick fur everywhere else

                              And just because she's adorable, here's the little bit of grey on her chin.


                              • #16
                                She's beeyooteefull


                                • #17
                                  For what it is worth, I have found that regular grooming (by a professional) has really helped our labs. The first groom of our (now 8 year old) yellow lab, he lost 3kg of hair and gained an incredible waist! He absolutely loved it - and certainly helped in fixing his non-shedding coat. But that groom is a bath, a blow dry, a rake, a thick comb, a thin comb, and repeat from blow drying! He takes 3x as long to groom properly than my long haired borders!
                                  Still Working_on_it - one day I will get it!


                                  • #18
                                    You can also use a Shed N Blade to help things along with the rest of the coat. Last one I bought was for my Labbies, but now is in my tack box.

                                    Also, I forget what it's called, but I also used to have this fabric gel mat to use in hot weather. It had rows of sealed dry beads? sewn inside - you'd wet it, and it would stay cool for a long time. I had it in the desert and my dogs loved it, the few times they weren't back inside in the AC!

                                    Kind of like this, although mine had rows of beads.

                                    What a pretty gal she is.
                                    But he thought, "This procession has got to go on." So he walked more proudly than ever, as his noblemen held high the train that wasn't there at all. H.C.Anderson


                                    • #19
                                      I'd suggest a Kool Coat from Saratoga Horseworks they're dog coats specifically designed to keep a dog cooler in the hot summer months. I didn't believe it actually worked until I tried them myself! The white coat helps to reflect the suns rays, and if you wet the coat the evaporation of the water also helps to cool the dog. I would definitely check it out!
                                      Proud owner of Belle- 17.2h PerchxTB-wannabe dressage horse & Fayah 14.1H arab-trail horse extroidinaire!


                                      • #20
                                        For a short-haired double-coated dog, I would suggest shaving the entire underside, including the chest, belly, and inside of the thighs, down to the skin, and leave the rest of the coat alone. Then strip out as much of the undercoat as you can, using a furminator or similar tool.
                                        the Chilly buddy is good for black dogs: http://www.cleanrun.com/index.cfm?fu...&ParentCat=152

                                        shiny silver mesh, reflects the sun without adding another layer to hold in body heat, and wind can blow through the mesh to help cool the dog.

                                        these are new, but they look excellent: http://www.zentekclothing.com/canine-quick-wrap/
                                        made out of the amazing zen-tek material that stays at a constant 65 degrees or so- I have dog beds made out of the stuff- plus it has a pocket to put an ice pack in against the dog's belly. Doesn't cover the dog's body so it's not holding in heat.

                                        I don't like the coats that need to be wetted- if it's humid out, all they do is trap hot water against the dog. In dry climate they might work.