As indicated by the American Kennel Club, an English Springer Spaniel has a double coat. This means they have both an insulation undercoat and a waterproof topcoat. The undercoat of the Springer is described as soft and dense and acts to keep these pups warm in cold climates, but when they shed in the spring months, their undercoat is replaced by a thinner coat that helps them keep cool during the summer.
It is strongly advised that you don’t shave your Springer Spaniel. Due to their double coat, not only do you risk interfering with their natural temperature regulation but once shaved, their hair will never return to its original state. You can cause more problems than solutions when shaving them.
Instead of shaving them, there are actually simple grooming techniques that will reduce shedding, keep knots and tangles at bay and have your Springer’s coat in a healthy, gleaming condition.
Why Shouldn’t You Shave Your English Springer Spaniel?
To understand why you shouldn’t shave your Springer Spaniel, it’s important to know why they have a double coat and exactly what this coat does for them.
Temperature Control For The Spaniel
With Springers originating in England (not always the warmest of places), the dense undercoat was bred into them to keep them warm in chilly conditions.
Originally bred as hunting dogs to spring and retrieve fowl, their warm undercoats are also there to keep them warm when needing to swim in frigid water to fetched downed birds.
Therefore, this thick undercoat has become a big part of a Springer Spaniel’s natural temperature regulation.
Just as the undercoat keeps them warm in winter, it is designed to keep them cool in summer. This may sound counter-intuitive that an extra layer of fur can achieve this, but the Springer’s coat has evolved for exactly this purpose.
Springer Spaniels will shed their thick undercoat during the first 2-4 weeks of spring, often referred to as a coat blow, leaving almost only the outer coat known as the guard hairs. These hairs aid in allowing cool air to circulate near your dog’s skin, keeping them from overheating.
Shaving Your Springer Spaniel Will Ruin Their Temperature Control
If you shave your Springer Spaniel, you destroy their natural process of temperature regulation. By shaving their hair, both the outer coat and the undercoat grow back at the same time.
In summer, this is incredibly detrimental, as naturally, they would have shed this undercoat. However, with the undercoat growing back quickly due to being shaved, the guard coat won’t be able to circulate cool air onto the skin.
The thick undercoat will insulate your Springer raising their body temperature, resulting in them being far hotter than what they would naturally be if unshaved.
In winter, shaving them would expose them to the severe weather conditions without any natural protection. It would be like you going out into the snow with no coat, boots, or beanie.
More Reasons Not To Shave Your Springer Spaniel
Another reason shaving your Springer Spaniel is not advisable is because of their fairly sensitive skin that sits beneath those layers of fur. Sometimes when shaving, this skin can become irritated and cause them to itch.
Not only would you potentially need to take them to the vet as they may scratch and cause an infection, but all the scratching will result in extra shedding, and if this is what you were originally intending to avoid by shaving them, you would have achieved the opposite result.
With shaving them, their sensitive skin also becomes exposed where normally the guard hairs would be protecting them from sun and windburn. This puts your dog at a far higher risk of getting skin cancer.
The final factor to consider against shaving your Springer Spaniel is that once shaved, their hair will never return to its original condition. The outer coat becomes coarser, and this change in texture makes their coat a magnet for burrs, twigs, and grass seeds.
If you were thinking of shaving them to stop them from getting knots and tangles, once shaved, this would only become worse as they pick up all sorts of debris in their coats. Springer Spaniels are already prone to mats and tangles, but shaving them will only intensify this issue.
After being shaved, the altered guard hairs of your Springer Spaniel will actually absorb more heat from the sun as opposed to what they naturally would do in protecting your pup. The result of this is, of course, your dog becoming even hotter and once again further increasing his risk of skin cancer.
It is, therefore, really not the best option to shave your double-coated Springer Spaniel as it will result in more headaches for you and a less healthy and happy dog.
Shaving them does not eliminate any of the reasons one might wish to shave their dog. They won’t be cooler, shed less, or have any fewer knots, mats, and tangles. There are, however, a few simple grooming techniques that may solve these problems without resorting to shaving.
How To Groom Your Springer Spaniel
Grooming your Springer Spaniel is, for the most part, something that you can easily do at home. These techniques will greatly assist in maintaining his coat.
How Often Should You Brush Your Springer Spaniel?
Springer Spaniel’s gorgeous coats are susceptible to knots and tangles, but brushing them regularly will greatly reduce if not completely eradicate this problem. They are a little high maintenance in this regard, but the result is worth it. You should brush them at least once a week, but 3 times a week is the recommended amount.
Brushing is such a positive activity for your Springer Spaniel. It not only helps in removing loose hair and thus greatly reducing the number of shed hairs in your house, but also works to massage their skin, releasing and spreading natural oils. The oils moisturize their skin and create a healthy shiny coat that also results in them shedding less.
What Brush Should You Use To Brush Your Springer Spaniel?
For regular brushing, you should make use of a slicker brush or a metal comb. A slicker brush has fine wires stacked closely together and works well in removing matting and loose hair as well as any fragments caught in their coat.
Should You Strip Your Springer Spaniel’s Coat?
Stripping is the act of removing dead hair from your dog’s coat and can be done in place of cutting or trimming him. It assists in keeping his coat looking neat and tidy but also hurries along the normal process of growth and shedding.
It should be done twice a year at the start of spring and autumn. It is considered by most the better and more natural way of coat maintenance for Springer Spaniels versus cutting or shaving them.
Many groomers recommend the Mars Coat King Rake to assist with removing the dead hair on a Springer Spaniel and their undercoat as the summer approaches. Others suggest this can be done with hand stripping. You can hand strip your Springer Spaniel by gently running your fingers through their coat, following the natural direction of growth, and pulling out the hair.
In some colors of Springer Spaniel, especially those with brown coats, it is easy to see the dead hair as it takes on an orange tinge. This dead hair may be more difficult to spot in the other color variations, but regardless it is important to regularly remove this dead hair to assist your buddy in maintaining his best coat.
Should You Trim Your Springer Spaniel?
You can trim your Springer Spaniel, and this will assist with a neater and healthier coat, but it is best to only trim certain parts of your Springer’s coat. You may wish to take them to your groomer for this. Trimming can be done to keep your Springer’s feathery legs and tail in check as well as the top of his head and face.
It is, however, most important to trim between their toes and their ears. The hair between their toes can often collect burrs and grass seeds, and if you have ever had this happen to your Springer, you know the problems these can cause. Keeping the hair short around their feet and especially between their toes lessens the chances of them picking up burrs and seeds.
The Springer Spaniel’s big floppy ears make him susceptible to ear infections, and keeping his hair on his ears trimmed will help alleviate this problem.
Shaving your Springer Spaniel is really not advisable. Although it may be alluring as it presents itself as the easiest solution, this is a ruse, and in many ways, it only acts to amplify the problem areas of your Springer Spaniel’s coat.
In summer, shaving will result in a hotter dog; in winter, a cold unprotected one. Shaving increases knots and tangles by irreversibly changing the texture of your Springer’s hair and also is likely to result in even more shedding. It is far better to maintain your Springer Spaniel’s coat by stripping, trimming, and brushing.