Grooming an Alaskan Malamute can sometimes be a time-consuming task and so we are regularly asked whether shaving is an option to make maintenance easier. Other owners simply want to know whether shaving can help an Alaskan Malamute to stay cool during warmer, summer months, but can you shave an Alaskan Malamute?
You should almost never shave an Alaskan Malamute. Shaving their fur will make it harder for them to regulate their temperature and exposes the skin to sun and windburn.
In this guide, we’ll take you through 4 key problems with shaving Alaskan Malamutes as well as the only time when it should be done.
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What Does A Shaved Malamute Look Like?
Luckily there aren’t many images of shaved malamutes around, so we’ve used one for a husky instead as an example.
The same principle applies, however. Images of shaven malamutes or huskies have gone viral throughout the years because of how ridiculous it looks.
Aesthetics aside, here are 4 serious reasons why you should never shave your malamute.
4 Reasons Why You Should Never Shave An Alaskan Malamute
We want to make it clear that shaving an Alaskan Malamute should only be done as a last resort and in these cases, you should consult either a vet or a groomer for guidance.
Whilst other dog breeds can benefit from shaving, Alaskan Malamutes can quickly get health issues.
Read the four reasons why you should not shave an Alaskan Malamute below to make sure you aren’t about to make a permanent mistake!
1. Temperature Regulation
An Alaskan Malamute’s coat is very important for the breed’s survival. It is a thick, double-layered coat that has specially evolved to help Malamutes regulate their temperature.
The layer of fur closest to the skin is known as the undercoat and it acts as insulation. It is dense and fluffy, and it traps a layer of air next to the Malamute’s skin.
It is thanks to this insulation that Malamutes were able to thrive in arctic temperatures that most humans and other dogs would find unliveable.
Not only does this insulation keep Malamutes nice and warm, but it also helps to keep them cool when needed! Don’t get us wrong – Alaskan Malamutes are still not the best-suited dogs for living in hot countries.
However, their coats will help to keep them comfortable during the occasional warm day and when they get warm due to exercise.
As you can hopefully tell by now, an Alaskan Malamute’s coat is very important for keeping them at a comfortable temperature.
You might think that shaving them will provide them relief from warm weather, but you are actually making it far harder for them to cope!
Shaving an Alaskan Malamute will make them significantly more susceptible to developing heat stroke, a potentially life-threatening condition.
You will find that need a lot more assistance from you to help regulate their temperature, which may require constant supervision to prevent them from overheating or becoming too cold.
2. Sunburn And Windburn
Shaving your Alaskan Malamute will, of course, leave their skin exposed to the elements.
Alaskan Malamutes are known for having particularly sensitive skin which is because their skin is typically well guarded by their coats.
When their skin is exposed through shaving, it leaves your Malamute vulnerable to developing certain conditions.
The most likely issue you will encounter is sunburn. We all know that Alaskan Malamutes love to be outdoors, whether that’s to go on long walks or simply to snooze in the grass.
If your Malamute is shaved, you will need to take the precaution to cover up their skin when it could be exposed to the sun, this includes whilst indoors!
Similarly, your Alaskan Malamute can quickly get windburn which happens when they are exposed to cold, windy air.
Normally, a Malamute would be able to withstand icy temperatures and winds easily, but without their coats, they can become ill. Once again, you will need to make sure they are wrapped up before bracing the cold.
Hopefully, you will see that shaving a Malamute often causes more stress than it saves. If you’re thinking of shaving a Malamute to save them from the heat, remember that they will still need to be wrapped up anyway!
3. It May Not Grow Back The Same
Not many people realise that once you shave an Alaskan Malamute’s coat, it will usually grow back irregularly.
As we’ve already mentioned, Malamutes have beautiful double coats that often have intricate and unique markings. Not only are they wonderful to look at, but the two layers of their coats play very different but equally important roles in keeping your Malamute healthy.
The dense undercoat acts as insulation to regulate a Malamute’s temperature, and the coarse topcoat repels dirt and water away from the skin to keep them clean.
Shaving their precious coat will, in most cases, permanently affect how it grows back. This will lead to the functionality of the coat being worsened meaning it is less able to do its job of protecting the Malamute and keeping it clean.
Common abnormalities seen in regrown coats include a greasier feel, duller colours, patchiness, uneven lengths, and more frequent tangles amongst other things.
If you absolutely must shave your Malamute, minimise the area shaved as much as possible to reduce the impact of having to regrow it.
4. Their Appearance Can Be Maintained With Regular Grooming
Many people want to shave their Malamute for grooming purposes. Alaskan Malamutes require regular coat maintenance (we recommend a quick daily brush to stay on top of everything) and a lack of grooming can cause problems.
It’s normal for Alaskan Malamutes to get tangles and matts throughout their lives – their love of the outdoors makes it much easier for their fur to get tangled!
Don’t worry, though; the vast majority of tangles and matting can be removed with specially designed tools. Our favorite brush is shown below, but you’ll need more than one brush to groom your Mal properly.
If you are worried about making a mess of your Malamute, or if you’re concerned about the condition of their coat, please take them to a groomer who has experience with Alaskan Malamutes.
They will be able to trim their coats where needed to prevent damage and restore your Malamute’s coat back to a healthy condition.
In rare circumstances, shaving may be required to remove serious matting. In these cases, the matting is so bad that the damage caused by shaving ends up being the better option.
We recommend talking to a veterinarian in these cases to confirm there is no other option.
The Only Reason You Should Shave An Alaskan Malamute
So, hopefully we’ve made it pretty clear that there is no need to shave your Alaskan Malamute, but are there any exceptions?
The one exception where it is acceptable to shave an Alaskan Malamute is for medical purposes.
For example, if your Malamute requires an operation, a vet will usually need to shave the surrounding area to have access to where they are working. In these cases, they will only shave where they need to and should give you advice on how to care for the area.
As we just mentioned there are also rare circumstances where a Malamute’s coat deteriorates to a condition that requires shaving.
We ask that you try your best to stay on top of grooming (especially during coat-blowing season) to prevent this from happening.
Other than these reasons, you shouldn’t need to shave your Malamute. Their coats should never be shaved for aesthetic purposes or to help cool them down.
Summing It Up
An Alaskan Malamute’s coat is more than just a pretty accessory – it also plays a big role in keeping them healthy.
Shaving their coat can lead to health issues such as sunstroke and sunburn, and it is very unlikely that it will ever grow back the same.
If you are concerned about a Malamute’s coat, talk to a vet or a groomer to explore less damaging care options.