An adult Pomeranian is a gorgeous, fluffy ball of fur, sometimes likened to a powder puff. This ‘fur meets feathers’ appearance is created by two coats. An undercoat of short, thick hair is topped with an outer covering which has longer, thicker, coarser hairs. A Pomeranian’s coat is its most distinctive physical characteristic after its pint-sized body, and it seems unthinkable that anyone who has deliberately chosen a Pomeranian as a pet would want to interfere with its unique appearance. One might as well express dissatisfaction with the fact that it normally only grows to a maximum of seven pounds, and try to alter that as well. However, it is a sad fact that some owners have most of their Pomeranian’s precious hair shaved off.
What is the Lion Cut?
The fact that these unfortunate Pomeranian shaving styles are given ridiculous names is an indication that they are based on passing fashion rather than any sound motive related to health or other sensible issues. One of the current favorites is the so-called ‘Lion Cut’, where the dog’s body hair is shaved close to the skin, leaving only a ‘mane’ around the head and chest and a clump of hair at the end of the tail, to mimic the appearance of a lion in miniature.
Why the Lion Cut is a bad idea
The idea of shaving a Pomeranian probably had its origin when someone looked at a poodle with a coat sculpted into bizarre shapes and decided it was a cute notion that could be extended to Pomeranians. But whereas a poodle regularly needs at least a basic clip, for the sake of good grooming, a Pomeranian’s hair does not need to be cut at all unless it has been allowed to become hopelessly matted.
When you have probably paid top dollar for your very special purebred Pomeranian, the idea of having it shaved so that it no longer looks at all like a Pomeranian is frankly baffling. But there are far more compelling reasons for not shaving. Deep shaving techniques required to produce a look like the Lion Cut will actually slice into the undercoat, causing enduring damage that will prevent the Pom’s coat from ever growing back properly. A Lion Cut on a puppy will end the chances of him ever having a proper adult coat.
Some professional canine groomers insist that this kind of shaving does not permanently affect the coat, but the consensus among sensible and caring owners is that it does. There are may accounts of post-Lion-Cut coat trauma published on the internet, with details of fur growing back in unusual-looking patches rather than the normal allover fluffiness.
A close shave can even cause physical discomfort for your beloved pet by exposing the skin on previously covered areas to the hardness of a floor or the irritation of a carpet, causing sores and allergies. Some owners also attest to noticing emotional stress, anxiety and nervousness in their pets when their comfortable coat, an integral part of their makeup, is removed. Occasionally these same owners also suffer emotional stress, anxiety and guilt themselves, when they realize what they have done to their once gorgeously fluffy Pom.
Pomeranian shaving by breeders
Some Pomeranian breeders will deliberately shave adult dogs kept for breeding purposes only and not intended for the pet or show market. They do this so that they can devote more time to caring for both parents and their offspring, without needing to groom as many as ten adult dogs. If they have insufficient time left to groom the adult dogs their coats might become tangled and matted through neglect. There is a further downside to the shaving practice, however. Intending purchasers of puppies will often wish to view the parents, or at least see photographs, in order to get an idea of what their chosen pup will look like when it grows. The shaven parents do not give them a true impression of the future long and glorious coat their own Pomeranian might expect to have, and are a poor advertisement for the breed.
Limited shaving or clipping for health and hygiene
Although shaving your Pom’s entire coat is not recommended, you not only can but in fact should trim some areas. The area around the anus for example, needs to be kept short, down to a length of about half an inch. This is because traces of feces can get trapped in the hair, which is unhealthy for the dog and unpleasant for his human family.
Additionally, remove any long hairs growing inside the ears by plucking them with tweezers, to avoid attracting mites and fleas and to speed up the drying process after bathing as well as inhibiting ear infections.
If any long hairs are visibly growing underneath your Pomeranian’s paws – actually hanging down below the pads – these should be clipped. Hairs under the paw pads can be very uncomfortable for your pet because they can snag on the surface he is walking on.
Deliberate allover shaving
As well as those misguided Pomeranian owners who choose the Lion Cut for their pets because it looks cute or because they want to follow the latest fad, there are others who do it because they have been badly advised by a grooming salon or misinformed by other owners. They may have been told that the only way to remove matted balls and tangles of fur is to shave off the entire coat and effectively start again. This is the worst kind of advice, since there are many techniques for overcoming matted and tangled hair.
Other owners may have been misled into thinking that shaving a Pomeranian’s coat is necessary for the sake of comfort in summer weather in places where temperatures are high in July and August. Again, this is a misconception, since a Pom’s double coat promotes comfort in all climatic conditions. In any case, most Pomeranian’s spend the greater part of their time indoors, where the temperature is fairly consistent all year round.
How to groom properly without resorting to allover shaving
There is nothing wrong with carefully trimming any long, stray hairs in your Pomeranian’s coat so that they are the same length as all the surrounding hairs. This will contribute to maintaining the fluffy look that is so very properly admired. Just don’t get carried away and perform a complete nose to tail haircut.
Regular grooming with a brush with long bristles and a wide-toothed comb should prevent any matting in the coat. If tangles do ever form, patient and gentle untangling, hair by hair, while your dog’s hair is still damp after bathing with dog shampoo and applying dog hair conditioner, should do the trick.
The moral of this story is simple: a Pomeranian should never be shaved, except possibly around the anus, although merely trimming should be sufficient even there. Love your Pomeranian for its personality, its loving nature, its daintiness and its fluffiness, but not because you can play pointless and potentially harmful games with its appearance.