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Shaving a Bernedoodle: 6 Things Your Groomer Wishes You Knew!

before and after photo of a shaved bernedoodle
Photo Credit: @adognamedhumphrey on Instagram

Imagine dropping your fluffy dog off at the groomer and picking up a completely shaved Bernedoodle.  If it wasn’t for their enthusiastic reaction to seeing you again, you might not even recognize your own pup!

You’d be hard-pressed to find a Bernedoodle owner who hasn’t experienced this at least once.  Sometimes it’s intentional, but other times it can come as a complete surprise and cause some serious tension between owner and groomer.

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There’s a serious stigma around shaving your Bernedoodle, as well as a lot of misconceptions.  In this article, we’ll clear things up by revealing the 6 facts groomers WISH you knew about shaved Bernedoodles!

1. Shaving your Bernedoodle won’t damage their coat.

The biggest reason well-intentioned owners avoid shaving their dogs is that they believe doing so could permanently damage their Bernedoodle’s coat.  However, in most cases, this isn’t true.

You can feel comfortable shaving your dog unless one of these two situations apply…

Don’t shave your Bernedoodle if they are less than six months old.

Did you know that your Bernedoodle’s coat as a puppy is entirely different from their adult coat?  It’s softer, thinner, and often straighter as well.

They’ll gradually shed this puppy coat around six months of age.  However, shaving your Bernedoodle puppy before their adult coat has grown in could cause permanent damage and should be avoided.

It’s best to brush your Bernedoodle every day, or close to it, while they’re a puppy.  Not only will this prevent matting, but it will help them become comfortable with grooming and not fearful of it.

Don’t shave your Bernedoodle if they have a flat coat.

Some breeds, like the Bernese Mountain Dog, have “double coats,” which consist of an outer coat and an undercoat.  Breeds like the Poodle, on the other hand, only have a single coat.

To avoid damaging the undercoat, dogs with double coats should never be shaved.  Dogs with single coats don’t have this issue and can be shaved without problems.

With the Bernedoodle being a cross between one single-coated and one double-coated breed, how do you know if shaving them is safe?

Most Bernedoodles are bred to have a single coat similar to that of a Poodle.  If your dog has a curly, Poodle-like coat that makes them look like a teddy bear, it’s almost certainly fine to shave them.

Some Bernedoodles, however, have “flat” or “improper” coats that take after the Bernese Mountain Dog.  If your Bernedoodle has straight hair instead of curly hair, sheds, and lacks furnishings, it’s possible they have a double coat and shouldn’t be shaved.  If you’re unsure, check out our article on flat-coated Bernedoodles here to learn more.

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2. Groomers aren’t just being mean.

Pet parents are often quick to blame their groomer after their Bernedoodle gets shaved.  However, groomers don’t choose to shave your Bernedoodle because they’re incompetent, mean, lazy, or think it looks good.

If your Bernedoodle gets shaved, it’s almost certainly for one reason and one reason only—the well-being of your dog.

Groomers typically shave dogs only when their fur is significantly matted.  Matted hair is uncomfortable and sometimes even painful for your dog to deal with every day—even if it doesn’t appear that way at first glance.

While minor matting can sometimes be brushed out, attempting to brush out severe matting is unlikely to work and makes the process more painful for your dog.  The only reasonable solution at this point is to shave your Bernedoodle.

Your groomer shouldn’t be blamed for prioritizing your dog’s comfort and health over their appearance.  However, part of being a great groomer is communicating effectively with pet parents so everyone’s expectations are aligned and surprises don’t happen.

3. A shaved Bernedoodle is only temporary!

Especially if your Bernedoodle has always sported a longer teddy-bear cut or puppy cut, their new appearance can take some getting used to.  It’s natural for them to look a little sillier and scrawnier when their hair is at this length.

The important thing to realize is that even the worst-looking haircuts are only temporary!  It won’t take long before your Bernedoodle looks like their former self.

Your dog’s coat will start to fill out and look much more like a normal, short Bernedoodle haircut in just a few weeks.  For a Bernedoodle’s coat to grow back to its full length, expect to be patient for around 2-4 months.

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4. Preventing your Bernedoodle from needing to be shaved is easier than you think.

Preventing your Bernedoodle’s coat from matting comes down to three factors:

  • Brushing frequently
  • Using the correct brushing technique
  • Having the right equipment

If your Bernedoodle needed to be shaved, at least one of those three factors probably wasn’t quite right.

Most Bernedoodles need to be brushed at least every other day.  The longer and curlier your dog’s coat is, the more often it will probably need to be brushed.

The best way to brush your Bernedoodle is with a technique called “line-brushing.”  It’s a little slower and more methodical than you may be used to, but it helps to ensure you’re brushing the entire length of the coat from the tip of your Bernedoodle’s hair all the way down to their skin.

Here’s a quick tutorial on how line-brushing works:

The final piece of the brushing puzzle is investing in the proper tools.  The dense, curly hair of a Bernedoodle isn’t easy to manage, and some brushes are better equipped for this challenge than others. 

My go-to brush is the Chris Christensen Big G Slicker Brush.   Ask around, and you’ll quickly find that this is a favorite of countless Bernedoodle owners and groomers.

Chris Christensen Big G Dog Slicker Brush

In addition, don’t forget to pick up a metal comb so you can follow along with the line-brushing technique!

5. Shaving your Bernedoodle is nothing to be embarrassed about!

Unfortunately, there seems to be a certain stigma amongst doodle owners about shaving your dog since it usually means they were matted.  I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you that people can be mean and judgmental, especially on the internet!

However, here’s the truth…

A shaved Bernedoodle doesn’t mean you’re lazy, incompetent, or a bad dog owner.  Mistakes happen, and even the best dog owners with the strictest brushing regimens sometimes slip up.  With Poodle-mix breeds like the Bernedoodle, all it takes is a little slip-up for matting to happen.

Instead, a shaved Bernedoodle is a sign of a great dog owner who is prioritizing their pup’s well-being instead of their own aesthetic preferences.

When all is said and done, our Bernedoodles are 100% adorable—shaved or not!

6. Your shaved Bernedoodle will thank you!

Many Bernedoodle owners report that their dogs seem sad, stressed, or embarrassed after being shaved.  Just like your dog’s new look can take some getting used to, they need time to adjust to how being shaved feels.

This isn’t a bad thing, though!  They’re now free of the discomfort and pain of matting.  They’ll adjust to their shorter haircut in just a few days.

As far as embarrassment is concerned, that’s simply us as pet owners irrationally humanizing our dogs and perhaps projecting our feelings onto them.  According to animal behavioralists, embarrassment is likely too complex of an emotion for our dogs to experience.

In Conclusion

While shorter haircuts are increasingly popular amongst Bernedoodle owners for their practicality, you probably don’t want to shave your Bernedoodle for the heck of it.  However, if they need to be shaved due to matting and it’s safe to do so, you shouldn’t hesitate.

Shaving your Bernedoodle is nothing to worry about or stress over.  We’re all learning as we go as dog owners, and sometimes matting is a part of that.  All we can do is prioritize our Bernedoodle’s comfort, be patient, and improve our brushing so it’s not a frequent occurrence!

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