Skinny Pores and skin, Thick Hair & the Canine Immune System


All groomers are basically topical dermatologists; we work on the surface of the canine to scrub, situation, and routinely look after the pores and skin and the hairs that develop out of it. And I do know I’m not alone in wishing that some fundamental canine pores and skin and coat schooling may very well be required of all skilled canine groomers… 

Veterinarians typically report that pores and skin points are the most typical purpose for affected person appointments, apart from routine annual examinations. A veterinarian’s medical perform is to work on the within of the canine—together with problems of the pores and skin—and our job as groomers is the routine care of the surface of the canine; the pores and skin and coat. 

Some groomers even go on to turn out to be Canine Estheticians, which implies they can do non-medical therapies for pores and skin and coat points. Esthetician experience requires considerably additional (however invaluable) coaching, nevertheless it’s an incredible enhancement to any groomer’s enterprise.

Canine, like people, are mammals. One definitive characteristic of all mammals is that we’ve pores and skin consisting of a number of layers with impressively complicated functioning. All mammals even have pores of their outer pores and skin layer, or dermis, that open down into hair follicles situated within the dermis, which is an interior layer of the pores and skin. 

Hair size in grooming issues to the well being of the pores and skin. It isn’t an understatement to say that maybe probably the most hotly debated matter on groomer social media is how lengthy or quick sure sorts of haircuts ought to be for particular breeds. As with all difficult query, the reply is mostly, “it relies upon.”


Since pores and skin is the biggest and most essential organ in any mammal’s physique, it helps to think about how canines are totally different from the pores and skin we all know the most effective—our personal. The thickness of the pores and skin itself and the quantity of protecting masking reminiscent of hair, feathers, scales, and so forth., for any species, is mostly inversely associated. 

Our pores and skin is way thicker than canine pores and skin. And we’ve a lot much less hair, so far as mammals go, than canines. Canine have a lot thinner pores and skin and lots of extra hairs and hair follicles. Sure, there are the very uncommon hairless canine breeds, however all different canines, on the surface, are largely hair and we’re largely pores and skin. We have now thick pores and skin and skinny hair, with one hair per follicle and never many follicles. Canine are the alternative; they’ve skinny pores and skin and much more hair, with many hairs per follicle and plenty extra follicles.

There are numerous important capabilities that pores and skin and hair present to each individuals and canines. Pores and skin shops vitamins, aids in hydration, regulates temperature and an extended listing of different essential advantages. Most significantly, pores and skin and hair present safety from exterior toxins, abrasion and different risks within the atmosphere. The pores and skin is a barrier that protects our important organs inside. The hair on a canine is the barrier that protects the pores and skin. Because of this many pores and skin and coat educators don’t suggest balding a canine, even in its groin space beneath the torso. I like to recommend no shorter than a #5F on the groin, leaving some protecting hairs on very skinny pores and skin. 


When attempting to guage the optimum size of a haircut for safeguarding a canine’s pores and skin, we must always do not forget that, for the needs of dialogue, we’re solely speaking about canines which are “hair-type,” or UDL (genetically undetermined size hair). Just like the hair on human heads, UDL hair grows and grows till it’s reduce or breaks. “Fur-type” canines are shedders with genetically pre-determined size hair, or PDL. Just like the hair on our legs and arms, it shouldn’t be reduce, simply de-shed. That is very true for the higher torso or jacket space the place the solar hits probably the most immediately.

It isn’t stunning that our clients usually are not conscious of this distinction. They may generally ask for his or her canines to be shaved down or given a “summer time reduce” with out regard to the kind of coat or its important perform. Because of this it’s so essential for groomers to be well-versed within the totally different coat varieties and be ready to softly educate the client to do what’s finest for the well being of their beloved companion.


In 1868, a German doctor and professional in anatomy named Paul Langerhans found the cells within the pores and skin that bear his identify. Later, these important cells have been discovered to be a central a part of the physique’s immune system; a posh community that helps the physique struggle illness. Langerhans cells are key to the pores and skin’s protecting perform. All mammals have these cells of their pores and skin, and they’re an important a part of our immune system. 

Many analysis research have been revealed on the important work of the Langerhans cells in mammals, together with people and canines. The Nationwide Institutes of Well being web site, amongst a number of different websites simply discovered on web searches, incorporates medical findings that join issues that may develop in canine Langerhans cells with most cancers.  

Now for some medical jargon: One instance of a research revealed within the Nationwide Library of Drugs concerning the relationship between daylight and canine pores and skin cancers states, “Tumors developed in lightly-pigmented glabrous following power daylight publicity…Microscopic examination of tissues from three canines confirmed progressive improvement of epithelial hyperplasia by phases of photo voltaic keratosis-like lesions to invasive and metastatic squamous cell carcinoma.” 

Translation, please??

Principally, in English, Glabrous is a type of mammalian pores and skin with no hair: Assume palms of your arms or a canine’s foot pads. Epithelial refers to pores and skin. Hyperplasia is when organs or tissue, on this case, the pores and skin, see a rise within the replica price of its cells, additionally a typical precursor to most cancers. Photo voltaic keratosis refers to precancerous scaly spots discovered on sun-damaged pores and skin. Squamous cell carcinoma is the second most typical type of pores and skin most cancers. 

A number of research on the impact of daylight on Langerhans cells discover, briefly, that if daylight reaches a canine’s pores and skin, it destroys Langerhans cells or causes them to turn out to be cancerous, identical to it does on our personal pores and skin. It’s particularly impactful on canines’ pores and skin as a result of their pores and skin is way thinner and their lives a lot shorter. However they’ve their additional variety of hairs and follicles to guard them, proper? That is the place the groomer’s position turns into critically essential within the lifetime of a wholesome canine. 


The educator whose educating first impressed me concerning the significance of grooming for the well being of the canine pores and skin and coat was Michelle Knowles, ICMG, MPAe. Her courses have been a sport changer in my grooming profession. She says, “The very basis of what we do begins with a wholesome pores and skin that grows wholesome coat. Studying the ideas of the pores and skin processes and the way they’re affected by instruments and merchandise is important for max well being and a profitable profession.”

Dr. Cliff Faver is a present to our grooming trade when, let’s face it, many veterinarians don’t regard us as skilled friends or companions. A profession veterinarian with experience in diagnosing and treating pores and skin issues in canines, Dr. Faver teaches grooming seminars about how canines’ pores and skin and coat work, and the methods and merchandise which are most useful to every pores and skin and coat kind. He additionally affords superior coaching for groomers in non-medical therapeutic approaches that we will use for downside pores and skin and coats. When requested what size haircut is finest to guard a canine’s pores and skin, he recommends a minimal size of roughly one inch. However he’s additionally clear that there aren’t any revealed research but to supply particular set lengths, so that is only a generalized guideline. 

Linda Easton, ICMG, who runs Worldwide Skilled Groomers (IPG), has additionally had an extended and distinguished profession exhibiting canines. She teaches usually concerning the significance of defending canines’ thinner pores and skin and important Langerhans cells by leaving some protective-length coat. In canines that obtain haircuts, Linda encourages groomers to guage the person coloration, texture and thickness of the coat when deciding size, however recommends no shorter than a #4 blade. If the coat is thinner and lighter in coloration, extra size is required for the coat to guard the pores and skin.


The explanation that there isn’t any one precise size shorter than which groomers mustn’t go is as a result of there are such a lot of variations of texture, thickness and coloring in canines’ vastly different coats. Grooming just isn’t “one dimension (or reduce) matches all.” Good groomers differentiate their grooming primarily based on that canine’s coat kind. Artistry apart, to stop pores and skin cancers and different well being considerations, we should first work to guard what the canine’s coat does for its pores and skin.

The primary tenet concerning protecting size of coat ought to be to know that solely hair-type canines (these with a UDL coat) ought to be trimmed in any respect—particularly on the higher torso the place the solar hits probably the most. This isn’t the case for fur-type (PDL) canines. 

However how quick are you able to go? 

The research cited earlier referred to “evenly pigmented” pores and skin as being extra in danger. That is true for people as properly. So, rule for haircut size is, the thinner, the lighter, the longer. Thinner hair protects pores and skin much less; lighter-colored hair protects pores and skin much less; due to this fact, extra size is probably the most protecting. 

One other useful rule is, depart as a lot hair as you may. Groomers are within the coat preservation enterprise, not the coat destroying enterprise. All of us should work with owner-length desire and grooming schedules. All of us battle the consequences of climate and puberty on a canine’s hair, which might range the lengths we’ve to chop. 

The one-inch suggestion could be essential for a canine with thinner, lighter hair. Thicker and darker hair may go shorter on the torso, however there the #4-blade-minimum suggestion could be essential to think about. Keep away from shaving canines down, but when it turns into medically essential to take action, be certain that the canine wears clothes outdoors or stays out of the solar till the coat regains a size to guard the pores and skin by itself. ✂️


  1. Immunophenotypic and ultrastructural proof of the langerhans cell origin of the canine cutaneous histiocytoma. 
  2. Daylight-skin most cancers affiliation within the canine: a report of three circumstances.
  3. Langerhans cells: an replace.
  4. Lower of e-cadherin expression in canine cutaneous histiocytoma seems to be associated to its spontaneous regression. material/29/7/2713 
  5. Animal mannequin: photo voltaic dermatosis (keratosis) and photo voltaic dermatosis with squamous cell carcinoma.

Jennifer Bishop-Jenkins, MA, ICMG, PGC, CCE

Jennifer is the proprietor of Love Fur Canine in Glencoe, Illinois, and was named Greatest Groomer in Chicagoland by the Chicago Tribune in 2015. Jennifer is an award profitable educator and has been a Grasp Groomer since 1985. Jennifer is a retired schoolteacher who has dabbled within the canine present world for forty years, the place she discovered to groom. Jennifer based the Illinois Skilled Pet Groomers Affiliation and is a part of the management staff for NAGA, the Nationwide Alliance of Grooming Associations. She is the creator of the acclaimed “Groomers Information To The 15 Coat Sorts” seminars, and a poster and guide of the identical identify. Her academically wealthy webinars could be discovered by visiting her web site at


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