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For an update to this post with photos, please see the November 21, 2012 post, “My Pomeranian’s Fur Grew Back.”

If you’re one of my Facebook friends, you know how much I love my tan Pomeranian, Molly. Like a proud parent, I post status updates and, perhaps, far too many pictures of my gorgeous girl. This past weekend, I did something for the very first time, something  I will never do again: I took her to the groomers where she was shaved. The shock of it has now settled in and I feel the need for this mea culpa.  Truly, I am ashamed and saddened that I did not do more to inform myself before consenting to a grooming procedure that would drastically change Molly and emotionally scar me.

Firstly, I took Molly to the groomer’s because too often her poop would get stuck to her hind fur and I’d have to pick it off or carry her home to rinse her tail area in the sink. A neighbor, who also has a Pom (with a lion cut), suggested I take Molly to the neighborhood grooming salon a few blocks down 8th St/Barracks Row in Eastern Market. They would be able to fix that problem, she said.  I asked, What is she supposed to look like, like yours (with the lion cut) or like this (full fluff).  She pointed at Molly.  On Saturday morning, I took Molly to the salon whose name shall not be mentioned, but it’s location is at the end of 8th Street near Zest.  There, I explained the poop-in-fur problem and asked that they clip her claws, too. As the lead groomer (the mother of a mother-son team) held Molly, she felt knots or “bath mats” — matted fur that has tangled together after many baths — on her backside. They’ve been there since I got her, I said, adding that there were two more behind her ears. I explained that I didn’t know how to untangle the matted hair and I was afraid to cut them off. The mother groomer said the mats were so bad they would have to be shaved off, but that shaving them would leave large bald spots, so it would be best to shave her entire body and start fresh. My first response was, “I love how fluffy she is!” The groomer assured me Molly’s fur would grow back, and she emphasized that the mats would only get worse. I felt I needed to do what was best for Molly, not knowing if the mats were uncomfortable and not knowing how bad they could get, so I consented to the shaving. The mother groomer gave me a form to sign (I now know it was a release form) and she put Molly in a kennel similar to the one I found her in at the Humane Society when I adopted her in July 2011. Molly yelped, and I wondered if she was having flashbacks to the last time her previous owner left her somewhere strange like this. The groomer said it would be best for me to act like nothing is wrong and to leave without saying good bye, so Molly wouldn’t be anxious about being left behind. (I’ve read similar tips for leaving Poms at home during working hours, so I trusted that the groomer knew what she was talking about.)

I left Molly at 11:00 a.m. with plans to pick her up at 6 p.m. The day at home alone was sad and quiet, as I kept expecting Molly to jump onto the sofa to cuddle with me. This was the first time since one weekend a few months ago that we have been apart, which may sound ridiculous to the non-dog/non-pet owner single person who lives alone, but one really does grow attached to the company dogs provide. And I was also worried, Molly’s appointment with the groomer’s had been something I’d been looking forward to, but did I mean to get the service I ended up getting?  The worry drove me sick to my stomach.

At 6:00 p.m., I walked down the busy 8th Street shopping district, nervous and scared, wondering: What would she look like? Would her new appearance change the way I feel about her? How would she feel about her new cut? I thought of the neighbor’s Pom with the lion’s cut, so I had a sense of what Molly might look like, but nothing could have prepared me for what I would see. When I entered the salon, she was still on the table with the groomer’s son, who was finishing up clipping her ploomed tail. She hopped a bit, happy to see me, and I shouted, “She looks so different!” The statement was said more as a matter of surprise and fact than of any disapproval or judgement, but the mother groomer quickly took a tone: “That’s why I asked you if you were sure.” (By the way, I don’t remember her asking me this question.) Now the form requiring my signature made sense; I had signed a form releasing liability for this drastic cut, this transformational body shave. Indeed, Molly no longer had any of the fluff that is so characteristic of her breed. She really did look so different.

There Molly stood, on the table, tiny and white, so tiny I realized how much of her presence depended on her glorious blonde coat. The son released her, she ran to me, and we hugged. I held her and patted her back and put her down so she could dance and spin the way she does when she’s happy to see me. The mother groomer, from the side of the room, instructed me not to say anything to Molly about her cut because she would feel ashamed and embarrassed. Again, the groomer’s sensitivity here appealed to my natural sensitivity, so I just said, “Hi, my gorgeous girl!” just as I would say when first seeing her upon coming home after work or when she enters a room to join me.

I paid the $90 bill and we walked home. Molly seemed smaller and more spry than before, or perhaps it was just that I could now see her body’s muscles and her long legs in quick action. With all their fur, Pomeranians seem short and chubby, but in fact, their torsos are long and lean and their legs are tall and thin. Once I got her home, she was more playful and her claws didn’t get stuck in her fur, making for no stumbles when running around the living room or when jumping onto the sofa.

That was Saturday.  Now a few days later, I must admit I miss the ball of fur that essentially defined Molly’s look. Let me assure you, I am treating her with the same love as before. We still share our daily cuddles, playtime, and talks that we’ve always shared, but in the secret of my heart, I can’t help but see her as a very different dog. Her Pomeranian fluff is gone.  She’s Molly but not Molly.  On Tuesday night the cutting away of her fur finally hit me, and I cried, a lot.  There’s a strong sense of loss here for me, and it hurts.

I’ve looked online to see how long it will take for a Pomeranian’s fur to grow back, and the answers range from 1 month, 6 months, one year, and this dreaded answer: “it will never grow back the same.” Some websites even chastise the owners for shaving Poms, accusing us of doing so for easy breeding or because we’re lazy about the daily brushing demands. Not true. In fact, Molly has been spayed and one of my evening pleasures is to sit with her and brush her coat. Some sites also admonish the grooming salons for not informing owners fully or for taking advantage of owners’ ignorance, thereby putting profits over dogs’ needs. Some sites had discussion boards hat told story after heartbreaking story of an owner leaving a Pom at a salon only to return to get the shock of her Pom-owning-life. The stories’ endings varied, too, with a Pom’s full coat growing back, not growing back, or growing back in patches, revealing a disorder that Poms can only get after being shaved. The stories made me feel like crying again.

I blame myself for losing Molly’s fluffy coat because I didn’t do my research. I talked to one source, an owner who prefers the lion cut, but I didn’t read any expert sources that could tell me whether or not such cuts were right for the Pom (I  now know it is never right to cut a Pom’s hair especially into a shaved lion’s cut). The heat and humidity of D.C.’s summer are coming along, so the idea of shortening her hair for comfort made me feel better until I remembered the people at the Humane Society telling me Poms have two coats designed to keep them comfortable in any weather condition (some websites confirm this). A Pom website points out that, except for walks, Poms spend all day indoors, so nothing much changes for them temperature/comfort-wise in the summer; therefore, there would be no need for a sever cut.

One Pom owner’s story claimed the Pom herself “knew” she had lost something special and was sad about it. I can see this as a possibility as dogs are incredibly perceptive, but I also see the groomer’s point that if the owner feeds negative energy to the dog, the dog will respond negatively. So far, Molly doesn’t seem to discern any difference aside from finding it easier to run and play (her hair was so long she sometimes tripped on it).  This sensitivity toward the dog is important, but it is also important to know exactly what kind of effect a complete cut might have on the owner. After all, unlike people, dogs only want love and affection and are unaware of their appearance and care nothing of vanity. Vanity is human, and I’m aware this is partially why I mourn.

This experience has taught me about the importance of talking thoroughly with a groomer. I can ask as many questions as I need to ask to understand what kind of service she will be giving my dog; this is especially important when a release form is required for service. Also, I know now to be as clear and as specific as possible with the services I want my dog to receive: only clip the claws and only shave around the anus; leave the bath mats; I’ll work on those slowly with brushing. (Honestly, I thought the salon would have a special shampoo that removes bath mats instead of shaving the fur away.) Finally, the most important lesson I learned, and I learned the hard way, never shave a Pomeranian.  Doing so has hurt me more than I ever realized it would.  I have lost the fluffy coat which I also didn’t realize I took so much pride and pleasure in.

I love Molly. That goes without saying. She’s still the same playful, cuddly, quiet listener that stares at me hours on end from her side of the couch or the bed. Molly’s essence is within, not outside on her coat.  But her coat was special maybe not to her, but definitely to me, and I only learned this after it was gone.  I still look at Molly with the same adoring eyes as before, but I also look ahead to the 6-month mark, and I trust that by then, mother nature will have taken her course and she’ll present us with progress in Molly’s coat. When her coat comes back, I will be the only person allowed to groom her, my gorgeous girl. And will I ever shave her or recommend shaving another Pomeranian? No, not at all.  Never again.

For an update to this post with photos, please see the November 21, 2012 post, “My Pomeranian’s Fur Grew Back.”

16 thoughts on “Never Shave a Pomeranian: Learning the Hard Way Hurts

    • i so know what you are saying …….my pom will be 5 in aug and has been getting the puppy cut for along time. He just had his last cut in april and he is now left with only his undercoat i am so upset my babys coat is riuned .I did not know it could just happen as it always grew back just perfect before ,had i known i would have not done it . he is left with just his undercoat and looks like a homeless dog that is not taken care of . I love my baby and feel so bad i did this to him anyway i just needed to vent

  1. Pteggo and Kat: I’m happy to say Molly’s fur has grown back in full. I noticed it this morning after having given her a bath last night. She is back to being a fluff ball. I’ll write an update and post a picture soon. (It’s funny, whenever I give her a bath, she shrinks down to that tiny size she was when she had the lion cut. It’s a reminder to never do that again.)

  2. Pingback: My Pomerian’s Fur Grew Back! | Untying My Hands

  3. Pingback: My Pomeranian’s Fur Grew Back! | Untying My Hands

  4. I shaved my 11 year old Pom 7 months ago. Her fur has grown back on her legs but not her body. She looks terrible. Now, since she doesn’t have fur, I have a sweater on her because she’s so cold here in the winter.

      • I took her (and 3 others) to the vet Monday and he said she had a messed up Thyroid!! I got some medicine to give her for hypothyroidism… 1/2 table in am and 1/2 at night…. He said that would bring all her fur back after about a month….. :)

  5. I totally feel your pain and guilt. I am going through that right now with my adorable Pom Mix. we took her to a local groomer (chain store) and they cut her fur back to the undercoat. she looks like a teddy bear, a completely different dog. she used to look like a furry fox. I love her so much but so badly miss her fluffy fox look. I read your update and am elated that your dogs fur is growing back. gives me hope that little Izzy will once again look like herself. No one will ever cut fur again, I promised her that.

    • I feel you on the guilt part. I felt like I had made such a big mistake, and I couldn’t bare to look at Molly (when she had the lion cut) without apologizing. It wasn’t her fault. :-( Now we’re past it, but I wish I had done more research before I made the mistake. We live and learn, I guess. Best to you and Izzy (great name).

  6. I’m a professional dog groomer and I have to say that although I try my best to advise against shaving Poms, sometimes it has to be done. The animal welfare act means that groomers have a duty to return a dog to you with no mats in its coat. Mats are uncomfortable, pull at the skin and in some cases can tighten so badly that the dog is left with open sores. They can’t just be left with an owner in the hope that the owner will remove them – it was down to the owner that the mats were allowed to form in the first place.

    What Pom owners (and all dog owners) need to do is research the correct grooming methods to avoid these mats happening in the first place. It is hard to see and groomers don’t enjoy shaving dogs, but it is an animal welfare concern to have matted dogs. Your dog will now have a coat that is mat free and hopefully will be kept that way as it grows back in x

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