You love your dog's long hair, even though it requires extra grooming efforts on your part. Hairstyles or cuts for long-haired dogs depend on your dog's breed and his coat texture. In hot weather, or if you live in a warm climate, you might opt for a shorter cut than is standard for your pet. While you can do minor trimming yourself, for best results take your dog to the groomer.
American Kennel Club Standards
If you show your long-haired dog, you must groom him according to American Kennel Club standards. For example, the AKC standard for the long-haired Afghan hound requires that the coat stay in its natural state, without trimming or clipping. The tiny, white Maltese' long, silky coat should reach the ground. The keeshond breed standard warns that anything other than minor trimming of this furry dog's legs and feet shall be "severely penalized." If you don't show your dog, the type of hairstyle or cut doesn't really matter, as long as the dog is comfortable.
If you don't show your dog, your groomer might trim and thin your dog's hair to make him more comfortable in hot weather. These "puppy" or "teddy bear" cuts also make your dog's hair easier for you to manage. While his hair is shorter, it's still nicely shaped with these simple hairstyles. These trims work well with thick coats, and there is no shaving involved.
To Shave or Not to Shave
In hot and humid weather, you might be tempted to shave your long-haired dog to provide him heat relief. That's not always a good idea. If you do want to give your dog a short cut, do so before summer's heat is in full sway. Otherwise, your dog could develop sunburn. If your dog has a single coat -- as is the case with poodles or bichon frises -- the hair will grow back normally. If your dog sports a double coat, consisting of an undercoat and topcoat, shaving could cause permanent coat abnormalities. The topcoat also helps cool dogs naturally, although it might not appear that way to humans.
If you own a long-haired, wire-coated breed, your pet's hair requires stripping rather than cutting. That means plucking out old hairs on the topcoat, which allows new hair to grow in. You can do this in one session -- which is time-consuming -- or remove a section of hair daily over the course of a week. The latter method is known as "rolling the coat." If you aren't comfortable with stripping your dog's coat, take him to the groomer.