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Why Do Dogs Shed?

Some breeds of dogs, such as Labrador Retrievers, Newfoundlands, and Pekingese, shed a lot. Others, like Dachshunds, Poodles, and Border Terriers, don’t shed as much. There are various reasons why some dogs shed while others do not. But what are these reasons and how should you pick your next dog?

Shedding is an important part of most dogs’ skin and fur health. Dogs shed their hair to get rid of old or damaged hair. The amount of fur shed by a dog is determined by the breed, the time of year, and whether the dog has a single or double layer of fur.

Can You Stop Your Dog From Shedding?

It is impossible to stop a dog from shedding. However, you can select a dog that sheds less. In reality, there are no hypoallergenic dogs that do not shed at all, but some cause fewer problems than others. Dogs that are deemed hypoallergenic have more human-like hair, produce less dander than other dogs, and rarely sheds.

As a result, they are ideal pets for people who are allergic to pet dander or fur. These types of dogs are also excellent companions for dog owners who dislike the mess shedding creates.

Among these dog breeds are:

  • Afghan Hound
  • Bichon Frise
  • Chinese Crested
  • Maltese 
  • Schnauzer
  • Poodle
  • Portuguese Water Dog

Many owners look for dogs bred with these qualities, such as the poodle. There is no guarantee, however, that doodle mixes will not shed. However, they are unlikely to shed as much as most dogs.

What to Expect and How to Handle Dog Shedding

Different dog breeds shed in a variety of ways: some shed seasonally, while others shed all year. This is determined by the type of coat your dog has. A Golden Retriever, for example, has a thicker double coat and is more likely to shed all year.

If your dog sheds seasonally, you’ll notice that most shedding occurs in the spring and fall. In preparation for the warmer weather, your dog’s coat will lighten in the spring. Similarly, as your dog prepares for winter in the fall, you will notice a change in his coat and an increase in shedding.

Brushing dogs who shed frequently is important. Brush them out weekly or even a few times a week. During heavy shedding season, daily brushing is required. Even if your dog does not shed a lot, brushing and grooming them on a regular is still vital to keep their coats tangle-free. How often you groom them depends on their coat type.

What Kind of Brush Should You Be Using for Your Dog?

Choosing the right brush can help to groom, especially if your dog sheds a lot.

For short-coated dogs such as Beagles, Pugs, and German Shorthaired Pointers:

  • A natural-bristle brush, or even a hound mitt or glove with bristles on the palm, can do an excellent job loosening and releasing dead hair.
  • Brush the coat first in the opposite direction of hair growth to remove dead hair, then in the direction of hair growth to remove it. Repeat this process several times to remove the hair and distribute the natural oils from the skin throughout the coat.
  • Massage the coat in a circular motion with a hound mitt or glove to loosen hair, then brush in the direction of hair growth. Repeat several times, especially if there is a lot of shedding.

Dogs with longer coats, particularly those with a downy undercoat beneath a harder outer coat, such as Pomeranians, Collies, and Pembroke Welsh Corgis:

  • You’ll need a tool to reach down beneath the outer coat and grab the downy undercoat, allowing you to pull out the dead hairs. Slicker brushes are ideal for these dogs. Go over the coat a few times in both directions until you pull out less hair from the brush.
  • Use a coat rake or shedding tool when the shedding ramps up, especially with double-coated breeds of dogs. In general, you pull the tool along the coat toward hair growth, then pull it up and away. However, each one works differently. Only push a little hard when shedding bladed tools. If you come across any mats or tangles, remove them with a mat splitter or a steel comb.

Excessive shedding can be caused by underlying endocrine disorders such as hypothyroidism or congenital problems such as follicular dysplasia. It is also possible that your dog has allergies, which can cause skin and shedding issues. Consult your veterinarian if you suspect your dog has a skin problem.

Otherwise, regular brushing, combing, and using pore- and follicle-dilating shampoos and baths are the most effective ways to combat shedding. Some dogs are even vacuumable!

How Important is Nutrition When it Comes to Shedding?

A dog will get the vitamins and nutrients needed to keep its hair follicles growing strong and resistant to breakage if it eats a portion of balanced dog food. Omega-3 fatty acid supplements benefit some dogs’ joints, heart, and immune health in addition to helping them grow healthy hair. Consult your veterinarian before giving your dog supplements to find out the advantages for your dog.

Why is Hydration Important?

It can be challenging to gauge how much your dog is drinking, but if they are shedding more than usual, you should keep an eye on their water bowl. A dog should generally drink one ounce of water for every pound of body weight daily. Accordingly, a 10-pound dog requires just a little more than a cup of fresh water. The amount of loose fur you have to clean up around the house can quickly increase due to dehydrated skin, which is a major contributor to hair loss.

When Do You Need to Be Concerned About Your Dog’s Hair Loss?

Excessive shedding is a daily occurrence for some dog breeds. Pay attention to seasonal changes in your dog’s shedding as a dog owner, so you know when something is wrong with your pet.

Hair loss that exceeds your dog’s normal shedding can indicate a variety of health problems, including:

  • Parasites like fleas, mites, or lice
  • Infections caused by bacteria
  • Infections caused by fungi
  • Allergies
  • Kidney failure
  • Liver problems
  • Thyroid or adrenal dysfunction
  • Pregnancy
  • Medication side effects
  • Stress or anxiety
  • Cancer
  • Immune disorder
  • Sunburn
  • Topical irritants

If your dog is losing more hair than usual, has inflamed skin or brittle fur, is scratching excessively, or has bald patches, take them to their vet.

Why is Shedding Management Important?

Shedding can be inconvenient, but grooming your dog has benefits beyond simply reducing the amount of fur in your home. Brushing and bathing your dog can be enjoyable and give you time to bond. It’s also a great time to check your dog for new bumps, parasites, or dry skin. Grooming results in a happier, healthier dog, and less shedding.

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