If you are a dog parent, you are quite familiar with the fact that dogs are real shedding machines. You are probably also familiar with the perks and benefits of parenting a canine baby.
Dog hair covered clothes; dog hair covered furniture, and dog hairs in your food plates are not part of those perks and benefits.
However, shedding is a normal process. It comes alongside dogs, and we must accept that dogs and shedding are like a package deal; they always come together.
The only difference between different dogs is the shedding’s intensity and duration.
This article will explain why dogs shed, when the shedding is most pronounced, and which dogs are high and which low-shedders.
We will also review why some dog parents may find shedding problematic (besides the substantial duct tape supply need) and how to manage the shedding process successfully.
Why Dogs Shed?
Naturally, the hair grows skin pits called follicles. The follicles are modified skin formations, extended through both skin layers – the epidermis (thin outer layer) and dermis (thick inner layer).
Shedding is a naturally occurring process predetermined by the hair’s life cycle. The hair growth lifecycle occurs in four different stages:
- Stage 1: Anagen – also known as a rapid growth phase, the anagen is characterized by new hair growth.
- Stage 2: Catagen – also known as resting phase; catagen starts when the hair reaches its predetermined length, and during catagen, the hair rest (there is no growth at this point)
- Stage 3: Telogen – this phase is characterized by complete rest. The hair has finished its growth phase, but it has not started its shedding phase.
- Stage 4: Exogen – during this phase, the hair detaches from its anchor inside the follicle and falls out, or simply put – sheds. The dog performs certain activities on a daily basis, like rolling, licking, rubbing, that aid the exogen phase.
Simply put, dogs shed because each hair has a limited lifespan – it is predestined to grow, rest after reaching its growth potential and then eventually die and fall out.
The hair growth cycle is significantly affected by several environmental factors – mainly ambient temperature and changes in daylight duration.
The hair growth cycle is also influenced by genetic factors, stress, nutrition, and hormones.
Pathological Causes Of Shedding
Shedding can occur regardless of the hair’s natural growth cycle is triggered by the following factors:
- Poor grooming choices
Poor Grooming Choices
Using human shampoos on dogs and using cheap, low-quality dog shampoos are big yet quite common mistakes.
Both alternatives can trigger skin irritations followed by skin flaking, vigorous scratching, and intense shedding.
Human shampoos and cheap dog shampoos exert their negative impact by disrupting the skin’s protective acid mantle and leaving it vulnerable to insults.
Proper nutrition is the key not just to longevity but overall health too, and that includes hair quality. Nutritional deficiencies are linked with extensive shedding.
When someone mentions nutritional deficiency, the first thing that comes to mind is lack of food. However, dietary deficiencies can also occur if a dog eats substantial amounts of food, but the food is low-quality.
There is another contributing factor when it comes to dietary choices and shedding. As allergies in dogs are on the rise, many manufacturers offer gluten-free formulas.
Gluten-free diets, mainly if used for extended periods, can trigger more accented shedding.
Whether it is triggered by specific trauma or generalized distress due to separation anxiety, dogs can experience stress-triggered, excessive shedding.
Finding the stress trigger can be challenging and often requires professional help.
When Do Dogs Shed?
Most dogs experience their first shedding when around 6 months of age. Around this time, they start losing their puppy fur and start growing the new – adult fur.
Adult dogs may shed all year round or during shedding seasons. In dogs that shed seasonally, hair falls intensely twice per year – during spring and during fall.
In dogs with seasonal shedding, the shedding timing coincides with season changes. During spring, to prepare for the warm summer months, the hair becomes lighter.
On the other hand, during fall, to prepare for the winter chills, the hair becomes thicker. For the new hair to grow the old one must shed.
Ultimately, it is worth mentioning that pregnant and lactating bitches may experience excessive shedding due to pregnancy-related hormone imbalances.
Non-shedding Dogs Breeds
The terms non-shedding are low-shedding are often used interchangeably. However, that is a mistake – non-shedding is not the same as low-shedding.
Virtually, all hair-covered dogs shed. The only difference is the shedding’s intensity – some shed more, and some shed less.
Luckily, there are dog breeds that shed so little, chances are you will not even notice their shedding.
The only genuinely non-shedding dog breeds are the ones that have no hair at all, such as:
- Abyssinian Sand Terrier
- American Hairless Terrier
- Argentina Pila Dog
- Chinese Crested
- Hairless Khala
- Jonangi Dog
- Peruvian Inca Orchid
High-shedding Dog Breeds
The below-listed dog breeds are powerful shedding machines. Not only do they shed a lot but they do it almost all year round.
Here are the most profuse shedders of the canine world:
- Alaskan Malamute
- Australian Shepherd
- Belgian Malinois
- Bernese Mountain Dog
- Border Collie
- Chow Chow
- German Shepherd
- Golden Retriever
- Great Pyrenees
- Labrador Retriever
- Pekingese dog
- Saint Bernard
- Shetland Sheepdog
- Siberian Husky
- Shiba Inu
- Welsh Corgi
Low-shedding Dog Breeds
As mentioned, there is no such thing as a non-shedding dog breed. Well, that is if you prefer hair covered dogs over hairless breeds.
However, here is a list of dogs that do not shed a lot.
- Afghan Hound
- Bichon Frise
- Cotton de Tulear
- Giant Schnauzer
- Irish Water Spaniel
- Kerry Blue Terrier
- Lagoto Romagnolo
- Lhasa Apso
- Maltese Dog
- Miniature Schnauzer
- Portuguese Water Dog
- Scottish Terrier
- Shih Tzu
- Tibetan Terrier
- Wire Fox Terrier
- Yorkshire Terrier
Keep in mind that low-shedding is not the same as low-maintenance.
As a matter of fact, most low-shedding dog breeds have long hairs that require frequent haircuts and not very budget-friendly grooming sessions.
Regular brushing is the basis of minimizing shedding. The type of brush used is vital for achieving the best results.
Generally speaking, there are several types of different brushes:
- Slicker brush – suitable for all coat types. It detangles and removes dead hairs. It can be used as an everyday brush.
- Rubber brush – suitable for short and thick coats. It removes dead hairs and offers comfortable massages.
- Bristle brush – suitable for flat coats. It removes dead hairs and flattens the coat. It can be used as a finishing brush.
- Pin brush – suitable for medium to long, thick coats. It detangles and removes dead hair but does not detangle. It can be used daily.
- Comb – suitable for medium to long, flat coats. It detangles and de-mats.
- Rake – suitable for long-haired and double-coated dogs. It loosens the undercoat and detangles mats. It should be used gently and without applying too much pressure since it is quite stiff.
Additionally, it is advisable to use de-shedding tools such as Furminators (de-shedding brushes and gloves).
De-shedders can be used on all coat types. They are very efficient in removing the dead hair and the loose hair that is still attached.
If used weekly, the de-shedders can decrease the shedding by as much as 80%.
Last but not least, there are specifically formulated dog shampoos, conditioners, and moisturizers that speed up the shedding process.
Tips On How To Groom Your Dog At Home
All dogs need regular grooming. The only difference is the grooming session’s duration – from few moments to few hours.
When dealing with a dog that sheds, frequent grooming sessions are your best weapon against loose hairs and hair-covered floors and furniture.
Since professional grooming sessions usually come with a hefty price tag, here are some useful tips on how to groom your dog at home and save some money while spending quality time with your pouch.
Educate Yourself And Train Your Dog
It is advisable to research your dog’s breed and its coat type to learn what to expect of the grooming session and which tools you will need.
Different coat types require various tools. If you feel confused, schedule a professional grooming appointment for a one-time consultation.
You can read every grooming-related blog and article and even purchase the best grooming equipment available on the market, but if your dog does not want to be groomed, the grooming session is doomed.
Implement positive reinforcement techniques when teaching your dog to enjoy grooming sessions. Start the training process during puppyhood.
Do Not Forget To Brush Before Bathing
It is not advisable to bathe your dog without brushing it first. Brushing or combing helps mechanically remove the dirt from your dog’s coat while unclogging tangled hairs.
Keep in mind that you need to brush the entire dog – including the tricky parts such as face, tail, and legs.
Once brushed, the dog needs to be bathed. First, wet the hair coat thoroughly all the way to the skin with lukewarm water. Once the dog is well-soaked in water, apply the shampoo and let it stay for a while.
Then rinse it and remove the excess water with a towel. In the end, you can either let your dog dry naturally or use the hairdryer to speed up the process.
Always Use Appropriate Tools
Purchasing a good clipper is of paramount importance. High-quality dog clippers are quite expensive ($100 and above), but ultimately, the investment pays off.
Remember that some regions of your dog’s body (face, eyes, ear flaps and edges, armpits, belly, the underside of the neck, toes) are quite sensitive and require careful clipping.
Choosing the ideal pair of scissors is as essential as selecting the perfect clipper. There are many types of scissors (thinning, curved, straight, round-tipped), and they all serve different purposes. The straight scissors are a universal tool and can be used on most coat types.
Last but not least, consider getting a grooming table – it makes the restraining easier, and it is easy on your back.
Is Shaving The Solution To Shedding?
No, the best way of managing shedding is by using de-shedding tools and having your dog regularly brushed and groomed.
It is a popular misconception that shaving eliminates the shedding problem. Well, in the short term, it does – no hair on the dog means there will be no hair around it.
However, this quick, temporary solution has long-term consequences, especially in double-coated breeds.
Naturally, the undercoat and topcoat hair growth are synchronized.
When the hair is shaved, its growth cycle is disrupted. This makes the undercoat and topcoat hair grow without synchronization with each other.
Over time, the undercoat’s hair will mix with the topcoat’s hair resulting in a velcro-like coat. In a nutshell, once a double-coated dog is shaved, its fur will never grow back as it used to be.
The Problem With Shedding
Sometimes the problem with dog hair goes beyond dealing with fur covered environments. It is estimated that between 10% and 20% of the world’s population is allergic to dogs.
The incidence is even higher among people with preexisting respiratory conditions such as asthma.
Most people opt for low-shedding breeds to prevent allergies.
Although there is some truth behind this belief, it should be well-noted that allergic reactions cannot be triggered by dig hair.
In fact, the dog’s dander (dead skin cells that flake off) causes allergies. However, since dander travels through dog hair, getting a low shedding dog will decrease the risk of allergic reactions.
To eliminate allergic reaction risk, you will need a hypoallergenic dog breed. Hypoallergenic dogs, in addition to being low shedders, produce less dander than other dogs.
Prolific Shedding Vs. Fur Loss
We already established that shedding is a standard and well-expected process. For some dog breeds, even excessive shedding is normal. So, is there a time when excessive shedding can turn to fur loss?
Simply put, excessive shedding and fur loss are utterly different processes. Shedding depends on the natural hair growth cycle, while fur loss does not depend on seasons and hair cycles.
However, they can be mistaken at first glance, especially by first-time dog parents.
To make things simpler, it is worth mentioning that fur loss occurs due to a more severe underlying issue and is often accompanied by additional and troubling signs like:
- Broken fur
- Dry and brittle hair
- Uneven hair loss
- Clumps of fallen hair
- Bald patches
- Skin issues on the bald patches
Shedding is a transient and self-limiting process, while fur loss requires veterinary attention.
Shedding is a normal and genetically predetermined process that occurs in all dogs, except for the few hairless breeds. Some dogs are prolific shedders, while others do this subtly that is hard to notice.
If your dog is shedding too much or shedding during non-shedding seasons, do not hesitate to talk to your trusted vet. Make an appointment and have the vet perform a full physical examination.
Hopefully, the vet will rule out all potentially dangerous causes and put your mind at ease. However, you will still have to roll up your sleeves and start duct-taping hairs from all over your house.