Just as the falling and sprouting of leaves is seasonal, so is an animal’s shedding process. As the days get shorter, more leaves are on the ground… and more of your pet’s fur is on the floor. On the other hand, increasing day length in the spring stimulates hair growth.
Cats and dogs that are indoors most of the time will shed more lightly and regularly throughout the year because their temperature and access to light are controlled. But if your cat or dog spends most of his or her time outdoors, you’ll likely notice quite a bit more shedding each spring and winter.
Why Dogs Shed
To understand why shedding occurs, it’s important to learn the role hair plays for a dog. First, the hair’s most important function is keeping your dog’s skin, his most vital organ, protected from elements, such as the sun, heat, cold, and more. Hair also keeps your dog’s body temperature regulated. Some dogs that shed have thick undercoats that act as insulation to keep your pet both warm and cool, just as insulation keeps your home warm and cool year-round.
Like humans, a dog’s hair grows all the time. As the hair stops growing at the end of its natural life cycle, it breaks off. The amount of shedding can vary based on breed, season, or health. Some dogs are heavier shedders than others. Also, a common misconception is that shedding depends on your dog’s coat length, but that is not true. Shedding varies between breeds more than hair length. While a haircut of a long-haired dog will ultimately result in less shedding for a time, it doesn’t mean he doesn’t shed, it just may result in less volume of hair to clean up after.
Shedding is important for dogs so that new, healthy hair can grow. However, if your dog leaves much of his hair behind on your belongings, there are steps you can take to slow the shedding. Grooming your dog in your home will help remove hair before it can find its way into every nook and cranny. Brushing removes loose hair on your own terms. It’s good for the hair, coat and the skin. Plus, like cats, many dogs enjoy being brushed. Grooming your dog is a bonding experience too. If possible, brush your dog daily. If not, make it a priority a few times a week. There are also deshedding tools that can help make removing the excess hair a little bit easier so you don’t have to vacuum constantly. Certain shampoos are good for your dog’s skin and coat, which can make them healthier and result in less shedding.
Not all that shed, shed the same
The amount of shedding varies widely from breed to breed. If a dog has a double-layered coat, the undercoat tends to be much thicker in the winter as well. A double coat has one soft undercoat that serves as insulation and a coarser topcoat that helps repel water and shield off dirt.
Dogs with a double coat usually drop their undercoats twice a year, while their topcoat falls once a year. If both coats shed at once, the fur comes out in tufts, which is called “blowing a coat.” Single-coated dogs don’t have an insulating undercoat, so there is not as much shedding.
10 Most Common Dogs That Shed
- Saint Bernard
- Great Pyrenees
- Chow Chow
- Siberian Husky
- Golden Retriever
- German Shepherd
- Labrador Retriever
- Alaskan Malamute
- Alaskan Husky
10 Non-Shedding Dogs (Well, Really, Dogs That Just Shed Less!)
There’s no such thing a completely non-shedding dog, but here are the ten dogs that shed the least. Many (though not all) of the dogs on this list tend to be easier on people coping with dog allergies, but there is no such thing as a completely hypoallergenic dog.
- Cairn Terrier
- Airedale Terrier
- Boston Terrier
- Yorkshire Terrier
- Chinese Crested
- Bichon Frise
The Causes Behind Excessive Shedding
There are myriad reasons why a dog or cat sheds excessively. One of the first things to do if it occurs is to look at the animal’s hair. Does it have a healthy sheen? Does the skin beneath the fur appear normal, or is it flaky, dry, or discolored?
Shedding is controlled by hormonal changes that are affected by changes in daylight. As the days get shorter, many dogs and cats shed their summer coats so a heavier, thicker, protective coat can grow in for the winter. Though the coat that is shedding is the lighter summer coat, it can still be surprising to pet owners that their pet is shedding so much just before the winter.
In the spring, the winter coat sheds to make way for the lighter, summer coat. The difference in the two seasonal events is that, because the winter coat is much thicker, there will be much more fur falling in the spring.
Other causes of excessive shedding include:
- Feeding an Imbalanced Diet
- Using the Wrong Shampoo
- Stress at Home
- Skin Parasites
- Hormonal Imbalances, Tumors, and Other Underlying Diseases
How to Keep Your House Clean
There are many options for cleaning up any dog hair in your home. To protect couches, chairs, and beds, throw blankets can catch stray hairs. The ultimate tool to remove shedding is a vacuum that works on wood, tiles, and carpet. Use any attachments to clean cushions, or any dust-and-hair collecting areas of your home. For wood or tiled flooring, a regular or dusting broom will pick up unwanted hair. Use a wet paper towel to help pick up the loose hair. Lint rollers work well to remove hair from clothing and curtains. Also, good air filters in the home will help trap hair particles that get into the air. This not only helps keep your house cleaner, but it can also be a great benefit to anyone with dog allergies that might enter your home.