Dog Shedding

Shedding is a natural process for dogs — though sometimes it’s frustrating for their humans. For most dogs, shedding is an essential part of their skin and fur health. Dogs rid themselves of old or otherwise damaged hair by shedding it.

The amount of fur a dog sheds depends on the breed of dog, the time of year, and whether they have a single or double layer of fur.

Can I Prevent My Dog from Shedding?

You can’t keep a dog from shedding. But you can choose a dog that doesn't shed as much. There's no such thing as a hypoallergenic dogs but some cause fewer problems than others. They have hair that is more similar to human hair, produce less dander than other dogs, and don’t shed.

Because of this, they make ideal pets for people who experience allergies to pet dander or pet fur. They also make great companions for dog owners who don't like the mess that shedding can cause.

These dog breeds include the:

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

Many dog owners seek out dogs that are bred with these breeds, like the poodle. However, there is no guarantee that a “doodle” mix won’t shed. It’s likely, though, that they won’t shed as much as most dogs.

How Can I Manage My Dog’s Shedding?

While you can’t stop shedding in any dog, there are steps you can take to make it manageable:

Brush your dog’s coat. Every dog has a unique coat. It’s important to choose the right brush for their particular fur:

  • Bristle brushes are a great choice for all coat types. For a longer coat, rely on long bristles. For shorter-haired dogs, pick a stiff brush.
  • Wire-pin brushes are the perfect choice for woolly or curly coats that need detangling. 
  • Slicker brushes are best used on dogs who are prone to mats and tangles. 
  • Rubber curry combs can be used on short-haired dogs or to massage any dog’s skin. Combs help remove dander, dead skin, and old hair. Many dogs love the feeling of being brushed with a rubber comb, which acts as a gentle massager.

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Use a shedding tool. Shedding tools are useful whether your dog sheds seasonally or year-round. Shedding tools make it easy to remove dead hair from your dog before they become tumbleweeds in your home. Shedding tools are brushes with stainless steel tines, which are perfect for pulling up and removing your dog’s extra undercoat fur. Using a shedding tool can help remove dead hair before it’s shed from your dog.

Feed your dog a healthy diet . When your dog gets good nutrition, their hair follicles become more resilient. Strong follicles can help minimize extra shedding caused by undernourished fur. 

Keep your pup hydrated. Make sure your dog always has fresh water. It’s essential to their overall health, and it can also keep their skin hydrated. Dehydrated skin can exacerbate shedding and hair loss.

Bathe your pooch regularly. Bathtime not only keeps your dog clean, but it helps remove excess and dead hair before it falls. A deshedding shampoo can help ease shedding even more.   

When Should I Be Worried About Hair Loss?

For some dog breeds, excessive shedding is a part of their daily life! As a dog owner, pay attention to the seasonal changes in your dog’s shedding, so you know when something is amiss with your pet.

Hair loss that reaches beyond your dog’s normal shedding can indicate health issues such as:

  • Parasites like fleas, mites, or lice
  • Bacterial infections
  • Fungal infections
  • Allergies
  • Food allergies
  • Kidney disease
  • Liver conditions
  • Thyroid or adrenal issues
  • Pregnancy
  • Side-effects from medication
  • Anxiety or stress
  • Cancer
  • Immune disease
  • Sunburn
  • Topical irritants

Take your dog to the vet if you notice more hair loss than usual, inflamed skin, brittle fur, excessive scratching, or bald patches. 

Benefits of Managing Shedding

Shedding can be a nuisance, but spending time grooming your pup has benefits beyond just reducing the amount of fur in your home. Taking the time to brush and bathe your pup can be fun and gives you time to bond. It also gives you a great opportunity to check your dog for new bumps, parasites, or dry skin. The result of grooming is a happy, healthy dog — and less shedding.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Amy Flowers, DVM on June 30, 2021

Sources

SOURCES:

AKC: “6 Tips to Control Dog Shedding,” “Dog Breeds That Don’t Shed.”

ASPCA: “Dog Grooming Tips.”

Genes: “Hair of the Dog: Identification of a Cis-Regulatory Module Predicted to Influence Canine Coat Composition.”

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