Many dog owners dream of a magic pill meant to stop a dog from shedding excessively. It's unfortunate, but until that pill is invented, all that is left is left to do is investigate why a dog may be shedding excessively. Veterinarian Dr. Ivana shares reasons why dogs shed and what you can do about this "hairy situation."
The Truth About Non-Shedding Dogs
If you want to get a dog but live in an apartment or are sensitive to dog hairs, you have probably been advised to get a non-shedding dog breed. Sadly, non-shedding dog breeds are an urban myth.
Unless talking about hairless dog breeds, there is no such thing as non-shedding dogs. All dogs shed; what is different is the shedding intensity and frequency. While some dogs are real shedding machines, others shed rarely and minimally.
On the bright side, with proper grooming techniques and practices, you can successfully manage the shedding.
Once again, do not get me wrong; your heavy-shedder dog will not magically stop shedding. However, you can reasonably decrease the shedding and keep it in the manageable range.
The Phases of Shedding in Dogs
Shedding is a natural and utterly normal process resulting from the hair’s life cycle. The hair’s life cycle is genetically predetermined and includes four distinct phases:
· The Anagen phase which manifests with the growth of new hair
-The Catagen phase which takes place when the newly grown hair reaches its predetermined length
-The Telogen phase which takes place when the hairs rest
-The Exogen phase which occurs when the hair loosens and falls out
Many factors predetermine the hair’s life cycle, but the most important one is when the daylight decreases or increases. That is why in most dogs, shedding occurs twice per yea: in early spring and late autumn to be exact.
How to Stop a Dog From Shedding Excessively
While you cannot stop a stop from shedding, you can stop a dog from shedding excessively by using some efficient strategies in the battle against loose hairs. Here are several ways to stop a dog from shedding excessively so that you won't have to sweep up piles of hair.
The Importance of Regular Brushing
The foundation of managing a shedding dog is regular and thorough brushing. However, simple brushing is not enough – your brushing tools bag should include several different types of brushes. The basic brushing set consists of the following types of brushes:
• Slicker brush. This type of brush is suitable for all coats, and is used to remove dead hairs and to detangle hair matts. You can safely use the slicker brush as an everyday brush.
• Pin brush. This brush is best suited for thick and medium to long coats. It removes dead hairs, but is not efficient in detangling hair matts.
• Bristle brush. This brush is designed for flat coats and can be used to flatten the coat and remove dead hairs. You can use the bristle brush at the end of the session to give a finishing touch.
• Rubber brush. This brush is intended for thick and short coats. In addition to removing the dead hairs, you can use this brush to treat your dog with a relaxing massage.
• Comb. The comb is suitable for flat, medium, to long coats. You can use the comb to both detangle and de-mat.
• Rake. The rake is designed for double-layered and long coats. You can use the rake to detangle mats and loosen the undercoat. Just be careful when using the rake, as too much pressuring can damage your dog’s sensitive skin.
There is a popular misconception that frequent bathing dries the skin and makes the hair brittle. As long as you use high-quality grooming products (shampoos and conditioners) formulated specifically for your dog’s coat type, bathing can be a good strategy in managing loose hairs.
Use a De-shedding Tool
The popular de-shedding tool, the Furminator, is really miraculous when it comes to managing shedding dogs. In fact, if used weekly, the Furminator can decrease the shedding intensity by as much as 80 percent!
However, it should be noted that this tool is intended solely for single-coated dogs. In dogs with double-layered coats, de-shedding devices can cause permanent hair damage.
Add Supplements to the Dog's Diet
The ideal supplement for an extensively shedding dog is fish oil. This is because fish oil is packed with omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA which reduce the shedding intensity and frequency.
Fish oil can be found in a liquid form, in capsules or infused in dog-friendly treats. Alternatively, instead of using fish oil supplements you can add salmon to your dog’s menu.
Invest in Special Grooming Products
The modern market offers plenty of grooming products, such as shampoos, moisturizers, and conditioners, formulated specifically to speed up the shedding process and protect healthy hairs.
A Word of Caution
There is a popular misconception which states that trimming and shaving are good techniques to manage a dog's shedding.
While medium and long, single-coated breeds can be trimmed to even out the coat and get rid of loose hairs, shaving a double-coated dog may have long-term consequences on its coat. Namely, the shaved fur may never re-grow normally.
Medical Causes of Shedding in Dogs
As noted, shedding is a natural and completely normal process. Based on the breed, you can expect even extensive shedding. However, it would help if you differentiated between cyclic shedding and fur loss.
Fur loss does not depend on the hair growth cycle and is triggered by an underlying medical issue.
The common signs indicating your dog is experiencing fur loss include:
- Broken fur
- Clumps of lost hair
- Dry and brittle hair
- Uneven hair loss and eventually bald patches
- Additional skin issues where the fur is lost.
A dog experiencing fur loss needs veterinary attention. Some underlying causes can be benign and self-limited, while others are more serious and prompt quick and adequate addressing.
For instance, if you notice fur loss over your dog's tail, this can be due to hormonal imbalances. The most frequently reported hormonal imbalances in dogs include hypothyroidism and Cushing's disease (hyperadrenocorticism).
An underactive thyroid gland, hypothyroidism, will result in a deficiency of thyroid hormones. Sadly, hypothyroidism is reported to affect one out of 250 dogs. In four out of five sufferers, hypothyroidism is an immune-mediated disease in which the thyroid is attacked and destroyed by the dog's immune system.
More widespread hair loss can be seen in many other conditions. Blue Doberman syndrome, also known as color dilution alopecia, is an inherited disorder that occurs in color diluted (gray/blue or red/fawn) dogs. It manifests with alopecia (hair loss) at the dilute-colored areas of the body.
There can be a vey long list of medical causes that can trigger fur loss in dogs. Regardless of the shedding season, if your dog shows some of the above-listed signs, call your trusted vet and schedule an appointment.
What Dog Breeds Don't Shed?
As mentioned, the only truly non-shedding dogs are the hairless breeds. These breeds have no hair or they may have minimal hair.
- Abyssinian Sand Terrier
- American Hairless Terrier
- Argentina Pila Dog
- Chinese Crested
- Hairless Khala
- Jonangi Dog
- Peruvian Inca Orchid
What Dog Breeds are Low-Shedding?
Low-shedding dogs shed so little, chances are, you will not even notice they are changing their coats. The group of low-shedding dogs includes the following breeds:
- Afghan Hound
- Bedlington Terrier
- Bichon Frise
- Bouvier des Flandres
- Brussels Griffon
- Cairn Terrier
- Cotton de Tulear
- Giant Schnauzer
- Irish Water Spaniel
- Kerry Blue Terrier
- Lagotto Romagnolo
- Lhasa Apso
- Miniature Schnauzer
- Portuguese Water Dog
- Scottish Terrier
- Shih Tzu
- Tibetan Terrier
- Wheaten Terrier
- Wire Fox Terrier
- Yorkshire Terrier
What Dog Breeds are Heavy-Shedding?
Some dog breeds will shed more than others. Heavy-shedding dog breeds are definitely high-maintenance when it comes to managing the shedding. The group of heavy-shedding dogs includes the following breeds:
- Alaskan Malamute
- Australian Shepherd
- Belgian Malinois
- Bernese Mountain Dog
- Border Collie
- Chow Chow
- German Shepherd
- Golden Retriever
- Great Pyrenees
- Labrador Retriever
- Saint Bernard
- Shetland Sheepdog
- Siberian Husky
- Welsh Corgi.
The shedding period can be tricky, but it is not unmanageable, especially if practicing the right approach. However, if you suffer from allergies, you should carefully consider your decision to get a shedding dog.
Given the fact that there are other contributing factors to dog allergies (such as dander and saliva), the amount of shed hair is not the key determinant.