Why do dogs shed or lose their hair? Is there a Dog that doesn’t shed?
All Dogs shed, moult or lose their hair in the same way that we do, contrary to many beliefs and opinions.
The amount of fur and how often varies greatly for each dog and depending on their breed.
There are many factors involved such as:
- Place of Origin
- The surrounding temperature and time of year
- The dog’s diet
- The condition of their coat/hair
- How often they are groomed
- The health of the dog
The shedding process…
When dogs shed their hair or coat, the old or damaged fur comes out to makes way for their new coat.
Their coat is there to protect them from the weather and other elements. It acts as insulation from the cold, and heat! It is often easy to see what purpose the dog was originally bred for by looking at their coat type; wiry coat types for dogs working on terrain encountering brambles, branches and such. This type of fur will be damaged from the elements and need to be replenished, hence a higher degree of shedding.
Seasonal shedding in many breeds happens to remove the dead and damaged coat and also to lose the fur to cool down for the summer months.
Double coated breeds have a soft undercoat as well as their top coat. This works in a way to protect the dog from the elements. In the winter it will insulate and keep the dog warm, in the summer it also helps to keep the dog cool and protect from heat stroke and sunburn; it is, therefore, important to keep the dogs undercoat in the summer, some owners prefer this to be shaved, but in the case of some breeds I would only consider this in extreme circumstances and the owner must take extra measures to guard against sunstroke.
Over time some dogs have been bred to shed their fur less and these are the breeds whereby the hair would grow just like ours, it needs to be cut, brushed regularly and will need the care to prevent matting.
If your dog is shedding excessively it could be due to diet, please check the ingredients of the food and consider changing to a diet containing more nutrients. It could also be a medical problem, if the shedding is at an abnormally high rate you should consult your vet.
Grooming is an import process for all coat types.
High shedding breeds will benefit from shedding much less by visiting the groomer who uses specialised shampoos and treatments, brushes and powerful blaster driers to remove the dead coat in one go rather than it coming out all around your house.
Breeds that don’t lose their hair often need to be clipped or scissor cut and maintained to prevent matting which is of course extremely painful and can have a huge impact on health.
Some grooming tools to reduce shedding:
Furminator or De-shedding comb
These combs are close together and you should comb over the coat lightly in the direction of the hair growth, they are very effective in reducing the amount of shedding but you must not use too often or apply too much pressure as you may damage your dogs skin. They are a useful tool to use in between grooming sessions and to greatly reduce the amount of hair in your home. You can buy varying sizes to suit all breeds and there are separate ones for short or longer fur types.
Deshedding rubber glove
The rubber glove has bumps or bobbles and works as you rub and stroke the dog whilst wearing the glove, the hair clings to the glove and in my opinion, it is the easiest way to remove dead hair. You can use this to loosen the hairs before using the furminator or undercoat rake. All dogs seem to love the grooming mitt or glove and find it relaxing.
They can be used on wet or dry hair, they have curved blades set closely together which trap the hair and pull out loose coat, When used on dry hair it is effective if you use a rubber band to wrap around under the curve, it grips the hair better and removal is easy. The blades are sharp and so they should be used with extreme care, never dig into the skin.
Rakes are used for de-shedding and separating the fur, they will go through the hair more easily and are a good choice for longer haired breeds that shed such as the Newfoundland.
Slickers are to be used on longer haired breeds that can tangle, they effectively remove loose hair and separate knots before combing or raking the fur. Care should be used when using the slicker as the sharp thin pins could scratch the dogs’ skin if you press on or use too much, start by brushing the ends of the dry hair and gradually work your way to the roots in the direction that the fur grows.
Pin brushes are similar to slickers but have small bobbles on the end and so are not as sharp, they are effective when the fur is not as knotty, you can find a variety of combined brushes with a pin brush on one side and a bristle brush on the other side.
You can find a variety of bristle brushes, some are strong thicker bristles whereas some are really soft. They look very similar to a shoe shine brush… I know of many people who show their dogs, wiry-haired and short haired breeds who actually use a shoe shine brush instead! They help to keep the coat in a lovely condition and in time you may notice your dogs’ coat will shine more.
Greyhound comb or similar
Greyhound combs are a wide-toothed long metal comb which you should see as a finishing comb if your dog has longer fur with tangles my preferred choice is usually the slicker brush to loosen and break through the tangles without damaging the coat followed by the greyhound comb or other combs. If you do not comb your dog’s hair after brushing there could be tangles present without you realising, it is not effective to just brush, it is surprising.