Coat shedding in dogs - this is how to groom them correctly!
Most dogs, with the exception of an ancient Peruvian breed and a breed native to Mexico, have a coat that covers their entire body. Just as we humans change our clothes regularly, most dogs also need to change their coats. A a general rule, twice a year you will need to have not only a broom and vacuum cleaner handy, but also a comb, brush or even a trimmer. Read here how you can help and support your dog during the shedding process.
With the exception of very few breeds, the entire body of the dog is covered with fur. Only the tip of the nose and the paw pads are hairless. The hairs grow in tufts from clusters that are invisible to us. Nerve cells in the skin and nerve fibres in the outermost layer of hair transmit signals that the hair picks up, and tiny muscles make sure that the hair bristles or clings. Each main hair is associated with two to three secondary hairs. The hair root lies under the skin. Sebaceous glands supply each individual hair with oils and minerals. In addition, sebum helps to protect the dog from heavy humidity, which is particularly pronounced in breeds such as the labrador. As a result, healthy hair is shiny and supple. Hair is also referred to as a reflection of health, because its condition often indicates whether the dog is physically and mentally robust. Incidentally, the ingredients of spot-ons are also distributed via the skin’s oily layer, which then protect it from flea and tick bites.
In dogs, we distinguish between topcoat and undercoat. Although each individual hair is as light as a feather, the amount of hair makes a difference: For short-haired dogs that have no undercoat, we reckon on four grams of hair per kilo of body weight; for long-haired dogs with a dense undercoat, we reckon on 35 grams of hair per kilo of body weight. Therefore, a whippet weighing ten kilos has a coat weighing just 40 grams on its body, while a golden retriever weighing 35 kilos is carrying around one kilo of fur.
Why and how often do dogs shed their coats?
The shedding of fur is not generally popular. Thick balls of fur can accumulate on sofas, beds and floors. You can hardly keep up with the vacuuming. But the process of shedding is natural and healthy. It is part of the dog’s life and generally takes place twice a year.
Coat change at a glance:
- As the temperatures rise and the weather gets milder in spring, your dog will gradually shed its winter coat and get a lighter summer coat.
- Later in the autumn, it is not just a matter of an additional winter coat growing back: Once again, a complete renewal takes place. This means that the hair sheds again, albeit less so than in spring. The winter coat usually emerges with a thicker undercoat (depending on the breed), which protects the dog from the cold.
Some dogs shed all year round. But even among these breeds, the change of coat is more pronounced, especially in spring. The old, thick coat is shed to make room for the new one. This renewal process takes about six to eight weeks.
There are also some peculiarities with older dogs, which lose more hair due to their age, and with female dogs, which go through a hair change especially before they are in heat. Neutered dogs also shed significantly more hair. However, all dogs have one thing in common: They need support and special care during this time.
Goodbye to the "baby fur": Coat change in puppies
Puppies have a particularly soft and cuddly coat. However, it doesn’t always stay that way. At some point the time will come: your youngest four-legged friend will have its first coat change. It will shed its “baby fur” and grow its first coat as an adult dog.
The new coat has a different appearance and texture. It is usually more robust and firmer. This first coat change takes much longer than the later regular coat change. It can take several weeks, or even a few months. And here, too, the period varies greatly depending on the individual and the breed.
During this time, you can get your pet used to being combed and brushed. That way it will get to experience the procedure as a pleasant thing to do. Your little darling will probably find it boring at first and prefer to play with the brush. Try to reassure it and then reward it with a treat and an extra round of play.
Tip: Perform the first brushing when the puppy is tired.
Help your dog shed its coat
The shedding process is not always pleasant for animals. Especially in breeds with a strong undercoat, the dog’s change of coat can lead to itching. This is because if shed hairs remain in the coat, they can sting. Some dogs then scratch themselves constantly. You can speed up the shedding process by helping your dog: Brush him regularly. Get a trimmer and let a professional show you how to remove excess dead hair.
Regular brushing has two additional effects: Firstly, the skin will have improved blood circulation through the massage effect. It becomes more supple and is strengthened at the same time. Its protective film can regenerate better. Secondly, you can detect ticks, fleas or skin eczema during routine grooming and treat the dog immediately.
Each dog is unique. Even within a breed, the change of coat can vary considerably. The vet can give you tips on this.
Tools for coat care
Some useful tools and special brushes are available for coat care:
- Pluck brush: a perfect brush to remove loose hair and dirt residue. It is ideal for loosening fuzz.
- Bristle brush: best suited for breeds with short or bristly hair.
- Rubber bar: for skin massage and to help puppies get used to brushing and combing.
- Furminator: Use the furminator to brush the loose undercoat out of the coat.
- Trimmer: a special pair of scissors with blunt edges to remove dead long hair, e.g. on wire-haired dachshunds.
What are the different types of fur?
Assuming you do not have a Mexican Xoloitzcuintle or a Peruvian Inca dog with no coat at all, as a companion, your pet’s coat can be classified as one of the following coat types: