Buried In Fur - Tips To Deal With Undercoat Shedding

Updated on March 14, 2013
Anakin in the fall - he looks so much skinnier after he sheds his undercoat.
Anakin in the fall - he looks so much skinnier after he sheds his undercoat. | Source

My Furry Friend

My Siberian Husky, Anakin, has a strong personality... and not one that everyone is able to appreciate. Take his former groomer. Yes, former. He's been asked not to come back there for grooming. Whenever the groomer would bathe him, he would let out a bellowing Husky howl/scream that could wake the dead. Stop the water stream, stop the screaming. Start again, he starts again. You get the picture. Apparently, he was getting the other dogs all riled up. I wasn't mad about it, he gives me a run for my money quite often.

So I started doing the majority of his grooming at home. Our local vet's office clips his nails. My husband has to pick him up and hold him so that his feet hang down. He moans and groans the whole time, and then runs to the receptionist at the front desk who, without fail, has a liver snack ready and waiting for him. Like I said, personality.

While all of those traits really endear him to me, the shedding is another story. I'm not exaggerating when I say I brush enough fur from his body in one sitting equal to a small Shih Tzu. Wow. Prior to him, I've never owned a dog with an undercoat. Twice a year we go through the major shedding with him.


Types of Dog Coats

There are dogs, like our Siberian Husky, who have a double coat. A double coat is just as it sounds, two coats. The top coat is usually a more wiry-type hair. This layer protects the dog's second coat, known as the undercoat. The undercoat is characterized by a very soft, downy-type of fur. The undercoat acts almost like thermal underwear, keeping the dog warm. Dogs with double coats tend to shed their undercoats twice a year with changing seasons.

Single coat dogs generally shed considerably less than dogs with double coats. These dogs have only a top coat of fur. If you part their fur, you can easily see their skin beneath.

Rake your dog's coat with a smooth, even stroke.
Rake your dog's coat with a smooth, even stroke. | Source

Removing The Undercoat

Every year during Spring and Fall, Anakin will inevitably wake up one morning looking like he has the mange. His normally smooth-looking coat will have tufts of fur sticking out. We know then that the time has come to commence the de-shedding process.

One thing to understand right away - an ordinary dog brush will not remove your dog's undercoat. An undercoat rake is made especially for removing the tufts of undercoat your dog's body is trying to rid him of.

It takes a smooth, steady stroke with the rake to begin removing the undercoat. As the majority of dog's that have shedding undercoats are large, it takes quite awhile to get through all of the fur. After all, there's a lot of body there! Resist the urge to exert more pressure to pull more fur with each stroke. Not only does it irritate your dog's skin (and mood), it also makes your wrist hurt after a bit.

I have a friend who brushes her dog once a day for a couple of days, and the undercoat is gone. I have not been so lucky. Anakin and I battle it out a couple times a day, sometimes for a week or more before his undercoat is completely gone. Now, remember folks, he's a stinker. When I brush his back legs, he likes to give me a swift kick every now and then. He has a tickle spot right around his haunches and likes to try to bite the rake. Most often, he just makes his annoyance known by any sound he can make. To know him is to love him!

A Fur-Free House

For certain, clumps of fur can be found throughout the house during that week or two during the shedding season. It's inevitable. Here are some tips we've learned along the way that I hope will help you as well.

  1. A little confinement goes a long way. During this shedding period, it is helpful if you can limit the areas of the house your dog can go. For example, we put a baby gate up so Anakin can't get up to our bedrooms during this time.
  2. Daily vacuuming. You'll find fur everywhere, literally. My husband is militant with the vacuum; twice a day, every day. This is a must during the shedding season. There's nothing worse than feeling like you got a ton of the big guy and then looking around to see clumps everywhere.
  3. Squeegee - more than just for windows. In our home, we have hardwood floors throughout. In each room, however, there is at least one area rug. I try to keep Anakin laying on the larger rug in the living room - easier said than done sometimes, but regardless it helps keep the hair I'm brushing confined to one spot. When I'm finished with him and he goes out back to "run it out" as I tell him, I have found that I can use the rubber end of the Squeegee against the carpet and the extra fur comes right up. I was so excited when this worked, and it was so easy.
  4. Lint brush, lint brush, lint brush. You can never have too many during shedding season. There's no getting out of the house without some fur, somewhere. We use our lint brushes on the furniture at least once a day to keep the fur at bay. I suggest keeping a lint brush in the glove box of your vehicle. We have one in our truck, and it's nice to be able to use it outside of the hot zone.

Show Some Love

Remember, as irritating as it can get trying to get rid of all that undercoat, it's just as irritating for your furry friend. Talk nicely to your dog and encourage him during the process. A treat at the end is a nice touch, and your dog may be more accepting of the next raking session. Depending how much "fun" Anakin and I have had, I'm likely to treat myself to a little Ben & Jerry's afterwards.

Removing your dog's undercoat is a repetitive, sometimes unpleasant task. It's worth taking the time for both you and your dog. If you let the fur fall out on its own, you're looking at double or triple the fall-out time; to me, that means a grumpy dog and a fur-filled house. I'll take the raking, thank you!

I better get a treat out of this...
I better get a treat out of this... | Source

Top Ten Breeds That Shed The Most

  1. German Shepherd
  2. Siberian Husky
  3. Akita
  4. Alaskan Malamute
  5. Norwegian Elkhound
  6. Keeshond
  7. Golden Retriever
  8. Labrador Retriever
  9. Samoyed
  10. Collie

Shaving A Double Coated Dog

Nature knows what it's doing. These dogs have a double coat for a reason. Their coats are constructed to protect them from the elements and regulate body temperature.

Excessive Shedding

Would you base your dog-adopting decision based solely on the shedding factor?

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    • profile image

      Helllo 16 months ago

      Change his food to limited ingredients diets

    • profile image

      captaincurly 18 months ago

      Okay my son dropped one of these Siberian's off on me about 6 years ago. I never had a dog in the house growing up with my allergies. (The things we do for our kids...) We live in the deep south. My dog sheds year round. Now he is pulling out the hair in his groin area. He's been to the vet numerous times but they have yet to get rid of the problem. I don't see sores just redness and missing hair, I think it may even be a nervous tick. I am so tired of caring for this dog. He has such a great personality. (He thinks he is a little lap dog) I have thought of giving him away but my husband thinks he would die because he has been raised for 8+ years around our family. Does anyone know anything about this? Honestly, I don't have much faith in my vet but I don't want to drive an hour to another vet with that hairy beast in my vehicle. I have all the tools I have seen here for shedding and I have vacuums and a carpet rake. I am giving him vitamins for his coat and soothing lotion for the hot spots. Any advice out there????

    • profile image

      Zeea 22 months ago

      If you are looking for more information on shedding tools check out www.toytails.wordpress.com

    • profile image

      NaNa 2 years ago

      You might want to try a detangling aide and apply it after dog has been shampooed, but still in tub. A good one will add slip to the undercoat and work miracles. I use THE Stuff for Dogs available via Google & Amazon.

    • profile image

      Wanda 3 years ago

      I have a shiba inu and he blows his coat twice a year and some years are worsts it seem to carry on for months before it clams down, the more we brush the more it comes, your tips are good but I'm going crazy and around these times I wish he was bald, it's truly a task, am starting to vacuum him now and it helps a little, this time of year is where I wish I had a back yard!

    • KellyG05030 profile image

      Kelly 5 years ago from New England

      Thanks so much for reading and sharing! He's the first large dog that we've had, and I was not prepared in the beginning for all of the shedding!! It's been a learn-as-we-go process. Have a great day!

    • Mama Kim 8 profile image

      Sasha Kim 5 years ago

      Thanks for all the great advise ^_^ I have a husky samoyed mix and yes... she sheds like crazy! She gives my vacuum quite the workout! Your husky is adorable by the way. Voting up and useful!