Adrienne is a certified dog trainer and former veterinarian assistant who partners with some of the best veterinarians worldwide.
When Do Dogs Shed?
Wondering what months your dog will shed the most? Planning on getting ready for the big event? Well, the answer is not that easy. The months your dog sheds the most ultimately depend on the type of dog you own and several other factors. Certain breeds are known for shedding heavily during particular months, while others will shed at a steady rate throughout the year.
Determining what months your dog sheds the most will help you better prepare for the hairy event. Make sure you invest in loads of lint rollers and have your vacuum cleaner ready; those stray hairs will be just about everywhere! And yes, that often means even on your food!
Understand Dog Hair and Growth Cycles
In order to better understand how and when shedding occurs, it helps to get better acquainted with the different types of doggie hair.
Guard hairs, also known as primary hairs, are the long and stiff hairs that are part of the dog's outer coat and are meant to protect the skin.
Secondary hairs, also known as undercoat hairs, are soft, downy or fleecy hairs that help keep Fluffy warm during the winter months. Dogs with a double coat have both an outer coat and an undercoat, whereas dogs with a single coat have only a top coat and lack an undercoat.
Stages of Hair Growth
Your dog's coat goes through various stages of growth. The stage during which your dog is experiencing new hair growth is known as the anagen phase. During the catagen phase, your dog's hair will stop growing once it has reached a certain length. The hair is resting, neither growing nor shedding during the telogen phase, and you certainly know your dog's hair is at the exogen phase when it falls out, and you are considering weaving a warm blanket out of the discarded hair. Let's recap:
- Anagen phase: new hair is growing
- Catagen phase: hair stops growing once it reaches its maximum length
- Telogen phase: hair is neither resting nor growing
- Exogen phase: hair falls out
Dogs with a double coat, such as collies, Samoyeds, and Alaskan Malamutes, are those that tend to shed seasonally. Just as trees that lose their leaves in the fall and grow new foliage in the spring, these dogs tend to shed both in the fall and spring, according to Dog Day Afternoon Spa.
In the fall months, they lose their lighter summer coat to make way for the thicker winter one, and in the spring months, they lose their winter coat to prepare for the "dog days" of summer. The term "blowing the coat" is used to depict these seasonal events where dogs seem to "explode," leaving hair just about everywhere.
On the other hand, there are certain breeds of dogs that do not blow their coats seasonally. These dogs are basically dropping hair year-round, but the hairs are noticed less since it's in much smaller amounts. These dogs are always growing new hairs month after month, just like evergreen trees keep growing new leaves.
Poodles, for instance, have the majority of their hair follicles in the anagen stage year-round, which causes their hairs to grow almost constantly, requiring routine clippings to control matting, according to veterinarian Bretaigne Jones.
So When Do Dogs Shed the Most?
While the fall and spring months are the peak shedding times for the double-coated "deciduous dogs," the exact months you should expect to find hair around tends to vary depending on the weather, amount of daylight, breed of dog, nutrition, age, sex, living environment and overall health condition.
For instance, usually, Alaskan Malamutes tend to shed in spring around March and in the fall around October, according to the Chesapeake Area Alaskan Malamute Protection.
- Outside Dogs. When dogs are left outdoors in the elements of Mother Nature, you should expect the winter coat to generally start shedding in spring around March and complete by June. Then, in the fall, the summer coat should start shedding usually around September and the process should complete by November.
- Indoor Dogs. However, when dogs live inside the home, things may get tricky. Exposure to artificial interior lighting, heating during the winter and air conditioning during the summer causes the dog's natural shedding cycle to get disrupted, with the end result of more moderate shedding taking place year-round.
How to Control a Dog's Shedding
Luckily, there are many ways to control shedding. When I worked for the veterinary hospital, I had clients stop by my desk asking for a de-shedding pill. Unfortunately, there is no such thing. Yes, there have been products claiming to reduce shedding, but they are a scam. Dogs that have hair will shed. You cannot stop shedding, but you can control it by investing in good products that capture the hair, leaving less hair around your home.
In nature, dogs during the shedding season are helped by branches, bushes and brush that through friction with the coat, will remove dead hairs. Dogs in nature would also rub against surfaces and roll in dirt to get more hairs off.
In a domestic setting, you can help by brushing your dog's coat. By capturing dead hairs within the bristles of the coat, you will find fewer hairs around. Dogs with curly hair will appear to shed less, but the truth is they still shed, only their wiry hairy captures the hair and doesn't allow it to fall. These dogs also need regular brushing to prevent mats and tangles.
Shedding vs. Blowing the Coat
You may wonder . . . what's the difference between shedding and blowing the coat? Often these two terms are used interchangeably. However, shedding is more of a year-round process where stray hair is found almost constantly; blowing the coat is most likely used to depict the seasonal shedding where the dog loses clumps of hair all at once.
Sometimes dogs who blow their coat will look far from aesthetically appealing, but thankfully, the process is short-lived. Unless you have to take your dog to a dog show, it shouldn't matter much. The term "blowing the coat" is also often used to depict the heavy shedding noticed in female dogs after going into heat.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
© 2012 Adrienne Farricelli
GiblinGirl from New Jersey on November 24, 2012:
Really interesting - I had no idea dogs rub their bodies against the ground to get rid of dead hairs. I think my dog is a spaniel/dachshund mix and she seems to shed continually year round. I've been keeping her hair shaved fairly close though which has helped a lot. Always enjoy reading your hubs.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on November 24, 2012:
Thanks for stopping by. Your post reminded to warn readers that unexplainable shedding (alopecia) needs vet attention though since medical causes at times may play a role.
wetnosedogs from Alabama on November 24, 2012:
My dogs seems to constantly shed and being in the house with ac and heater on must be messing them up. Still gotta love em.
Eiddwen from Wales on November 24, 2012:
So well informed,interesting this hub I am sure will benefit so many dog owners.