It’s the lesser-known shedding season—but yes, dogs can shed in the fall, too! Did you know some dogs have what’s called a double-coat—a combination of a dense undercoat of stiff hair with longer guard hair on top? The difference between this and a single coat is simple—single coats are even-looking, with no soft undercoat. Single coats can be straight, curly, silky, or wiry.
Dogs with so-called "double coats" will shed their shorter, lighter summer coat around this time of year.
Not all dogs experience fall shedding, but it’s common among dogs with double coats, or dogs that shed year round. Double-coat breeds include:
Old English Sheepdog
Bernese Mountain Dog
Parson Russel Terrier
What Is Coat Blow in Double Coated Dogs?
Double coated dog breeds also go through what is known as coat blow, so this is something else that you should be aware of if you are thinking about introducing one of these canines into your family.
Coat blow is different from your regular shedding that happens throughout the year. When a dog blows his coat, it’s basically because he is transitioning from his winter coat to his summer coat.
A double coated breed, such as a Malamute or a Siberian Husky as just a couple of examples, will have an undercoat that is soft, and this will lie underneath the top coat that has the coarse guard hairs which are longer. Thanks to this soft undercoat, your dog can stay nice and warm even during the coldest winter months. But, as you probably guessed, something has to change when the weather warms up so that he can continue feeling comfortable. This is where blowing the coat comes in, when the undercoat is released in big clumps. If you thought shedding was bad, you will reconsider your stance when you see what coat blow looks like! Some dog owners fill up entire bags with all of the hair that comes out.
Do you need to rush to the groomer when your double coated dog is blowing his coat? No, you actually don’t. All of the unwanted hair will end up falling out on its own. Just how severe, and how frequent, the coat blow is, though, will depend on your dog’s breed, as well as your pet’s gender.
Even though you don’t need to take your dog to a groomer to take care of coat blow, you can help it along at home. Just take a few minutes every day to brush your dog. 15 minutes is a good place to start, and tools like a slicker brush, a Greyhound comb, and an undercoat rake can all come in handy. Removing that undercoat, which has already come loose, with these grooming tools can help you get the hair out before it ends up all over the house, and your dog will likely feel better too. As the coat blow progresses, your dog might even up with patchy areas throughout his fur, so helping him out with a little at-home grooming can help him continue looking his best.
In addition to brushing your dog, and then brushing some more, during coat blow season, it is also a good idea to bathe your dog a bit more often than you typically would. This will serve to help speed up the process, too, as the bathing will help further loosen your dog’s undercoat. It’s best to stick with a canine-appropriate shampoo that contains natural ingredients and will not irritate your dog’s skin, especially because you will be bathing him more frequently. You can even use a coat conditioner made for dogs to add moisture to any mats or tangles that have developed. Then, you can more easily remove the matting with a mat breaker grooming tool.
Grooming Tips for Double-Coated Breeds
Regular grooming is incredibly important for double-coated dog breeds because these dogs tend to shed a lot. If you do not routinely brush your dog’s coat the shed hairs will become caught up in the coat, causing mats and tangles to form. Grooming is also a great way to keep dog-related allergies to a minimum, though you cannot keep a dog from shedding entirely. Below you will find a collection of tips for grooming your double coated dog:
Brush your dog at least two or three times a week to prevent mats and tangles.Use a undercoat grooming rake to remove loose and dead hairs from your dog’s undercoat.Use a slicker brush on your dog’s rump where the fur is thicker and longer.Go over your dog with a wire pin brush or comb to remove dead and loose hairs from the top coat.Work through mats and tangles with a wide-tooth comb – if you have to cut one out, pinch the fur as close to your dog’s skin as possible to prevent accidentally cutting his skin.Go over your dog’s coat with a bristle brush to improve shine – this should be your last step.
In addition to learning how to groom your double-coated dog, you should also familiarize yourself with a few grooming mistakes that dog owners often make. The biggest mistake you can make with your double coated dog is to shave his coat. Some dog owners mistakenly believe that their dog’s double coat makes them hot in the summer and they shave the dog’s coat in an attempt to cool him off. What these dog owners do not realize is that a dog’s double coat acts as insulation, protecting him from the heat. A dog’s double coat is part of his natural cooling system – each layer helps not only to keep the dog cool, but it protects his skin from sun damage as well. If you are worried about your dog being too hot in the summer, consult a professional groomer about the possibility of trimming his coat but in no case should you shave your double coated dog.
Grooming is one of your most basic responsibilities as a pet owner so it is up to you to make sure you know how to do it correctly.
Dogs that can shed year-round include:
Burmese Mountain Dogs
Heavy seasonal shedding is common for these breeds, but if you suspect there’s an underlying health issue, it’s best to ask your veterinarian. Skin allergies and parasites may trigger shedding, as will a poor diet.
It matters if your dog is an indoor or outdoor dog, too. Indoor dogs don’t experience big temperature swings since the temperature in the house is likely to be regulated, which can lead to more frequent shedding that doesn’t follow a seasonal pattern. If your dog is an outdoor dog, his coat is likely to follow the seasons to keep him insulated from the winter cold or cooler in the summer heat.
Why Dogs Shed
Dogs have several hairs growing from each follicle, and the fur serves to protect their skin and regulate body temperature. Dogs lose old or damaged hair by shedding, usually as seasons change, to allow new hair growth to come in. The amount of shedding in each dog is determined by:
Other factors can influence shedding to a lesser extent, including allergies and nutrition.
Groom Baby, Groom!
Of course, another shedding season means more grooming and vacuuming, but all shedding can be managed with proper and regular grooming. Brushing your dog several times a week—you might want to take it outside!—can manage the shedding and keep your dog’s fur from getting matted.
Keep in mind, indoor dogs tend to shed more frequently than outdoor dogs because the temperature of their environment is regulated, but you may still notice an increase in shedding for your double-coat dog in the fall.
You may want to throw in the towel and shave your dog, but it’s not recommended. Shaving a dog with a double coat can lead to hair loss—or bald spots known as alopecia—and can make your dog lose his ability regulate body temperature. Shaved dogs are also more susceptible to insect bites and sunburn, and are a great risk for heat stroke.
Regular baths will also help with shedding, especially with some of the specialized shampoos now available.
The Bottom Line
It’s not just spring—some dogs also shed in the fall. Of course, dogs like golden retrievers and German shepherds seem to do it year-round! Make sure you’re prepared to handle all the fur this fall with proper grooming using the best tools, shampoos and conditioners on the market.
** Original posts from Petguide.com and Rover.com