Shedding in Dogs: 4 Things You’ll Want to Know


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Shedding in dogs is definitely the downside of doggy devotion. Don’t get me wrong. I adore my Labrador – from the tip of his snack-mooching nose to the end of his ornament-smashing tail. I just wish there was a little less of him on the carpet, the furniture and my (clean) washing. It’s bad enough sitting in the laundry basket when you think nobody is around. But the deep layer of orange dog hair on top of the clean clothes is a giveaway every time! And as I watch the tumbleweeds of hair drift gently in front of the sofa, I have to wonder (not for the first time),”How can one dog shed so much and not be bald?”

So why do our canine friends share so much of their hair with us, along with their love? Not that all dogs were created equal in the moulting mayhem. Why are some breeds renowned for their miserly (and very welcome) approach to parting with their hair? This article looks at shedding – what it is, why dogs do it, when it’s worse and what, if anything, owners can do to minimise the seasonal follicular fall-out!

Why do dogs shed?

Shedding hair is perfectly normal for dogs. 

Hair goes through an active growing phase, followed by a resting phase until it falls out. It’s a way of maintaining coat health by getting rid of broken and damaged hair. And it’s an adaptation to weather extremes. 

In springtime, dogs will shed their dense winter coats, ready for better weather (ever hopeful!). As days shorten and become colder in the autumn months, dogs shed their light summer coat to grow their denser winter layers – time to don the thermals!

Sunlight and temperature influence the cycle of hair loss. But other factors also influence how much dogs shed and when.


Dogs like poodles and Shih Tzus have hair with a long active growing phase. Their hair continues to grow for a long time. That’s why they need to be trimmed, but don’t shed so much.

Some breeds, like Labradors and huskies, have double coats – a protective outer layer of ‘guard hairs’ and a dense undercoat for warmth. They shed continuously throughout the year. 

Beagles and whippets with short single coats fall somewhere between the 2. They’ll not shed heavily all year, but noticeably more in spring and autumn. Oh, and unfortunately, labradors and other double-coated breeds will also join the seasonal shedding game as well!


Female dogs go through cycles of shedding depending on their seasons. You may notice them shedding more as their season begins. In one study, a female German shepherd shed 5g of hair per week for most of the year. But this increased to 70g just before her season started.


Hard working hair follicles need enough nutrition to grow a healthy coat. Poor and unbalanced diets seriously impact the strength and quality of hair growth.


Chronic illnesses, hormonal imbalances, parasites and infections can all affect how much and how well hair grows. In some cases, the pattern of hair loss can indicate the cause.

Which breeds shed the most and least?

Lots of shedding means lots of dander and hair around the house.

High-shedding breeds include Labradors, Golden Retrievers, Akitas, Chow Chows, Siberian Huskies, Cardigan Welsh Corgis, Shiba Inu, and Bernese Mountain Dogs.

Although some breeds are called ‘hypoallergenic’, no dog is totally allergen-free! However, breeds with hair that keeps growing the way human hair does (and needs trimmed), will be much less likely to trigger human allergies.

Low-shedding dogs include Shih Tzu, Bichon frise, Dachshunds, Poodles, Maltese, Yorkshire Terriers, Chinese Crested, Afghan hounds, Schnauzers, Chihuahuas, and Boston terriers.

Mid-range shedders include French bulldogs, Beagles and Spaniels. 

How much hair shedding in dogs is excessive?

It’s said that Labradors can shed over 30kg of hair in a year – pretty much their entire body weight in hair. And looking at the tumbleweeds of hair drifting in front of my sofa – I can believe it! 

But sometimes shedding is excessive, even for the ‘super-shedders’. The result can be a dull, patchy coat, all-over hair thinning or bald patches. The skin itself can become dry and scaly. And develop inflamed sore patches.

10 reasons your dog may shed excessively

  • Parasites like fleas or lice may cause surface irritation and scratching. Some mange mites go even deeper into the skin. Demodex mites invade the hair follicles themselves, making the hair fall out.
  • Allergies: food allergy or atopy
  • Bacterial and fungal skin infections
  • Chronic illnesses: kidney disease, hypothyroidism, Cushing’s disease, malnutrition.
  • Anxiety or stress
  • Burns: chemical irritants or sunburn
  • Cancer
  • Side-effects of certain medications, including steroid anti-inflammatories and some anti-parasite spot-on treatments.
  • Pregnancy
  • Too much bathing: strips the natural oils from skin 

Joii Vets are online 24/7 if you are worried about your dog’s excessive shedding, patchy coat, flaky or inflamed skin or scratching!

How to reduce shedding in dogs

Dogs will shed. It’s a natural and normal process. But we can minimise the amount of hair shed around the house with regular grooming and essential skin care.  


  • Grooming is essential to keep your dog’s coat clean and healthy all year round.
  • The more dead hair you remove, the healthier their skin and the cleaner the sofa.
  • Bathing removes loose hair and dander to improve skin and coat health. But it’s important to use a good-quality dog shampoo, suitable for your dog’s coat and any skin issues. And not to bathe too frequently.

Different breeds of dogs have different requirements for grooming – the frequency of grooming and type of grooming tool or brush you choose depends on their type of coat. 

  • Bristle brushes: work for all coat types
  • Short-haired dogs: a stiff brush, rubber curry comb or silicone grooming glove
  • Dogs with mats and tangles: slicker brushes
  • Dogs with a dense undercoat: an undercoat rake or shedding tool
  • Choose a deshedding tool that works for you and your dog. These tools remove loose outer guard hairs and gently remove the undercoat. Some claim to reduce shedding (or at least what finds its way onto the carpet) by up to 90%

Start a grooming routine as soon as possible when your dog comes home with you for the first time. Keep things relaxed and enjoy the bonding time. Few pets object to relaxing brushes.

Talk to our friendly Joii Veterinary Nurses about the best ways and tools to keep your dog’s coat in top condition.

A healthy balanced diet 

Choose a diet that meets your dog’s nutritional needs. Take account of their lifestyle, age, breed, sex and any health concerns. This is particularly important if you are feeding your dog a home-cooked diet.

Skin supplements

  • Omega-3 and 6 from fish oils
  • Vitamins E and A and B-complex
  • Examples include YuMOVE Skin & Coat Care Moulting for Dogs or Viacutin Plus Pump – both available via the Joii app

And if all else fails, there’s always the trusty hoover, the lint roller – and the best gift EVER – my overworked Robovac!!

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