Shedding 101: A Quick Guide To Dog Hair

As a young child and teen, I grew up with Poodles. Not only is the breed known for their intelligence, but they’re also considered extremely light shedders. I never saw dog hair lingering around. Amazing, right? Well, I didn’t realize how much I took the whole non-shedding thing for granted until a few years ago when I brought home my Chihuahua. Now I never leave the house without white Chihuahua hairs stuck to my clothes. I find his hair on my floor, all over the couch, and sometimes in my morning cup of coffee (don’t ask me how that happens – I’m still trying to figure that one out)!

A Little About Your Dog’s Coat

Before we go into the main causes of shedding and how to manage it, let’s talk about your dog’s coat. You may not realize it, but there are actually three different types of dog hair.

  1. Undercoat – Some breeds have a layer of soft and thick hair that provides insulation, helping them to stay warm during harsh winter months. Undercoats are typically found on dogs who are bred to live in very cold, wet climates. A few breeds that have an undercoat include the Alaskan Husky, Akita, Chow Chow, and Shiba Inu.
  2. Guard Hair (AKA the outer coat) – These hairs are typically stiffer and longer. Their purpose is to protect the undercoat and skin from harsh weather and water. 
  3. Whiskers – These are the stiff wiry hairs that are found on a dog’s face. They provide sensory stimulation. 

Whether your dog is a heavy shedder or a light shedder, his coat is very important. It helps to protect his skin, regulate his body temperature, and offers sensory perception. 

Let’s Talk Shedding

Let me start this section by saying shedding is perfectly normal and preventing it is pretty much impossible. However, sometimes excessive shedding is a clue to something more. With links to weather, nutrition, and stress, my friends over at Play. Bark. Run. put together this great infographic highlighting the top causes of shedding and how to deal with it. Check it out: 

Dog Shedding 101: The quick guide to pet hair