The Secret to Shedding

summer reading with dog

Ah, summer. Snow cones, road trips, sandy beaches, sunglasses, and...clumps of dog hair? Warm weather brings lots of changes, and your dog's coat is no exception! But have you ever wondered why (oh why!) your dog sheds SO much? And what do you do with all of that hair? Shave your dog down for the summer? Avoid public outings until your dog doesn't look so mangy? Take out the leaf blower and create a summertime hair-blizzard? Here are some tips for taming your dog's wild summer locks! 

 

german shepherd

Many dog breeds have a dense undercoat (also called "double coats") that play a vital role in body temperature regulation. This fur is much different from the hair that you feel when you pet your dog. Undercoats lay closest to your dog's skin, allowing the longer, more coarse hair to grow on top. Breeds commonly associated with double coats are: 

- Akitas
- Huskies 
- German Shepherds
- Shelties 
- Great Pyrenees 
- Australian Shepherds 
- Sheba Inus 
- Many Terrier Breeds  

 

dogs playing in water

In the winter, your dog's undercoat is at its thickest, providing warm insulation from the cold. In the summer, dogs shed the majority of their undercoat, leaving just enough to block the sun's harmful rays and provide air circulation to their skin. Many dogs shed their undercoats in large clumps that may resemble cotton balls, pom poms, small Pomeranians, cotton candy...you get the picture! This may be a bit shocking to first time pet owners, but rest assured, it is totally normal! Unless your dog has actual bald patches (where you see exposed skin), this routine shedding means they are gearing up for the warmer weather ahead! 

 

dog hair

So, what to do with all of this hair? Your first instinct may be to call the groomer, or bust out the clippers to shave your dog down and spare them (and yourself!) the embarrassment of hair rolling across the room in tufts. RESIST THIS URGE! Shaving your dog may seem like it would keep them cooler, but it actually inhibits the natural cooling effects of their undercoats by causing it to lie much too close to the skin. The bottom layer of fur lifts away from your dog's skin when it is thinned out, and holds the top coat up so that air can circulate to the skin. This is especially important for dogs that spend the majority of their time outdoors.

 

dog brush

A much better approach to helping your dog look presentable and keep cool is to help them thin their undercoat. When you first notice your dog start to get that mottled/clumpy/what-is-happening-to-your-coat look, it's time to break out the brush! Frequent brushing will cut down on the amount of hair rolling across your floors, and will help your dog feel cooler faster. Special brushes and combs are designed specifically for dogs with double coats. Daily brushing will also help avoid painful matting (clumps of hair that meld together, often resembling a dreadlock), along with promoting healthy hair growth. Bonus tip: wild birds LOVE using your dog's fluffy hair for their nests! Be sure to leave some outside for them to repurpose! Here are some other ideas for repurposing dog hair: https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/lifestyle/things-you-can-do-with-dog-fur/

 

dog grooming tools

Feeling overwhelmed with the amount of hair your dog is shedding? You're not alone! Call the groomer to help bathe and "blow out" your dog's coat. Groomers have all of the special tools to take care of your dog's double coat, and heavy duty vacuums to contain the fluff! Your dog will probably continue to shed, but it will give you a head start on proper coat maintenance. 

 

brushing dog

Double coated dogs may require more grooming than most breeds in the summer, but with the right care, your dog's lucious locks will be silky smooth and performing at their best!