Dog coats and shedding dogs – Pet tip 103
We choose our dogs mostly based on their character and their appearance. But for some of us, our preference also accounts for the dog’s type of coat. Some people prefer fluffy dogs, while others prefer short-haired dogs. But few take the time to properly research the question, “what difference does it all really make in terms of shedding?” Shedding can have a very material impact on the additional care and work required with owning a dog. Dogs that shed significantly will require hours of brushing and grooming per week in order to prevent matting and to prevent your house from becoming lined from floor to ceiling with dog hair. In addition, people who suffer from dog allergies should pay particular attention to shedding when choosing a pet.
There are two types of fur that contribute to your dog’s coat – the topcoat and the undercoat. The topcoat is usually the coarser and longer of the two coats, and it is made up of guard hairs. It is generally a weather-resistant coat that protects the finer undercoat from the elements like rain and snow. The undercoat consists of finer, fluffier fur that serves to keep the dog warm as it insulates by trapping the body heat generated by the dog. This works very much like “down” in comforters.
A dog can be single or double-coated. Double-coated dogs are more resistant to the cold than single-coated dogs because of the added layer of fur. Single-coated dogs have only the topcoat layer while double-coated dogs have the top and bottom layers of fur. However, there are some breeds of dogs like the Chinese Crested that have very little or no fur. Depending on the breed of dog and climate that they are living in, dogs can shed their top or undercoat, or both, variably. There are some breeds of dog that shed once, twice, or throughout the year. Another noteworthy fact is that short-haired dogs may shed just as much as long-haired breeds. Shedding is very much breed-dependent.
In general, seasonal shedders will shed their coat once or twice a year. Seasonal shedders shed their undercoat in the spring when the cold winter gives way to warmer temperatures. The heavier coat is shed so that the dog will not overheat in the warmer summer climate. Then, as the cooler fall temperatures return, the dog’s undercoat grows back to prepare for the upcoming winter. Dogs that shed twice a year will do so in the spring to get rid of the winter coat, and grow a lighter summer coat in its place. When the winter rolls around, the dogs shed a second time to remove the summer coat and grow their winter coat.
Although there is no such thing as a dog that does not shed (unless it is completely hairless), there are many dog breeds that are considered “light shedders”. Examples of such breeds are the: Airedale Terrier, Bichon Frise, Chinese Crested, Cairn Terrier, Giant and Miniature Schnauzers, Havanese, Kerry Blue Terrier, Komondor, Maltese, Scottish Terrier, Shih-Tzu, Standard Poodle, West Highland White Terrier, and Yorkshire terriers.
By Serene Lai – Pets.ca writer