One thing you need to consider before getting any dog is how much its breed tends to shed. Shedding is natural, but some breeds tend to shed much more than others.
Labradors have exceptional temperaments, but how much does a Labrador shed? Stay tuned along with tips to handle all kinds of shedding.
Why do dogs shed?
Let us first understand why dogs shed in the first place.
Dogs shed their coats to keep their hair and skin healthy. It gets rid of old damaged fur and replaces it. This process also ensures that they can maintain their body temperature.
Some dogs shed under severe temperature changes and some just shed all year round. The amount dogs shed depends on their health and how thick their fur is.
What is the difference between single and double-coat dogs?
A double-coated dog means that they have an undercoat that is usually shorter to help control its body temperature. You may be familiar with double-coated breeds like Labradors and Golden retrievers, as well as German and Australian shepherds.
Dogs with an undercoat tend to shed more since they have two coats of fur. It usually happens right when the seasons change. You may notice that your Labrador’s fur becomes slightly thicker as winter approaches and thinner as summer comes.
Some pet owners may think that they can just shave their fur off to prevent excessive shedding.
But it would be best if you never shaved double-coated breeds. When the undercoat is shaved, the hair follicles will be unable to grow the hair the same way. Their undercoat will become wiry and can tangle more often. They will also be unable to regulate their temperature effectively.
Single-coated breeds like Chihuahuas, boxers, and dachshunds are dogs with a single coat of fur. They tend to shed less, and although many types of fur can be single-coated, these breeds’ most common coat types are smooth-coated dogs.
How are some dogs hypoallergenic?
Families or owners who have dog allergies but still want to have one often look for hypoallergenic dog breeds.
Most of these people’s allergies come from the dander attached to the dog’s fur when it is shed, so if you are looking for a hypoallergenic dog, you may want to look for dogs that don’t shed a lot.
Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a fully hypoallergenic dog, and a pet owner’s ability to own one depends on their sensitivity and the amount the dog sheds.
Some of these allergy-friendly breeds may be the Afghan hound, American hairless terrier, and the bichon frise.
How much does a Labrador shed?
Labradors are a double-coated breed that sheds all year round. They usually shed the most three times a year, as winter approaches, summer approaches, and during their molting season.
While you may be familiar with the standard seasonal change of undercoat for Labradors, they shed the most when they have their shedding or molting season. These can last for about two to three weeks.
You may be wondering if their coat color is connected to their shedding; while the hair of white Labradors can be less visible, chocolate, black, and white Labradors all shed in the same amounts.
What are the causes of excessive shedding?
Labradors are on the heavy side of shedding but if they start developing severely irritated skin, bald spots, and overly thinning coats, here are some reasons it could happen.
A common cause that many owners don’t know about is stress. Some examples are significant changes in their environment, like moving to a new house or having a new person or pet.
This may not be the first reason that comes to mind but note that dogs can also get highly stressed with separation anxiety. You can try de-stressing your dog through exercise, massage, or cuddling.
The hair loss due to excessive shedding caused by an improper diet is called Telogen effluvium. Due to the lack of nutrients or calories in your dog’s system, the growth cycle of their coat gets interrupted during the Telogen phase, making the follicles unable to produce new hair.
This improper diet can be anywhere from not feeding them enough, giving them low-quality dog food, or feeding them table food.
Mishandling grooming tools
You can severely damage your dog’s coat using too many deshedder tools. These tools work by taking the dog’s top layer undercoat, usually where the hairs are already removed or getting ready to be shed.
Overusing these tools can rip out follicles or even wound your dog’s skin.
Then there is the issue with the shampoo. Never use human shampoo on dogs. It’s far too harsh and can have harmful chemicals to dogs. Also, remember to properly rinse your dog after shampooing to avoid clogged-up follicles and brittle hair.
These skin parasites can range from fleas to ticks and mites. Another additional symptom of these parasites is shedding, accompanied by severe scratching. This can lead to hair loss, skin infections, and even death if the puppies are too young.
These parasites sometimes also carry diseases, so make sure to have preventive measures for this. Only medicate if instructed by your vet, as solutions can have harsh chemicals that may not be safe even for large breeds like Labradors.
Probably the most worrying cause of excessive shedding is an underlying disease. Like humans, a dog’s immune system is linked to its skin and hair. Dogs with compromised immune systems can exhibit excessive shedding as one of the first symptoms.
It could also have something to do with hormonal imbalances, leading hair to fall out or get brittle. The over or underproduction of testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone by the thyroid gland can also result in over shedding.
In the end, the only one who can truly determine the cause of your dog’s over-shedding is a vet, so make sure to visit them as soon as you feel any changes in your pet’s shedding pattern.
Tips on how to deal with shedding
Regular grooming includes baths and brushing. You can bathe your Labrador as needed when they don’t shed as much. During the time when you notice they begin to shed more, increase your bath intervals by three to four weeks.
You can use a regular brush to comb through their coat once or twice a week. Make sure to get areas such as their butt, back, and tail area brushed, as these are where the most dander and fallen hair are.
Using the right tools
There are special shampoos you can use to target shedding. These are sometimes very drying, as they are used to de-shed the dog during bath time. Add a dog conditioner if you have one available. Always make sure to rinse thoroughly after.
Some deshedding tools that are great for Labradors are furminators, slicker brushes, equi groomers, and deshedding rakes.
Groomers have noted that there is always something different about the coats of each dog, even if they are from the same breed.
You may need to experiment a bit to find the best deshedding tool for your Labrador. But remember the previously mentioned issue of overusing deshedding tools.
At most it is once or twice a week, and avoid going through the same area over three times with the tools like the rake and furminator.
You can also try gradually switching up your dog’s diet or brand of kibble.
You might be surprised that there is kibble especially formulated to target skin issues. Try looking for dog foods that contain omega-3 or omega-6 since they help with a healthy and shiny coat.
If you are looking for ones that can give them luscious hair, there is a kibble directed toward show dogs to help them grow and maintain thick and luscious hair for competitions.
You can also try giving Labrador skin supplements and vitamins. Visit your vet with your concerns and targets so they can provide you with a prescription and proper dosage. Never medicate your dogs without vet supervision, even if it’s just vitamins.
There are two professional help you can get, first is a professional groomer, and next is your local vet.
While Labradors are extremely low maintenance since they don’t need a trim or cut, sending them to a professional groomer at least twice a year which you can schedule during their shedding period, can help loosen their undercoat and prevent shedding in your home.
Next is the vet. Other than for prescriptions, if you notice any signs of excessive shedding, itching, or irritated skin, immediately go to the vet before it worsens.
Labradors shed quite a lot due to severe temperature changes or during the molting season. Some factors can also cause excessive shedding and hair loss for them.
But remember that Labradors are very healthy and that you have nothing to worry about as long as they get their regular vet visits and give them proper diet, exercise, and lots of love and cuddles.