Big Dog Shedding? A Closer Look at How To Tackle Your Large Breeds Tumbleweeds! - King Size Canines

Big Dog Shedding? A Closer Look at How To Tackle Your Large Breeds Tumbleweeds!

Golden Retriever, Big Dog Shedding

Introduction

We know the feeling. You have finished cleaning the house, the vacuum is securely stored away. You are about to sit down, feeling pleased with your cleaning efforts.

But wait a minute, what’s that under the table that's caught your eye?

It can't be, can it? You've just finished cleaning.

Yep, another sprinkling of canine confetti, fresh from your gentle giant. (It's a good job they're cute.)

One of the most common questions that comes up with big dogs is; How can I stop my large dog from shedding so much?

Shedding is part of the parcel when it comes to big dog breeds. But how much shedding, and how you can manage it, varies from breed to breed.

To help you manage your large dog’s shedding, we’ve taken a deep dive into the reasons big dogs shed and, more importantly, what you can do to control it at home.

Why Do Dogs Shed?

First, it's important to understand the reason why dogs shed, and why their fur is important.

While it can be challenging to manage, shedding is a natural part of a dog's life. (Especially with large breeds) Here are some of the reasons why dogs shed:

  • Healthy Hair Growth Cycle: A dog's fur has a natural growth cycle. like our own hair, a dog's fur eventually reaches the end of its lifespan and dies off. Shedding is the way a dog's body gets rid of this old, dead hair, to make room for new, healthy fur to grow.
  • Temperature Regulation: A dog's coat helps them regulate their body temperature. Breeds with double coats, (more on this shortly) will shed more heavily, depending on the season. They shed their thick undercoat in the spring and summer to stay cool, and grow a new denser coat in the fall and winter for warmth

Think of dog shedding like your own choice of clothing. In the colder months, you want your warm, winter jacket on to protect you against the elements. And in the warmer months, the t-shirts come back out, and your jacket is safely stowed away in your wardrobe. (Unless, like us, you live in the UK, in which case your jacket is always at the ready.)

Chow Chow, Big Dog Shedding

Single Coat v Double Coat

lets get into one of the biggest factors when it comes your big dog shedding. Single or double coat.

What are we referring to when we say 'coat'? In essence, a coat is referring to layer's of fur. A single coat means your dog has one layer of fur, and a double coats means your dog has two layers of fur. We will look deeper into these two below.

Understanding which type of coat your large dog has plays a big role in how you manage your large dog's shedding.

Single Coat: One Layer, One Job

Like we just mentioned, a single coat consists of only one layer of fur. While the fur can vary in length and texture. (More on this later) With a single coat, there is no separate undercoat.

With a single coat, the one layer of fur serves an all in one purpose for you big dog. This includes:

  • Insulation: The fur provides some insulation, helping your dog regulate body temperature. However, it’s not always as effective as a double coat in extreme weather conditions.
  • Protection: The fur acts as a barrier, protecting the dog's skin from minor scratches, dirt, and debris.
  • Moisture Resistance: To some degree, the fur can repel moisture and keep the dog dry in light rain or snow.

Some Single Coat Grooming Needs:

  • Less Brushing: Compared to double coats, single coats require less frequent brushing. Brushing a few times a week can help remove loose fur and keep your dog’s coat healthy.
  • Grooming Variations: The specific grooming needs for a single coat will depend on the fur's length and texture. For example:
    • Short, smooth coats: May only require occasional brushing.
    • Long, wiry coats: May need more frequent brushing to prevent matting.

Large dogs with single coats typically shed less throughout the year. They may have a heavy shed once or twice a year. But it's not as dramatic as the seasonal blowouts experienced by double-coated breeds.

(As a side note, when we say seasonal blowout, we are referring to the times of the year when dogs naturally shed more, in preparation for changes in weather.)

Since there's no undercoat to trap shedding fur, single coat breeds generally release less dander (dead skin flakes) compared to double coat breeds. This can be beneficial for people who experience mild dog allergies.

Examples of Large Dog Breeds with Single Coats:

  • Great Dane
  • Doberman Pinscher
  • Boxer
  • Greyhound
  • Whippet

Single coat breeds generally shed less than their double coat counterparts. However, the amount of shedding can vary from breed to breed. Even with single coat dogs, regular brushing is still important. Regardless of coat type, removing loose fur helps to maintain a healthy coat and a happy dog.

Golden Retriever, Big Dog Shedding

Double Coats: Two Layers, Two Jobs

Like we mentioned earlier, a double coat means your dog has two layers of fur. A double coat is very common, especially in large breeds. A double coat consists of a topcoat of guard hairs for protection, and a dense undercoat for insulation. We will explain the difference between these two below.

Double coats generally shed more, especially during seasonal coat blowouts. While a double coat brings challenges when it comes to shedding, it serves an amazing role for your dog.

The Two Layers of a Double Coat:

  • Topcoat (Guard Hairs): This is the outer layer of fur, made up of longer, coarser hairs known as guard hairs. These hairs protect the dog from the elements, repelling water and debris. The guard hairs also provide some protection from the sun.
  • Undercoat (Wool or Secondary Hairs): The undercoat is the second, hidden layer of fur. The undercoat consists of short, dense, and often woolly fur. The undercoat acts like insulation, trapping warm air close to the dog's body in cold weather. In warmer weather, it helps circulate air and keep your dog cool.

Some of the Benefits of a Double Coat Include:

  • Climate Control: A double coat helps large dogs regulate their body temperature in both hot and cold weather.
  • Protection: The guard hairs offer protection from the elements, like rain, snow, and scratches.
  • Water Resistance: A double coat can repel water, keeping your dog dry and comfortable in wet conditions.

How a Double Coat Adapts to Different Seasons:

  • Spring and Summer: As the weather warms up, your dog sheds its thick undercoat. This allows for better air circulation and prevents them from overheating.
  • Fall and Winter: With the approach of colder weather, your dog grows a new, denser undercoat to trap warm air and insulate them against the cold.

Examples of Large Dog Breeds with Double Coats:

  • German Shepherd
  • Siberian Husky
  • Golden Retriever
  • Saint Bernard
  • Alaskan Malamute

Grooming Needs:

Large dogs with double coats typically require more grooming than single-coated breeds. Regular brushing (ideally several times a week) helps remove loose fur, prevent matting, and can re-distribute natural oils, making for a healthier coat.

During shedding seasons, more frequent brushing may be needed. Professional grooming a few times a year can also be beneficial for managing the undercoat and your dog's overall coat health.

Siberian Husky, Big Dog Shedding

Smooth, Long, or Wiry?

Now that you have an understanding of the two types of coats your big dog may have, let's take a look at the different types of fur.

The type of fur your large dog has falls into one of three categories; smooth, long, or wiry. The type of fur your dog has plays a big role in how you manage your big dog's shedding.

You may remember from the section on double coats when we talked about ‘Guard Hairs’. It’s these guard hairs that come in either smooth, long, or wiry form.

To build on an example we used at the start of this article, think in terms of your own clothing, and how you would may dress on a cold day. 

You may first put on a thermal under layer to keep you warm. (Or in dog terms, the undercoat) And over the top, you decide to wear a jumper that’s colourful or textured for design. (Smooth, long, or wiry fur)

Smooth fur

Large dogs with smooth fur have a sleek, single coat that offers a distinct look. Smooth fur requires a different grooming approach compared to their double-coated counterparts.

Some Characteristics of Smooth Fur:

  • Short Fur: The fur is typically short, ranging from 1/2 inch to 2 inches in length. It feels smooth and soft to the touch.
  • Minimal Undercoat: Unlike double coats, smooth fur has little to no undercoat. This contributes to less shedding.
  • Variety of Colours and Patterns: Smooth fur comes in a wide range of colours and patterns. From solid colours (black, brown, fawn) to brindle, merle, and spotted patterns.

Grooming Considerations:

  • Lower Shedding: Smooth-coated dogs generally shed less than double-coated breeds. They shed year-round, but the amount is usually minimal and is easily managed with regular brushing.
  • Brushing Routine: Brushing 2-3 times a week is recommended to remove loose fur, stimulate healthy skin oil production, and keep your dog's coat shiny. A rubber grooming mitt can be effective for smooth-coated breeds.
  • Bathing: Bathing too frequently can strip the coat of natural oils. Bathe your dog every 4-8 weeks with a gentle dog shampoo formulated for smooth coats.
  • Seasonal Considerations: During shedding seasons (spring and fall), even smooth-coated dogs shed more. Increase your brushing frequency during these periods to manage your dog's loose fur.
  • Wiping: Regularly wiping down your dog with a damp cloth can help remove dirt, dust, and allergens that get trapped on short fur.
  • Skin Health: Since smooth coats offer less protection, monitor your dog's skin for irritation, dryness, or signs of allergies. Consult your vet if you notice any concerns.

Benefits of Smooth Fur:

  • Low Maintenance: Smooth fur requires less grooming compared to other coat types.
  • Less Shedding: This is a major advantage for any owners who struggle with excessive dog hair.
  • Easy to Clean: Smooth fur is easier to keep clean and dirt-free compared to long or wiry fur.

Examples of Large Dog Breeds with Smooth Fur:

  • Great Dane
  • Doberman Pinscher
  • Boxer
  • Greyhound
  • Whippet

Additional Tips for Smooth Fur Dogs:

  • A healthy diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids can promote a healthy skin and coat in smooth-coated dogs.
  • Consider using a De-Shedding Brush during shedding seasons to remove loose fur before it spreads around your home.
Dog Grooming, Big Dog Shedding

Long Fur

Large dogs with long fur add a majestic touch to any household. However, their fur requires dedicated grooming to keep them healthy and prevent discomfort to your dog.

Characteristics of Long Fur:

  • Length: The fur can vary in length, from medium-long (reaching the elbows) to floor-length.
  • Texture: The texture can range from straight and silky to wavy or curly.
  • Double or Single Coat: Long fur can occur with both single and double coats. Double coat dogs will have a denser undercoat and shed more heavily.

Grooming Considerations:

  • Brushing: Regular brushing (ideally daily for double coats) is essential to prevent matting. Use a slicker brush and a de-tangling comb to remove loose fur and knots.
  • Bathing: This depends on your dog's lifestyle and activity level. Baths may be needed every 4-8 weeks with a gentle dog shampoo formulated for long hair.
  • Drying: Thorough drying is crucial to prevent moisture buildup and skin irritation. Use a dog dryer on a low setting or a Microfibre Towel to dry completely.
  • Trimming: Regular trims around the paws, ears, and sanitary areas can help maintain hygiene and prevent matting. Consult a professional groomer for more extensive trimming styles.
  • Detangling: Mats can be painful for your dog. If you find matting, address it promptly with a de-tangling spray and a gentle brush. Consider professional grooming for severe matting.
  • Diet: Like smooth fur dogs, a high-quality diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids can promote a healthy skin and coat.

Additional Tips for Long Fur Dog Breeds:

  • Brushing Techniques: Proper brushing techniques help to avoid pulling or irritating your dog's skin.
  • Deshedding Tools: During shedding seasons, a De-Shedding Tool can help remove loose fur before it falls out and spreads around your home.
  • Ear Cleaning: Long fur around the ears can trap moisture and debris. Regularly clean your dog's ears with a veterinarian-recommended solution.
  • Professional Grooming: Regular professional grooming sessions can be beneficial. Especially for double-coated breeds with long fur. They can help manage shedding, prevent matting, and maintain a healthy coat.

Examples of Large Dog Breeds with Long Fur:

  • Afghan Hound (Single Coat)
  • Saint Bernard (Double Coat)
  • Newfoundland (Double Coat)
  • Komondor (Single Coat)
  • Old English Sheepdog (Double Coat)

It's important to remember the specific grooming needs of a long-haired dog. This will vary depending on the breed, fur texture, and whether they have a single or double coat. Consistent grooming is crucial to maintaining a healthy, long coat for your large dog.

Dog Grooming, Big Dog Shedding

Wiry Fur

Large dogs with wiry fur possess a unique coat that offers a distinct look and requires specific grooming practices.

Characteristics of Wiry Fury:

  • Coarse Texture: The fur is wiry, rough, and feels bristly to the touch. It stands off from the body, creating a textured appearance.
  • Minimal Shedding: Unlike many other coat types, wiry fur sheds minimally. However, dead hair gets trapped within the coat instead of freely shedding.
  • Low Maintenance (Sort of): While minimal shedding is a perk, wiry coats require specific grooming to prevent matting, and maintain a healthy appearance.

Grooming Considerations:

  • Brushing: Regular brushing (a few times a week) is essential. Use a stripping comb or a firm bristle brush to remove dead hair and prevent matting. Brushing helps distribute natural oils for a healthy coat.
  • Hand Stripping: For some breeds, professional hand stripping is necessary a few times a year. This process involves removing dead hair by hand, promoting new hair growth and maintaining the wiry texture.
  • Bathing: Wiry-haired dogs typically require less frequent bathing compared to other coat types (every 4-8 weeks). Use a gentle dog shampoo formulated for coarse hair.
  • Trimming: Regular trimming around the paws, ears, and sanitary areas can help maintain hygiene and prevent matting. Consult a professional groomer for more extensive trimming styles.
  • Ear Cleaning: Wiry fur around the ears can trap moisture and debris. Regularly clean your dog's ears with a veterinarian-recommended solution.

Benefits of Wiry Fur:

  • Low Shedding: This is a major advantage for allergy sufferers and those who struggle with excessive dog hair.
  • Hypoallergenic Dogs: Some wiry-haired breeds are considered hypoallergenic due to minimal shedding and less dander (dead skin flakes) production.
  • Durability: Wiry fur can be quite durable and weather-resistant, offering protection from the elements.

Examples of Large Dog Breeds with Wiry Fur:

  • Giant Schnauzer (Double Coat)
  • Airedale Terrier (Single Coat)
  • Irish Wolfhound (Single Coat)
  • Komondor (Single Coat - Corded Coat)
  • Bouvier des Flandres (Double Coat)

It’s important to remember the specific grooming needs of a wiry-haired dog. These can vary depending on the breed and whether they have a single or double coat. While wiry fur sheds minimally, consistent grooming is crucial to prevent matting and maintain a healthy coat. Professional grooming is often recommended for wiry-haired breeds to ensure proper hand stripping and coat maintenance.

Dog Grooming, Big Dog Shedding

What Can I Do To Manage My Big Dogs Shedding?

With a big dog, you will always have a certain amount of shedding in your home. Chances are, it's going to be a long time before you pick up a plate and not find a dog hair on it. (Or on everything else in your home for that matter.)

However, there are some rules of thumb you can follow to help reduce the impact of your dog's shedding in your home.

Some good tips to follow are:

Brushing:

  • Regular Brushing: This is the number one way to manage shedding. Brushing 2-3 times a week is ideal, but daily brushing during heavy shedding seasons (spring and fall) can significantly reduce the fur tumbleweeds in your home.
  • The Right Brush: Choose a brush appropriate for your dog's coat type. Large double-coated breeds might benefit from a combination of a slicker brush to remove loose topcoat, and a De-Shedding Tool to manage the undercoat. 
  • De-Shedding Tool: As we mentioned above. A de-shedding tool is a specialised grooming device designed to remove loose undercoat fur from your dog, significantly reducing shedding. It helps keep your pet's coat healthy and minimises the amount of hair that ends up around your home.

Diet:

  • High-Quality Food: A nutritious diet rich in protein and omega-3 fatty acids promotes a healthy skin and coat, leading to less shedding. Consult your veterinarian for recommendations on the best food for your dog.
  • Supplements: Omega-3 and fish oil supplements can be helpful additions to a dog's diet to improve skin and coat health. Discuss this with your veterinarian first before making drastic changes to your dog's diet.

Bathing:

  • Moderate Bathing: While regular baths can remove loose hair, over-bathing can strip your dog's coat of natural oils, and actually make shedding worse. Bathe your dog every 4-8 weeks with a gentle shampoo formulated for dogs.

Other Tips:

  • Vacuum Regularly: I know, I know, I can hear the groans already. But frequent vacuuming, especially using a pet hair attachment, is essential for managing large dog shedding.
  • Lint Rollers: Keep lint rollers on hand for a quick clean-up of dog hair on clothes and furniture.
  • Wipe Down Furniture: Regularly wiping down furniture with a damp cloth can help trap dog hairs before they become embedded around your house.

Additional Considerations:

  • Shedding and Underlying Health: If you notice a sudden increase in shedding, consult your veterinarian. Excessive shedding can sometimes be a sign of an underlying health issue.
  • Professional Grooming: For large double-coated breeds, professional grooming a few times a year can be a great way to remove excess undercoat and manage shedding.
Dog Grooming, Big Dog Shedding

Big Shedders

Before we wrap things up, let's take a quick look at the five dog breeds that are known to 'spread their love and presence' the most.

Before we jump into the list, I want to say that even though these big dogs shed a lot, we still love them completely. And we wouldn't have them any other way!

  1. Siberian Husky: These iconic sled dogs have a thick double coat, specifically designed for harsh climates. They shed year-round, with intense seasonal blowouts, where they lose a significant amount of undercoat fur. Brushing daily during shedding seasons is a must to manage the loose fur.
  2. Golden Retriever: These beloved companions have a beautiful double coat with a dense undercoat. While their shedding is moderate throughout the year, they experience heavy seasonal blowouts. These blowouts can leave a noticeable amount of fur around the house. Consistent brushing is key.
  3. German Shepherd: Intelligent and loyal, German Shepherds have a thick double coat with a dense undercoat. They are moderate to heavy shedders year-round. Their seasonal blowouts require dedicated grooming efforts. Brushing several times a week is recommended.
  4. Akita: These majestic dogs have a double coat with a thick undercoat that sheds heavily, especially during seasonal transitions. Regular brushing is essential to manage loose fur and prevent matting.
  5. Saint Bernard: These gentle giants boast a thick double coat that provides excellent insulation, but comes with a hefty shedding price tag. They shed heavily year-round, with intense seasonal blowouts that require regular brushing and professional grooming to keep shedding under control.

Not So Big Shedders

And lastly, lets take a quick look at the big dog breeds that are on the lighter side when it comes to shedding:

  1. Giant Schnauzer: This intelligent and loyal breed has a wiry double coat. The good news? The wiry texture traps shed fur, so while they do shed, it's minimal and less noticeable compared to breeds with loose fur. Regular brushing and professional hand stripping a few times a year help maintain their coat.
  2. Poodle (Standard): Famous for their hypoallergenic qualities, Poodles have a non-shedding single coat. Their coat grows continuously and requires regular grooming to prevent matting. Regular brushing and professional grooming sessions are key.
  3. Komondor: This large guardian breed has a unique single coat that forms into corded dreadlocks. While impressive, these "cords" require dedicated grooming to prevent matting and maintain their distinctive look. Shedding is minimal, but professional grooming is essential.
  4. Bouvier des Flandres: This hardworking breed has a rough, double coat that sheds minimally. Brushing a few times a week helps remove dead hair and keep their coat healthy. Professional grooming may be needed occasionally.
  5. Great Dane: These gentle giants have a short, smooth single coat. They shed minimally and require minimal brushing. Regular brushing helps remove loose fur and keep their coat healthy.

Conclusion

With the information in this article, you should now have the necessary tools needed to effectively manage your big dog's shedding. While you may not be able to stop your large dog from shedding completely, using the tips in this guide should help you to minimise the amount of shedding you find around your home.

To help you in the battle against shedding, check out our De-Shedding Tool. Our de-shedding tool is tailor made for big dogs with double coats. It helps to remove loose fur, right down to the undercoat, and is a favourite here at King Size Canines.

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