Dog owners of all kinds know that excess dog fur can be found in almost all corners of the home. Almost all dogs shed, especially when the temperatures start to rise. Even if you’re meticulous about bathing and brushing your dog, there’s going to be some that slip through. It can end up on your clothes, upholstery, and even your food. One of the solutions for this is called deshedding.
What is Deshedding
Deshedding is the process of physically removing loose hair from your dog’s undercoat. While many dog owners are good at having a regular schedule of brushing their dog’s fur, brushing alone will not eliminate most of the loose undercoat. Brushing mainly works on the outer layer of fur and is usually enough to get rid of hair and debris from that layer.
One of the biggest benefits of deshedding is that it helps in the natural process of shedding. Dogs go through a cycle of shedding almost continuously. Some dogs are seasonal shedders, resulting in an explosion of fur called a “blowing coat” that can cover the entire inside of your house.
Deshedding works best before this happens since you can remove any fur that is ready to be shed. The process also removes some of the oil build-ups on your dog’s fur and skin, preventing hotspots and matting.
It’s important to note that deshedding will not completely stop your dog from shedding. It simply minimizes the amount that your dog can shed by taking the fur away at the source.
The amount of reduction varies depending on the dog and the type of coat, but some owners report as much as 80 percent less stray dog fur around the house. That’s still a big improvement, and more than worth it to invest in deshedding tools or a trip to the groomer.
When Should You Deshed Your Dog
Before we can answer that question, we need to understand the different types of dog coats. The type of coat will determine whether your dog needs regular deshedding or if you can do it seasonally. There are a few basic types of coats:
1. Smooth coat
This type of coat grows close to the dog’s body, lying flat against the dog’s skin and giving it a smooth, shiny appearance. Dogs with this type of coat aren’t hard to maintain, but they do shed continuously. The short fur means that hairs reach maturity quickly, and are ready to be shed almost as quickly. The shedding cycle for this type of coat can be anywhere from every week to every twelve weeks. A weekly deshedding is advisable for smooth coat dogs.
2. Double coat
Double coat dogs have a longer outer coat of rough guard hairs, and a thicker, softer undercoat. The undercoat is meant to act as a thermal regulator, while the outer coat shields them from dirt and other hazards. Double coated dogs are often seasonal shedders, and when they blow coat, it can seem like there’s no end to the amount of fur they can produce. Some dogs also develop a double coat over time. If you look up Shih Tzu puppies for sale, you’ll notice that they have a single coat. As they reach adulthood, they’ll grow into the trademark double coat. A seasonal deshedding is usually enough for double-coat breeds.
3. Long coat
Long coat dogs have hair that is continually growing and can reach to the floor if left untrimmed. Their coats can be either coarse or silky, and in some cases they may also have a short undercoat. In that case, the short undercoat is less likely to be an issue since the much longer outer coat will trap almost all hair being shed. A monthly deshedding is advisable for long coat dogs.
4. Wire coat
Wire coat dog breeds have a short, wiry coat that feels rough and bristle-like when touched. Their coat is meant to protect them from colder temperatures and more adverse weather conditions. Wire coat dogs don’t typically shed much, since a lot of the shed hair gets trapped in their rough coat. They do shed year-round, but for most owners, it’s very manageable. Some of them have a seasonal shedding, but it’s not as noticeable as with other types of coats. Wire coat dogs can be deshedded every week to every month, depending on the dog.
5. Curly coat
Curly coat dogs have hair that ranges anywhere from smooth waves to tight curls. The most prominent example is the poodle, whose smaller curls can reach lengths rivaling that of the long coat breeds. These types of coats are typically non-shedding, though the hair can grow very quickly and may need to be brushed and de-tangled often. You may not have to deshed a curly coat dog at all.
6. Short coat
Dog breeds with a short coat are some of the most common – the coat sits close to the body and has a high potential for shedding. The short coat is continuously growing, much like the smooth coat. Since the hairs mature within a couple of weeks, they are also ready to be shed very soon. Short coat breeds are some of the most prominent shedders, with a shedding cycle of one to twelve weeks. Like the smooth coat breeds, weekly deshedding is advisable for a short coat dog.
How to Deshed Your Dog
First, you’ll need some tools. You’ll need a slicker brush and a deshedding tool or something similar. Certain shorter-haired breeds will be fine with just a slicker brush or pin brush as a deshedding tool. Breeds with a longer outer coat and a more dense undercoat will also require a specialized deshedding brush that is designed to reach the undercoat. If you already know how to groom your dog, you may have everything you need.
Before you begin, carefully inspect your dog’s skin for any wounds, sores, or bruises. If you find any, contact your veterinarian before proceeding with the deshedding.
The first step is a thorough brushing. This first brushing is meant to remove tangles and matted fur. Our goal isn’t to remove fur just yet, but some may come off during this step.
Using the slicker brush, gently brush your dog down and away from your dog’s skin. Treat your dog’s fur the same way you would treat your hair – there’s no need to try to run the brush through if it gets stuck.
Use long, smooth strokes and stop if you hit any resistance. Gradually work out any tangles and matted fur.
The second step is the actual deshedding. Now you’ll use your deshedding tool. With the same gentle technique as in the first brushing, work on getting out as much fur as you can. You’ll be surprised by just how much easily-removable fur you’ll get.
There’s no process that will completely eliminate the need for dogs to shed. However, a regular deshedding schedule can make life easier for both you and your dog. Happy deshedding!