Why Some Dog Breeds Shed in the Fall

German Shepherd on couch
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German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, Chow Chows and other breeds with double coats tend to shed during the fall.

There's a definite feeling in the air at this time of year. The leaves are changing, the days are getting shorter, the temperature is dropping — and your dog is shedding everywhere. What gives?

If you thought shedding only occurred in the spring, think again. Now that the nights are growing longer and the days colder, some of our dogs are shedding their light summer coats to make way for a warmer, woollier winter coat.

You may not notice this phenomenon if you don’t have a dog with a double coat. But owners of breeds such as Bernese Mountain Dogs, Chow Chows, Collies, German Shepherds and Golden Retrievers — to name just a few — know that a flurry of fur comes with the first days of fall. After all, there’s a reason it’s known as “blowing coat.”

Shedding Facts

Dogs shed hair periodically as old hairs die and new hairs take their place. We don’t notice it as much in some breeds, such as Poodles, because their hair has a long growth cycle. It takes much longer for their hair to fall out and make dust bunnies in your home — if it ever does. And some people keep these dogs trimmed on a regular enough basis that shedding isn’t an issue.  In furry double-coated dogs, though, shedding is much more obvious — and much more of a mess.

Although it may seem overwhelming, the amount of falling hair is normal. The tricky part is keeping the flying fur under control. You'll need to step up the number of times per week you brush your dog to keep the fur off your clothing, floor and furniture. A warm bath and a thorough blow-dry session can also help to release old hair more quickly and allow for new growth.

How can you tell if fall shedding is abnormal? Take your dog to the veterinarian if he has bare patches where his skin is visible or if you notice hair thinning in symmetrical areas of the body, such as on the flanks. Otherwise, suck it up — with the vacuum cleaner — and console yourself with the thought that your dog’s shedding level will be back to normal in a few weeks — at least until spring, when you can expect to go through the whole thing again.

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