Shedding questions for dogs are like gas mileage questions for cars. Each individual breed, or car model, is different and results in a different answer. That said, indoor pooches generally don't follow a set shedding schedule like their outdoor counterparts, and instead tend to lose some amount of hair year-round.
Shedding the Light on Shedding
Your dog's coat is actually a fairly sophisticated insulation system that uses various factors to determine when it needs to bulk up or thin down. Daylight hours and temperature are the two biggest factors that affect your dog's coat thickness, as less daylight and lower temperatures signal the growth of the thicker winter coat. Longer daylight hours and warmer temps tell the body to start getting rid of the excess fur for summer. This typically results in two big shedding times in spring and fall when your pooch's coat swaps from one season to the other.
As an indoor dog, your pup is exposed to artificial light and controlled temperatures that can confuse his coat and prevent it from going through this typical grow-and-shed cycle. Because he doesn't need to completely alter his coat throughout the year to stay comfortable, your pooch will typically shed some hair continuously as it naturally dies and falls out. The amount varies by breed, of course, as some dogs such as the Maltese and Shih Tzu hardly shed at all, while double-coated breeds such as the collie and Pomeranian may still go through the big seasonal change as their undercoats drop out.
Limiting the Loss
Despite what the screaming infomercial spokesman or poorly spelled Internet ads would lead you to believe, you cannot completely stop your dog from shedding. What you can do is limit the amount of hair that coats your couch and everything else in your home. Brush your pup regularly, ranging from once a week to once a day depending on your particular pooch, to collect as much loose, dead hair as possible before it ends up on your floor. Increase the frequency of your sessions if he seems to be going through a big seasonal coat change. This regular grooming keeps his coat mat-free, looking nice and prevents a layer of dog hair from forming all over your home.
Unless your dog spends a good portion of his day outside during the year, further confusing his coat, his shedding should be fairly consistent and predictable. If, however, he seems to be shedding more than usual or it's coming out in clumps, see your vet. Unusual hair loss in dogs usually is caused by an underlying health issue, such as a parasite infestation, kidney problems or thyroid disease. Once the underlying condition is dealt with, his coat and shedding routine should return to normal.
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