Puppies are known for many wonderful things, including their soft, fuzzy coats. This baby fur is temporary, eventually maturing into permanent adult fur. The timing of this change varies, but there are certain generally recognized time frames, as well as visible ways to know when puppy fur is growing up.
About Your Puppy's Baby Fur
Puppies are born with a thin, soft coating of fur called a puppy coat. This fur helps shield vulnerable puppies from the elements and helps regulate their body temperature. Puppy fur may be long or short, although it's usually shorter than the adult coat. As your puppy matures, his coat feels thicker and rougher. In some breeds, the look of the fur may also change as baby fur is replaced with adult fur.
Losing Fur, Growing Fur
Your puppy may begin to shed his puppy fur when he's as young as 3 months old, but this varies. During the transition, his coat may appear shaggy or patchy, as baby fur falls out before adult fur has a chance to replace it. This is normal, as puppy fur can fall out more quickly than adult coat grows. The hair loss associated with growth is normal as long as your pup is otherwise healthy.
Color and Pattern Changes
As the puppy fur is gradually replaced with adult fur, you may also see changes in color and pattern. For example, Dalmatian pups are born white, but develop spots as they lose their puppy fur. Some white puppies grow into cream-colored or tan adults, and other pups are born with black fur and grow into brown-coated adults. For these kinds of dogs, such color and pattern changes are telltale signs that a puppy is beginning to grow his adult fur.
Dogs With Hair Rather Than Fur
Some breeds have hair instead of fur. While fur and hair are chemically the same, hair has a longer growth cycle. This reduces shedding and dander, an irritant for many people with allergies. Some breeds that have hair include the Bichon frise, Havanese, Lhasa apso, poodle, Maltese and Yorkshire terrier. Dogs with hair can suffer from large mats as their puppy fur falls out. Therefore, people with these breeds should monitor their pups and clip out any mats that occur.
Sarah Whitman's work has been featured in newspapers, magazines, websites and informational booklets. She is currently pursuing a master's degree in nutrition, and her projects feature nutrition and cooking, whole foods, supplements and organics. She also specializes in companion animal health, encouraging the use of whole foods, supplements and other holistic approaches to pet care.