Your chow chow sheds in clumps, which makes removing her fur from the floor by hand easy, but plays havoc with the vacuum cleaner. The natural shedding cycles of chows are generally in sync with seasonal needs.
As pretty as your chow chow's fur is, it's not there for beauty. The heavy double coat protects her from the sun, both warm and cold weather, pests and thorny vegetation. Shaving a chow to stop shedding or to keep her cooler in the summer defeats the protective qualities of the coat. Believe it or not, a chow can get sunburned. Shaving her removes the insulation her coat offers, and interferes with her natural shedding cycle. Shedding is triggered by light, not temperature. If your chow chow lives indoors with artificial light, she will shed evenly throughout the year.
Blowing the Coat
An average chow will blow her coat twice a year. As the days become longer in the spring, she will blow her winter coat in preparation for the warmer summer months. During this part of her shedding cycle, she will shed trash cans full of hair, and you may wonder if there will be anything left of her when she is done. As the days begin to shorten during December, she will blow her coat again. Now the summer coat changes to a denser undercoat for winter insulation, allowing your chow to roll around in the snow if she wants.
Just as with other breeds, hormones and gender also affect shedding in chows. Chows who are spayed or neutered have a more distinct undercoat, making them appear cottony all over, and they won’t blow their coats to the extent that an unaltered dog will. A female chow’s shedding cycle is affected by her heat cycle and pregnancy. Anywhere from one to three months after giving birth, a female chow will rapidly blow out her coat, sometimes leaving her with thin hair along the ribcage, flanks and her lower back area. The scraggly look improves within two to four months, as her fur fills back in.
Grooming during Shedding
Groom your chow chow at least weekly while she's blowing her coat, to remove excess fur and eliminate mats. Have her lie on one side, and use a shedding slicker and a metal dog-grooming comb to brush her down to the skin. If you are going to bathe her while she’s blowing her coat, give her a thorough brushing before the bath. Use a dog-grooming dryer to dry the coat more quickly. Don’t use a human dryer, because they get too hot. When she’s completely dry to the skin, brush her again.
Based in Las Vegas, Sandy Vigil has been a writer and educator since 1980. She taught high school and middle school English and drama for 11 years. Vigil holds a Master of Science in teaching from Nova Southeastern University and a Bachelor of Arts in secondary English education from the University of Central Oklahoma.