It’s Coat Blowing Season: Here’s How to Manage When the Dog Fur Really Flies
Like a fur tornado, there’s no escaping some dogs’ heavy seasonal shedding. Armed with a lint brush and a vacuum, you must seek first to understand the phenomenon, then control it as best you can.
The actual origin of the term for a dog 'blowing coat' isn't widely known, but it's an apt description for all the massive tufts of fur (so, so many!) releasing from your pet and whirling on the wind, attaching to anything in their path.
All dogs shed, at least a little, but not all dogs blow coat. Many factors play into this, including breed, genetics, health, and even hormones. Mostly, it's the difference between fur and hair. Brookfield Animal Hospital states that fur and hair grow within the same follicle and are both made of keratin, a protein also found in nails and skin. Fur follicles are finer, shorter, and more densely-packed together. Hair is thicker, longer, less dense, and "grows beyond the length of fur, forming a protective layer of warmth and water resistance over the pet."
So a long-haired dog most likely has a single coat, but other canines have a double coat of fur and hair, and have to clear away dead follicles to make way for new growth. When you give your sweet dog a rub and notice your hand has much more fuzz on it than before, it's likely blowing coat season, which for some dogs happens both in the spring and fall.
It can feel overwhelming at first to handle an extensive amount of shedding all at once! Fortunately, the timeline for dog coat blow is relatively short, and we have tips to help you manage all that fluff.
What Does It Mean When a Dog Is Blowing Coat?
Jerry Klein, DVM, chief veterinary officer of the American Kennel Club, says double-coated dog breeds are often poofy or fluffy pooches. Their coats have two layers: a soft undercoat, and a 'guard hair' outer coat.
"The undercoat acts as insulation, keeping the dog warm in the winter and cool in the summer," Klein says. "The outer layer allows cool air to circulate near the dog's skin after he sheds his undercoat."
There are four phases of fur and hair growth in dogs (well, and cats too!):
- Anagen: active growth
- Catagen: hair is fully grown
- Telogen: hair is not only fully grown, but also fully attached to the animal and dormant
- Exogen: Dormant hair falls out and anagen hair growth starts again
Excessive shedding happens during the exogen phase, when seasonal changes require double-coated dogs to adapt for temperature and comfort.
How Often Do Double-Coated Dogs Blow Their Coat?
Shallowford Animal Hospital (SAM) explains that since most dogs live in more controlled environments than their ancestors, they actually shed less often (although it might not seem like it!) Still, light and temperature dictate when a dog's coat blow is most likely to happen.
"Shedding is controlled by hormonal changes that are affected by changes in daylight. In the spring, the winter coat sheds to make way for the lighter, summer coat," SAM notes. "As the days get shorter, many dogs and cats shed their summer coats so a heavier, thicker, protective coat can grow in for the winter." Further, because the winter coat is much thicker, there will be much more fur releasing in the spring.
The thick undercoat usually sheds twice a year, and the outer layer, or topcoat, once a year. Expect to have piles of fluff for about 2–4 weeks each season, depending on the breed.
Usually, blowing coat is a normal occurrence for healthy, double-coated dogs, but if you feel it's an excessive amount, or notice skin irritations or changes in behavior, consult with your veterinarian right away.
Double-Coated Dog Breeds That Blow Coat Each Year
Ah, here's where some breeds just give it their all! For some Nordic pups, such as the Siberian Husky, blowing coat is a way of life, and will most certainly happen twice a year. Klein uses a similar Arctic breed to explain why.
"Purposely designed to withstand brutal and bone-chilling temperatures, Samoyeds have a long, fluffy outer coat, with a wooly undercoat," he says. "This breed sheds all the time, even more so during the shedding season, which can take place once or twice per year."
The giant European Leonberger is another double-coated breed Klein says blows coat twice a year because of a thick, full outer coat and shorter, fluffier undercoat. This breed is also known for a lot of shedding. Every day. And that means a lot of brushing and vacuuming. Every day!
But it's all about the coat and not about size. "The profuse double coat is one of the Pomeranian's most distinguishing features," Klein says. "Frequent brushing is necessary to maintain the beautiful coat that we admire."
Here are a few other double-coated dog breeds that blow coat at least once a year:
Use our handy breed guide to learn about other double-coated dogs and what to expect during shedding season.
How to Deal With Shedding Season
Armed with the right tools and grooming routine, you'll soon become a shedding zen master!
- First, really know your breed’s care requirements. Your vet or a professional groomer can help detail a plan for bathing, brushing, and other methods for wrangling the fluff. You might have to brush your pooch twice daily for a while just to keep up with it all.
- Yes, your household cleaning duties will spike for a few weeks, especially as you try to keep your furry friend’s bedding clean (which is just a giant magnet for more fur!) as well as any place floating fluff might land, like the kitchen counter.
- While a simple lint brush can do wonders for removing dog hair from many surfaces (including your pup!), there are other slick products that make picking up after him a bit easier.
- Just put away nice clothes, especially if they’re black, for a little while. No sense going bonkers trying to get all the fur off you too!
One final point. Under no circumstances should you shave a double-coated dog as a means to control blowing coat.
"While many feel that shaving their double-coated breed will help keep them cool, it can actually do the opposite and pose even greater risks," Klein says. "Shaving a double-coated breed will change the coat's texture and color over time. It also eliminates the function of keeping the dog insulated and eliminates the protection from the sun."