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Molting in Dogs: When and Why Does it Happen? Seasonal Shedding Explained

Photo of Tamsin De La Harpe

Written by Tamsin De La Harpe

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Molting in dogs is a natural process where dogs shed heavier than usual, and owners grow painfully attached to the vacuum. By knowing when their dog is likely to molt, owners can prepare for the extra grooming that will be required.

One of the most common grooming-related issues dog owners battle is shedding, when weapons like brushes, dog grooming gloves, and lint rollers become lifesavers. You can say that molting is like shedding on steroids, where double-coated breeds lose their heavier coat in the spring and fall. 

Understanding when and why dogs molt is important for pet owners. Additionally, excessive shedding can be a sign of health problems, so being aware of when a dog is molting can help owners identify potential health issues early on. Eileen Geeson’s Ultimate Dog Grooming gives us tips on how to deal with these extra fur-ry days.

Overall, it’s important to understand that shedding is a natural process for dogs, and it’s necessary for maintaining healthy hair growth. Some people take molting to be similar to shedding, but this article will use the term “molting” to describe the bi-annual, heavier shedding that happens when the seasons change

The timing of molting in dogs is influenced by several factors, including breed, age, season, and coat type. Some refer to molting as a dog “blowing their coat.” It happens to dogs with thick undercoats, such as Huskies, German Shepherds, Corgis, and Chow Chows.

However, breeds with single coats, such as the Poodle or Bichon Frise, don’t really molt, they just shed very little throughout the year. On the other hand, short, smooth-coated dogs like Pitbulls shed year round, but they don’t have thick enough hair or an undercoat that will come out in clumps when the seasons change.

Factors like nutrition, stress, and health problems can also affect the amount of shedding, some even causing dogs to lose hair. 

While it can be frustrating to deal with excess hair, regular brushing and grooming can help minimize shedding and keep your dog’s coat healthy and shiny. Learning about molting can also let you know when there is a problem, like when your dog loses hair in patches.

When Do Dogs Molt?

According to research, dogs with double coats (also called two-ply coats) are the ones that molt. This process is known as “blowing the coat.” They first molt during the spring as they shed their thick winter coats for a lighter summer coat. Next is in the fall when they shed their lighter summer coats for the heavier winter ones.

One foolproof way to know when a dog is blowing their coat is seeing their fur coming out in handfuls like this cute wolfdog

What Months Do Dogs Molt For?

Generally, dogs in the United States typically shed their winter coats in the spring months of March, April, and May. They shed their summer coats in the fall months of September, October, and November.

The same months apply to the UK since both are in the Northern Hemisphere. The only difference is they call the fall season Autumn instead. 

USA vs UK Vs Australia Shedding Seasons

The shedding seasons for dogs in the USA, UK, and Australia can differ due to the differences in climate and weather patterns. In the USA, the molting process is more pronounced in the northern states, where the winters are colder and longer. Dogs in the southern states may shed less due to the milder climate.

Dog molting seasons in Australia are completely different since it’s in the Southern Hemisphere. The summer coats shed during autumn in March to May. The winter coats shed during the Spring in September to November. 

Why Do Dogs Molt?

Dogs molt to shed their old winter or summer coats to make way for a new coat more appropriate for the upcoming season.

One of the main reasons for dog molting is to regulate their body temperature. Dogs have a thick coat of hair that helps to keep them warm in the winter and cool in the summer. When the weather changes, their coat needs to change too. Molting helps remove the old hair and make way for new hair better suited to the new season.

This explains why breeds like Huskies and Malamutes literally bask in the snow. Their coats are better suited to extremely low temperatures compared to warmer climate breeds that prefer basking in the sun.

Another reason why dogs molt is to remove damaged or dead hair. Dogs are active animals, and their hair can damage or break over time. Molting helps to remove this damaged hair and make way for new, healthy hair growth.

How Long Does A Dog Molt Or Blow Their Coat For?

The duration of shedding varies depending on the breed, age, health, and other factors. In general, dogs molt twice a year, usually in the spring and fall for 2 to 4 weeks each season. However, some low-shedding breeds only shed a little throughout the year.

Factors such as diet, stress, and hormonal changes can also affect the duration of shedding. A balanced diet rich in essential fatty acids and vitamins can help promote healthy skin and coat, which may reduce shedding.

Stressful situations such as moving to a new home or changes in routine can also trigger excessive shedding. Hormonal changes such as pregnancy or puberty may also affect shedding patterns.

It is important to note that excessive shedding or sudden changes in shedding patterns may indicate an underlying health issue and should be evaluated by a veterinarian. In general, regular grooming and proper nutrition can help reduce shedding and promote a healthy coat.

Molting Dog Breeds

Some dog breeds are more prone to shedding and molting than others. Additionally, some mixes, like the German Shepherd Husky mix combine two high-shedding breeds for a super molting dog. Here are a molting breeds that are heavy seasonal shedders:

  • Labrador Retriever;
  • Golden Retriever;
  • German Shepherd;
  • Siberian Husky;
  • Alaskan Malamute;
  • Chow Chow;
  • Akita;
  • American Eskimo;
  • Great Pyrenees;
  • Welsh Corgis: Related – Do Welsh Corgis shed a lot?; and
  • Bernese Mountain Dog and many more.

These breeds have thick coats that help them stay warm in cold weather but also means they shed a lot of fur when the seasons change. During the shedding season, owners should expect to find fur all over their homes.

It’s important to note that not all dogs of these breeds will shed heavily. Some may have a lighter coat or shed less frequently. This includes Dalmatians, which have a single coat but shed considerably. 

An easy way to know if your dog is a molting breed is to check for a double coat. You can do this by checking the AKC breed profiles for double coats. You can also check for the double coat yourself by parting their fur. There are six different types of coats for dogs. 

Knowing what type of coat your dog has can prepare you for their grooming.needs.The video below discusses different coats and which ones shed or molt.

Factors Influencing Dog Molting

Breed

Different breeds of dogs have different coat types, which can significantly impact the frequency and intensity of molting.

For example, double-coated breeds such as Huskies and Golden Retrievers molt heavily twice a year, while single-coated breeds such as Poodles and Bichon Frises shed much less frequently. The length, texture, and color of a dog’s coat can also affect how much they shed.

Breeds that shed very little to moderately include:

Age

Age is another factor that can impact a dog’s molting patterns. Puppies typically shed their soft baby fur as they grow into their adult coat, while senior dogs may experience more frequent and intense shedding due to hormonal changes and aging skin.

Health Status

A dog’s overall health can also affect their molting patterns. Dogs with skin allergies or other health conditions may experience excessive shedding, while dogs with poor nutrition or inadequate grooming may also shed more frequently. Improper grooming can also be why a dog is itching after a bath.

Seasonal Changes

Finally, seasonal changes can also impact a dog’s molting patterns. Many dogs shed more heavily in the spring and fall as their coat adjusts to changing temperatures and daylight hours. 

The Dog Molting Process: What Happens When Dogs Molt?

The dog molting process is part of a canine’s hair growth process. Heavier molting (blowing the coat) happens for about 2 to 4 weeks every spring and fall in double-coated breeds. 

A dog’s hair grows in three phases: Anagen (hair grows), catagen (hair plateaus), and Telegen (hair sheds). Molting better describes the process where dogs shed the undercoat in bulk.

What Triggers Dog Molting?

Dogs molt to shed their old fur and grow a new coat. The process is natural and occurs in response to various triggers. Here are some of the factors that can trigger dog molting:

Seasonal Changes

Most dogs will molt twice a year, in the spring and fall. This is because the changing seasons trigger hormonal changes in their bodies, which in turn trigger the shedding process. 

Age

As dogs age, their coat may become thinner and less healthy, which can trigger more frequent shedding. Senior dogs may also shed more due to hormonal changes in their bodies.

Stress

Stress can cause dogs to molt more frequently. This can be due to various factors, such as changes in their environment, illness, or anxiety. If a dog is shedding excessively due to stress, it’s important to identify and address the underlying cause.

Diet

A dog’s diet can also play a role in their shedding patterns. A diet lacking essential nutrients can cause a dog’s coat to become dry and brittle, leading to excessive shedding.

 A healthy, balanced diet that includes plenty of protein, vitamins, and minerals can help keep a dog’s coat healthy and reduce shedding. Additionally, dogs with allergies may shed more than usual and even have rashes on the groin.

Breed

Certain dog breeds are more prone to shedding than others. Breeds with double coats, such as Huskies and Shepherds, shed more frequently than breeds with single coats, such as Poodles and Bichons. This is because double-coated breeds have an undercoat that sheds seasonally, while single-coated breeds have a coat that grows continuously.

Dog Molting Excessively?

Some shedding appears to be excessive and is caused by improper nutrition, low-quality grooming products, stress, and parasites. Check your dog’s health and lifestyle and consult your vet if the lackluster coat persists. 

How to Manage Dog Molting

1. Brush Your Dog Regularly

Regular brushing can help to remove loose fur and prevent it from accumulating on furniture and carpets. It can also help to distribute natural oils throughout the dog’s coat, which can promote healthy skin and fur.

2. Bathe Your Dog

Bathing your dog with proper shampoo can help to remove loose fur and dirt from their coat. However, it is important not to over-bathe your dog, as this can strip their coat of natural oils and lead to dry skin.

3. Use High-Quality Dog Food

A balanced and nutritious diet can help to promote healthy skin and fur, which can reduce shedding. Look for dog foods that contain high-quality protein, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, and other essential nutrients.

4. Provide Plenty of Water

Adequate hydration is important for healthy skin and fur. Make sure that your dog has access to clean, fresh water at all times.

5. Consider Supplements

Certain supplements, such as fish oil and biotin, can help to promote healthy skin and fur and reduce shedding. However, it is important to talk to your veterinarian before giving your dog any supplements.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

When do dogs shed their summer coats?

Dogs usually shed their summer coat in the fall and winter months. The exact timing can vary based on the breed of the dog and their individual coat type. Some dogs may start shedding earlier or later than others, and the process can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months.

How long does dog shedding last?

The length of time that a dog sheds can vary based on their breed, age, and overall health. Most dogs tend to blow their coats for about 2 to 4 weeks every spring and fall.

Why is my female dog shedding so much?

Female dogs can shed more than usual due to a number of factors, including pregnancy, lactation, and hormonal changes. It’s essential to monitor your dog’s shedding and consult a veterinarian if you notice any excessive shedding or other symptoms.

What months do dogs shed the most?

Dogs typically shed the most in the fall and winter months as they prepare for the colder weather. These months are September to November in the US, UK, and other Northern-hemisphere states. 

Do all dogs shed?

Yes, all dogs shed to some extent. Some breeds shed more than others, but all dogs will lose some hair as part of their natural shedding process. 

Final Thoughts

Understanding the process of molting in dogs is important for any pet owner. While it can be a messy and frustrating time, it is a natural and necessary part of a dog’s life cycle. Shedding can be influenced by factors such as breed, age, and health, but it is ultimately a biological process that occurs in all dogs.

Regular grooming and a healthy diet can help minimize shedding and keep a dog’s coat looking shiny and healthy. However, excessive shedding or bald patches may indicate an underlying health issue, and it is important to consult a veterinarian if this is the case.

Meet Your Experts

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Tamsin De La Harpe

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Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.

Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.