Perhaps, the worst thing about golden retrievers is shedding. Goldens shed year-round, a lot, and the shedding can’t be stopped.
If you want a golden retriever, expect all your clothes, furniture, and carpets to be covered in golden fluff.
The shiny, long, dense fur is a hallmark of golden retrievers, but it requires immense attention from the owner.
Many people underestimate the challenges shedding poses to golden retriever owners. One may think that shedding is a minor inconvenience solvable with a lint roller, but it isn’t that simple.
Owners must understand the golden retriever coat structure, why dogs shed, and which factors trigger shedding to effectively deal with the problem.
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Golden Retriever Coat Structure
To understand why golden retrievers shed and how the process occurs, we should first learn about golden retrievers’ coat structure. These dogs were bred for hunting waterfowl, so they needed a coat that would keep them warm and dry in water.
Golden retriever puppies have fluffy, soft, thin fur, which begins to change at about three months old. Golden retriever puppies may look funny because the adult feathering doesn’t grow evenly but in random chunks.
At about four months old, golden retriever puppies start growing long fur. The process ends only when a golden retriever is about 18 months old. Adult goldens have a double coat – a dense, fuzzy undercoat and a long, thin overcoat.
The dense undercoat regulates the dog’s body temperature and is practically water-repellent. Golden retrievers spending a lot of time outdoors tend to have thicker, denser coats than indoor dogs.
According to the golden retriever breed standard, the coat can be straight or wavy, but always with a thick, fuzzy undercoat. Judges at dog shows discourage excessive grooming of golden retrievers because it hinders the coat’s protective qualities.
Why Do Golden Retrievers Shed?
Any animal sheds because hair lifespan is limited. When a hair follicle dies, the hair falls out, and the body starts growing a replacement – that’s the simple explanation. Human hair goes through the same life cycle as dog hair.
So, golden retrievers shed throughout the year as their coat goes through the natural life cycle. However, let’s not forget that the golden retriever’s dense undercoat serves a vital function – it regulates the dog’s body temperature.
As seasons switch, a dog’s needs change. Think of how humans change a winter puffer jacket for a light trench or denim jacket as spring arrives. We would sweat a lot if we didn’t adapt our wardrobe to the weather.
Since dogs don’t wear clothes, they shed or grow extra fur seasonally to adapt to the weather. Seasonal shedding is more intense in outdoor dogs, and golden retrievers need to spend a lot of time outdoors to satisfy their activity needs.
In other words, shedding in dogs is a natural process that affects all breeds to some extent. Shedding helps a dog maintain a comfortable body temperature and otherwise adapt to changes in the environment.
However, sometimes, dogs begin to shed excessively out of season. Shedding can be triggered by pregnancy, anxiety, allergies, and various health conditions.
When Do Golden Retrievers Shed The Most?
Golden retrievers shed year-round, but intense seasonal shedding typically occurs in spring and fall when the weather changes. Golden retrievers blow out their thick, heavy winter undercoat in spring and grow a thinner coat, preparing for summer.
In fall, goldens blow out the thin summer coat and grow a denser, thicker winter coat. The entire undercoat change process lasts for three to four weeks, so brace yourself to see dog fur all around the house.
However, the time a dog sheds may shift depending on the climate in your area. If you live in a tropical or polar climate zone, your golden retriever may shed at a different time than a golden retriever living in a temperate climate.
Do Golden Retrievers Shed More Than an Average Dog?
Don’t listen to anyone telling you that some dog breeds don’t shed; any dog sheds. However, the intensity of shedding and amount of hair varies among dog breeds and individual dogs within the breed.
For example, poodles are considered a hypoallergenic dog breed because they don’t shed much, despite their fluffy, curly fur.
Their coat doesn’t change fast because it has a long life cycle, and they don’t need to regulate body temperature like golden retrievers because they weren’t intended for swimming.
Peruvian Inca orchid dogs also don’t shed much because they have an extremely short coat. This breed originated in Peru, a country with a tropical climate, and historically didn’t need a lot of hair to keep them warm.
On the other hand, golden retrievers are among the most shedding dog breeds. They originated in Scotland and had to adapt to cool summers, moderately cold winters, and constant rainfall.
Golden retrievers developed their thick, dense double coat to hunt waterfowl in a temperate maritime climate. As a result, they shed a lot, and the shedding is always noticeable because goldens have so much fur.
If we look at the list of dog breeds that shed the most, we will notice that they share the same traits. They originated in temperate to cold climates and have very dense, thick fur.
Let’s take Akitas – they originated in Japanese mountain regions and developed short yet extremely thick double coats. Or take a look at Alaskan Malamutes – they were bred to haul loads across Alaska’s icy lands and have a long, fluffy fur, just like wolves.
What Affects The Shedding Intensity?
The season isn’t the only factor affecting golden retriever shedding intensity. Allergies can also contribute to shedding. A dog can be allergic to anything, including food, new shampoo, pollen, and flea bites.
Allergies trigger the immune system’s response that can manifest with different symptoms, including topical reactions such as skin rash, itchiness, and hair loss. In the case of an allergy, a dog’s ears, neck, paws, and armpits suffer the most.
Another factor that can contribute to shedding in golden retrievers is stress. Think of how humans may start losing more hair during challenging periods in their lives – dogs are no different in this regard.
A dog may be stressed due to a new pet in the family, a change of house, loud noises, or loneliness. Golden retrievers are prone to separation anxiety if left alone for extended periods.
If you suspect stress is the reason for your dog’s excessive shedding, provide it with a quiet, low-traffic spot and enough attention. Under-stimulation can also stress a dog, so ensure your golden is getting enough exercise.
Parasites such as fleas, ticks, and mites that trigger excessive scratching can cause a dog to lose more fur. Excessive shedding sometimes occurs after neutering or spaying a dog because of hormonal changes.
If you’ve recently neutered or spayed your golden retriever, expect it to shed intensively for several months. But if the shedding doesn’t normalize, a vet check-up is worthwhile.
Pregnant golden retrievers shed a lot due to a lack of calcium – the process is normal, but owners can help their dogs by providing them with supplements.
Another element responsible for maintaining coat health in dogs is the thyroid, and its deficiency may cause shedding. Lastly, medications, particularly corticosteroids, may affect shedding intensity in some dogs.
Does Golden Retriever Shedding Cause Allergy?
If you’re looking for hypoallergenic dog breeds, golden retrievers certainly aren’t one of them. Technically, no dog can be hypoallergenic because they all shed, but some breeds shed less and are more suitable for people with allergies.
A common misconception about dog allergies in humans is that allergic reaction is caused by fur. This may be true for some people, but most are allergic to dander (flecks of dry skin). Dogs that shed more also drop more dander.
An allergy isn’t necessarily a reason to give up a dream of having a dog, though. High-efficiency particulate air purifiers reduce the amount of dander in the air, thus lowering the risk of allergic reactions.
Regular grooming also helps to reduce shedding and therefore keep allergies at bay. Golden retrievers require regular bathing and can be washed as frequently as once a week. However, too frequent bathing can harm the dog’s skin and coat.
On the other hand, daily brushing will cause no harm to a dog but will significantly reduce allergens in the house.
When The Shedding Goes Out of Control
Owners wondering what to do if golden retriever sheds too much should start with identifying the issue’s root. Assuming shedding isn’t seasonal, the owner should rule out possible causes, including allergies, diseases, parasites, incorrect diet, and stress.
The scope of action depends on the problem’s cause. Still, owners can reduce shedding while dealing with the reason by brushing the dog regularly, feeding it a high-quality diet, and eliminating stress triggers.
Bathing the dog helps to remove excess fur, but frequent bathing may only contribute to shedding because it dries out the dog’s skin.
Contrary to popular belief, shaving a golden retriever doesn’t help with shedding. Firstly, the dog will continue shedding; only the hair will be much shorter. Secondly, it can severely harm the dog’s coat and may even cause skin conditions.
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