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Fur serves many purposes for our pets, but its main purpose is protecting the skin, which is the largest organ in the body. It safeguards from injury and shields against solar damage, while providing insulation and heat support. Hair coats depend on breed type and can vary greatly based on regional climate and the intended job for the breed.
Arctic breed dogs, such as the Siberian Husky and Alaskan Malamute, have a very dense undercoat that helps to insulate and keep warm in cold temperatures. All dogs shed their hair (some more than others), but breeds that have minimal shedding are often called “hypoallergenic breeds,” because their dander load is lighter than most dogs. There are, however, no true hypoallergenic breeds of dogs. Those with heavy undercoats tend to shed large amounts seasonally, specifically when cold weather ends and transitions to warmer and longer days.
Low-Shedding Dog Breeds
Shedding is a natural mechanism for dogs to get rid of old and damaged hair. Some dogs are genetically inclined to shed less. These breeds have fur that grows long and doesn’t break or shed as easily. Typically, these dogs require professional grooming and frequent brushing to prevent mats. They tend to be less allergenic because of limited shedding, and can be bathed frequently, which also reduces dander.
These breeds include:
- Afghan Hound. This breed has long, luxurious hair that was meant to protect it against the cold temperatures of mountainous Afghanistan.
- Bedlington Terrier. These terriers originated in the English mining town of Bedlington and were bred for hunting.
- Bichon Frise. This breed is a descendant from the Barbet or water spaniel that originated at Tenerife (a Canary Island).
- Coton De Tulear. This breed originated in Madagascar and was beloved by the island’s nobility.
- Irish Water Spaniel. These spaniels originated in Ireland and their hair coat protects them while swimming in cold waters.
- Kerry Blue Terrier. These Irish farm dogs were bred for their versatility.
- Lagotto Romagnolo. The Lagotto (pictured above) was bred for waterfowl retrieval, but they are currently known for their truffle-sniffing abilities.
- Maltese. These dogs originated in Malta and, due to their long, silky hair, became a fashion accessory for aristocrats.
- Poodle (Standard, Miniature, and Toy). Poodles originated in Germany as duck hunters. Their thick, curly coat helped protect them from the environment.
- Portuguese Water Dog. These dogs originated in Portugal and were bred to assist fishermen. Their thick coats help keep them warm for long periods in cold water.
- Schnauzer (Giant, Standard, and Miniature). Schnauzers originated in Germany as working and hunting dogs.
- Soft-coated Wheaten Terrier. Wheaten terriers are hearty farm dogs with thick coats, which keep them warm during outdoor herding.
Hairless Dog Breeds
There are a few dog breeds that have minimal to no hair and, therefore, have minimal shedding. These dogs still require frequent baths to minimize oil buildup and keep skin healthy. They also need protection in cold weather, since they don’t have fur as insulation.
These hairless breeds originated in warm climates and were bred to have little to no hair coat:
No matter what breed of dog you choose to share your home with, shedding is inevitable. There are, however, a few tricks to help minimize the hair load. Frequent brushing can help remove dead hairs. It can be done daily or weekly, depending on how much your dog sheds.
There are also specific brushes that are incredibly helpful in the removal of the dense underlayer. Some dogs will have seasonal shedding and during those times, more frequent brushing may be needed. Try brushing outside to minimize dander and fur inside the house.
Frequent baths can also help to reduce shedding and dander load. There are multiple deshedding shampoos available that may be helpful. Lastly, if your dog is losing large amounts of hair or not growing hair back as they previously had, it could be a sign of an underlying medical condition and should be evaluated by your veterinarian.