What you need to know about your puppy’s first coat shed

What you need to know about your puppy’s first coat shed

Breed Facts

Whilst there are some dog breeds and types that shed little to no fur, most dogs shed to some extent on an ongoing basis, and generally also go through two much more pronounced and heavier periods of shedding each year as the seasons change and they grow their coat for the new season.

Every dog’s coat and shedding patterns are different, but if you’ve just got a new puppy or are the owner of a young dog, the first coat shed that they go through can produce some quite marked changes, and be more pronounced than most.

In some dog breeds and types, the puppy coat and eventual adult coat are very different in a number of ways from length to texture to even colour; and knowing what to expect from your puppy’s first coat shed does depend to a great extent on their breed.

However, for pups that do shed their fur, there are a number of common factors that all puppy owners will notice and face with that first shed; and this is what we’ll talk about in this article.

Read on to find out what you need to know about your puppy’s first coat shed, and how to tell what is normal and what is not.

When do puppies undergo their first shed?

This can be quite variable, and it depends on a number of factors including when in the year your puppy was born, when the seasons change, their breed and so, coat type, and a range of other things too.

However, most puppies start to lose their baby coat quite early on, generally showing signs of coat changes between the ages of four to six months. This is a very broad norm, however; for some breeds it will occur as early as three months, whilst for some, it can take up to a year.

Coat shedding and coat changes between puppy and adult are usually far more obvious in longhaired dog breeds than those with short coats, and the coat itself might be in a half and half, transient-looking stage for weeks or even months!

This can produce quite a scruffy or unkempt appearance, but may well be the norm for the breed in question so this is worth learning about ahead of time!

How do puppy coats differ from adult coats?

Again, this is something that can be very variable depending in the dog breed and coat type in question. However, puppy coats are almost always shorter, finer and thinner with a more fluffy and light texture to them than the adults of the same breed, and they’re single-layered too, even in breeds that have double or triple-layered coats as adults.

When a pup grows their adult coat, the final coat will almost always be denser and slightly harsher or stiffer than the puppy coat, and for breeds with undercoats, the various different types of fur and layers that make it up will grow in as well.

For some dog breeds that can have a variety of coat textures within the breed and within members of the same litter – like Jack Russells, which can have smooth, rough or broken coats respectively – you may see the final coat texture in your pup from a young age, or this may only become evident as they reach a few months old and those who will have those harsher rough or broken coats begin to grow in those different textures of fur.

There are other changes too, where colours are concerned; most people know that Dalmatian puppies are born pure white, and only begin to develop spots a couple of weeks later. Dalmatian spots continue to form and develop and appear in new places for many months too!

Does a heavy or protracted puppy shed mean the adult dog will shed heavily too?

This depends. Some dog breeds naturally shed heavily and for protracted periods of time, and so if this is the case for the breed you own, that first puppy shed may well be heavy, and an indicator of things to come.

However, this is not the case for all breeds; for some dogs, particularly those whose puppy coats and adult coats are quite different, a heavy first shed does not necessarily indicate heavy later shedding seasons in the adult dog.

Signs of problems with a puppy coat shed

Puppy coat shedding can be quite dramatic and very variable, and first-time owners of any given breed don’t always know what to expect, or what is normal and what might indicate problems.

However, problems with the skin and coat are apt to become apparent if present or develop for the first time during the initial puppy shed, so this is something to look out for.

Potential indicators of skin or coat problems to be alert for when your pup has their first shed include:

  • Areas of fur that are lost in clumps, revealing the skin below.
  • Red or sore-looking skin.
  • Your pup appearing itchy or uncomfortable when shedding, assuming that this is not related to the irritation of loose hair not being brushed out of the coat.
  • Scaly, dry or flaky skin.
  • Dry, brittle or dull-looking fur.

If you have any concerns about your pup’s coat or shedding and are not sure what is normal or not, contact your vet for advice and to discuss your concerns. If you bought your dog from a breeder, they will also be able to advise on what to expect, and what is normal within the breed and their own particular breed lines.

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