We all remember Cruella De Vil's quest for a Dalmatian puppy coat. Fortunately, parents, Perdita and Pongo managed to save their puppies, and 84 others, for a total of 101 Dalmatians. If Cruella had succeeded, however, she would have been disappointed, because those Dalmatian puppies may not yet have developed those telltale spots. Dalmatian puppies are born white, but they sport their classic spotted coat by the time the puppy coat sheds out.
The puppy coat
A puppy is born with one single coat of soft fur, even if it is a double-coated breed. When he sheds that puppy coat, his new, adult coat will come in stiffer and thicker, according to the American Kennel Club. The double-coated dog will grow two layers of fur after shedding the puppy coat. The puppy's coat pattern and texture may also change.
When a puppy's first coat sheds out depends upon the breed, but it usually occurs between the ages of four and six months. Often, the change is gradual, but some puppies shed their coats quite quickly, resulting in a dramatic difference. In some breeds, it can take a full two years for the mature coat to come in. Some breeders refer to this time as the "puppy uglies."
Some breeds, such as poodles, are considered non-shedding. That doesn't mean a non-shedding breed puppy won't shed his first coat. However, you're not as likely to notice such shedding as you are in a double-coated breed, which will have an undercoat and top coat when the adult coat comes in.
Grooming during puppy shedding
The puppy coat shedding period is an awkward phase for a young dog. Chewy notes that this is especially true of double-coated breeds, who tend to look "bedraggled" during this period. Regular brushing can help your dog's coat look better, and it's a good way to bond with your puppy. Just make sure to use the right grooming tools for your animal's coat. A smooth-coated dog should do just fine with a brush, but other coat types require specific grooming equipment.
Use a slicker brush for double-coated breeds, as well as a wide comb if your pet has long hair. If your dog sports a wire coat, she needs a slicker and a stripping comb. Begin with the stripping comb, which thins the coat and help prevent matting and tangling. If your dog has a curly coat, use a soft slicker brush and brush against the way the hair grows to make the coat look fluffier.
Shedding, of course, can mean your home soon looks like Dog Hair City. While you can't eliminate all that loose hair, regular brushing means less of it gets on your clothing and furniture. A high-quality dog food promotes healthy hair growth and may reduce excessive shedding. Your vet can recommend coat supplements that aid in shedding minimization.
Once a puppy finishes shedding out his coat, you may find your canine is a different color. In most dogs, the difference isn't extreme, but there are exceptions. Generally, the adult coat is darker than the puppy coat, but the opposite also occurs. If you want a purebred dog of a particular shade, do your research beforehand to make sure a dark little puppy doesn't turn into a light-coated adult or vice versa.
Puppy shedding issues
While the shedding of that initial coat is normal, there are hair loss issues that point to health problems. Take your pet to the vet if she develops bald patches, or her skin appears inflamed or scaly. Consult your vet about a good flea and tick preventive so your puppy doesn't start itching and losing hair due to parasites. Allergies can also cause puppy fur loss.