It's a fact of life that all puppies (save for hairless breeds) will, to some extent, shed their fuzzy puppy coats -- even "non-shedding" breeds. Knowing when to expect this first round of shedding can help you prepare for the extra grooming required.
A puppy coat is the original coat of fur that your dog was born with. It is typically soft, fluffy and unruly. This downy fur eventually gives way to an adult coat that is comprised of thicker, stiffer hairs that offer better protection against the elements and irritants, such as stickers and burrs. The puppy coat is a single coat, and if your dog is a breed that has a double coat, consisting of both an under- and topcoat, he will develop both after the puppy fur has been shed.
Most dogs start to lose the fluffy puppy coat and grow an adult coat at between 4 and 6 months of age. This can vary somewhat depending on the puppy's breed, health and the climate. The shedding may be subtle and hard to spot, especially in a short-haired puppy, or it may be dramatic, creating a temporary awkward appearance with tufts of baby fur sticking out among patches of adult fur in long-haired breeds. Most puppies have a complete adult coat by about 8 months old.
Some breeds, such as the Pomeranian, take an exceptionally long time to grow a complete adult coat. The baby coat frequently begins shedding at the normal time, around 4 to 6 months of age, but the puppy then goes through a long awkward stage during which the coat looks thin and ragged. Although the adult coat might start filling out sooner, it can take until the dog reaches nearly 2 years of age for the adult coat to fill in completely.
Causes For Concern
While it is normal for a puppy to start shedding his coat when he reaches 4 to 6 months old, hair loss can also be an indication of an infestation or illness. Bare patches of skin or red, scaly or inflamed skin is not a normal part of shedding the baby coat. If your puppy shows any of these signs, is constantly picking at his fur or suddenly loses large patches of fur, contact your veterinarian to rule out problems caused by fleas, ticks, mites or disease.
By Carlye Jones
About the Author
Carlye Jones is a journalist, writer, photographer, novelist and artisan jeweler with more than 20 years of experience. She enjoys sharing her expertise on home improvements, photography, crafting, business and travel. Her work has appeared both in print and on numerous websites.