Do Dogs Go Through Shedding Stages?

by Betty Lewis
    A dog's genetic profile determines the length of his hair and hair growth cycle.

    A dog's genetic profile determines the length of his hair and hair growth cycle.

    John Howard/Lifesize/Getty Images

    Of course Barney is a unique dog, with his own winning personality and handsome looks. However, like all dogs, he sheds. The shedding cycle consists of four stages and is how your pooch loses old and damaged hair. The season, his health and breed impact how much and how often he'll shed.

    Anagen and Catagen

    Dogs shed in four different phases: anagen, catagen, telogen and exogen. Barney's hair grows the fastest during the anagen phase, the first phase of new hair growth. His genetic makeup determines how long his hair follicles remain in this phase. The catagen, or transition, phase is when his follicles receive a signal to stop creating new growth.

    Telogen and Exogen

    The telogen, or rest, phase is a time of no new growth and is followed by the exogen, or shedding, phase. As the name implies, when Barney's in the exogen stage, his hair begins falling out and his follicles begin transitioning back to the anagen phase.

    Different Cycles, Same Stages

    The shedding cycle is different for every dog and it's difficult to know exactly what controls it, though more is known about its influences. Some dogs may have very long anagen and catagen phases, where their hair grows and they don't shed much. High-shedding dogs tend to have much shorter anagen and catagen phases, lasting as little as a month, so they shed more frequently.

    Seasonal Shedding

    Barney's health and breed affect his hair growth cycle, but the season influences his shedding stages, too. As spring approaches and the day grows longer, he'll grow more hair. You may notice when he sheds his coat in the spring there's more hair floating around; that's because his winter goat is being weeded out for a lighter summer coat to come. Depending on his growth cycle, it can take as little as three weeks to as long as two months for his coat to be replaced. If Barney's a dog with a double coat, such as a Siberian husky, he'll probably drop his undercoat twice a year and lose his topcoat once a year. Some dogs, particularly those those living mostly indoors, shed throughout the year, while others may shed only once a year.

    Photo Credits

    • John Howard/Lifesize/Getty Images

    About the Author

    Betty Lewis has been writing professionally since 2000, specializing in animal care and issues, business analysis and homeland security. Lewis holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from West Virginia University as well as master’s degrees from Old Dominion University and Tulane University.