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Shedding

Chihuahua Shedding

Black and white Chihuahua puppy
Overview

Many owners and potential owners have questions regarding Chihuahua shedding. Does this tiny toy breed dog shed? And if so, how much shedding is normal? This page will answer your questions about shedding, for both short hair and long hair Chihuahuas. We are going to look at:
  • How much shedding is considered to be normal 
  • Problems - including excessive shedding
  • When to expect shedding - seasonal shedding and summer time 
  • Steps that you can take to control shedding 
  • Grooming tools and Chihuahua shedding brushes that are good for the coat 
Normal, Expected Shedding with the Chihuahua Breed

Chihuahuas do shed and some are surprised to learn that even short haired Chihuahuas are considered moderate shedders. It should be noted that all dogs shed, including those that have hair as opposed to fur.
Some Chihuahuas have single coat of fur and some have a double coat, although this does not necessarily affect the amount of shedding for any particular dog. It should be noted that it is a common misbelief that all long coats have double coats and short haired Chi's have single coats. Either variety may have a single or double coat. Some say that long coats shed less than short haired Chihuahuas. This also is not true. Each Chi will shed differently and at differing amounts throughout the year.

Puppies - First we should mention that puppies will go through a process in which the soft and fine puppy hairs are replaced with a slightly thicker and courser adult coat. For some pups, this changeover can take place in a relatively short amount of time causing quite a heavy shed. For others, the change is more gradual.
In either case, during the first year you can expect for there to be a good amount of shedding and also a possible color change as that adult coat comes in. What type of changes will occur? Solids can become partis, thin patches of a secondary color can come in stronger, or a coat may lighten or darken.

It will be important to regularly groom your Chihuahua puppy during this shedding process -as removing dead hairs to make room for new growth is vital for good health. We will talk more about this ahead.

For both long and short coated Chihuahua dogs, the hairs of the coat have a growth cycle. Each hair follicle has a stage of : Growth (anagen), rest (catagen) and falling out (telogen). As individual hairs are falling out (telogen) others are growing in. This is the shedding process. 
How Much Does a Chihuahua Shed?

All throughout the year, there will be a light to moderate shed. One may assume that long coats shed more than short coats, however this is not always the case. 

The amount of fur that a Chi sheds throughout the year varies from dog to dog. However, do not expect a short haired Chihuahua to be a non or light shedder - the process of the growth cycle is a never ending cycle - just as with any other dog.

Seasonal and Summer Shedding

There are going to be times when a Chihuahuas sheds more than normal and these will be periods of moderate to heavy shedding. Dogs will have a moderate to heavy shed in response to changes in seasonal sunlight.

Many people mistakenly believe that when temperatures change it triggers falls out or growth, however it is the sunlight variations that trigger fluxes in a dog's pineal gland that in turn trigger the coat to shed. 

In some areas of the country, there can be a dramatic difference in sunlight hours ; as little as 9 in the winter VS as many as 15.5 in the summer.  

Therefore, twice a year - late fall and early spring - as days become shorter and then as days become longer, you can expect to see a change in shedding and this will vary depending on where you live.

It is the spring/ summer shed that is often heavier than the fall shed. This is because in the autumn, some extra hairs are being shed as a thicker coat takes their place. However, in the spring and into early summer - as sunlight changes and the days are longer - that heavier coat is shed off, making way for a slightly thinner coat that the Chihuahua will have during the summer months. 
Other Reasons for Extreme Thinning of the Coat

There are times when excessive shedding is due to a health problem. An overall moderate to severe thinning of the coat that leads to patchy areas of extremely thinned fur or even bald spots is referred to alopecia. While there are various causes for this (thyroid, Cushing's disease) - many times the cause is 'unknown' and it is actually matter of allergies. Some Chihuahuas can have quite serious reactions to food ingredients which causes serious skin ailments and this leads to fur issues.
When fur falls out in patches and leaves round spots of irritated skin, this is referred to as hot spots. The skin may be inflamed (swollen) and is often pink or red. The area may be very sensitive. Here are some steps to take to help with this problem:
  • Keep bathes to 1 time every 4 weeks, using the products that aid in restoring healthy skin and coat (more ahead).
  • Do not rub the coat dry - pat it dry and then allow it to continue air drying. Do take steps from allowing a Chihuahua to catch a chill during this time.
  • Do not allow your Chihuahua to lie down on carpeting, hard wood floors or other surfaces that only increase sensitivity and soreness. Wash a baby blanket with hypoallergenic detergent, and then place this down wherever your Chi usually rests in order to provide a soft cushion.
  • We highly recommend a specific line of shampoo, conditioner and hot spot salve. You can read all of the details and see reviews by looking under "DERMagic" in the Chihuahua Specialty Shoppe.
Female Shedding

An unspayed female Chihuahua may have a moderate to heavy shed that is triggered by the heat cycle. This usually occurs at the end of the cycle and this is due to hormonal changes.

In addition, it is common for dams to have excessive shedding after giving birth; again to due hormonal changes.

Steps That You Can Take to Control Shedding

There are many things that you can do to help with shedding problems and keep things under control:

1- Proper grooming is so important. As stated above, shedding will take place all year round. In addition, many Chihuahuas will have a heavier shed twice per year.

Even if it appears that your Chi is not shedding, dead hairs are indeed falling off. 
long coat Chihuahua
While some will fall to the floor (or your sofa, your clothes, etc.) there are also many that are falling back into the coat.

If these hairs are not removed they will accumulate and eventually cut off air circulation to the skin. This can create many problems. A layer of dead hairs blocking air flow and create a moist environment that leads to a fungus infection of the skin. Additionally, skin can begin to dry out which can then lead to even more hairs falling out.

The Best Brush for Chihuahuas - For year round proper grooming, choose a quality slicker brush. For times of moderate to heavy shedding you will actually not want to technically use a brush, as a de-shedding tool or a rake will work best.

How to Brush - The key is to NOT just skim over the top layer of fur. You will want to gently brush down through the coat, gently brushing down to the skin and then sweeping up and out. Work section by section and stop to remove hairs from the brush as they accumulate.

How Often - it is recommended to give the coat a good brushing once a week; during heavy shed times (seasonal spring/summer shed & after heat cycles) 2 to 3 times per week may be necessary to keep up with the shedding hairs. It is recommended to choose a certain time of the day for this grooming element and others (dental care brushings, checking the nails, etc.) 

Dogs have amazing internal time clocks and if an owner grooms their Chihuahua at a certain time each day, the puppy or dog often learns to relax while being brushed , knowing that it is time to do so.

Note: If you are not sure which brushed and shedding tools to use, you may wish to look to "Grooming" in the Chihuahua Specialty Shoppe for all recommended items.
2-Food plays a role in both skin and coat health. Colorings, additives and fillers found in many manufactured foods can wreak havoc on both skin and coat. You may wish to read more in the feeding section.
3- Supplements can help. In addition to feeding your Chihuahua a healthy diet, offering a full and complete vitamin and mineral supplement is recommended whether you are offering a commercial brand or you are home cooking.
For Chihuahua dogs with dry skin problems and excessive shedding, adding an Omega 3 or Omega 3 & 6 supplement can help to keep the skin healthy and often can reduce fall-out.

4- Timing of baths. It is important to find the right balance in giving a Chihuahua baths. Too many can dry out the skin which can lead to more shedding. Too few can be just as bad. It is best to schedule baths just about every 4 weeks. Choosing to make the 1st day of the month 'bath day' can be a good way to stay on track. If your dog is shedding excessively, brush through the coat both before and after bath time.

5- Routine Cleanup. While it often goes without saying, vacuuming both floors and furniture on a regular basis will help with the effects of fallen hairs. Even a small amount of fur on a sofa will then stick to owner's clothes and seemingly be transported throughout the house. 
If surfaces are vacuumed every day or every other day, this can cut down on the stress of seeing stray hairs all over your clothes and belongings

In addition, with many types of carpeting and many types of upholstery fabrics, if hairs are not removed promptly, they will dig in deeper and be much harder to remove.

If hairs have just fallen, using a tape lint brush on furniture often works well and is faster and easier than having to pull out the vacuum.

6- Possible Medical Issues. If your Chihuahua appears to have excessive shedding that is concerning you, do bring this to the attention of your dog's veterinarian. 

While rare, there are some medical issues that can cause the coat to fall out. 

Testing can be performed to check for thyroid issues and other conditions that can lead to hair loss.
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