The Chihuahua is considered to be a moderate shedding dog. A puppy will go through a stage in which “puppy” fur will shed off and give way to his adult coat. This process begins at the age of 5 to 6 months.
For adults, the details of the shedding process are vastly different, depending on the coat (long or short) and gender. If there is substantial furloss without apparent reason, this may point to a medical issue.
Males: Once reaching 18 months of age, a male’s coat will stay relatively the same for its life.
Females: Hormonal fluctuations and the change of seasons often affect a female’s coat. Females will also shed after delivering a litter and her coat will re-grow back in about 6 months.She will also shed when she is in season. Stress can affect the degree of shedding as well.
- 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?
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.
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.
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 watch video about all of the details “DERMagic“.
Steps That You Can Take to Control Shedding:
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.
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.