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Labrador shedding is a tough reality that labrador owners must face head on. Even though they have a fairly short coat, labs shed pretty significantly. Whether you have a black Lab, yellow Lab, or chocolate Lab, their thick hair may suddenly appear everywhere during molting season, which for puppies can begin within four or five months.
Labs have what is referred to as a “double coat,” essentially two layers of fur that ensure they stay warm in cold and wet temperatures. They actually have a layer of fur that is fully waterproof, as they were originally bred to be hunting dogs who could swim or trek through any amount of mud to fetch their prey. This double coat is meant to be shed regularly for adequate renewal and protection.
Because Labs’ double coats need to shed, dog hair may start to build up around your home and on your clothing–an unwanted and annoying pest in any household. The good news is that there are simple steps you can take to reduce dog hair and stop dog shedding.
For more about Labs’ double coats, check out this article: Understanding the Lab’s Double Coat: Do Labs shed a lot?
There are many dog brushes out there that can reduce dog shedding. FURminator is a brand that continues to be dependable and effective for dog owners, especially Lab owners. FURminator has a brush(click to check pricing on Amazon) that is specifically meant for short-hair breeds, and their slicker brushes are great at removing dead hair and distributing oils throughout the dog’s coat. Brushes for short-hair breeds remove the dead hair that builds up and eventually ends up around your home and on your clothes.
A de-shedding tool and dog rake are also options that FURminator provides to help stop dog shedding. But with rakes especially, make sure you are using the tool gently and are not pressing down on the dog’s skin when you brush, as these tools can be sharp and dangerous if not used properly.
ZoomGroom from KONG(Amazon link) is also a great de-shedding tool that has worked for many pet owners during the puppy years. This plastic tool safely gets into the coat to remove unwanted dead hair before it gets all over your furniture.
It’s most helpful for shedding if you brush your Lab at least once a week, sometimes even once a day if it’s molting season, which is typically twice a year–right after summer and right after winter. And keep in mind that you will likely want to be outdoors or when you brush, since hair may be floating everywhere as you brush.
There are many kinds of dog shampoo that protect a dog’s coat and prevent shedding. Some dogs are allergic to different kinds of shampoo and may start to have dry skin or unwanted odor after bathing. Luckily many brands like have natural shampoo solutions particularly for these common issues–they sell a hypoallergenic shampoo, a deodorizing shampoo, and a shampoo specifically to help minimize shedding. Pet Oatmeal Anti-Itch Shampoo & Conditioner (Amazon) is highly rated and is an all-natural solution for dry, itchy skin, which does not include any soap that could cause allergic reactions. These types of shampoo are worth looking into depending on the specific needs of your Lab.
If odor is your Lab’s biggest issue, the Paws4Pals All Natural Pet Lavender Oatmeal Shampoo and Conditioner (Available on Amazon) is commonly used by dog groomers to clean deeply and effectively and remove all bad odor from the coat. Burt’s Bees Oatmeal Dog Shampoo with Colloidal Oat Flour and Honey (Amazon) is also a great shampoo to leave the coat smelling great.
Unlike cats, dogs cannot bathe themselves, and they will likely need your help at least once a month. Labs love to be outside getting dirty, so they will often need baths more than a lot of dog other breeds. Keep an eye on your dog’s filth level and monitor changes in scent to ensure that you are giving baths on an as-needed basis. If you are unsure, be sure to consult with your vet.
Vacuums and Smart-vacs
Investing in a high-quality vacuum is crucial to minimizing dog hair around your home. While many standard vacuums for the home will work, there are also vacuums that are made specifically for pet hair. Popular brands like Dyson, Shark, Hoover, and Bissell all manufacture vacuums specific to pet hair removal.
Hand-held vacuums (like this one from Shark on Amazon) can be great for vacuuming up hair as needed around the home, as well as Roombas (pricing on Amazon has come down significantly for the iRobot Roomba 675) and other smart-vacs that vacuum by themselves on a set schedule. Although pets are often fascinated by or afraid of these smart-vacs that move without a human hand guiding them, it can be a huge relief to know that there’s something picking up unwanted dog hair for you on a daily basis. If the Roomba is a little outside of your price range, we would highly recommend the iLife V9e as a great value purchase in the robotic vacuum space. It doesn’t have all of the fancy smartphone app features as the Roomba, but it will certainly make your life easier as it does operate on a fixed schedule of your choosing for a significantly less investment.
While shedding is a natural and necessary part of a Lab’s life, there are foods you can give your dog that will ensure a healthy coat without dry skin, flaking, bad odor, and other unwanted coat issues. Always make sure you’re feeding your Lab high-quality food; that is, food made from the actual ingredients it claims to be flavored with. You want to avoid buying food that list by-products as ingredients; for example, listing “beef by-product” as an ingredient instead of “beef.” Grain-free food will also help prevent against certain allergic reactions from your Lab. This includes avoiding food with corn meal or gluten as one of the ingredients. Often these high-quality foods will advertise right on the front label that it is a grain-free food.
See our write-up on Best Dog Foods for Labradors for more detailed information!
Also make sure that the food is not very high in calories and contains some healthy omega 3 fatty acids. These health fatty acids are commonly recommended by veterinarians to give your Lab’s coat the shine and health it needs. Also consider giving your Lab a fish oil, or other natural oil, supplement. These essential oils can improve the health of your Lab’s coat right away. And a healthy coat is key to managing your Lab’s shedding, which unfortunately is unavoidable.
Dogs with Minimal or No Shedding
If keeping up with dog grooming and shedding prevention seem like too much hassle, there are many dog breeds that have minimal to no shedding whatsoever. Additionally, if you find you are allergic to most dogs, there are many breeds of hypoallergenic dogs. The poodle is probably the most commonly known hypoallergenic dog, which also barely sheds. But keep in mind that dogs that shed minimally will still lose strands of hair sometimes, just like humans do.
Other breeds with similar types of coats to the poodle are the Portuguese water dog, bichon frise, and Bedlington terrier, among many others. Breeds like the Chinese crested and American hairless terrier have no hair at all and are also hypoallergenic.
If you like larger dogs similar to Labs but do not want to deal with Labs’ shedding habits, you may want to look into getting a labradoodle, komondor, or saluki. These dogs may of course have different personality traits than Labs but will be a better choice if you want a dog that does not require a lot of grooming to keep up a healthy coat and to keep shedding under control.
While dog shedding can be a headache at home, these solutions will help you reduce or stop dog shedding. Trying regular brushing, switching your dog’s shampoo, buying a new vacuum, or improving diet, which can all have meaningful impacts on your dog’s shedding habits. Figuring out which solution will work best for you and your dog can be a long process, so remember that patience and practice will lead to the right dog shedding solution for your Lab.