Chow chows are aloof yet loyal spitz dogs that originated in northern China. They are most famous for their poofy, abundant coats and leonine appearance. Fittingly, the Chinese call them Songshi Quan, which translates to “puffy lion dog.” All this emphasis on their fur begs the question: do chow chows shed? Read on to find out all about the coat of this unique breed!
Do Chow Chows Shed?
Chow chows are notorious shedders, consistently appearing on lists of the top five or 10 heaviest shedders in the dog world. Unfortunately for allergy sufferers, this long-haired breed is not hypoallergenic.
Why aren’t chow chows hypoallergenic? The answer has to do with how much fur they lose. Dogs who shed heavily increase the number of allergens in the air like dander (flakes of dead skin). No dog is one hundred percent hypoallergenic, but some trigger allergic reactions more readily than others. Keep in mind that different individuals within a breed will produce different amounts of dander.
How Much Do Chow Chows Shed?
Chow chows are moderate to heavy shedders throughout the year with heavier seasonal shedding. Chow chow owners often report that their dogs shed clumps of fur instead of scattered follicles like other breeds.
Like most double-coated dogs, this breed “blows its coat” twice a year. This means it undergoes a period of massive shedding in the spring and fall that lasts two to four weeks. During these times, pet owners can expect to find clumps or tufts of fur everywhere they look.
Dogs blow their coats in response to temperature changes. When it gets colder, they shed their undercoats and grow them back thicker to compensate. When it gets warmer, they shed their winter covering in preparation for a lighter summer coat.
Do Chow Chows Have Hair or Fur?
Chow chows have fur, not hair. Both fur and hair contain keratin (the same protein in nails and skin) and are chemically identical. However, they differ in important ways.
Dogs with fur tend to shed a lot more than dogs with hair. This is due to the differences in their growth cycles. Fur has a short growth cycle with less time between anagen (the growing phase) and exogen (the shedding phase). This means that the follicles replace themselves more frequently. Hair, on the other hand, tends to grow longer and therefore falls out less frequently. Seasonal changes in temperature do not typically trigger coat blowing in breeds with hair.
As opposed to dogs with hair, dogs with fur usually have a double coat. Chow chows are no exception. This double coat consists of a soft, fine underlayer (ground hair) and a coarser, protective outer layer (guard hair). The ground hair functions as extra insulation for dogs who spend a lot of time working outside or who traditionally live in cold climates, like Alaskan malamutes or golden retrievers. The guard hair keeps out moisture and prevents damage to the soft underlayer.
When dogs blow their coats, it’s the underlayer that they lose. This accounts for the fluffy, cottony texture of the fur clumps.
Dog hair is usually softer and finer than dog fur. Chow chows are incredibly fluffy animals with an overabundance of fur, but the feel of their coats varies according to type. Two types of chow chows exist: rough-coated and smooth-coated. Rough-coated chow chows are the most common with their signature poofy coats and leonine features. Ironically, those with rough coats feel softer and fluffier than those with smooth coats. The smooth-coated type is easier to maintain, however.
Grooming a Chow Chow
Due to their copious fur, chow chows require frequent grooming. Never let more than a week go by without a thorough brushing. Ideally, you should brush your chow chow several times a week, even daily, to prevent matting and remove dust and dirt. The best kind of brush for a chow chow is a slicker brush, a type of pin brush effective at detangling fur. Make sure to brush all the way down to the skin. This will let your dog’s skin breathe and evenly distribute natural skin oils for a healthy coat. You may want to use a steel comb in tandem with the slicker brush to ensure you get every tangle.
A bath every six weeks on average should keep your chow chow in good condition. Excessive bathing strips the skin of its natural oils and leads to dry, itchy skin and a listless coat. However, you also want to ensure that you’re keeping your dog clean and odor-free. Built-up dander and dirt will cause your chow chow’s coat to mat and turn your next grooming session into a nightmare.
Because of the high level of shedding and maintenance associated with chow chows, some owners wonder if they should shave their dogs. This is never a good idea. Like any other double-coated dog, chow chows need their fur to act as insulation against the cold in winter and as a cooling agent in summer. Besides this, shaving a dog tends to make its fur grow back even thicker, which leads to more shedding than before. In this next section, you will find healthy, appropriate ways to reduce your chow chow’s shedding.
How to Reduce Shedding
Although it is never possible to completely stop a dog from shedding, there are a number of ways you can reduce the impact on your floors and furniture. Try one or all of the solutions below to get some relief.
- Brushing: Regular, frequent brushing is not only good for your dog’s health, but it will also decrease the amount of fur that ends up coating your house. As a bonus, your chow chow’s skin will be healthier and release less dander into the air.
- De-shedding brush: It’s not only the frequency of brushing that matters, but also the type of brush you use. Check out this article to find a list of the best shedding brushes for dogs.
- De-shedding shampoo: Take advantage of your regular bathing schedule to reduce your chow chow’s shedding. Check out this article for a list of the best de-shedding shampoos for dogs. On the subject of baths, you can also give your chow chow a massage while they’re wet to loosen dead fur. Use a blow-dryer afterward to blow the unwanted fur away.
- A healthy diet: The quality of a dog’s diet affects how much it sheds. Experts have formulated a number of dog foods to reduce the amount of fur they lose. Check out this article to compare the best dog food for shedding.
If you’re planning to get a chow chow, make sure you have enough time to dedicate to their rigorous grooming schedule. You may also want to invest in a high-quality pet vacuum cleaner to control the inevitable mess.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © Arne J. Enggrav/Shutterstock.com
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