All dogs shed to some degree. Yes, even Labradoodles. It’s a natural process that allows the new coat to come in. Some breeds shed all year round, others have a seasonal shed. Breeds with slow growing hair shed very little. No matter what breed you have, learning about deshedding a dog is the type of useful information that pet owner must have in their dog grooming toolkit.
It can seem like a very time consuming nuisance and an embarrassment when visitors leave our house all covered in dog hair, and we find more dog hair all over our furniture. For our dogs, shedding can be uncomfortable, itchy and the cause of skin problems. This means that deshedding a dog is necessary and advisable on everybody's part.
But what exactly is dog de-shedding? Basically, it’s the removal of dog's loose undercoat hair. When you deshed your dog, you're reducing the amount of pet hair you'll find on your clothes and furniture. Doing this benefits your dog too by making him more comfortable, and keeping his coat and skin healthy.
On top of that, when you regularly deshed your dog, it allows you monitor how much hair is leaving his body. Sometimes, excessive shedding can be a sign of certain diseases in dogs:
“If you notice any excessive scratching or shedding, lesions, or any change in your dog’s normal hair coat appearance, you should have your dog evaluated by a veterinarian to help determine any underlying health conditions that may be a cause for the change.” – Dr. Alison Diesel, Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences
Do some dogs shed less?
Even though there are no 100% shed-free dogs out there – it's a myth – some canines do shed significantly less than others.
Why some dogs shed less?
“Unexpected” answer: genes. One of the largest dog genetic studies published in the Nature science journal has found how much a dog will shed is related to his genes, which also influence a dog's fur length and body size (source).
Overall, it pays to get a set of tools to groom your dog and learn about deshedding a dog, create a routine and stick with it. It also provides precious bonding time for the pair of you. There are a number of dog de-shedding tools and methods available, some of which we've reviewed and I will mention below because the choice of deshedding tools matter.
RECOMMENDED: Types of Dog Grooming Brushes and Their Uses
Deshedding a Dog: Step-by-Step Checklist of 7 Best Methods
Method #1 – The 4 Bs
Suitable for: Any dog hair length or type.
This is a quick and short lived fix. It will reduce dog hair for a day or two ,and keep Fido feeling comfortable until you can really get to work on his coat.
Here’s the order of events:
- Brush first to loosen hair and remove tangles;
- Bathe to wash out any missed hair;
- Blow dry in a sweeping motion;
- Brush again to get the remaining loose strands.
Need more serious help with minimizing the amount of shed hair your dog leaves around the house? Read our full guide and watch the video below for some useful tips.
Method #2 – Slicker dog brush or undercoat rake for dogs
Suitable for: Dogs with long hair, double coat or thick coat.
A slicker dog brush (like the one from Wahl you see on the right) has fine metal bristles while an undercoat dog rake has narrow teeth.
Both of these dog brushes are designed for removing the undercoat while leaving the top coat untouched, which is one of the best methods for deshedding a dog. The slicker dog brush is also useful for removing tangles.
Learn more about this and other brushes in our Dog Grooming Supplies Guide.
In the meantime, here's how to use these brushes for deshedding a dog:
- Bathe your dog, shampoo and condition your dog’s hair*
- Brush one area until no more hair comes out
- Repeat the process over the rest of the body
- Repeat steps #2 – #4 daily and bathe your dog every 8 weeks.
* Pro tip: If you’re short on time, use a coat spray or leave-in conditioner for dogs. Mist it onto your dog’s coat and brush it through. This reduces static and softens the coat for easier hair removal, which you can follow with a smooth deshedding session.
Method #3 – ‘Blade on a handle’ metal comb
Suitable for: Plush or medium length coat.
Not suitable for: Dogs with long top-coats.
Specifically formulated deshedding tools with shedding blades (like the FURminator you see on the right) have very narrow teeth that seek out the fine, soft, fuzzy undercoat and leave the dog's overcoat alone. If you want more details on this specific tool, watch our video review of FURminator and how to use it.
These deshedding combs do a very thorough job, remove a ton of hair from dogs, but also make quite a mess with a pile of dog hair all over the place. Usually, this job is best done outside or in the garage.
There are several different types of popular deshedding tools for dogs, so we took some of the most famous brands that most pet owners choose and compared them against each other. You can find the full comparison article and video here.
Here's what you do with a pet deshedding tool:
- Like before, shampoo and condition your dog’s hair (same pro tip applies);
- Use the coarse edge of the blade;
- Draw the blade along the coat in smooth, firm, light strokes;
- Perform step #2 weekly to clean and invigorate the coat and maintain its health;
- Bathe your dog every 8 weeks.
If you need help bathing your dog, we've got a full guide and a video for you below!
FULL GUIDE: How To Bathe A Dog 101 – A Step-By-Step Guide
Method #4 – Bristle brush for dogs
Suitable for: Any hair length or type
The bristle dog brush (like this one from Conair on the right) is a general purpose brush which isn't designed specifically for shedding dogs. It won’t necessarily attack an undercoat of your dog, but it will help to detangle and stimulate circulation there while also slightly deshedding your canine. It's not the best solution, but it's one of them.
Alternatively, you can also explore things like grooming mitts which also aren't specifically for shedding dogs, but they help a little and also dogs seem to enjoy them more.
Here's how to use a simple bristle doggy brush:
- Shampoo and condition your dog’s hair, as normal (use the pro tip from above);
- Gently brush from front to back, getting the bristles down to the skin;
- Repeat step #2 weekly and bathe your dog every 8 weeks.
As you can see, the overall process is fairly similar to those mentioned above. The only difference is the tool you use, and how much hair you'll be able to get out of your canine. So remember to pick the right deshedding tool based on how much your dog sheds.
LEARN MORE: Grooming Different Types of Dog Coats
Method #5 – Rubber brushes for dogs
Suitable for: Short hair
When deshedding a dog, rubber brushes (like the KONG ZoomGroom brush on the right) remove loose hair and dirt while also stimulating circulation. Again, a rubber dog brush is very similar to those bristle brushes and grooming mitts in terms of how much hair you'll be able to remove from your dog.
You can read more about the KONG ZoomGroom brush and several other similar brushes in our dog brush review article here.
These aren't specifically for shedding dogs, so consider getting those as alternatives or to groom your dog in between your deshedding sessions to simply minimize the amount of hair and stimulate circulation in his skin.
To use it, follow the exact same routine as before:
- Shampoo and condition your dog’s hair;
- Gently brush from front to back, getting down to the skin;
- Repeat step #2 weekly and bathe your dog every 8 weeks.
PROPER TOOLS: Top 5 Best Dog deShedding Tools
Method #6: De-shedding blade for dogs
Suitable for: Long hair, medium hair, heavy undercoat, short hair that constantly sheds.
Many pet owners think the same once they see a deshedding blade; however, this metal comb isn’t half as scary as it looks or sounds. There’s very little damage you can do to yourself or your dog with this tool – all you need to do is first try it out.
The only issue with a deshedding blade for dogs is that it can sometimes pull on matted hair and tangles, so it's advisable to always bathe your dog, use a conditioner, and also have a slicker brush on hand to tackle those detangling missions.
Using a blade (like this one from Safari) while deshedding a dog is another method that removes a lot of hair – similar to those deshedding tools with blades on I mentioned above – so I recommend to complete this job outside or in the garage if you can. It's messy.
Again, using this tool is very similar:
- Shampoo and condition your dog’s hair (remember the pro tip from above);
- Moving from front to back, draw the blade along the coat in smooth firm, light strokes;
- Perform step #2 twice a week and bathe your dog every 8 weeks.
Method #7 – Force Dryer
Suitable for: Long hair and heavy undercoat, short hair that constantly sheds.
A force dryer (like the one pictured on the right from XPOWER) is a high powered blow dryer. It breaks up clumps of dog's matted hair as well as drying the hair and blowing out the loose undercoat. This is the ultimate tool in regimes of deshedding a dog, and it’s the professional groomer’s secret weapon. Of course, it's also the most expensive solution.
Costing roughly $200, it’s not a cheap piece of kit but it will easily pay for itself in a few months if you’ve been using a professional groomer for deshedding a dog. This deshedding vacuum produces unbelievable results, too!
Force drying is a very messy business, however. This is why mostly professional dog groomers use it, or people who can afford to have a in-home grooming station at their house with a grooming table and so on. When using this pet force dryer, it’s advisable to wear googles, a mask and overalls. You WILL get covered in hair. You can also do this job in the garage, or if it’s a fine day, in your backyard.
XPOWER is not the only force dryer for dogs – we've previously reviewed ten other dryers.
Here's the whole process of using a force dryer for deshedding a dog:
- Shampoo your dog. Use plenty of soap and clean all the way down to the skin. Wash well, and rinse thoroughly.
- Detangle the hair. Work in tons of crème rinse or conditioner for dogs. This is what releases the undercoat in the end process. Work it through the entire coat, all the way down to the skin. Rinse very thoroughly to avoid skin irritation.
- Time to get messy. Attach a lead to your dog’s collar and hold him still, keeping him relaxed and calm.
- Get comfortable. Drying a dog with a force dryer will take at least half an hour. Turn the dryer on to full power and blow out all the undercoat. Hold the nozzle close to the skin and use a short back and forth motion. You can also combine it with drying your dog using a towel – there are specific dog drying towels that absorb a lot of water.
- Stay the course. Keep drying your pooch until the dog is COMPLETELY dry. Sometimes the undercoat won’t let go until it is bone dry. However, make sure that your pet is comfortable and safe. Don't overdo it either.
- Keep your dog safe. Speaking of safety, take care not to blow dry your dog’s eyes and ears. The head area can be tackled with a dog brush.
- Wrap this up. Finish the job off with a slicker dog brush, brushing thoroughly all over to remove the last of the loose undercoat. And then you're done!
How to Keep the Dog Calm While Grooming
If you're new to grooming your dog or you're wondering how to keep a dog calm while grooming him (a major problem for many pet owners), check out this easy-to-follow video and read the full guide linked below. In this article and video, Samantha shares her best tips and tricks on how to keep your Fido calm when grooming and ease up the process.