There is not much in this world cuter than a puppy. Besides their downy ears and ridiculous antics, part of their undeniable appeal is their soft puppy coats. Unfortunately for adoring owners, puppyhood doesn’t last forever. Loss of puppy coat is a normal part of your dog’s growth, but it can be alarming for first time owners. Here is what you can expect during this phase of your puppy's life.
What Is the Difference Between a Puppy Coat and an Adult Coat?
Puppies are born with a single coat of soft, fluffy fur. This coat naturally gives way to their adult coat, which is usually thicker and stiffer than their puppy coat. As they develop, dog breeds with double coats grow two layers of adult fur. Hair breeds grow their own distinctive coats as they shed their puppy fur, and single coated breeds simply grow their adult fur.
Some changes in appearance are normal during this phase. Puppies may develop coats that are a different color than their puppy coat. Dalmatians are known for this, as they are born without spots, but many breeds develop different coat coloring and patterns as they shed their puppy fur.
When Do Puppies Shed Their Coats?
Puppies lose their puppy coats between 4-to-6 months of age, although this time frame varies widely from breed to breed. You might not notice your puppy shedding, especially if she is a short-haired breed, or the change could be dramatic. Some long-haired breeds go through a few awkward months known as "the uglies" as their adult coats come in. Other breeds, like the Pomeranian, can take up to 2 years to grow their adult coat in fully.
Grooming Your Puppy’s Changing Coat
Regular grooming is an essential part of caring for any dog, and grooming is especially important as your dog’s coat transitions from puppyhood to adulthood. Not only is grooming a great bonding experience for you and your dog, but it also ensures that he is comfortable being handled all over his body. This is especially important for puppies growing into longer coats, as regular grooming is necessary for their health – and your sanity.
Your puppy’s coat may look a little ruffled, patchy, or shaggy as his adult coat comes in. This is normal, and grooming will keep his coat healthy during this process. For hair breeds, the combination of puppy hair and adult hair can create unpleasant tangles. Grooming is especially important for these dogs, and some owners choose to get a short “puppy cut” for this transitional stage.
No matter what kind of dog you have, make sure that you are using the right grooming tool. A hand mitt works great on short-haired breeds, for example, but probably won’t work as well on long-haired, double-coated breeds.
Abnormal Puppy Hair Loss and Shedding
Loss of puppy coat is normal, but not all hair loss is healthy. Contact your veterinarian if your puppy has any of the following symptoms:
- Bare patches of skin
- Scaly skin
- Inflamed skin
- Loss of large patches of fur
- Excessive itching
Raising a puppy is a time that is filled with excitement and sometimes with worry. Your puppy’s coat doesn’t need to be a hassle. With regular grooming and the right knowledge, you and your puppy can weather the transition from puppyhood to adulthood together – even if your puppy does develop a case of “the uglies” along the way.