Labradors shed their coat twice a year, usually at the beginning of summer and in autumn or winter to make space for a denser winter coat or a lighter summer coat.
But they shed hair all year round as their fur needs renewal.
Many families are surprised by how much hair their Labrador sheds because they thought that the short-haired Labrador would not shed much.
The truth is that humans also shed hair continuously. The only difference is that you don’t see many human hairs on your furniture.
On the other hand, you will also see much less dog hair on the couch or bed if the dog has the same color as the furniture, bed or carpet.
Do dogs have hair or fur?
Hair and fur are the same things. The coat of a dog is sometimes called fur or hair. In dogs with a double coat such as Labradors, we call it fur and in single coat dogs such as Poodles, it is called hair.
A Labrador’s hair consists of two layers.
The upper layer is the guard layer of stiff hairs that repels water and act as a shield against dust, insects and branch scratches.
The bottom layer is soft, down insulating hairs. Single-coat dogs have no bottom layer.
The hair of a dog’s coat is made of keratin which is the same substance that nails and rhino horns are made of, but a dog’s hair has insulating properties which human hair does not have.
The color of the hair defines the color of the dog.
Why do Labradors shed?
Shedding reduces the opportunity for skin irritation as well as the entrapment of bad bacteria and parasites on the skin.
Shedding and grooming are necessary for a healthy Lab.
Labradors are double-coated with the bottom layer of water-repellant soft hairs or down.
Dogs that shed their coats need less grooming than dogs that do not shed. Shedding or losing coat hair is a necessary process for dogs and keeps them healthy.
Labradors are often groomed, not because they need to be groomed, but because owners want to keep shedding in the house to a minimum.
Combing or brushing your Labrador’s coat serves a double purpose: it reduces the amount of hair that the dog can shed and it acts as a bonding event for owner and dog.
Labradors have three types of hair:
- Primary hair – top-coat or guard hair that keeps dirt and water from reaching the skin,
- Secondary hair – undercoat that keeps the dog warm in winter and cool in summer,
- Whiskers – hair around the eyes and nose that helps the dog sense space and detect changes in air currents. Whiskers are attached to bundles of nerve endings that send messages to the brain. Never, ever remove or shave whiskers. Shaving a dog’s whiskers borders on animal abuse.
Labradors, like all other dogs, shed hair, but Labradors shed more than people expect from a short-haired breed.
That is not the fault of the Labrador, but a mistake made by people who think that short hair should shed less or more intense than long hair.
The length of a dog’s hair does not indicate the frequency of shedding.
Should I shave my Labrador?
The undercoat protects them against water and temperature changes because a dog’s hair is a temperature regulator.
In addition, shaving a Labrador’s hair leads to the hair growing back differently.
The undercoat grows back more coarse than before and may lead to skin irritation and exposure to toxins and bacteria that would normally not reach the skin.
Shaving a dog’s hair does not reduce shedding. Grooming and brushing are all that is needed to keep your dog from excessive shedding.
Dog fur plays an important role in temperature regulation where it keeps heat in and keeps cold and heat out.
The color of a Labrador’s coat does not indicate that it is a “hotter” or “colder” dog. Research showed that black-coated Labradors do not have a warmer temperature than white Labs in direct sun as one would expect.