Chow-Chows, also commonly referred to as Chows, are compact dogs known for having a blue-black colored tongue. Their lions-mane looking coat that runs from their head down their shoulders is one of their most distinct features. It’s their beautiful mane that makes most people curious, do Chow-Chows shed?
Do Chow-Chows shed? Yes, Chow-Chows are considered extremely high-shedding dogs. Even if your Chow has a smoother, shorter coat (which is rare) it will still shed. The Chow dog breed sheds a lot due to its double-layered fur and thick coat texture. Regularly grooming your Chow-Chow is a great way to control its shedding.
In today’s guide, I’ll tell you everything you need to know about Chow-Chow shedding, including what’s common and what isn’t. Whether you already own this dog breed or you’re thinking of adopting a Chow, you’ll want to read this article!
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Do Chow-Chows Shed a Lot?
Let’s get right to it – do Chow-Chow shed more than most dogs?
Yes, Chow-Chows are definitely up there with the heaviest-shedding dog breeds. They share that distinction with canines such as the Akita, Siberian Husky, German Shepherd, Alaskan Malamute, and Great Pyrenees.
Why does the Chow-Chow shed to excess? Let’s go over the reasons in this section.
All That Fluff
Chow-Chows can have one of two coat types.
The one that you see all the time is the puffy, thick, fluffy Chow-Chow coat. The outer layer has a rougher texture.
Some Chow-Chows have smoother, shorter fur, and they might shed a little less than a Chow-Chow with a standard coat.
That said, this type of coat on a Chow-Chow is rare, so not many dog owners get to enjoy the slight reduction in shedding.
I’m assuming then that your Chow-Chow has the thicker, fluffier coat with the rough texture. Although rough coats in dogs usually mean less shedding, in the case of the Chow-Chow, the texture does the dog no favors.
With such a thick, heavy coat, it’s no surprise the Chow-Chow sheds so profusely throughout the year.
Now, you may be wondering, does the Chow-Chow have hair or fur?
Some dog owners believe that dog hair refers to a long, smooth coat, sort of like human hair, I suppose. But no, that’s fur too.
Since the two terms are interchangeable, whether you want to call it fur or hair, a Chow-Chow has it, and lots of it.
The next factor that causes gargantuan levels of shedding from the Chow-Chow is its double-layered coat.
You see, dogs can have either a single coat or a double coat.
Take, for example, the Poodle.
The beloved Poodle breed has only one coat layer. Its shedding (which is very, very little, the complete opposite of the Chow-Chow) is reliable and consistent throughout the year since it’s a single-coated breed.
Other dogs have a double coat, which refers to a dog’s dual-layered fur.
The first layer of hair is the undercoat. This is a cropped, fuzzy insulating layer that’s close to the dog’s body.
In the winter, the undercoat keeps a dog warm, and it regulates the dog’s temperature in the summer.
Then there’s the outer coat, which is what you see, brush, and pet. The outer layer is comprised of guard hairs that repel dirt and grime so your dog may stay clean.
The first period of seasonal shedding is the winter. The Chow-Chow, as well as other double-coated dogs, will grow a fuzzy, bulky layer of fur to prepare for colder days ahead.
For several weeks in the winter, you’ll notice a lot of shedding from your Chow-Chow. Then it will abate and you’ll have a mostly uneventful spring with regular rates of shedding.
As spring gives way to summer, the Chow-Chow will again change its coat. This time, the dog releases its bulky fur for a lighter, summer-appropriate coat.
You guessed it. You’re in for several more weeks of higher-than-usual rates of shedding.
Then you get a break until next winter, when the cycle repeats all over again.
Large Surface Area
The last reason that the Chow-Chow is so high-shedding is due to the dog’s large surface area.
Chow-Chows are 20 to 22 inches tall on average and weigh 60 to 70 pounds. They’re not small dogs by any means.
Since there’s more dog to a Chow-Chow than, say, a Standard Poodle, the Chow-Chow’s increased surface area also increases its rate of shedding.
Is It Normal for Chow-Chow Hair to Come Out in Clumps?
Considering what you know now about the Chow-Chow being a high-shedding canine companion, you’re quite curious about what kind of shedding is normal.
For instance, what if your Chow-Chow’s hair comes out in clumps? Should you be concerned?
If the profuse shedding coincides with one of the dog’s two annual seasonal shedding periods, then no, you shouldn’t have to worry.
Many Chow-Chow owners report seeing hair falling out in clumps from their dog in the winter or summer, so it’s relatively normal behavior.
That said, if you’ve noticed that your Chow-Chow has bald spots, then I would schedule an appointment with your veterinarian.
Unfortunately, Chow-Chows can develop a variety of conditions that can lead to balding, including hypothyroidism, alopecia X, and color mutant alopecia.
Hypothyroidism reduces a dog’s regular thyroid levels and can produce symptoms such as reduced cold tolerance, less interest in physical activity, weight increases, higher rates of shedding, and coat thinning or balding.
Alopecia X or biopsy responsive alopecia is a baldness pattern disorder that’s caused by sex hormone abnormalities and possibly hair follicle and/or hormonal receptor dysfunctions as well.
Color mutant alopecia or color dilution alopecia is a genetic disorder that makes hair shed or thin in patches. Itchy, flaky skin also accompanies this disorder.
How Can You Control Your Chow-Chow’s Shedding?
Even if your Chow-Chow’s hair doesn’t come out in clumps, the dog still sheds more than you wish it did.
As one of the highest-shedding dog breeds, Chow-Chows are going to shed. It will especially get bad in the summer and winter. That’s all unavoidable.
That said, you can reduce the dog’s heavy rate of shedding at least somewhat with the following methods.
I’m sure you’re wondering, what is brushing my Chow-Chow going to do? The answer – a lot!
When you brush your dog, you collect loose, dead fur before it can fall off the Chow-Chow’s massive body and land all over your couch, your carpet, or your clothing.
You’re also reducing dry skin that could make your dog itchy, which then inspires them to scratch, which can then lead to hair loss.
Brushing a Chow-Chow thoroughly distributes its skin oils across its body. Those skin oils act as a natural moisturizer, warding off dry skin and itchiness.
Due to the size and shedding propensity of a Chow-Chow, there’s no way you can skip a day of brushing this dog.
Some Chow-Chow owners even go so far as to brush their dog a few times a day.
If that’s feasible for you, especially during the times the dog blows its coat, then I say go for it. It will make a difference!
You can’t use just any brush on a Chow-Chow coat. You need a pin brush, which comes in handy for removing debris and dirt from a dog’s coat as well as detangling and gently dislodging mats.
I’d also recommend a slicker brush, which has a flat surface with fine wires very close to one another.
When brushing your Chow-Chow, make sure you reach both layers of its fur.
Don’t be surprised if you pull out a lot of loose, dead fur. Put it in a bag (or bags, shall I say) and keep going until you’ve brushed the entire dog from top to bottom.
Every one to six weeks, you want to fill your bathtub with lukewarm water, encourage your Chow-Chow to hop on in, and give this gargantuan dog a bath.
Bathing your Chow-Chow is another way to knock off the loose, dead fur that was going to be shed from the dog anyway. You’re also ensuring the dog’s skin and coat are healthy.
You should only bathe your canine companion with dog-friendly shampoo. People shampoo doesn’t have the right pH nor the proper ingredients to support a dog’s skin and coat.
Your poor Chow-Chow could end up even itchier than before you bathed it!
When bathing your Chow-Chow, always rinse away the dog shampoo residue thoroughly so none is left on your pet’s body. If any residue remains, it can dry on the skin and cause irritation and itchiness.
As the tub drains and your soaking wet Chow-Chow comes out, resist the urge to towel-dry your dog.
Due to their thick, heavy coats, Chow-Chows are already likelier to develop painful mats and knots. You roughing up their wet fur with a towel will indeed cause both.
Instead, allow your dog to air-dry. If that’s going to take too long and you don’t want a wet dog running around the house, use a hairdryer on its lowest heat setting.
Hold the hair dryer several feet from your dog when it’s running so you don’t burn their skin.
I do want to circle back around to the bathing timetable for Chow-Chows. I said that you could theoretically bathe your dog weekly, but you should only do that if they’re regularly playing out in the mud and muck.
Bathing your dog too often, even if you’re using dog-friendly shampoo, can dry out their skin, causing the opposite effect of what you wanted. They’ll shed more!
If your Chow-Chow’s long fur is driving you crazy, you could always trim it or bring your dog to a groomer and let them do it.
The puppy cut is a popular way to reduce Chow-Chow floof. This cute, cropped cut will make your dog look immediately more youthful, and you’ll love how there’s less hair to brush too.
The Teddy bear and lion cuts leave more hair around the face but still not so much that your Chow-Chow’s rate of shedding will be quite so excessive.
A dog’s diet also plays a major role in how much (or how little) the canine sheds.
There are two areas to pay attention to here.
The first is how well-balanced your Chow-Chow’s diet is.
If the food they eat is primarily preservatives, then they’re missing out on healthy proteins, fats, nutrients, minerals, and vitamins. Even carbs are good because they’re energy, but only in limited quantities.
You should review the ingredients list of your Chow-Chow’s everyday food and consider upgrading them to something more nutritious if needed. (Get your vet’s approval too).
That alone could help with their shedding!
You also want to ensure that your Chow-Chow is not allergic to the ingredients in its food.
The most common food allergens in dogs are beef, wheat, dairy, egg, soy, chicken, fish, lamb, rabbit, and pork.
I talked about this in my post on dogs licking at their butts a lot, but when a dog has a food allergy, it can cause skin irritation all over the body.
Your Chow-Chow will lick and even bite at itself to get relief, and those areas end up shedding more.
Your vet can use blood testing known as a radioallergosorbent test or RAST test to gauge if your Chow-Chow has a food allergy.
The vet may also prescribe changing your dog’s food temporarily to see which ingredients are activating their symptoms.
While most dog allergies can be treated, food allergies cannot be. Avoidance of the offending ingredient(s) is best.