A Golden Retriever’s Shedding
All Golden Retrievers shed, but there are things owners can do to limit the amount of hair that gets everywhere.
Kathy Salzberg, NCMG
Q. I have had Golden Retrievers for about 30 years. My most recent one passed away about a year ago. I just met a stray Golden Retriever who needs a home, but here is my problem: My wife hates all the shedding. We have contemplated getting a smaller dog that doesn’t shed as much, but this recently-met Golden really tugs at me. Is it possible to minimize the shedding on a Golden or is it simply part of the deal?
A. When you bring a Golden Retriever into your life, all that shedding is indeed part of the deal. I speak from experience. When my children were growing up, we had three Goldens in residence and it felt like the vacuum cleaner was permanently attached to my arm. That downy golden fleece, which is this breed’s undercoat, was everywhere so I made my life easier by having carpeting in my home and upholstery in my car in golden shades so it wouldn’t be so noticeable. I also avoided wearing black or navy blue clothing. I don’t have Goldens anymore but when I look back on those days, it is not their shedding I recall. It’s their smiling faces, endearing ways and the fun my kids had growing up with these beautiful four-footed friends always by their sides.
Dogs shed hair to allow new coat to grow in. As it falls out from the follicles, landing on the floor or getting ensnared in the coat, it is replaced with new hair. If they spend most of their time outdoors, dogs sprout heavier winter coats and when spring rolls around, they cool off by shedding that extra padding. When kept mainly indoors, the amount of shed hair is affected by the amount of daylight, which also stimulates hormones and promotes shedding. It is also affected by the temperature of your home. The amount varies considerably among breeds but Golden Retrievers definitely fall into the heavy-shedder category.
With that said, I still believe that Golden Retrievers are among the best family dogs in the world. Bred to be gun dogs, a role they ardently fulfill, their cheerful nature and fun-loving personalities will win your heart. Since you have already shared your life with one, you don’t need convincing. You know how devoted they are to their humans. They love us unconditionally and forgive us our shortcomings with a big wet kiss and a wag of their beautiful plume-like tails.
We have many Golden Retrievers among our clientele and prefer to see them on a four- to six-week basis to keep their thick and lustrous coats from matting and help keep shedding under control. But to manage their coat care properly, you need to give them a thorough brushout at home – all the way to the skin – at least once a week. It is best accomplished with a curved-bristle wire slicker brush used systematically from head to tail, removing downy undercoat from one small section at a time as you work your way around the dog’s body. If you bathe your Golden Retriever, always brush both before and after the bath and use a conditioning rinse; this helps loosen any leftover shed hair for easy removal.
Beyond frequent brushing and feeding a diet rich in protein and low on non-digestibl fillers and grains, you can ask your groomer to give your Golden Retriever a good “thin-and-trim” haircut to make upkeep easier and diminish all that fluff on the floor. It’s an alternative to shaving the coat – something we hate to do – and it leaves your gorgeous pal still looking like a Golden. Beyond brushing, we de-bulk the coat with thinning shears and shape it to the outline of the body. Golden Retrievers and their owners love it, especially during the warm summer months.
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