Why do only some dogs shed?

Dogs can bring such joy to a home, but we all know that many dog owners can become frustrated with the amount that their dog sheds. I have two dogs at home, and I have grown up knowing them to be “hypo-allergenic” and “non-shedding” dogs, as my mom is allergic and likes to keep her house very tidy! This has always made me wonder about why my dogs don’t shed while others do.

After researching this on the internet, I discovered that there is actually no such thing as a non-shedding dog! The only dogs that do not shed at all are completely hairless dogs, such as an American Hairless Terrier. Other than these hairless dogs, every dog sheds- it is just a matter of how much they shed. Dogs that appear to not shed, such as my Maltese and Shih Tzu, still shed, they just shed very lightly. This is why these dogs need to be groomed, while dogs such as Labrador Retrievers do not necessarily need to be groomed.

Dogs shed more and less at certain times of year, and this is called “seasonal shedding.” Many shed most in the spring to lose their winter coat. Dogs that spend a lot of time outdoors will register that the temperature is changing, and their body will begin to shed more heavily. However, dogs that are kept mostly inside may not realize the change in temperature, and therefore their shedding may stay constant.

Activity #1

1. Survey the classroom: have each student fill out a notecard stating if they have a dog, and if so, what kind.

2. Ask the students if they believe that their dog sheds.

3. The next day, have each student examine their clothes to see if they can find any dog hair.

4. Conclude which kinds of dogs shed heavily, and which shed lightly.

Activity #2

Have students do a show and tell about their dog or dogs at home. Have the students share about what kind of maintenance their dog requires- ex: does it have to go to the groomer? Are your parents always vacuuming up dog hair?

The objective of this activity is to educate students about what kinds of dogs shed more heavily than others.