In the wild, the combination of temperature and daylength provide the triggers that ‘tell’ the dog what season it is and determine what coat it needs.
In the wild, the combination of temperature and daylength provide the triggers that ‘tell’ the dog what season it is and determine what coat it needs. Many dogs shed their undercoat each spring to help them cope with the warmer summer temperatures, and regrow it again as colder weather comes in.
But our modern brightly lit, warm, centrally heated houses give our dogs signals to start moulting. If they go outside, they get signals that its cold and need to grow a new coat, then come inside and lose it again!
At any one time, each individual hair will be in one of three phases of growth. In the active phase of growth (known as Anagen), the hair grows continuously. In the resting phase (Catagen), the hair stops growing and may become detached from the hair follicle. In this phase, hairs will often come out with brushing or if your dog rubs against your leg or sofa! In the final phase (Telogen) the hair falls out to make way for a new phase of growth.
Different hair follicles are in different phases. Moulting, length of hair and presence or absence of an undercoat depend upon the timing of these cycles and the ratio of hair follicles in the various stages. It will vary from dog to dog and breed to breed.
These patterns of moulting are also affected by other key factors such as hormonal balances and nutrition. Hormones affect the growth phase of the hair follicles, which is why bitches in heat or pregnant bitches will often throw their coat.
Nutrition also plays a major part, particularly the levels of oils such as omega 3 and 6 in the skin, as these help to keep it moist, supple and healthy. The hair follicle and the hair it produces are part of the outer layer of the skin. Hairs don't grow "through" the skin. They grow from skin and in a very real sense they're part of the skin itself. So the condition of the skin and nutrition it receives strongly affects moulting patterns.
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