POMERANIAN SHEDDING & GROOMING

If you are attracted to the idea of adopting a Pomeranian puppy, and letting it grow into your life and your heart, there is one thing you need to be crystal clear about before you begin. Pomeranians shed their hair. They shed quite a lot. They shed when they are puppies, and they shed when they are adults. They shed more at some times of year than they do at others, and females can tend to shed more than males, but they all shed, nearly all of the time.

Now that this less-than-surprising revelation is out of the way, it’s time to get down to practicalities: understanding why and how Pomeranians shed, and how best to handle it, as well as considering some of the problems associated with unusual shedding patterns.

WHY POMERANIANS SHED

Pomeranian shedding is influenced, to some extent at least, by fluctuations in natural light. In the summer months, when there are more daylight hours, Pomeranians lose more of their hair. This natural phenomenon is disrupted by the fact that Pomeranians  in modern times spend their lives in homes where artificial lighting is used. This causes them to continue their shedding throughout the year, but it is still more noticeable in spring and also in fall, when they are preparing to grow their winter coat.. This heavy seasonal shedding may last from two to four months, and then normal, lighter shedding will resume.

Female Pomeranians shed more hair during their season or heat cycle and for a short time after it has finished. They also shed a great deal immediately after delivering a litter of puppies, sometimes resulting in an almost bald appearance.

HOW POMERANIANS SHED

A Pomeranian actually has two coats, an undercoat which is shorter and thicker and an outer coat of coarser, thicker hair. Shedding comes from the undercoat, not the outer coat (except for a few hairs here and there) but you may not actually be able to spot the difference between the two coats.

The shedding pattern of Pomeranians varies depending on the stage they are at in their life cycle. When your pet is four to five months old, you will notice hair falling out along the ridge of his back, more or less in a straight line. The shedding spreads and continues until the puppy coat is gone, but the adult coat is growing at the same time, with stiffer bristles called ‘guard’ hair sticking out through the softer puppy coat. So, although there may be bare patches, your puppy should never be completely hairless.

This puppy coat shedding, often referred to as the ‘Puppy Uglies’, can be quite distressing for unprepared owners, who might worry that their pet has caught a disease, or that this scraggy-looking creature is not quite the purebred animal they were promised. Fear not. This is just a normal developmental stage for Pomeranians, and by the time they are nine or ten months old they have developed their fluffy adult appearance.

HOW TO HANDLE POMERANIAN SHEDDING

How much of a problem Pomeranian shedding is for you will depend on your housekeeping standards and your susceptibility to allergens. Enthusiastic pet lovers tend to be less fussy about having a few dog hairs decorating their floors, furniture and clothes, and are probably less prone to allergies, but Pomeranian shedding is at times so excessive that you really must do something about it.

It is possible to buy vacuum cleaners that claim to be able to pick up pet hair without becoming clogged, but before committing to a purchase it would be a good idea to get a true idea of how efficient they really are from someone who already owns one of these machines. Other people use a product called StickySheets, large sheets of transparent plastic with a light adhesive backing, to remove pet hair from the couch or car seat.

The need to take action is first and foremost for your pet’s sake. Sometimes the hair that has been shed does not fall, but gets tangled up and matted in your Pomeranian’s coat. During the most intense periods of shedding it’s best take your dog outside for twice-weekly grooming with a long-bristled brush and a wide-toothed comb. Using dog hair conditioner may help, but if matted hair forms into balls that just won’t brush out you may need to have your pet’s hair clipped before it gets any worse.

Regular shampooing and trimming can help to keep shedding in check as well as promoting healthy hair growth. When trimming, pay particular attention to hair around the anus and between the foot pads in order to discourage infections.

UNUSUAL SHEDDING PATTERNS

As already discussed, it is normal for a Pomeranian puppy to lose so much hair during the ‘Puppy Uglies’ stage that he has bare patches of skin showing, but such a degree of shedding is not normal in adult Pomeranians. If you can see patches of your adult Pomeranian’s skin, he should be taken to a vet immediately for a check-up and a series of health tests. These bare patches could be caused by thyroid imbalance, or a disease called Red Mange, or could just be the result of an allergy. Your vet will give you the advice you need.

If your adult dog’s tail hair starts to become very thin, and bare patches appear on his back legs, this also warrants a speedy visit to the vet, because he may be coming down with the dreaded Black Skin Disease (also known as BSD or Alopecia X). Fortunately this is a relatively rare condition, but those Pomeranians who suffer from it lose a great deal of their coat, and the exposed skin may turn black. It can happen to animals  at any stage of their life, from puppies to geriatrics.

Sadly, there is no known cure for BSD, but it appears that it is not accompanied by any discomfort or itching. Near-bald BSD sufferers will need some clothing though, to help regulate their body temperature and protect them from sunburn. A sunscreen can be used in the summer months. Your vet may recommend spaying or neutering to eliminate one possible cause, a sex hormone imbalance. Alternative treatments include more regular washing, a change of diet and melatonin supplement tablets.

If you have previously owned a shedding dog, this information about Pomeranian shedding will not have deterred you from your plan to welcome one of these gorgeous dogs into your life. But if you find the idea of dealing with shedding too off-putting, there are plenty of breeds who shed very little hair, such as a dachshund, poodle or miniature schnauzer. With or without shedding, somewhere there is a pet that is just right for you.