Labrador Shedding: It’s The Moulting Season Again

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why do Labradors shed so much

It is that time of year again. By yesterday evening our house was coated in a fine layer of pale golden shed Labrador hair. Tess is moulting again.

Do Lab shed?

Those of you that have lived with a Labrador or two will be smiling at this question.

But if you are just starting out on your Labrador adventure, you should know that all Labs do shed.

And it is something you need to be prepared for.

Shedding is an issue that many dog parents struggle with and in this article we’ll be looking at why dogs shed, and why Labradors in particular shed so much.

We’ll then look at some of the ways you can help reduce the mountain of hair in your home.

Before we close in on dogs, let’s look at the reasons behind moulting, in animals in general

What is the purpose of shedding?

Many wild animals, especially those that live in parts of the world with very different seasons,  have a twice yearly ‘moult’. Usually in spring and again as winter approaches.

During the spring moult, the animal sheds its thick winter coat, and grows a sleek new coat for the summer season.

Labradors shed a lot! Here are some top tips and advice for coping with shedding.

As the temperature falls, the summer coat is shed and replaced by a nice warm winter one.

In some animals, the winter coat is even a different color from the summer one, to give the animal camouflage against a very different kind of terrain  – think of arctic hares and foxes.

So moulting offers animals a chance to replace their coat to reflect the changing seasons

Why do dogs shed?

Although dogs don’t need to be camouflaged, and most modern dogs live in houses were the temperature is fairly consistent all year around, the ‘moult’ still occurs to a greater of lesser extent in most breeds of dog.

But dogs no longer roam the tundra, and battle the elements.

Dogs have been living alongside humans for thousands of year. So why does shedding still persist?  It’s all to do with evolution.

Home  comforts and your hairy problem

Our bodies, and the bodies of our dogs, evolve beneficial biological systems over thousands of years.

It is only recently we have been protected from the seasons with the luxury of air conditioning and central heating.

This is a very short period of time in evolutionary terms

Evolving new biological systems takes a long time.  So dogs still continue to shed because it benefitted their recent ancestors. When home comforts have been around for ten thousand years, maybe dogs won’t shed any more.

But I’m pretty sure you don’t want to wait that long to get to grips with your hairy problem!  Especially when you consider that Labradors shed even more than many other breeds of dog.

Why does my labrador shed so much?

When you empty your vacuum cleaner for the tenth time in a day, and wonder if you should dress yourself entirely in yellow to co-ordinate with your yellow Labrador, or fit your house in black carpets to go with your black lab, you may just be asking yourself “why does my Labrador shed so much?”

Labrador shedding seems to go on and on.

And while some Labradors are thoughtful enough to shed in a big burst two or even three times a year, many others seem to just shed all year around.

This may be connected with the consistent temperature in many modern houses, as dogs that are kennelled often seem to shed in a more seasonal pattern.

So why is it, that Labradors shed so much more than some other breeds?  The answer lies in your Labradors incredible coat.

A special double coat

Labradors have a neat, short coat, but it is particularly dense compared with many breeds and that is because the Labrador has what we call a ‘double coat’.

Underneath that glossy waterproof outer layer, is a dense warm undercoat designed to keep your dog snug while swimming in icy water.

This is great for your dog, and partly explains his enthusiasm for swimming at any time of year.  He simply doesn’t feel the cold.

It isn’t however, so great for your furniture, your clothes, or your vacuum cleaner. So let’s take a look now at ways we can help get on top of this problem

How to cope with a shedding Labrador

I should first say that at the time of writing, there is no pill or potion that you can give your Lab to stop him shedding.

The shedding process is entirely natural and normal, if annoying,  and there is probably nothing you can or should do, to interfere with it.

There are however,  two approaches you can take to help you reduce the effects of shedding

  • Removing dead hair from your Labrador
  • Removing dead hair from your home

We’ll have a look at those in a moment, but first let’s just see if there is any difference between Labradors when it comes to hair.

Do yellow Labradors shed more than black Labradors?

People sometimes ask me if a Labrador of one color sheds more than a Labrador of another color.  Yellow more than black, black more than chocolate, and so on.

The answer is, that to my knowledge, no-one has actually measured the quantity of hair that comes off different dogs, so we don’t have a definitive answer for you.

It is probable that some Labradors shed more than others.  After all, they are all individuals.  But whether or not this is linked to color I cannot say.

From a personal point of view, I have had labs of all three colors and noticed no real difference.  Sometimes one color shows up more in the home than another.  It probably depends on what color your carpets are.

But essentially black labradors shed, chocolate labradors shed, and yellow Labradors shed too.  You can’t avoid it by buying a Labrador of a different color.

It is probably worth pointing out at this point, that we need to deal with shedding in the same way, no matter what color your Labrador is.   Let’s give you some practical tips.

Removing hair from your Labrador

People often think of Labs as being dogs that don’t need much grooming.   And when they are not shedding, this is true.

However, whenever your Labrador is losing his coat, daily or twice daily grooming is your friend.  It will, I promise you, make a massive difference to the quantity of hair in your house.

We’re not talking about ordinary grooming with a bristle brush. We are talking about a serious dead hair removal process. Its going to make your arms ache, but it will be worth it.

There are a couple of grooming tools you might like to consider for this purpose.  One is the zoom groom

The zoom groom

This funny looking contraption is a very effective way of removing dead undercoat.

Work from head to tail in firm strokes and watch the mounds of hair gather on the floor.

The zoom groom works well for all Labradors, but . Find out more information on the zoom groom and read reviews.

For some of my dogs I use a somewhat more controversial tool to prevent my house turning into ‘hair city’

And that tool is a Furminator.

The Furminator

Whether or not this tool suits your dog may depend on his or her individual coat.

Labradors really do vary in the way that they moult, and in the thickness of their coats   shedding-labradorFour year old Tess,  pictured here, grows her new coat in,  as the old one moults out.

Sensible grooming with a furminator has never revealed bare skin,  or done any apparent damage to her coat.

All that is stripped out, is soft, dead undercoat.  Heaps and heaps and heaps of it.

And not only does she feel better for it,  so do my carpets.

This is the Furminator I use, and I love it.  More information here.

Bear in mind that some people don’t like this extraordinary grooming device and believe that it damages the coat.

And for some dogs, it is not ideal.

Tess’s elderly chocolate friend for example,  moults a lot of her old coat out before she grows much of a new one.

Using any kind of de-shedding equipment on her can leave bald patches and a furminator would probably be too ‘aggressive’ a tool.

I don’t think this is necessarily related to coat colour,  rather to the individual dog,  and possibly to age.

Use your furminator carefully

Furminators seem to be a bit like marmite.  You either love them or hate them.  And I love them.

They make a huge difference to my dogs and to my house.

Remember to use with caution.  This is a powerful tool.  Don’t just keep raking wildly, do a little at a time,  and check to make sure you are not leaving bare patches or making the  coat too thin.

Can I shave my Labrador?

Just a quick word about shaving: DON’T.  People do occasionally ask me if its OK to shave their Labrador. And it isn’t.

I appreciate that all that hair can be a problem, but please don’t shave your dog.

He could end up with sunburn, he will be unable to control his temperature efficiently and will be very vulnerable to cuts and injury.

Removing dog hair from your home

Once you are done removing hair from your dog, you’ll want to remove the hair from your house.

We’ve had quite a few discussions on this website, about the best vacuums for removing dog hair.

Like many of you I love my handheld Dyson, it does a brilliant job of sucking dog hair off carpets and furniture, and I like the ‘bagless’ technology.

Dyson also do a vacuum assisted dog grooming tool. If you have one of the standard Dyson vacuums and your dog doesn’t mind being vacuumed, you might find it helpful.  Find out more about the Dyson Dog Groomer

You’ll notice that hair drifts around the house, even into the parts that your dog is barred from.

Do robot vacuum cleaners pick up dog hair?

My dogs are not allowed upstairs, but doesn’t stop the hair getting up there!

So I have a robot vacuum cleaner that just potters around for an hour each morning.

Updated to add: My elderly robot vacuum cleaner eventually died and I replaced it with a newer model.

I love my Neato Botvac so much I now have a second machine so both upstairs and downstairs get a good clean each morning.  It has a bigger dustpan than the old one and does a really good job

If you give the floor a good vacuuming with your standard cleaner before you use your robot for the first time, then set the robot to do its job every day, you’ll find there is room to spare in the dustbox.

The battery in mine lasts about an hour and a half which is plenty long enough and I charge it up daily.

full review here –  I now have two great de-shedding vacuums.  Check out my in-depth review on best vacuums for pet hair!

Do Labs Shed –  A  Summary

All Labrador Retrievers shed – at times profusely. If you let the hair build up, either on your dog or in your home, it can be quite overwhelming.

Coping with Labrador shedding is much easier if you adopt a daily grooming and vacuuming routine.  Getting the right tools to help you can really make a difference.

More information

For a complete guide to raising a healthy and happy puppy don’t miss The Happy Puppy Handbook.

The Happy Puppy Handbook covers every aspect of life with a small puppy.

The book will help you prepare your home for the new arrival, and get your puppy off to a great start with potty training, socialisation and early obedience.

The Happy Puppy Handbook is available worldwide.

 How about you?

How do you cope with all that hair?

Share your favourite grooming tools and cleaning equipment with other readers in the comments box below

This article has been completely revised and updated for 2015.  There are some affiliate links in this article and if you make a purchase after using them the Labrador Site gets a small percentage. It doesn’t affect what you pay and we appreciate your support!

 
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Pippa Mattinson is the best selling author of several books on dogs. She is the founder of the Labrador Site and a regular contributor. She is passionate about helping people enjoy their Labradors and lives in Hampshire with her husband and four dogs.

50 COMMENTS

  1. Hi Judi, I am in Australia and I am looking for the Oates dustpan brush with Silicone bristles and I can’t find it. Are they rubber bristles? Is it the Oates dustpan they sell in Bunnings with rubber bristles?

  2. Don’t care what you say about shaving them down…..all 3 of our yellow girls get bathed and shaved every 8 weeks…..all year round. They look amazing and our house is almost hair free…..you can’t get sunburned laying on the couch

  3. Ok so Labs shed A LOT but what about shedding clumps of hair? My 8 year old black Lab sheds A LOT but has recently started shedding clumps of hair as well. I’ve taken him to the vet and he’s been tested for everything from mites to hypothyroidism. All results come back negative. He has been on a thyroid medicine as well because the vet suspects he is a hypothyroid dog even though the test was negative. I’ve tried changing foods and have been using grain free, limited ingredient foods. I give him 2 good Omega 3 oil tables 3 times a day. I brush him with a furminator until we’re both tired. Nothing seems to help! I do get frustrated with the amount of hair he sheds in the house and sweep at least once a day. I’m concerned there is something wrong with him. Any suggestions?

  4. I need help I have a black lab puppy he sheds so much he clogs the drain every time he haves a bath and I use a clog cleaner everytime he has a bath.Is that bad for him.

  5. Hi, I have 6 year old Lab named Nika.. last year for the first time we were facing a shedding problem. Vet said its a simple allergy and gave her a shot of ‘urbazon’ but I’m not sure if it was the right call. She appears unable to fully loose her winter coat along her spine, and she’s itchy all the time, only along the spine. I brush her quite often but it doesn’t help. If anyone has any tips or has ever heard about such problem I would be grateful to read it.

    • Sofija,
      Have you tried using a Furmanator brush? I’ve had my Yellow Lab for 10 years now and can definitely say that this brush does a wonderful job. It helps with the shedding as well.

    • I give my lab Coco fish oil pills. It seems to help with the dry skin & itching. I get a big bottle at Walmart, they’re inexpensive. My girl thinks it’s a treat !

  6. Our lab spends a great deal of time outside with my husband so hair shedding hasn’t been a noticeable problem although he reluctantly submits to being brushed a few times a week. He has just turned a year old and is black with white paw flashes and apparently in excellent health. But he seems to be turning reddish brown over his back and hind quarters whereas he was jet black (apart from his paws). Is this just a normal part of seasonal moulting?

    • You mentioned that your dog spends a lot of time outside! Well we have a 2 year old black lab who does the same thing my opinion on this is the good old ☀️ it changes the color on my dog just like by the end of summer my hair color is a whole lot lighter. Hopefully this sheds some light on the situation lol good luck with your new puppy!!!

  7. Love the furminator for our constantly shedding Wilbur (yellow) and Lucy (black). I do have a few tools that I love for my furniture. First I have a giant size lint roller. About the size of a paint roller. That helps. Second I have 2 tools that I got at Duluth trading (probably can find elsewhere). One is similar to a pumice stone. You just glide it over fabric and it picks up a lot of hair. In addition, I found a furniture brush there that I use in conjunction with the stone. Worth looking in to. The hair can really get overwhelming. Sometimes I find it hysterical, like tumbleweeds, other times not so much. Still, having owned lots of other dog breeds, I wouldn’t trade these two clowns for anything.

  8. When my Lab died in 1988 I couldn’t bear to have another as the heart break was unbearable. My wife badgered me for years until I finally caved in in 2012 and we got a fantastic male Yellow Lab from a local rescue centre. We were aware of the shedding issue but even so it came as a shock just how much this huge guy could produce. Even with using a Furminator we can fill a Miele vacuum bag in one day. However, I discovered a great way of getting his hair off the back the estate car we use. It’s one of those window cleaner’s blades – a squeegie – I think it’s called. It’s on a long pole that reaches into the car with the back seats down. Simply use it on the carpetted areas like a rake. Out comes the hair in great clumps all rolled together. Easy.

  9. I use a horse curry shedder to remove the loose hair from my labs. They will stand still and be groomed for as long as I continue to comb them.

  10. Which length Furminator has everybody found works best with Labs – the short or long hair one? I was thinking short hair, but have noticed some seem to be using the long hair one?

    Thanks!

  11. I’ve read on various sites that olive oil or fish oil can help reduce year-round shedding. Can anybody confirm that there is a scientific reason for this, or whether it’s just another old folk remedy.

    • We use ahiflower for our beloved black lab. It’s a completely natural plant based omega 3,6, 9 oil. Great for his coat but also his joints and heart.
      BW,
      Joanna.

  12. I have 2 labs,one black n one fawn whom i adore. My lab lab sheds soooooo much hair that sweeping the house twice is not enough. Brushing her is do e but… i could easily make 2 stuffed toys every week.:-):-)sometimes dont kno what to do.we stay in a city where it is hot Chennai India

  13. Hi! I have a 9month old lab mix puppy who lost her winter coat around April. She is now shedding like crazy again…is this normal? I wasn’t expecting it until fall.

  14. I have a yellow lab called Lola she seems to moult most of the time, like this article says getting yourself and your dog into a good routine of brushing and hoovering regularly really helps!! I have a dyson Hoover which does a good job of getting all the hair, when I first got Lola I never thought I’d cope with the extra tasks which seemed relentless. Now I Hoover daily and make sure I use the Furminator on Lola which works brilliantly, every 6 weeks I take her to the groomers who give her a really good de shedding and I keep on top of it for the rest of the time. With all this effort I put in you would think hair would be a thing of the past… Well it’s not I now expect to find hair on my clothes, bed, in my car and amywhere else for that matter. I just remind myself on a regular basis how much I love her and each time I Hoover I just have to look at herand then I think I don’t care about her moulting just knowing she’s my lil pup and is happy, healthy and loving life, I don’t care, I’d rather have her in my life with hair everywhere than have a hair free home but no Lola!! It really is a thing you just have to learn to live with !!! #lovinlabradors xxxx

  15. It makes me sad to hear your dog’s are not allowed upstairs. Dogs are family and should be allowed to go anywhere they want

    • Well if I apply the ‘anywhere they want’ rule, I’m pretty sure my dogs will vote to spend most of the day in my fridge, so I think I’ll give that one a miss 🙂 🙂

  16. I have 2 labs, one yellow and one black. Both shed differently. Brushing regularly and even bathing helps keep shedding down, but I have also found a supplement that has helped too. I bought Lipiderm from Amazon to help with my lab’s skin after she had had a skin allergy. A side effect was also that it helped lessen shedding and it did! I noticed a huge difference in about 4 weeks of using it. Also people don’t like to say this, but a high quality food diet helps too. My dogs both are fed Taste of the Wild dog food and I don’t feed them any junk at all! I hope this helps!!!

  17. When using a fulminator, how often should one use it on their dog? Daily, every other day, or once a week? I could use it all day on my lab ( I haven’t actually done this) the hair will just keep coming with her coat not getting any thinner!

  18. We have a black and a fox red yellow. I use the furminator, hose them down in the summer weekly and towel dry some. That removes a lot of hair, but there is still copious amounts. Both of mine like to be vacuuned!

  19. The best vaccum for sucking up all my labs black hair is the Shark Rocket. WAY cheaper than a Dyson, lightweight and best part? It comes apart so when doing stairs, you don’t snap the base to the top handle section and you have a nice compact but still powerful vaccum to get those stairs clean.

  20. Lately, I have dog smell in my house. I have never had this smell before. I have washed the carpets and the lab. I have had her anal glands cleared and I still fight the smell. What is happening?

  21. we have a nice black lab great with every one kids other dogs beau is a sweet heart .I found that combing with a curry comb and then using a laytex glove for doing house work works great comb to lossen pet him with the glove repeat . the glove really grabes on to the lose hair and helps to reduce the amount of brushing and is more relaxing for him and me just using the brush for ten min he would want to become a black smith dog and make a bolt for the door lol

  22. I’ve been using the furminator for years and it is fantastic. I bgt it at a petco after watching a video they had running. The guy was getting tons of hair off of his short haired dog. There was a 30 return policy (or 60, not sure) so I bgt it not really believing it was possible. Oh yeah, I went home and started brushing and got a couple of grocery bags of hair the first time. My lab is 10 yeras old, after he’s brushed his fur shines. It works great and the dog loves it. Well worth the money. I think I paid twice what they are now asking and it was still a great price.

  23. I have two dysons. One is for the house and one I use directly on my blonde lab Paddy. I Hoover him direct and he loves it. However if anyone has any tips on removing hair from my car that would be fab.

    • Don’t know where you are, Katie, but in Australia we have an Oates dustpan brush with silicone (rubbery) bristles. Works a treat, removing ALL hair from my boy’s trip home from the beach – even when I’ve been slack and left it ages to build up from heaps of trips. Vacuuming did nothing, the brush was a 10 minute job. Spotless!. Comes in a broom to, which is great in the house (any surface – I do the carpet, rug and mats) – saves dragging out the vacuum cleaner all the time. Cheap and super effective.

    • Sorry no tips on car hair removal. Just wanted to say your comment about vacuuming your dog made me smile. I also vacuum my lab (black lab) directly. While most dogs have so fear of vacuums, mine follows me around whenever I turn it on, begging me to use it on him. He particularly likes when I vacuum his belly with a brush / hose attachment. My favorite is when I vacuum the top of his head and the skin / fur gets kind of pulled up and back.

    • Get a soft enclosed kennel that is collapsible and can fit into your vehicle. They zip and all hair is then contained to the kennel space and not your car!

  24. As a first time Labrador Mum, the furminator was recomended to me and boy what a difference it has made!!! Sadie loves her groom time and I find using the furminator followed by the Kong Zoom Groom really does the trick with very few hairs in the house between vaccums; and Sadie has a fantastic glossy coat too!! Mind you I love marmite too!!

  25. I have 2 lovely labs a black and a Goldie, and an other half with a hair allergy :s
    The furminator is an awesome tool for reducing the amount of hair in the house and has never caused any harm to the coat of either of my dogs. However it only really works on my black dog it removes his dead undercoat beautifully. The Goldie on the other hand her hairs seem to wrap around the teeth and it doesn’t remove her coat well at all. Have to resort to rubber curry comb for that one.

  26. Love mine! Have to go easy with it on Barney – he doesn’t have much of an undercoat since being a house dog but he really enjoys being groomed and will nudge me for more if I stop. Invaluable with Rusty – although his hair is fine there is a lot more undercoat and this stops handfuls reaching my carpets/trousers etc.
    Also use one to get a really astonishing amount of loose hair from a Clumber although with him a pair of scissors also comes in handy!

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