Australian Cattle Dog

How Much Do Australian Cattle Dogs Shed?

Australian Cattle Dogs shed A LOT, all year long.

Australian Cattle Dogs shed constantly, owners say.

In a recent survey “Do Australian Cattle Dogs Shed?” 200 owners said their dogs NEVER STOPPED SHEDDING!  They shed a lot more than twice a year. Let’s see why:

Do Blue Heelers shed a lot?

The Blue Heeler, whos real name is the Australian Cattle Dog, sheds A LOT, Every day of the year!

Shedding Patterns: How Australian Cattle Dogs Shed

Here is what owners say.

“My Blue Heeler is almost 3 years old, he has always shed every day ever since I got him”

Do Australian Cattle Dogs Shed Only Twice a Year?

Some owners mentioned that even though their Australian Cattle Dogs Shed continuously, it did get worse in the spring and the fall.

There were a very few that mentioned a limited amount of shedding, but also said their dog was crossbred.

Why do Australian cattle dogs shed a lot?

Here is some of the science behind hair growth and why Australian Cattle Dogs Shed.

Australian Cattle Dogs Have a Double Coat

Like many other breeds of dog, the Australian Cattle Dog has a double coat. The double coat provides protection from extreme weather conditions.

His double coat consists of an undercoat that is thicker, shorter, and denser.  There is also an outer coat that is longer and lays closely over the undercoat. 

So, when Australian Cattle Dogs shed, it is the undercoat that sheds seasonally, and the outer coat that sheds non stop.

Think of the fluffy undercoat as the insulation layer that provides warmth in the winter. The outer coat, or guard hairs, is the raincoat that will repel the rain and elements.  This is how the Heeler dresses in layers.

The Life cycle of a Hair Shaft

Every hair shaft grows from a hair follicle and has a specific growth pattern.  

First is the growth phase.

The hair shaft grows from the bottom of the follicle and is pushed upward through the skin, emerges, and extends until its maximum length is reached.

The next phase is when the hair shaft reaches its maximum length, stops growing, and starts to detach itself from the bottom of the follicle, allowing that space for new hair growth to begin again.

In a resting phase, the hair is no longer attached to the blood supply.  It will rest in this state for several months before it falls out, or sheds, allowing the new growth beneath it to emerge. 

Since all hair grows in this manner, it is easy to see that all animals with hair must shed, and each hair grows and sheds on its own cycle.

Australian Cattle Dogs Shed

What Controls this Growth Pattern?

With the change of seasons from year to year, in addition to the change of temperature, the days become longer and shorter.  The hours of daylight become more, then less. 

The intensity of the sun increases and decreases from summer to winter.

These changes in the amount and length of daylight have an effect on the pituitary gland which lies at the base of the brain. 

(It is not the change of temperature)

As the changes in sunlight affect the pituitary gland, it causes an increase or decrease in the production of Thyroid Stimulating Hormone, or TSH.   The TSH causes the thyroid gland to increase or decrease its production

It is the Thyroid gland that directly stimulates the hair follicle to grow and shed hair.  The undercoat shows more seasonality than the outer coat. 

When spring arrives, and the days start to get longer, the winter undercoat starts to shed to make way for the summer coat.

In the fall, the shorter days cause the summer coat to shed making way for the denser winter coat.  This would explain what some call twice a year “blow.”

All this time, the longer outer coat continues its own cycle of growth, rest, and shed.

Australian Cattle Dogs Shed

Does Diet Affect Shedding?

In order to understand how diet affects hair growth or shedding, it is important to realize that the body needs only a certain amount of each nutrient to maintain health. 

When that exact amount of a particular nutrient is achieved through diet, any additional amount of that nutrient is expelled from the body unused, wasted. 

Sometimes, too much extra can actually be detrimental.  For example, too much Vitamin A can be lethal. 

On the other hand, if there is a deficiency of a nutrient, it would be necessary to add a supplement to return to the correct level. Since hair is the fastest growing tissue in the body, it may be one of the first to be affected by a deficiency.

There are several nutrients that can cause reduced hair quality when deficient. 

  • Protein
  • Fats and Oils
  • Vitamin A
  • B Vitamins
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin E
  • Iron
  • Selenium
  • Zinc

Once supplementation returns the body to the needed amount, nothing more can be gained by over-supplementation.  

The point is, it is not good to feed supplements unless there is a reason to suspect a deficiency.  You cannot increase or decrease shedding by changing the diet of a healthy animal.

When there is any question or doubt concerning diet or deficiencies, always talk to your veterinarian first.  He or she can help you choose a reputable brand with proper nutrient balance for your particular needs.

What About bathing or grooming?

Although brushing will not change the growth cycle, it will help remove some of the already loose hair. Brushing will also stimulate and distribute the oils throughout the hair shaft.

Occasional bathing is good not only to keep the hair clean, but the rubbing and scrubbing also help work out some of the already loose hairs.

Be careful not to use too strong of a shampoo that might wash the natural oils out of the hair and skin.

Are Australian Cattle Dogs Hypoallergenic?


Australian Cattle Dogs Shed

That pretty much sums it up!