Is Puppy Fur Loss Natural?

Puppies are, of course, young canines with big eyes, wet nose and soft puppy fur. When the fur starts to fall, dog owners wonder if this is natural. The answer: yes and no.

When Puppy Fur Loss is Natural

Some dog breeds have very fluffy coats that make them look more like toys than an actual animal, like the Pomeranian. There comes a time in a puppy’s life when he loses a lot of his fluffy, long hair to make way for the fur he will have as an adult.

Puppies are born with just one coat of fur. When a puppy loses his fur, he is starting the process of having two coats of fur: an undercoat and an overcoat. This usually happens to pups that are 4 to 8 months old. The fur that remains on a puppy after having lost his fur is the undercoat, which is short and coarse. Before the overcoat of fur grows in, a puppy may look very strange, as if he got a really bad haircut. However, this is normal. The new fur that grows in is the overcoat, which is longer and softer.

When Puppy Fur Loss is Not Natural

Anytime fur loss on a puppy is accompanied by excessive itching, skin that looks irritated or red, skin that is flaky or crusty, or the bald spot is oozing, this is not natural. Even though some fur loss is normal, depending on the breed, there are instances when it's caused by outside factors.

A puppy with allergies can experience fur loss. Puppies can be allergic to airborne substances like pollen or dust, materials in the environment such as wool, medications that are topical or oral, and even food. Dermatitis can be caused by dog shampoos or other fur treatments not formulated for a puppy’s sensitive skin. A young dog can be allergic to fleas and mosquito bites. The bite of a flea itself is not what causes the allergic reaction, but the saliva from the flea.

Internal parasites often cause hair loss in puppies. Mites can cause a dog to have sarcoptic mange. Ringworm, a type of fungus, can cause hair to fall out in round patches. Hair loss from internal parasites can cause the surrounding skin to become very itchy or irritated. It can ooze pus or even develop a secondary infection.

Hormonal imbalances in a puppy are another cause of fur loss. Hypothyroidism and Cushing’s disease are both conditions known to cause fur loss in dogs. If a puppy has had to undergo anesthesia, sudden hair loss could follow. The fur loss can last for up to a week.

Some fur loss is natural for a puppy to experience, especially if he will be developing an adult overcoat. Fur loss that is accompanied by irritated skin is usually not normal. Talk to your vet to see what kind of hair loss is normal for your breed of puppy, and seek veterinary care for fur loss that is a result of outside causes.