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Shedding

Boxer Dog Shedding

Overview

Breeds can be categorized into light, moderate or heavy shedders. Where does the Boxer dog fit into that? 

There are many factors that contribute to the level of shedding - and we will discuss that in a bit - however in general this breed is considered to be moderate/average shedder. 

This said, there are some factors that can make it appear that a Boxer is having super heavy sheds, and there are some conditions that can cause excessive coat loss. 

In this section we'll cover the details of:
  • How much a Boxer dog sheds
  • The many elements that will affect the amount of shedding and possible cause what owners would consider to be a shedding problem 
  • The best grooming and shedding tools and brushes that work for this breed 
  • Tips and advice to cut down on the amount of coat loss that your Boxer may experience 
  • Signs of hair loss that may point to issues other than normal and expected shedding

How Much Does a Boxer Shed?

The breed is considered to be a moderate shedder, but what does that really mean? 

Some light shedders are dogs that have hair as opposed to fur (yet the hairs do continually cycle, just like human hairs) and others are considered to be light shedders due to the length or texture of the coat. 

Heavy shedders, such as the Golden Retriever or the Husky have what can be called a furious shed - clumps fall out - there is almost a continual thick shedding of the coat.

The Boxer breed typically falls between these two categories. 
While many factors will influence how much shedding an owner can expect to deal with, in general, the coat will need a good brushing once a week and during certain times of the year (again, depending on different factors) there will be a heavier shed in which the Boxer dog may need a good brushing or raking every other day and you'll be wanting to have your vacuum cleaner and lint brushes at the ready.

The Elements that will Affect the Amount of Shedding

Puppy to Adult - You may find that shedding picks up close to the 1 year mark and then decreases and levels out after the 2 year mark. Why? Because during this time the puppy coat is being shed and is being replaced by the adult coat. 

It should also be mentioned that you may notice some color changes during this time as well. Most are not drastic, however the adult coat may come in a bit darker, or lighter - and with some dogs this will change the shininess of the coat. 

Genetics

Genetics play a role in how much a Boxer dog will shed. First, we must factor in texture - German, UK or American lines will have different textures. In addition, thickness of the coat can vary even with puppies from the same litter - some may take after the sire and some may take after the dam. 

Care Elements

Exposure to sunlight, the area in which you live, the supplements that you do or do not give to your dog… all of these elements come together and affect the shedding process.

Seasonal

When people talk about seasonal shedding, many assume that it is the change in temperature that causes a shed. However, it is the amount of sunlight in the day that actually triggers the change (and this does of course correspond with temperatures). 

Whether or not your Boxer dog experiences this seasonal shed will depend on where you reside. In areas that have drastic changes of sunlight hours in the fall and then again in the springtime, a dog's body will respond. 

In locations that receive 6 to 7 hours of sun in the winter compared to 13 or 14 in the summer, the dog's pineal gland will be triggered which sends the signal to the body to shed the coat.

As you probably know, a thickening of the coat will begin as the days become shorter and in the spring, as days become longer, this thicker coat will begin to shed off. 

For many, the heaviest shed with occur with the spring seasonal shedding phase - April through May. It is usually this phase that has owners wondering why their Boxer is shedding like crazy.

Food and diet affect shedding and this is because if a dog is receiving the right balance of nutrients, both skin and coat will be healthy. Alternatively, if a dog is not receiving the proper vitamins and nutrients that are needed, this makes for an unhealthy coat that will be much more prone to shedding off, regardless of the time of year. 

You'll want to choose wisely in regard to main meals (Read more in the Feeding section) and in addition to that 2 elements are important:

1- A daily vitamin and mineral supplement may be needed. This is pertinent to dogs that eat whole home cooked foods (though super healthy, just like high quality commercial brands, this should be mixed in). And for other dogs under certain conditions.  

2- An Omega fatty acid supplement is often needed to keep a Boxer's skin and coat healthy, especially since this breed can be prone to having skin issues.

*** More about both of these types can be found in the Choosing the Best Supplements for Boxer Dogs section. 

The Female Shed

Hormonal changes that occur due to the heat cycle will affect the coat and shedding. For many un-spayed female Boxer dogs, there will be a heavier shed than usual toward the end of the heat cycle. In addition, there is often a deep, heavy shed that occurs after giving birth since pregnancy brings about a drastic change in hormones.

Tips & Advice for Shedding Problems

  • Regular Grooming and Effective Brushing - Aside from the above mentioned important of feeding a healthy diet and offering supplements, grooming is going to play a big role in reducing the amount of hairs that you find all over the house… and the sofa… and your clothes.
Keeping a grooming routine is recommended, since time can fly by so fast and if we do not purposely set aside time for brushing the coat, things can get out of hand.

Every day, every hour, every minute, hairs are being shed off - even if you do not see this. Each follicle goes through 3 stages: Growth, rest, falling out. (anagen, catagen and telogen, respectively). During a typical week, hairs are falling out and a good amount of them are settling back down into the coat. And this can cause problems. 

If brushing is not done on a regular basic, these dead hairs will accumulate and become compacted under the coat and against the skin When this happens, they create a barrier - it cuts off healthy air circulation to the skin and it creates a barrier that traps moisture (yeast infections can then develop). 

Therefore, choosing 1 day a week to do a good, all over body brushing is recommended to pull out dead hairs and leave the coat healthy to continue its normal shedding process. When brushing, be sure that you do not just skim over the top of the coat. It is important to brush down to the skin and then up and out, releasing those shedded hairs. 

As you go, clean the grooming tool as needed. In addition, aside from the belly, there is no other area that should go untouched. Back, tail, legs… all should be brushed. 

It is suggested to work in sections so that no areas are accidentally missed. During times of heavy shed, you will find that changing your brush or rake will be needed. More ahead.
  • Bathing - Too many baths will dry out the skin which often leads to an unhealthy coat - and too few baths allows dirt and debris to settle into the coat which also affects the skin and the health of the fur. Therefore, staying on schedule with baths is another step to keeping the shedding under control. 
A bath every 3 to 4 weeks - be sure to double rinse since any shampoo residue is detrimental to the skin & use a high quality brand of products - is recommended. If your Boxer puppy or dog has run through mud or has splashed through any puddles that may contain ice melt chemicals, an extra bath will be needed.
  • Grooming Outside - The Boxer, more so than many other more fragile dog breeds, can have certain grooming procedures done outside. However, there are exceptions. 
What to keep in mind? Young puppies that have not yet become accustomed to bath time often do not fare well when sprayed with a garden hose - Getting used to water, just like many other elements of the world, takes time - and puppies do best with a slow, gradual process that allows them to learn about an element such as baths (and brushings, dental care, etc.) in a way that allows exploration, acceptance and tolerability. 

In addition, a Boxer should not be wet down outdoors if the temperature is under 55 degrees Fahrenheit (10 Celsius); young puppies and older senior dogs in particular will be prone to becoming chilled.

For shedding Boxer dogs, brushing the coat outside is just fine, however one should also take into consideration the weather for this grooming need as well. If the temps are soaring, choose a spot in the shade. 

If it is chilly or cold outside, you might need to be extra vigilant as not to rush the brushing. Another tip to keep in mind is the wind direction; position your Boxer dog and yourself so that the breeze takes loose hairs away from you (and not toward the door of the house).
Boxer dog short coat
Vacuuming with the Correct Machine -  Vacuuming on a regular basis will help keep the floors from gathering shedded hairs, however in areas with foot traffic, the hairs can quickly settle down into the carpet fibers at which time a "normal" vacuum cleaner may not be strong enough to pull them out. Particularly for those who have wall to wall carpeting, a strong suction is needed. 

For homes without central air circulation systems with replaceable filters, choosing to obtain a vacuum that also cleans the air as it clean the hairs is recommended. One of the best vacuums for pet owners is the Dyson DC25 Animal Ball-Technology Upright Vacuum Cleaner (Works great on furniture too). For fabric sofas, we have found that simple tape lint rollers work excellent. 

The Best Grooming Tools and Brushes for Boxer Dog Shedding

There are hundreds of brushes, rakes and even vacuum suction grooming tools that all claim to work the best. So, what is an owner to do? For normal grooming, we recommend a pin/slicker brush. 

However, for shedding you do not need to go with what is most expensive or any sort of complicated grooming device. The Zoom Groom works excellent for this breed - BUT beware of how many different Zoom Grooms there are (we counted over 20, before stopping). 

Details for the exact one that we like, as well as a top rated self-cleaning brush can be found under "Grooming" in the Boxer Dog Specialty Shoppe - along with reviews.

Red Flag Issues / Signs of a Problem

While each Boxer dog will shed varying amounts of fur throughout the year and also during his or her shedding season, here is a list of signs and symptoms that point to a probable medical issue:
  • Balding - Even with a heavy shed, hairs will fall out all along the coat and not produce areas of baldness. Along with this, exposed skin may be red and irritated.
  • Itching - Normal shedding does not cause irritation and does not cause a dog to scratch. The only time that it would indirectly cause this sort of issue, is if the coat has not been brushed as needed - thus allowing fallen hairs to settle deep down in the coat, near the skin, trapping moisture and blocking air circulation
  • Any behavior or physical symptoms that are out of the ordinary (loss of appetite, whining, restlessness, etc.)
Any time that you notice unusual hair loss, whether this be an allover thinning or patches that are appearing, this is a sign of an issue that warrants a checkup with the veterinarian. In many cases, it will be a skin disorder in which thinning hair is one of the symptoms.

Balding along the sides of the body may be seasonal flank alopecia.

Since alopecia simply means 'hair loss", this is a loss of coat that can happen each year, but is much more severe than average shedding. With this condition - to which the Boxer breed is prone - 3 things generally happen:

1- Loss of coat on the sides of the body (usually just about the hind legs and sometimes on the bridge of the snout) will result in bald spots.

2- Exposed skin will be dark (often appearing black, dark gray or have a purple tint)

3- This skin is prone to infection. Any infection, of course, will need to be treated with antibiotics/ antibiotic salve. The sensitive skin often responds well to a product we recently discovered (results can actually be quite amazing, with blacken skin often flaking off - with daily use - and an excellent response with the re-growth of fur.)  For details, look to "Grooming" in the Boxer Dog Specialty Shoppe.

In addition, there has been some studies that show melatonin supplements can help with skin/coat recovery.

Another possible issue may be allergies, as reactions can cause skin and coat issues (that may be mistaken for shedding, especially in the early stages).

Less common, but still a potential cause would be a thyroid imbalance.
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