Like all dogs, pit bulls shed to a certain degree. However, they are far from being excessive shedders. Pit bulls can qualify as low to moderate shedders with a slight increase in shedding during certain seasons (spring and fall).
Pitbulls aren’t excessive shedders because of their short coats. They don’t have long hair strands like Samoyeds, huskies, and chow chows. In fact, their hair is barely noticeable. However, they need coat care and grooming like all dogs.
Understanding Dog Shedding
All dogs, even those that are labeled hypoallergenic will still shed. The difference is usually in the degree of shedding. In fact, some studies have found dog allergen levels to be similar in homes with hypoallergenic vs. non-hypoallergenic dogs. Other studies have found significantly more hair and coat samples in homes with dog breeds considered hypoallergenic.
Dog owners with dog breeds such as miniature poodles, Airedale terrier, and Spanish water dogs may be tempted to think such breeds don't shed since they don't see fur on furniture, carpets or clothing. However, all dogs lose fur. Some dogs lose fur less noticeably than others. Some may shed more, but the fur gets caught up in their corded, curly, or wiry fur, making it less noticeable.
Why Do Dogs Shed? Why Do Pitbulls Shed?
Since it’s obvious that all dogs shed, we can shift our focus to why do Pitbulls shed. First and foremost, shedding is a natural way for dogs to get rid of old/damaged hairs. The level of shedding varies based on many factors.
Here are the main factors affecting dog shedding:
1. Breed And Type Of Coat
It’s worth noting that the term Pitbull is used to refer to dogs that are descendants of bulldogs and terriers. Pitbulls aren’t a single dog breed but a group of dogs. They can be ambiguous since they may encompass a variety of pedigree breeds that can’t be readily identified. Ideally, the four pedigree pit type breeds include American Staffordshire terrier, American Pitbull Terrier, American bulldog, and Staffordshire bull terrier.
These Pitbulls share similar shedding patterns, given the fact that they all have a single coat. Pitbulls aren't heavy shedders because they have a single coat. Most dog breeds guilty of shedding heavily have a double coat. Pitbulls have one layer of fur. Double-coated dogs have two layers comprising of a top and undercoat.
Pitbulls don't have an undercoat, which reduces shedding significantly. Like most dog breeds with single coats, Pitbulls shed consistently throughout the year with some slight increase in shedding during spring and fall. The shedding season isn’t drastic as it is with double coat dogs.
In case you are wondering why Pitbulls shed more during certain seasons, shedding is largely linked to shortening and lengthening of daytime and not based solely on changes in temperature. Studies have linked melatonin to increased hair regrowth. During fall, when days are shorter, dogs tend to shed more to create "room" for heavy winter fur. During spring, dogs tend to shed fur to create "room" for lighter fur.
Nutrition is another major factor affecting shedding. Like all dogs, Pitbulls need a nutritious diet to lead a healthy life. Without the right nutrients, Pitbulls can have health problems that result in excessive shedding.
In this regard, the most important diet component is protein. Pitbulls are large dogs that require significant amounts of energy from carbs. However, protein is more important. You should be careful about the type of carbs you feed your pitbull. Carbs should also be given sparingly as they may cause skin related problems that can trigger excessive shedding.
Low protein diets lacking in nutrients will cause your pitbull to shed excessively and suffer from other health problems. Your pitbull needs adequate amounts of protein alongside other nutrients like zinc, fatty acids, and vitamins to maintain healthy skin. The coat condition and hair growth can be affected by diet.
It’s advisable to speak to your vet to get the perfect diet for your pitbull since poor nutrition has been identified as one of the main reasons for excessive shedding. While the best quality foods may cost a bit more, there are many great brands that are reasonably priced. It’s also important to craft a feeding schedule for your pitbull and feed him/her as recommended.
3. Stress And Anxiety
Stress and anxiety are reasons for hair loss among humans and dogs. For instance, dogs get anxious about vet visits. If you take your pitbull to your vet too often, he/she may start shedding more. This isn’t a coincidence but an indication of increased stress and anxiety. The stress and anxiety cause bodily hormonal changes that can cause their coat to fall faster than normal. While Pitbulls may look aggressive, they are sensitive and prone to stress, depending on how they are treated.
Stress and anxiety can originate from many areas. Besides frequent doctor’s visits, your pitbull could be anxious or stressed by conditions at home. Temporary stress like occasional visits to the vet can’t cause excessive shedding. However, a stressful environment such as a dangerous neighborhood or fights with other dogs may cause excessive/noticeable shedding.
Other factors like loud noise, separation anxiety, lack of exercise, and drastic changes in the environment can also cause prolonged stress and anxiety that causes excessive shedding.
You should rule out such factors before considering nutrition or breed. Creating a favorable environment for your pitbull should reduce shedding.
Other Reasons Why They Shed
There are other reasons why your pitbull may shed excessively i.e., food allergies and abrupt changes in diet. Dehydration is another notable factor that can cause excessive shedding. Other underlying factors include conditions such as fungal, bacterial, or parasitic infections. Skin trauma and inflammatory diseases are also notable causes of shedding.
If your pitbull starts shedding more than normal, consider the above factors and make the appropriate changes. If you just changed your pitbull's diet, get high-quality dog food specifically meant for Pitbulls, and monitor their shedding. The same goes for shedding linked to stress.
You can identify and eliminate stress factors. If you take the necessary changes and the shedding persists, visit a vet. Pitbulls have a single coat. They aren't supposed to shed like their double-coated counterparts. A vet will be able to identify and deal with underlying problems.
How Can I Stop My Pitbull From Shedding?
While Pitbulls are low to moderate shedders, this shouldn’t be mistaken to mean pitbull owners aren’t supposed to pay attention to their shedding patterns and look for ways of stopping excessive shedding. One of the best ways to stop Pitbulls from shedding more than they are supposed to is to practice good grooming.
1. Brush Your Pitbull
Brushing is among the most basic dog grooming necessities. Brushing your pitbull regularly will remove loose hair strands eliminating signs of hair all over furniture and carpets at home. For the best results, you should brush your pitbull two to three times a week. You can brush more frequently, but it won't make much difference.
Brushing more than three times a week may also expose your pitbull to skin conditions. Pitbulls have sensitive skin that may be susceptible to problems because of excessive brushing. What’s more, the brushing should be done with a gentle slick brush; otherwise, it will do more harm than good. There are specialized brushes meant for single-coated dogs like Pitbulls.
The brushing should also be gentle. Reckless brushing with a hard brush can bruise your pitbull, causing excessive pain, stress, anxiety, and more shedding.
2. Bath Your Pitbull
Brushing aside, you must bath your pitbull accordingly to avoid excessive shedding. Pitbulls are large energetic dogs which love playing outdoors. They are therefore more prone to getting dirty. Bathing your pitbull regularly ensures they stay clean and free of diseases and skin conditions that cause excessive shedding.
However, excessive bathing can do more harm than good. You must strike the right balance. Pitbulls have a coat with essential oils that protect the dog's skin. Too many baths strip away these oils and eliminate their protective benefits. The coat can also lose its natural shine in the process. Over-washing is worse for some dog breeds than others.
While Pitbulls may not suffer more than golden retrievers because of excessive baths, they are still susceptible. One or two baths are enough. There may be exceptions, such as when your dog plays in the mud. However, avoid bathing your pitbull multiple times a week unless it's absolutely necessary.
3. Use The Right Shampoo
Your pitbull may be eating the right food and living in a perfect environment free of stress but still shed. If that's the case, the shampoo you are using may be to blame. Pitbulls should be bathed using shampoo meant for single coat dogs. The shampoo also needs to be made using all-natural ingredients that are 100% safe. Most shampoos out there are harsh because of artificial additives and preservatives.
Since Pitbulls have sensitive skin, they should be bathed with 100% natural shampoos. As a Pitbull owner, you must check the ingredients of the shampoo you buy. Consider well-known brands that are tested and proven to work for Pitbulls. The shampoo should also offer added benefits like a great smelling coat. However, this should be from natural ingredients only.
Never wash your pitbull with human shampoo. There are misconceptions surrounding baby shampoos. While they may be gentle for babies, they may still be harsh for Pitbulls given their sensitive skin.
4. Remember To Give Your Pitbull A Trim Occasionally If Need Be
Pitbulls don't require haircuts as other double-coated dog breeds. They have sleek, stiff and short hair that can be managed easily. However, a quick occasional trim may be necessary to remove loose hairs and dirt.
Brushing and washing are usually enough in most cases. However, your pitbull may require a minimal trim occasionally when stubborn dirt gets tangled up with fur. Remember to brush your pitbull's fur following the direction of growth to identify overgrowth spots.
What Skin Problems Can Cause A Pitbull To Shed Excessively?
As mentioned above, Pitbulls have sensitive skin. This makes them prone to dry skin, hives, and rashes, which can cause excessive scratching and serious problems like hematomas. Skin problems are common on the ears but can affect other parts. The skin problems may also have internal effects.
Skin allergies like atopic dermatitis are common among Pitbulls. They cause excessive itching, open sores, and excessive hair loss/shedding. Pitbulls are also susceptible to canine demodicosis linked to parasitic mites. This problem can be eliminated through proper grooming since parasitic mites live in the hair follicles and skin glands.
A weakened immune system can make your pitbull susceptible to skin problems, among other health problems. Most skin problems affecting Pitbulls can be identified by inspecting your dog's coat thoroughly or their behavior. Bald spots, changes in skin color, itchiness, and excessive shedding are some common signs to look out for.
Important: Pitbulls are prone to getting sunburns and skin cancer due to their sensitive skin and coat. While Pitbulls love playing outdoors, special care should be taken to avoid exposing them to sunburns and other risk factors known to cause skin cancer.
Pitbulls do shed but they don't shed as much as other dog breeds with a double coat or thicker coats. However, shedding is dictated by many other factors besides breed and coat. Poor nutrition may cause shedding. Stress and anxiety are other factors that may increase shedding in Pitbulls. Poor grooming habits and bad shampoos are also to blame.
If you groom your pitbull accordingly and feed him/her high-quality food specifically meant for Pitbulls, he/she should shed moderately.
Which Types Of Pitbull Shed?
All types of Pitbulls shed. The same is true for all dog breeds. The difference is usually in the amount of shedding, which is determined by the factors discussed above.
Which Breed Of Dog Sheds The Least?
The AKC has a list of dog breeds that shed little to no fur.