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Coat | Hair Issues

 Poodle Coat & Hair Issues

Overview

The coat of the Poodle is one that needs care...and even with the most dedicated grooming, issues can occur...sometimes seemingly out of the blue.

This section will discuss many Poodle coat issues, including:
  • Puppy Coat VS Adult Coat
  • Is a Poodle Really Hypoallergenic
  • Issues that can Cause the Coat to Thin
  • Issues that can Cause the Coat to Fall Out

Puppy coat VS Adult Coat

Poodles are born with their puppy coat.  Often, this coat will look and feel much different than the future adult coat. Many Poodle puppies have very soft, wavy hair as opposed to the adult's thick and curly coat.

For Miniature & Toy Poodles, beginning at approximately 9 months old, a Poodle's coat will steadily change over to their adult coat. This process usually takes about 9 months. Therefore, when a Poodle is approximately 18 months old, they will have their full adult coat. In some cases it will be 24 months until the adult coat comes in. 

During this time, the coat can become very matted. Large mats (tangles) can ruin a coat, often needing to be clipped off if they cannot be worked out by hand. 

For this reason, it is important to brush the coat with a pin brush very often and thoroughly during this stage. Once this change over is complete, the coat will be easier to maintain.

The above also happens with Standard Poodles, however this stage does not last quite as long. The Standard Poodle will go through a coat change starting anytime between 9 and 16 months. The changeover will last approximately 3 months.

Shedding

It is said that a Poodle does not shed. This can be looked at 2 ways. 

A Poodle does not have the plush double coat that many breeds have. Poodles have a single, dense coat of curled hair. Just like human hair, it grows and some hairs do fall out. When the hairs fall out of a Poodle's coat, they often fall back into the coat. Therefore, a Poodle does not shed in the traditional sense of canine shedding.
close up photo of standard Poodle
Bijou, 3 years old
Photo courtesy of owner: Andrée

Hypoallergenic Facts

While Poodles are said to be hypoallergenic, it must be noted that some people (very few) can still be allergic to this breed. 

Why? Because the hair can contain varying amounts of dandruff and some people can have allergies to that. In addition, all dogs have allergens, these are microscopic dander elements.

Many dog breeds shed this dander every 3-4 days, thus causing allergies symptoms for those who are sensitive to this (roughly 10% of people).

The Poodle, and other dog breeds such as Schnauzers shed from their skin approximately every 21 days, thus greatly reducing the amount of allergens that could trigger an allergic reaction.
Note: The coat is one of the most important elements that the Poodle breed is known for...their most outstanding feature! For this reason, an owner should be aware of every hair issue that affects this dog breed. Find out more about the AllPoodleInfo Book.

Hair Loss with Female Poodles

For the female Poodle, the coat may thin and hair loss may occur when she is in heat and also when she is whelping a litter. For many female Poodles, the coat can be affected by hormonal changes, particularly a surge in estrogen that occurs when she is in a heat cycle and after giving birth and whelping her litter.

The female's coat may thin out, sometimes so severely that skin is exposed in many areas. This can happen in random areas of the body. If this does happens, it can take up to 4 months for the Poodle's hair to grow back to normal. Unfortunately, by that time the dog will be almost ready to enter another heat cycle. 

Therefore, if you are not planning on breeding your Poodle and she suffers from hormonal hair loss, it is best to have her spayed.

Coat / Hair Problems with Poodles

There are several reasons why your Poodle may lose hair or have coat issues. Among them are:
  • Red Mange (when your Poodle has an allergic reaction to microscopic mites that live on all dogs, this causes patches of hair loss)
  • Allergies from commercial dog food additives, dog shampoo and everything in between - intense itching can cause a dog to scratch so severely that hair is lost and scabs form
  • Sebaceous Adenitis - This is an inherited medical issue that causes the coat to thin out or completely fall out, that can be stopped if all breeders test for SA before breeding dogs
  • Castration responsive Dermatosis - A hair loss in young male Poodles that begins in the groin area and can spread over the body.
  • Hypothyroidism - This causes the coat to become excessively thick and have an abnormal texture

When Hair Does Not Grow Back

When a Poodle has health issues which causes the hair to fall out or to thin; there is always a chance that the coat will not grow back as expected. This is called post loss alopecia. 

Studies are currently being done to understand this further. However, as of now, it is thought that there are certain changes that take place in the dog's skin because of the temperature changes that occur when the fur is gone or very thin. When this happens, it can take up to 24 months for the Poodle's coat to grow back. There have been some promising results in using Melatonin to help stimulate the hair follicles.

Important General Care for the Poodle's Coat

Shampoo - The first product to touch your Poodle's coat is one of the most important. We have a detailed section regarding the best shampoo for Poodles.

Conditioners- The Poodle should have a coat conditioner applied to keep the hair soft, moist and tangle free. High quality brands will have anti-static compounds to keep hairs on the dog from becoming fly-a-ways and will contain mink oil which adds a gloss or luster to deepen and enrich the natural coat color. 
It is best to choose a brand that also contain PABA ultraviolet sunscreen to protect the Poodle from excessive ultraviolet radiation when your dog is outside. These conditioners contain protein to help rebuild and restructure the coat by bonding to the shaft of each individual hair. They help to add body to thin coats and improve its appearance and manageability.

Finishing Sprays/ Coat Dressings - These products contain a number of ingredients to make the Poodle's coat shine, plus anti-static compounds to control fly-a-ways and non-oil conditioners. They also help to repel dirt that would otherwise stick to the coat and many do contain the needed ultraviolet sunscreen. With grooming, finishing spray is used during brushing and combing when no oil is desired on the Poodle's coat.
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