Friday, April 30, 2010

Buffy SHEDS!! . . . well kind of . . .

The third question we almost always get when someone meets Buffy after "what's her name?" and "what kind of dog is she?" is "does your dog shed?"

The funniest part about this question is the fact that after I tell people that Buffy doesn’t shed, people often insists that she does. Okay, people first off, don't argue with me about my dog and second: just because a dog has long hair doesn't mean that it sheds!!!

The length of dog’s hair has nothing to do with the degree which dogs shed, neither does the size of the dog. While the breed of a dog is often an indicator of a dog's shedding tendencies some dogs buck the trend of their breed and shed in way that is not expected.

There are three kinds of dog shedding. There's dogs like Poodle mixes which many refer to as hypoallergenic.

First off there's no such things as a "hypoallergenic dog." When people are allergic to dogs often it's because of their saliva and dander (poo) as much as their fur. Hypoallergenic dogs do shed hair, you may not notice it because it's just not at the level of a Labrador.

That's the other extreme. Dogs like Labradors shed hair on a daily basis. Without constant brushing these dogs end up leaving impressions of their bodies in hair on furniture whenever they get up after lying down.

Finally there's dogs like Buffy who for the majority of the year don't shed at all and then once or twice a year they shed their undercoat. Buffy has two coats, longer fur and a shorter fur that lays closer to her skin and it's that fur that she sheds. Not all Shetland Sheepdogs like Buffy shed, but last week she started.

Buffy gets a daily brushing from Diana. Usually some time in the evening when we are chilling out watching television, Diana will scoop Buffy up in her lap and brush her. It takes 5 minutes at the most. After a brushing Diana will pull a small ball of hair out of the brush about the size of a quarter.

Yesterday was different however. After 10 minutes of brushing and repeatedly pulling hair out of the brush, Diana was left with a pile of hair and a relieved puppy (she didn’t really seem to care about the hair, she was just happy to be able to shake herself out).

A lot of people I talk to about dogs are very concerned dog shedding when thinking about getting a dog. If it’s an allergy issue first off get an allergy test. The one I did involved drawing some blood. They give you a number that corresponds to your level of dog allergy. If it’s below a certain number the symptoms will dissipate over time and if it’s above a certain number the symptoms will get worse and again. If it’s about keeping your house clean, well that’s has a lot to with size and if you do a good job of brushing even a high-shedding dog can be managed without too much work.

The main thing to keep in mind is that shedding really shouldn’t be the number one reason you chose a certain dog. The dogs temperament, personality and health really are more important at the end of the day.

Every once in a while especially when I’m wearing black I notice some of Buffy’s hair on my clothing. The funny thing is that at first I'm initially annoyed but after a second, I smile. Her hair is a reminder of puppy that I love and the small price I pay for sharing my life with Buffy.

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