Why Do Golden Retrievers Shed? Learn When Too Much is Too Much, and How to Manage it

🔄 Updated on November 18th, 2022

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Do golden retrievers shed? Golden retrievers are large dog breeds that contain two sets of fur, which allow them to shed a lot. I know from experience that my goldie has always had a problem with shedding.

When I don’t groom my golden retriever or forget, I’ll usually find tiny red or golden hairs on my furniture. When I sweep, it becomes a huge pile I could literally make a sock out of. 

Don’t worry, though. There are ways to manage and live with the golden retriever shedding level. You can manage shedding with daily or weekly brushing, the proper diet, and loads of exercise. Yet, the question remains. Why do golden retrievers shed a lot?

Why Do Golden Retrievers Shed?

It is entirely normal for hair mammals to lose hair – even we do! If you notice your golden shedding quite a bit of fur, it means that their old and damaged coat is coming off to make room for new hair growth. 

Due to the double-layered coat golden retrievers have, they can withstand high and low temperatures and unfriendly environments such as dust or pollen. Shedding is a natural function in long-haired dogs, although not all long-hairs shed as much as golden retrievers do. 

The most common reasons your golden will shed are:

  • Seasonal
  • Old or damaged hair will fall out
  • Diet and exercise
  • Mood
  • Illness
  • Old age
  • Puppyhood

By watching your golden’s shedding habits and triggers, you can tell how much they are shedding. For example, if it’s right in the middle of the hot summer months and you notice your golden retriever is shedding more than they did in the spring, it’s a good idea to investigate further. 

How Much Do Golden Retrievers Shed?

Golden retrievers are one of the many dog breeds that shed the most. On a golden retriever shedding level on a scale of one to ten, your golden sheds on a scale of approximately seven to eight out of ten. 

While goldies will shed more during the fall and spring seasons, you can expect to find loose hair and fur every time you sweep your home. While shedding may be a problem for most households, there are very efficient ways to manage and live with golden retriever shedding. 

When Do Golden Retrievers Shed?

Golden retrievers shed year-round. However, you will notice more shedding during the spring and fall months. As the days become shorter and there are fewer light hours, it triggers hormonal changes associated with hair growth. 

So, your golden retriever will shed their top summer layer and be replaced with thicker and heavier hair preparing them for winter months.

The same phenomenon happens in the summer, where your goldie will shed its bottom layer of hair more frequently to prepare itself for the hot temperatures. You will notice a golden retriever shedding level of approximately six to seven out of ten throughout the year. You’ll see a significant increase during the changing temperature seasons, 

Perhaps, the most shedding you will see throughout a golden retriever’s lifetime is when they are puppies. At six months old, puppies will shed their young coat, so their adult coats take the place of young fur. 

Golden Retriever Shedding Level

Shedding level is defined as:

  • Low 
  • Medium 
  • High 
  • Extreme 

In the case of a golden retriever, you could say their shedding level is mediocre to high but not extreme. Excessive levels of dog shedding would belong to the Bernese mountain dog breed or even the Alaskan malamute. 

Low shedding level dogs involve the hairless terrier or poodle breeds. However, the golden retriever, known globally as the perfect family dog, shed up to high levels due to their coat layers. 

While it’s normal to shed a little hair, golden retrievers have thick fur rather than coarse hair, which is one of the reasons why they shed so much. Like Alaskan huskies, the golden has a double coat. 

A double coat means that your golden has an underlay of fur as well as a top layer of hair to protect them. Golden retrievers have two layers to help them lock in moisture and relinquish heat in the summer months and obtain warmth in the winter season.  

Are There Any Health Reasons for Increased Shedding?

Aside from the golden retriever shedding season and year-round loss of hair, health reasons contribute to excessive shedding. 

If you have been keeping track of your dog’s routine shedding, you may notice when they are excessively shedding. You should be concerned if your goldie’s hair is falling out, accompanied with signs including:

  • Dry skin or bald patches
  • Your golden yelps when you touch certain spots
  • If you started your dog on a new medication
  • Pest bites such as fleas and ticks
  • Lack of appetite / not drinking as much
  • Excessive grooming or chewing

Other health-related reasons for excessive shedding include stress, hormone changes such as pregnancy, and allergies to food or soap products. To diagnose the shedding behavior, it’s best to take your beloved pup to the vet to get advice and treatment options. 

Prevention includes watching your golden retriever’s behavior and finding shedding triggers. If your golden sheds more after a bath, you’ll know that it’s the type of soap you use. If your golden reacts to a particular food, you’ll know it is time to switch their diet. 

Can Excessive Golden Retriever Shedding Cause Issues for Humans?

While there are many benefits to owning a pet, some people have allergies to a dog (or cat). Dog allergies present as the common cold, with symptoms such as: 

  • Sneezing 
  • Coughing 
  • Itchy eyes 
  • Runny nose

However, these symptoms only persist when dogs or dog hair is present or when you’ve been near dogs in the last 24 hours. 

If you own a golden and know you’re not allergic, other health complications can arise by owning a dog, such as:

  • Bacteria
  • Parasitic infections such as worms
  • Lung problems such as asthma
  • Rabies

Parasitic infections like tapeworm are ingested through the mouth by breathing in dog hair or forgetting to wash your hands after cleaning feces. When hair sheds from a golden, dead skin cell proteins float into the air, which can cause asthma-triggered people to have more difficulty breathing. 

Shedding Triggers

Shedding triggers can accompany allergies, diet, exercise, and mood. Hair-loss triggers can arise due to almost any change in your dog’s diet, exercise, or daily life. If you had just moved, your golden might feel stressed, which will cause them to shed more often.

If your dog has lost a friend or human love, they will become depressed, resulting in more shedding. When you change their diet from healthy food to mediocre, or vice-versa, their hair will fall out more as well. 

If you notice your golden retriever shedding level increase, make a note of what has changed so you can find the trigger more quickly. Check for skin infections, parasites, and ensure your golden has access to water at all times.  

How to Manage Golden Retriever Shedding?

While many things can cause shedding in your golden retriever, only two times a year is when you’ll notice more hair growth. Although shedding may be an annoyance, there are many ways to manage and reduce the problem.

Brushing

Because golden retrievers have a double coat, you’ll want to invest in a good brush and make it a routine to brush them every day. Look for a soft bristle brush that doesn’t pull or tug on the hair.

Bathing

Opt for bathing your retriever once or twice a month. Over-bathing can cause dry skin and excessive chewing or licking. It’s also a good idea to get your golden to swim often. In the summertime, invest in a dog pool, or take them to the beach to swim and play.

Maintain Stress Level Through Exercise

Golden retrievers have a ton of energy, so making a daily habit of walking or jogging with your golden is beneficial. Exercise doesn’t just help with excessive shedding and mood control; it also helps with overall health for you and your pup. 

Deshedding Tools

Deshedding tools are brushes that have thin teeth and look like rakes. Be careful not to use the deshedding brush every day, but rather the times where your golden sheds the most. A good rule of thumb is to deshed once a week or three times a month. 

Use Appropriate Shampoo

Shampoos that state they are an anti-shed formula are good shampoos to have on hand. Anti-shed shampoos contain parabens or formulated dyes enriched with omega-three fatty acids—other ingredients in the deshedding shampoo help reduce your golden retriever shedding level. 

Living With Golden Retriever Shedding

One of the things you’ll have to do when you own a golden retriever is accepting that you have a long-haired dog who (no matter what you do) will shed often. However, there are ways to live with golden retriever shedding. 

Proper Diet

When buying dog food, look at the ingredients. You’ll know it’s good food when the first ingredient has meat rather than a bi-product. Avoid fillers such as grains and corn or rice.

A Good Swiffer or Vacuum

When buying a vacuum or hard-floor mop, search for products that state they are designed for pet hair. These products have high suction levels and make your daily cleaning a lot easier.

Daily Cleaning

Pet hair doesn’t just lay on the floor; it gets everywhere. From furniture to countertops to clothes, ensure you have a lint roller handy, and always make sure you wipe your counters before making food. 

Deshedding Supplements

Supplements contribute to a solid and healthy coat. These can include: 

To reduce the amount of daily shedding, ensure you invest in these supplements.

Keep An Eye On Allergies and Infestations

Triggers such as allergies and pest bites can increase your golden retrievers’ shedding level. Make sure you’re regularly checking your golden for triggers.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you still have some questions about golden shedding? Here are the most frequently asked questions on this topic. 

Can I shave my golden retriever?

No, you must not shave your golden retriever. They need their coat for protection and health measures. It will also grow back incorrectly. 

Is golden retriever shedding that bad?

The only time shedding will get out of hand is if you stop grooming your pup. The problem will barely exist with routined brushing and de-shedding except in the spring and fall months. 

How much grooming does my retriever need?

Your retriever should be brushed every day, bathed once a month, and descended three to four times a month.

Bottom Line

Golden retrievers make excellent pets. They are widely known as “the perfect family dog.” However, this breed will often shed and to a medium-high amount. With the proper diet, exercise, grooming, and cleaning, you and your golden will live peacefully and happily together. 

Remember that goldens can have allergies and are prone to parasitic infections. If you notice excessive shedding, take your pup to the vet to get a precise diagnosis and treatment.

Sarah Alward | Doctor of Veterinary Medicine
Sarah Alward | Doctor of Veterinary Medicine
Our resident DVM helps review every article to ensure we always provide scientifically accurate, up-to-date information. She’s proud to help provide pet parents everywhere with the info they need to keep their pets safe, healthy, and comfortable.