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I have to admit, at one point, I had 5 dogs in my very small house. From big to small, I had a Rottweiler, a Catahoula, a King Charles Cavalier Spaniel, a Rat Terrier, and a Maltese.
Needless to say, I spent a lot of time sweeping up loose hair of all shades and lengths, but I could never really discern my Catahoulas hair from the rest.
He was the only brown one, so I thought it would be pretty obvious.
But I never noticed any.
In fact, despite all the hair around I never actually noticed any from him at all.
A welcome, if not slightly puzzling, relief. While it kept me off the vacuum, it did get me wondering if he was contributing to the dust bunnies at all.
So do Catahoulas shed?
Whether your Catahoula has a short, smooth coat or a medium-length, wiry coat, they will shed a small to moderate amount regularly throughout the year. This makes them great for pet parents who don’t want to deal with much coat maintenance but don’t mind some light shedding and the occasional brushing.
So it turns out his hair was part of the cocktail, though far less than the other dogs, save for the Maltese.
There was some conflicting information about the subject online, so I ended up doing quite a bit of research on a seemingly simple subject.
Catahoulas shouldn’t shed much but there are a few factors that may make them shed more than usual.
Luckily, I found a few very simple tactics to help reduce shedding and mitigate the effects of the fur that was shed. Read on for the whole scoop!
Catahoula Coat Type
Catahoulas are still considered to be a relatively rare breed of dog. While they are a recognized breed by the United Kennel Club (UKC) they are not yet recognized as a full-blown breed by the American Kennel Club (AKC).
Since the AKC is a more widely recognized registration of dog breeds in the United States, the Catahoula breed still has some room for interpretation as far as the day-to-day recognition of its standards goes.
The result is that you’ve probably seen a lot of “Catahoulas” with a wide variety in the texture and type of their coat.
Some of them have very short, smooth coats, almost like a Pitbull. Others have wiry, wispy, coats, more like a Schnauzer.
Indeed, this wide variety exists in part because of the fact that this unique breed still has leeway among breeders regarding a specific standard for their coat.
That plus the fact that, since they are not a “recognized” breed, they often end up mixed breeds, showing traits of their Catahoula ancestry and whatever other breed they have in them.
That said, the UKC does indicate that the Catahoula’s coat should be
- A single coat,
- Short to medium length, and
- Lie flat and close to the body.
However, even dogs with seemingly short coats can still have double coats, like Rottweilers and Labradors.
A double coat, as the name implies, indicates that there are two distinct types of fur on the dog.
One is a short, downy layer that lays close to the dog. The other is a longer coat that lays over top of that single coat.
And if you’re wondering, does that mean twice as much heading?
The answer is a resounding yes. In fact, probably more than twice as much heading.
While it’s true that short-haired dogs like Catahoulas do shed very little, they’ll still more than dogs with hair and some dogs with wire coats like Schnauzers, and obviously hairless dogs like the Peruvian Inca Orchids.
The short coat, as opposed to a long coat, means that the individual lengths of each strand of fur are short.
Some dogs have these single coats but have very long strands of fur, like Afghan hounds.
Catahoulas are also short-coated dogs, which means that, while yes, their fur will shed, the strands of fur are simply shorter than other dogs.
And finally, the fact that Catahoula’s coats are supposed to lay flat and close to their body, as opposed to standing away from the body like a German Shepherds breed standard.
Any amount of fuzziness that obscures the outline of the Catahoula is a disqualifying characteristic in a representative of the “Catahoula” breed, according to UKC standards.
This means that the hair that does fall out is more likely to stay on your dog than fall straight to the floor of your house.
Also, you can easily get off most of the shed fur from your Catahoula by brushing them outside a couple of times a day, loosening the hair outside before it comes loose on your couch
History Behind A Catahoula’s Coat
The Catahoula does have a truly magical coat, which is why it’s earned the nickname the “Leopard Curr.”
However, this coat did not come to exist by accident.
Catahoulas are thought to be the first dog bred in the Americas after the arrival of the Europeans.
European traders and settlers brought along their European dogs, probably mastiffs and sighthounds like Greyhounds, with them to settle in Louisiana.
These European breeds were then crossbred, deliberately and accidentally, with the Native American dogs in the area as well as the wild Red Wolves which, at the time, were still roaming around the area we now call Louisiana.
Much of this dog’s history is shrouded in mystery because of all of the wild-west nature by which they came to exist.
Some historians believe that the French introduced the Beauceron breed into the mix when they took over Louisiana and began first started formalizing the breed that would eventually become the Catahoula that we know today.
These dogs were bred to do everything an intrepid rancher, hunter, or explorer in the relatively unknown bayous, thickets, and forests of Louisiana and the surrounding plains and swamps.
Farmers needed a dog who could huff it all day through harsh palms and prickly bushes, with a coat that was both thick and cool, camouflaged and distinctive, all-purpose and low maintenance.
We can thank them for that, at least, because the resulting dog has retained that low-maintenance coat that makes them shed so little.
You can bet that after a long day trekking through a Louisiana swamp that the last thing that farmers wanted to do was pick and brush twigs out of their dog’s coat.
Why Your Catahoula Is Shedding So Much
Even though these dogs don’t typically shed much doesn’t mean that they can’t. Let’s look at a few reasons why your Catahoula may be shedding more than usual.
They Do Shed Some
All of that said, your Catahoula will still shed a small to moderate amount of fur all year round.
They do not shed seasonally as some dogs do, so you should expect the same amount of fur throughout the year.
Some dogs with hair, like Poodles and Maltese, hardly shed at all.
However, the downside is that they need far more maintenance to keep their hair, which continuously grows, in decent shape.
If your Catahoula is living their best life, they probably get to spend lots of time outside, preferably end dense woods.
If you’ve taken your Catahoula hiking or even if they spent a summer evening playing outside, they may have bug bites, resulting from mosquitoes, fleas, ticks, lice, chiggers, the list goes on and on.
Hopefully, your Catahoula is on some sort of prescription flea, tick, and heartworm medication. But this won’t protect them from itching mosquito bites
Any dog who is itchy will scratch, which will loosen the hair follicles and lead to more shedding than normal.
Just like with people, changes in your Catahoula’s hormone balance can cause changes in their hair production.
Men will lose their hair as they produce less testosterone. Boys and girls begin to grow hair in new and interesting places as they reach puberty.
While you probably should not expect to see pimples on your adolescent Catahoula, you should pay close attention to other changes in their hormones that may cause them to produce more or less hair.
This will occur in dogs who were recently spayed or neutered. It could also be a sign of pregnancy.
Unfixed females going to heat may shed more than normal as well.
Or there may be some unnatural hormone imbalance off that only your vet will be able to diagnose.
It’s not uncommon for the oldest among us to go totally bald by the end of our lives.
Catahoula puppies shed their puppy coats when they are around 12 weeks of age, transitioning from their fluffy puppy coat to a coarser adult one.
Both males and females may experience the onset of balding, especially on their bellies and the insides of their legs, when they get to be about 8 or 9 years old, just like people getting receding hairlines and whatnot.
This may also end up in more shedding.
Just like all those shampoo and conditioner commercials for people, the dryness of the scalp and hair follicles can make them damaged and fall out.
Dogs who are washed frequently (as in, more frequently than once every month), are more prone to having dry skin.
Dryness isn’t just an outside-in thing, either. Staying hydrated is also key.
A Catahoula, especially a high-energy one who spends a lot of time outside playing, could easily be suffering from chronic dehydration, which, in turn, could cause them to shed.
Your dog’s diet is probably the most important factor when it comes to their coat and skin health.
A general rule of thumb is that if you can buy the dog food at the grocery store, then it’s not a high-quality dog food.
Foods that are rich in grains and other fillers do not contain all the necessary vitamins, minerals, and fats required to sustain healthy hair and skin.
A dog with a ratty-looking coat is likely suffering from some degree of malnutrition.
Or, at least, is not getting food that is agreeable to them.
Which leads me to my next point.
It’s entirely possible that over time they have developed an allergy to the food that was once unproblematic.
Even if you have been on the same food for a long time, your Catahoula’s immune system may suddenly change its mind about their food, even if it’s a high-quality one.
Allergies produce a misfire in the autoimmune system. An allergic reaction occurs when the immune system responds negatively to a stimulus that is, in fact, benign.
Common allergies that Catahoulas may encounter are pollen, grass, and tannins, which can be found in wood chips and acorns (if your dog is into those).
However, it’s possible that your dog is having an allergic reaction to just about anything. It could be a food or a medication that they’ve eaten for years or they may have encountered something brand new for the first time.
Only your veterinarian will be able to properly diagnose and treat your Catahoula’s allergies.
Last but not least, for some reason, dogs often shed when they’re feeling excited or nervous.
Catahoulas are particularly guilty of this behavior
If your Catahoula is extremely anxious, they are more likely to shed lots of fur all at once.
This may also happen if they are excited, like when you’re petting them.
Ever noticed that weird ring of fur right where they were lying next to you on the couch?
Anxiety and excitement, for some mysterious reason, can cause dogs to shed more often.
How To Manage A Catahoula’s Shedding
You going to face the fact that all Catahoulas are going to shed some.
That means that the best way to mitigate damage is to be prepared with a plan and a well-stocked tool kit.
You may want to give your Catahoula their own designated area in the house that they can be in. A dog bed in a room may be the best place for them to spend most of their time when they are inside.
Also, you should establish very clear boundaries about which pieces of furniture they are allowed to be on. Is the bed off-limits? Is the couch okay? Is everything off-limits except for their own bed?
Without a clear, consistent set of rules, you end up giving your Catahoula mixed signals about where they can be in. They therefore won’t know where they should go and will end up tracking fur everywhere.
Unless you want to keep your Catahoula relegated to one single room in the house, you should expect them to roam about throughout the day.
That is, after all, why you have them in your life, right?
If you have not heard anything about robot vacuums since the early 2000s when they first introduced the Roomba, you are probably going to be shocked by how many advances have been made in the arena of robot vacuums and mops.
You can pick up one for almost any surface in your house. This high-end one from Samsung specializes in hardwood floors while this more affordable option from OKP has great reviews on carpets. Both are designed specifically with pet hair in mind.
If you have a dog in the house, a robot vacuum is probably a worthwhile investment.
Besides that, you will need all the usual dog-care kit essentials:
A wet hand brush is also an essential, and these gloves make using it super simple. They help remove all the extra fur during bathtime so it doesn’t end up on your towel or just falling back off of your now clean Catahoula onto the floor.
A super hydrating, deep-cleaning shampoo and conditioner like these ones from Burt’s Bees are great when your dog has really gotten messy.
But you don’t want to wash your dog with shampoo too often and risk drying out their skin.
A waterless shampoo like this one is great if you want to remove some of the funk but don’t want to strip away all of the hydrating oils on their skin.
Lint rollers column in both disposable and reusable types these days. Whichever you decide to go with, I suggest picking up a couple of them and keeping them scattered around your house.
Once you have a plan and you’re all geared up, it’s ready for you to work out a regular hygiene schedule with your Catahoula to keep them from shedding too much.
You can’t really brush do Catahoula too often. Once a day is plenty to keep your Catahoula shedding under control.
Just make sure you remember to brush them outside, otherwise, you will just end up picking that hair up again the next time you clean (unless you got one of those robot vacuums I mentioned).
It’s a sad fact that most people wash their dogs way more frequently than they need to. Especially people who like to have clean houses and dogs to smell nice and fresh.
For a Catahoula, unless they are extremely dirty, a once-a-month bath is probably sufficient.
More frequent washings, especially if you use lots of shampoo, are likely to dry out their fur and make them shed more frequently.
If you want to give your dog a bath but they aren’t really “dirty” (like if you brought your Catahoula swimming – which you definitely should), consider skipping the shampoo and just using their wet brush to remove the excess hair and debris in their coat.
Finally, a well-moisturized coat is less likely to shed. Applying moisturizer to your dog’s skin is a great way to ensure a healthy coat.
While there are lots of boutique options online, a soak in coconut oil is an affordable at-home treatment for dry skin.
Either of these will help lubricate the hair follicles, creating less friction, discomfort, itching, scratching, and, therefore, shedding.
Simply being prepared and doing proper hygiene rituals with your Catahoula should be enough to keep their shedding under control.
However, if you’ve done both of the above steps and your Catahoula still seems to be shedding excessively, it’s time to move on to some more hands-on-care options.
First, make sure your Catahoula is hydrated by ensuring that they are drinking at least an ounce of water per pound of body weight per day.
You can drop a splash of slow sodium chicken broth in their water to encourage them to drink more if they are not.
Just like with people, their pee should be nearly colorless and odorless if they are properly hydrated.
After that, you can supplement their diet with fish oils and Omega-3s fatty acids.
Some dogs find these types of treats repulsive (not everyone loves a very fishy smell).
That’s why if you get a fish oil supplement in a capsule like this one, you can stick it in the freezer to reduce the smell and then sneak it into your dog’s favorite treat. They won’t even know that they’re taking it!
Though you’ll know when they burp up low tide.
Reevaluate their overall diet to make sure that it’s high quality and isn’t potentially causing an allergic reaction. j
Get a food recommendation from your vet, since all Catahouls are different and may need different food depending on their life stage and general health.
You can also establish some rituals like getting your dog to shake before they go inside the house to help keep some of their hair outside.
You may want to establish a ritual where they always get brushed after you come in for a walk or another time that you can easily and irregularly tend to their spent fur.
In the end, if you are looking for a low-maintenance coat, the Catahoula is a fantastic option.
In my opinion, they’re one of the best, even more so than the so-called hypoallergenic breeds.
While it’s true that they do shed some and will therefore require some cleanup and maintenance along the way to keep it under control, it pales in comparison to the haircuts and brushing required of dogs that have hair.
Their short coats are simply as low maintenance as a dog’s coat can get.