When an owner brings their dog to me for a wellness visit, we discuss many common topics such as vaccine schedules, spaying and neutering, nutrition, and dental health. Even though there is a great deal of variation between breeds, hair coat discussions occur infrequently. \n\n\n\nCoat care is extremely important to the health of all dogs, especially Golden Retrievers, and having knowledge about your Golden\u2019s hair coat can make it much easier to maintain. \n\n\n\nGolden Retriever Coat Stages\n\n\n\nGolden Retriever puppies are born with fluffy, fuzzy hair coats. This fur is very soft and fine, and it helps to keep puppies warm due to its insulating properties. \n\n\n\nGolden puppies begin to grow adult hairs around three to four months of age, starting at the tail and then gradually moving up the body. These slightly coarser outer hairs are called guard hairs, and they push the puppy fur aside until the puppy fur forms an undercoat, which thickens over time. Guard hairs form the outer coat which gives a Golden Retriever his classic double-coat as an adult. This transition phase of hair growth usually finishes when he is about 18 months old. \n\n\n\nGuard hairs tend to be slightly darker in color compared to the undercoat hairs. The thickness of the undercoat is affected by the changing of the seasons and how often your Golden Retriever spends time outdoors. Most Goldens also develop \u201cfeathers\u201d which are very long, fine hairs that grow in specific locations like the backs of the legs and over the belly. \n\n\n\nGolden Retriever Shedding Season\n\n\n\nThe typical Golden will shed his fur year-round, but his shedding will be at its heaviest during the late Spring and the late Fall. In the Spring, your furry friend is \u201cblowing out\u201d his heavy winter undercoat to make ready for the warmer months. A lighter undercoat forms in its place, and this lighter undercoat is then lost in the Fall to help make way for the thicker undercoat needed to deal with cooler temperatures. \n\n\n\nIn some cases, your dog\u2019s shedding may be the result of a medical condition. If his excessive shedding is out of season, or if he is losing hair in large patches, you need to contact your veterinarian. The following medical conditions can result in abnormal hair loss for dogs. \n\n\n\nEndocrine disorder (hypothyroidism, Cushing\u2019s\ndisease)External parasites (fleas, mites)Fungal infection (ringworm)Bacterial infection Allergies (food, atopic)\n\n\n\nGolden Retriever Coat Care \n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nBrushing the Coat\n\n\n\nBrushing is one of the best things that you can do for your pup. The sooner you start brushing, the quicker your Golden will get used to brushing as part of his regular routine. Use a soft brush for puppies and then gradually switch to a comb or stiff-bristled brush for your adult dog. Check out our article Best Dog Brushes for Golden Retrievers to find the right tool for the job you need.\n\n\n\nFrequent brushing can help reduce\nshedding because it removes loose hairs and makes way for new, healthy hairs. Brushing\nalso helps remove dead skin cells, thereby lowering the amount of dander that\ncan accumulate around your home, and it helps distribute skin oils evenly along\nyour dog\u2019s hairs. And while hairballs don\u2019t often occur in dogs, the regular\nremoval of excess loose hairs can decrease the amount accidentally ingested\nduring self-grooming. \n\n\n\nKeeping the Coat Clean\n\n\n\nDogs with long hair coats can get\nsmall burrs, twigs, and leaves caught in their fur. These can become tangled in\nthe fur and cause mats of hair which are sometimes difficult to remove. Be sure\nto check your Golden after each walk because it is easier to remove these items\nwhen they first become entrapped. \n\n\n\nIt is easier to remove burrs and twigs before a bath. Otherwise, bathing a tangled knot of hair can cause further entrapment! The average Golden can be bathed once every six to eight weeks. However, puppies that are prone to accidents and getting dirty may need to be bathed more often, no more frequently than twice a week. More frequent bathing can also help dogs during the height of shedding season. Be sure to use shampoo that is specifically formulated for dogs unless otherwise directed by your veterinarian. \u00a0\n\n\n\nYour Golden can benefit from trips\nto the grooming salon, especially if it is difficult for you to bathe him\nyourself. Groomers can also cut nails, clean ears, and trim hair coats. It is\nokay to have your dogs feathers trimmed, and groomers are equipped to remove\nmats that are close to the skin, but never have your dog\u2019s hairs clipped\nshorter than an inch or two because it is necessary to have hairs to protect\nyour dog\u2019s skin from the sun. \n\n\n\nGood Nutrition\n\n\n\nComplete nutrition is critical to your dog\u2019s skin and coat health. Many commercial dog diets are equipped with the right balance of nutrients such as proteins, carbohydrates, fats, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Homemade diets are fine as long as they have been formulated by a veterinary behaviorist. There is no scientific evidence yet available that proves the benefits of a raw-food diet, and grain-free diets are currently under investigation by the FDA for a potential link between grain-free foods and dilated cardiomyopathy in Golden Retrievers. \n\n\n\nAs far as treats, be sure to read our article on Best Dog Treats For Golden Retrievers as we discuss the healthiest options for Goldens. Healthy treats are just as important as healthy food.\n\n\n\nVitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids like those found in fish oils are a few of the most important nutrients for a healthy hair coat. Vitamin E, which is found in commercial diets, is an antioxidant which helps protect against the oxidative damage to skin caused by external sources such as sunlight. Omega-3 fatty acids help contribute to natural skin oils and have an anti-inflammatory effect, making them especially useful in situations with skin allergies. Omega-3s are found in low quantities in most diets and so supplementation is sometimes necessary for full effect. \n\n\n\nConclusion\n\n\n\nGolden Retrievers have a classic double-coat that starts out as a fine, fluffy coat until the guard hair layer develops. Shedding occurs year-round, but is most intense during the Spring and Fall seasons. It is influenced by environmental factors. \n\n\n\nRoutine bathing, grooming, and proper nutrition can keep your pup\u2019s coat shiny and healthy, but if hair loss is a problem, consult your veterinarian in case your Golden has a health disorder. The sooner you act, the sooner you can get your Golden Retriever back to being happy and healthy! \n\n\n\nBe sure to visit our Recommended Shampoo page to see what we use on our dogs to keep their coat looking beautiful.