If you love all furry friends and are thinking of adopting a new dog or cat, but you’d prefer if the fuzzy addition were low-shedding, this post is for you.
So, between the two animals, which sheds the least?
Whether dogs shed more than cats or vice-versa depends on the size of the animal, its coat type, its health, and the breed. For example, a Labrador Retriever will shed far more than a Sphynx cat, but a Maine Coon might out-shed a Lhasa Apso.
There’s lots more to discuss ahead, including the factors that contribute to animal shedding and how to manage the loose hair. So whether you have dogs, cats, or both, read on.
Which Pet Sheds More – Dogs or Cats?
If you’ve ever had a cat that produces tufts of hair anytime you pet it, it’s easy to assume that cats shed more than dogs.
Also contributing to that perception is the hair texture of felines. The fine hair can become airborne, where it’s much more visible than denser dog hair would be.
That doesn’t mean it’s quite as cut and dried, though. In some instances, cats shed more than dogs, just like in other cases, dogs shed more than cats. However, seven main factors can determine the shedding propensity of your furry four-legged friend.
- Coat type
- Single or double layer of fur
- Size of the dog or cat
Let’s examine each of these factors now.
An animal’s breed is a huge indicator of how much shedding you’ll be in for.
Throughout this blog, we’ve talked about countless low-shedding dog breeds. The Kerry Blue Terrier, Chinese Crested Dog, American Staffordshire Terrier, Brussels Griffon, and the Affenpinscher are just a smattering of them.
For as many dog breeds that barely shed, many more lose mountains of hair. A few examples are the Otterhound, Rottweiler, Norwegian Elkhound, Belgian Sheepdog, and the Samoyed.
That’s the case with cats as well. Certain cat breeds are known to be heavy shedders. Among them are the Norwegian Forest Cat, American Bobtail, Ragdoll, Ragamuffin, and the Maine Coon.
Lower-shedding cat breeds include the Sphynx, Siamese, Devon Rex, Burmese, and the Bengal.
The reason particular cat and dog breeds shed reliably has a lot to do with their coat type.
Well, most of the time. The Chinese Crested Dog is a good example of how coats can vary across one breed. If yours is a Hairless Chinese Crested, then it’s all but naked. The Powderpuff is covered from head to toe in fur yet still is technically a Chinese Crested Dog.
However, outside of the odd exception, most cats and dogs meet specific breed standards for the coat, and some coat types will drop more fur than others.
For example, short-haired animals tend to release hair in smaller quantities. That explains why a cat breed like the Devon Rex sheds infrequently, as its coat is close-cropped. The Bedlington Terrier is short-haired as well and a low shedder.
However, short-coated breeds can still shed lots. And Pugs are a great example of this. It’s just that shorter hair is often less noticeable than larger hair once it is dropped.
Aside from length, another aspect of the coat to consider is the texture.
A dense, rough, wiry coat will typically retain more loose fur than a heavier, softer, and straighter coat. So you may notice more fur coming out during brush time in the former, whereas the latter coat is more likely to release dead hair onto the floors and furniture between brushes.
The Irish Terrier is a good example of a dog with a wiry coat that doesn’t shed much, while the Chow Chow is a good example of the latter.
Check out our complete guide to the different dog coat types to learn more.
What about cats?
Aside from cat breeds like the American Wirehair, most cats tend to have smooth, soft coats. So, in this respect, cats can be more likely to shed than dogs due to their coat type.
All this, of course, is assuming that your pet has a coat at all. The Chinese Crested Dog isn’t the only naked four-legged friend out there. Sphynx cats are hairless too. These two breeds would shed the least of all, at least fur (animals still release dead skin).
Single or Double-Coated
Besides the coat texture and length, whether your pet has one layer of fur or two plays a significant role in shedding behavior.
Single-coated animals like dogs have but one layer of fur. Therefore, throughout the year, you can expect the same consistent rate of shedding, which is usually moderate or low.
Maybe you see somewhat more shedding as the weather gets colder or hotter, but it’s nothing that requires you to clean your house inside and out.
However, double-coated animals have an insulating undercoat and a main outer coat that is smooth to repel dirt and other messes.
Before the summer, when the animal doesn’t have to be as warm, they typically shed their fur to prepare for the balmy season.
Then in the autumn, shedding occurs again so the animal can grow a bulkier winter coat.
This behavior is typical in both cats and dogs.
Yes, cats can have double coats. In fact, some cats can even have three layers of fur. The extra hair is usually around the neck and on the tail to insulate even more efficiently.
The Siberian cat is one such example of a triple-coated feline, which explains why it sheds like the dickens.
If you read this blog, you know that double-coated dogs often shed a lot, including seasonally. Since cats can be double-coated or even triple-coated, do they shed with the seasons as well? Yes, they most definitely can, and how much depends on the breed.
The fourth factor that determines how much your pet sheds is its size. The larger an animal, the more surface area it has, which means the more fur it can release.
Many dogs are larger than cats, but not all.
Among some of the largest cat breeds are Maine Coons which can grow as large as 40 inches long and 16 inches tall, and Persians are nearly as tall. For comparison, these cats are as high as a Jack Russell Terrier or a Shetland Sheepdog, which are both considered small dogs.
So, this round goes to the cats. 😉
It’s not that one pet gender is predisposed to shedding more than another. However, when female animals get pregnant, their rate of shedding will increase.
And that’s true of dogs as well as cats.
The stress of the bodily changes an animal undergoes during pregnancy will typically cause the shedding to occur. However, after your cat or dog becomes a proud new mama, their rate of shedding should gradually decline in the weeks or months to come.
How old is your pet?
The more birthdays they’ve celebrated, the greater the rate of shedding could be.
This increase of shedding is regardless of breed, size, and coat. Even if your dog didn’t shed throughout most of its life, in its golden years, that behavior can change.
Why the extra shedding? There are two reasons. The first is that a pet’s fur is weaker in its old age. The hair can’t hold on as well as it once did, so it comes out more often. Your cat or dog shouldn’t lose hair in clumps, but their higher rate of shedding will be noticeable.
The second reason for more shedding in senior pets is their skin is older and usually drier. Dry, flaky skin can travel with fur as it sheds from your pet’s body.
The final reason a cat or dog might shed bountifully is their health.
As PetMD.com points out, numerous medical conditions can cause pets to shed excessively. For example, adrenal or thyroid conditions, liver issues, kidney disease, fungal and bacterial infections, allergies, and parasites of all kinds.
So, while shedding itself is a natural, healthy thing most cats and dogs do, it can sometimes be cause for concern, especially if the hair loss is sudden, patchy, or excessive. So if you have any concerns at all, it may be worth speaking with your local veterinarian.
A pet’s diet is also hugely important. Some pets are allergic to the ingredients in their food, especially if you feed them overly processed cat or dog food.
Processed pet food usually lacks the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that an animal needs to foster healthy growth. Dietary deficiencies, especially zinc, can lead to skin cracking, skin ulcers, and hair loss. Pets also need fat and protein in their diet.
Besides the higher shedding rate, you can tell your pet is nutritionally deficient by checking their coat. For example, their fur will feel brittle when it was once soft, and the color might have faded.
We’ve put together a comprehensive guide to choosing the best dog food for shedding, but that won’t help you if you have a cat. And either way, it’s always worth speaking with a vet about what’s best to feed your pet before making any changes to their diet.
Tired of All the Excess Fur? Tips for Reducing Shedding in Your Pet
We’ve created a helpful guide on the blog for reducing shedding in dogs, so I recommend checking that out. However, since not every tip on that list applies to cats, I cherry-picked a selection of tips that you can follow whether you like cats or dogs more.
Hydrate Your Pet
Hydration is key to keeping your dog or cat’s skin supple and healthy. Dry, itchy skin can cause your pet to scratch, which knocks out loose fur.
Every day, provide a dish or bowl of freshwater for your pet. If you have more than one cat or dog in the house, monitor them during feeding to ensure your pet’s hydration needs are met.
Brush Your Pet
You know better than to forego brushing your dog, but your feline friends like a good brushing as well! So commit to brushing their fur at least twice weekly. They’ll take care of the rest with their regular grooming.
Brushing your pet pulls out the loose dead fur before it can fall on your carpeting or couch. You also deposit oils across your pet’s coat and stimulate the skin, both of which can control shedding too.
Fleas and other tiny pests like them are not only a dog issue. These pests don’t care which warm, fuzzy body they choose to lay eggs on, so you must have a flea prevention plan in place for your cat as well, especially if they spend time outdoors.
Even if yours is exclusively an indoor cat, if you have a dog in the house, fleas can jump from host to host (including you and your family members!). Ask your vet about the best flea preventatives and treatments because if fleas are present, getting this sorted is worth it.
Dogs can shed more than cats, just as cats can shed more than dogs. The breed, size, and coat of your pet are all big determinants of shedding habits. And hopefully, what I’ve shared with you in this post has given you a better idea of what can cause shedding and some ways to reduce it.
However, keep in mind that even pets that shed very little can begin releasing fur at an alarming rate if they’re pregnant, sick, or have a dietary deficiency. So if you have any concerns at all, I recommend taking your cat or dog to a qualified veterinarian to be safe.
I also recommend checking out our full dog shedding FAQ as it answers many of the most common questions people ask about shedding, and much of it applies to cats.
What if you’re still not sure if you should get a cat or dog?
Well, you might be able to have the best of both worlds!
I’ve gone through our breed archive and handpicked six low-shedding dog breeds that, in one way or another, are more “cat-like” than the average dog.
For example, some of the following breeds are fastidious in how they clean themselves, while others make more suitable apartment dogs given their size, quiet nature, and demeanor.
Here’s the list (and a link to our article on each breed):
Anyway, that’s it for this post.
Thanks for reading, and I hope you found it helpful.