If your Australian shepherd is losing chunks of hair it’s definitely something to pay attention to and investigate.
Although shedding is to be expected, excessive hair loss, especially clumps of hair at a time, isn’t something owners should ever see.
This article explains the reasons why your Aussie is losing so much hair, when to see a vet, and ways to help right now.
Why Is My Australian Shepherd Suddenly Losing Lots of Hair?
There are 8 main reasons why your Aussie is suddenly losing chunks of hair. We had this explained to us by our resident veterinarian that works with The Puppy Mag.
The eight most common causes of sudden hair loss in Aussies:
It turns out that Australian shepherds are prone to skin allergies more so than in other breeds.
This is mostly down to their genetics, but can also be influenced by their environment, diet, health and allergens around them.
Skin allergies, when left untreated can develop severe symptoms with hair loss being just one of them. Food allergies can also trigger skin and coat reactions too.
Highly stressful situations can cause extreme shedding and hair loss in your Aussie.
Moments when they become significantly nervous, anxious, or scared can trigger a response like this.
A common example is when a nervous dog goes to the vet, they can be seen to suddenly drop a ton of hair.
Skin infections ⬇️
Bacterial and fungal skin infections can lead to significant hair loss and baldness in Australian shepherds.
The commonly happens after your Aussie can’t stop scratching their skin for whatever reason. Scratching excessively allows bacteria to get into the surface wounds and develop into full-blown infections.
This can lead to more scratching and sudden shedding. The cycle is a nasty one if left untreated. Medication for many weeks might be necessary.
Temperature changes or increase ⬇️
Slightly hot conditions shouldn’t cause excessive shedding, it’s more so extreme changes in weather that cause significant hair loss.
Especially if there is an unexpected heatwave. This can also happen if your Aussie is spending too much time indoors with central heating.
Parasites like fleas, lice, or mites can cause serious skin issues and lead to clumpy hair loss.
Parasites cause skin inflammation and intense itchiness, which then leads Aussies to scratch like mad.
This scratching alone can remove a lot of hair in a short period of time. Not only this but if your Aussie has a flea allergy as well, this can make hair loss even more severe.
Dietary problems ⬇️
An insufficient diet lacking in nutrients can quickly lead to excessive hair loss and baldness.
Your Aussie needs a complete diet with a wide variety of essential macro and micronutrients to maintain basic health (including skin and coat health).
Now for most, it won’t be the diet that’s the problem, but the Aussies’ ability to properly absorb the nutrients.
For example, Aussies with Protein Losing Enteropathy will struggle to absorb the nutrients from the food they eat.
Hormonal disorder ⬇️
Excessive hair loss and baldness are just one of many symptoms of these issues. Endocrine disease typically results in baldness in the flank or tail.
Hormone changes ⬇️
Changes to your Aussie’s hormones can also lead to sudden hair loss or baldness (Alopecia). Things like pregnancy or lactation can cause such an effect.
A notable difference here though would be that the hair loss happens without any itchiness, scratching or irritation to the skin.
The hair loss will happen randomly, out of season, and will actually regrow once the hormones stabilize.
Related: Short Haired Australian Shepherds (yes they exist!)
Is Sudden Hair Loss Ever Normal?
In short, no. Unless there is a simple reason like the groomer accidentally cut off a clump of hair, your Aussie should not have any bald spots or excessively lose hair.
In most cases, drastic and sudden hair loss (especially if clumps are coming out), warrants a vet visit to run some health checks.
The vet will check for skin colors changes and other abnormalities like scabbing, inflammation and bacteria growth.
If your Aussie has bald spots the vet can also swab the skin in that area to check for a local disease or skin infection.
If the problem continues the vet can take a blood test to determine why your Aussie is losing so much hair and why it won’t grow back.
Extra info: VCA Hospitals Hair loss In Dogs
The Puppy Mag Favorites
What About Aussie Puppies?
The only time significant hair loss and patchiness is normal in puppies is when they transition from their puppy coat to their adult coat.
✅ This is considered normal and happens with all Aussies pups. The extent of the shedding varies but in general, this is nothing to worry about.
This happens around the 4-6 months. So assuming the drastic hair loss is around this time, and your pup is NOT itchy or showing other symptoms, then it’s likely just their coat change and nothing worse.
Tips to Prevent Hair Loss In Australian Shepherds:
Here are a few basic, yet essential tips that will help keep your Aussie’s skin and coat intact, and reduce the chances of hair loss.
➡️ Diet: To maintain healthy skin and fur in Australian Shepherds, it is essential to feed them a well-balanced diet that includes ingredients such as fatty acids and B vitamins. In addition to this, skin supplements can be used to strengthen their fur and prevent fur loss.
➡️ Brushing: Regular brushing of Australian Shepherds is necessary to prevent matting of their fur and ensure proper shedding of dead fur. If dead fur accumulates under healthy fur, it can cause future problems.
➡️ Correct shampoo: Only ever use a natural ingredient dog shampoo. This avoids harsh chemicals that can irritate the skin and cause excessive scratching.
➡️ Parasite prevention medicine: Preventing parasites in Australian Shepherds is vital, especially if they have had flea allergy dermatitis or mange in the past.
➡️ Regularly inspect their coat: If an Australian Shepherd displays signs of skin discomfort, such as paw gnawing or face rubbing, it is recommended to consult a veterinarian for a check-up.
Should You See a Vet?
Regular shedding should be expected, and it might get quite heavy depending on certain factors.
🏥 But you should never see patches of skin or baldness on your Aussie. If you do see patches of skin then it’s time to contact your veterinarian. With or without extra symptoms.
The only time that baldness is to be expected is when a puppy between 4-6 months transitions from their puppy coat to adult coat. Other than that, baldness should never really happen.
And as always, it’s best to play it safe and get potential issues checked asap.