The German Shepherd is one of the country’s most popular dog breeds. With the extreme loyalty, intelligence, and overall beauty of this dog breed, it isn’t surprising to see many pet owners opting to make a German Shepherd part of the family. When bringing one of these pups into the home, however, learning both the good and bad aspects of the breed is a must.
One of the most frequently asked questions people have when adopting this breed is, how much do German Shepherds shed? The answer to this particular question is quite a bit. While this breed is well known for being a great pet, the German Shepherd is also notorious for shedding. By bringing one of these dogs into your family, you will be signing on for constant vacuuming, grooming, and even the use of lint rollers on every piece of clothing you own.
Even with the shedding issues these dogs present, the great additions they bring to a family far outweighs all the hair. In this guide, we’ll learn more about these dogs, how much they shed, and when they shed to help you prepare for life as a proud German Shepherd parent.
Understanding the German Shepherd’s Coat
Most shepherd dog breeds are known to have thick coats which lead to constant shedding. The German Shepherd is no different. These dogs have two separate coats, an undercoat, and an outer coat. The combination of these two coats means German Shepherd owners must adhere to more stringent grooming practices and expect unwanted hair to constantly be on their clothes and furniture.
What Is an Outer Coat?
Known as guard hairs, the outer coat of the German Shepherd features longer hairs that are coarser in texture. This outer layer of fur is responsible for repelling dirt and keeping the much denser undercoat protected from moisture.
This outer coat sheds constantly. You’ll find it appears as single hairs, not the clumps associated with the undercoat. These guard hairs adhere to clothing and furniture just as easily and require proper grooming techniques to control.
What Is an Undercoat?
While all dogs have outer, guard hairs, not all breeds have an undercoat. The German Shepherd is one of the breeds with a double coat to keep them better protected from the elements.
The undercoat of the German Shepherd is fluffier and softer than the guard hairs of the outer coat. This coat offers dogs the insulation they need to adhere to the different types of weather they’ll face. In the winter, this coat helps keep your German Shepherd warm and comfortable. In the summer, although you wouldn’t expect it, this coat helps regulate your dog’s body temperature and keep them cooler.
When people refer to dogs with a double coat as “blowing their coat” they are referring to this inner layer. When this undercoat sheds, it normally appears in thick clumps of this soft hair. While German Shepherds shed constantly, blowing their coats only happens at certain times throughout the year.
When Do German Shepherds Shed?
The short answer to this is always, but there are certain times of the year where you’ll find your German Shepherd sheds more than others. As mentioned above, the outer coat or guard hairs of the German Shepherd will always be shed. It is the thick undercoat that sheds with the seasons to help better prepare your pet for what the weather ahead has in store. During this time, when a German Shepherd is blowing their coat, you’ll experience more hair and a strange-looking coat for roughly 10 days or so while this process takes place.
Preparing for Winter
In the fall, a German Shepherd’s coat takes its cue from nature. When the days begin to get shorter, their undercoat knows it is time to prepare for winter. The abundance of hair owners deal with during this time is your dog’s way of preparing for the colder weather on the way. While it may be a bit difficult to deal with, knowing your dog will be able to keep themselves warm in the winter snows can help you rest easier.
Cooling Down for Summer
In the springtime, your German Shepherd will rid itself of the thick, winter coat their bodies worked so hard to produce. Knowing the warm weather is on its way, your dog will once again leave tufts of soft hair everywhere as their thinner, summer coat comes in. This coat is responsible for helping them regulate their body temperature when the summer heat is in full effect outside.
Other Reasons Your German Shepherd May Shed Excessively
No one wants to think of their dog having health issues. Unfortunately, it can happen. Excessive shedding is one of the ways German Shepherds let their owners know something is wrong. If your dog isn’t blowing its coat and you notice excessive hair around the house, a trip to the vet may be necessary.
Stress and Anxiety
Yes, even though they are great pets for the family, German Shepherds can experience stress and anxiety. Whether this stems from being in a new home, changes in the family, or perhaps the family has recently relocated, it is important to pay close attention to your dog’s stress levels. Speaking with a vet when these issues arise is the best course of action to keep your pet happy and healthy.
Fleas and Ticks
Unfortunately, fleas and ticks are part of life for dogs and their families. Bites from these and other parasites have been known to cause skin irritation in certain dogs. If you notice your German Shepherd having skin issues or infestations from these parasites, hair loss may result. Be prepared to offer your pet proper flea and tick treatments to help them avoid issues with skin irritation and extra shedding at the hands of these unwanted attacks.
For female dogs, going into heat may make them shed more than normal. This is not unusual. This excessive shedding may alert you to the changes in your female and allow you time to prepare for what is taking place.
A Bad Diet
What your German Shepherd eats plays a huge role in how much they shed. If you want your pet healthy and happy, offering them a well-balanced diet is important. When being fed a bad diet, your German Shepherd may lose more hair than they normally would. If you have questions or concerns about your pet’s diet, consult your veterinarian about what foods are best for your German Shepherd.
Grooming a German Shepherd
This is where the real fun begins! As the proud owner of a German Shepherd, you are now responsible for keeping their coat looking great and fighting against the mounds of hair that are now part of your life. Luckily, there are a few things you can try to help alleviate the hair and keep your pet more comfortable in the process.
Routine Brushing Is a Must
Due to the daily shedding and seasonal coat blowing your German Shepherd experiences, routine brushing is a must. This not only helps rid your dog of loose hair but also helps avoid matting. For German Shepherds or any dog with a double coat, matting can be a real issue. To stay on top of your dog’s grooming needs, brushing at least twice a week is recommended. When your pet is blowing their coat, you may realize brushing needs to take place more often.
When brushing your German Shepherd, remember to go with the hair growth. You may be tempted to go against the growth in hopes of removing more hair but this is dangerous for your dog’s skin and can cause more matting which can be painful to remove. An undercoat rake should be used after brushing to help remove unwanted hair from the undercoat that brushing simply can’t reach.
Bathing Your Dog
You may want to bathe your German Shepherd routinely, but in all honesty, it’s not necessary. Their coat is designed to keep dirt and debris away. Baths are mostly used to help remove loose hair and freshen up your German Shepherd when needed. As the pet owner, however, the bathing schedule is completely up to you. Just remember, when bathing your pet it is best to use all-natural deshedding shampoos and warm water.
Avoid Cutting Your Dog’s Hair
The German Shepherd’s coat is designed to regulate its body temperature. Cutting or shaving your pet may leave it vulnerable to overheating. Unless health-related reasons are making your veterinarian suggest a cut, you should leave your German Shepherd’s coat alone and simply deal with the shedding.
Is All the Hair Worth It?
If you’re concerned with shedding, you may be asking yourself if a German Shepherd is the right dog for you? Yes, shedding is a concern when it comes to this breed of dog, but honestly, the good far outweighs the bad. If you are willing to stay vigilant, you can easily make a German Shepherd an important member of the family.
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Featured Image Credit: Eudyptula, Shutterstock
- Understanding the German Shepherd’s Coat
- When Do German Shepherds Shed?
- Other Reasons Your German Shepherd May Shed Excessively
- Grooming a German Shepherd
- Is All the Hair Worth It?