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German Shepherd Grooming: 6 Tips & Tricks

Ashley Bates

By Ashley Bates

person grooming a german shepherd

German Shepherds come in two versions: medium or long length coats. It might be natural for you to assume that you can give these dogs tons of interesting looking haircuts. After all, don’t they need to cool off in the summer months?

You might be surprised to know that German Shepherds do not need any haircut whatsoever, and cutting their hair can actually be more problematic than positive. In this article, we’re going to explain a little about German Shepherd grooming and the reality of cutting their hair.


How to Groom a German Shepherd

Grooming a German Shepherd is something you absolutely have to do. There are no cutting corners and no slacking off. The German Shepherd has a thick double coat that sheds profusely year-round, with blowout times at the change of the seasons.

You will need to make sure that your German Shepherd’s coat stays maintained, your house stays clean, and you don’t over bathe them or irritate their skin. It can be a tricky thing to learn, but once you understand how to care for your German Shepherd’s coat, it should become pretty second nature.

1. Brushing Is a Must!

brushing the malinois belgian shepherd dog
Image Credit: Jessi et Nono, Shutterstock

You will likely have a series of brushes and combs for various grooming purposes. Here are some tools you should have on hand.

  • Bristle Brushes: Bristle brushes are generally made of synthetic or animal hair bristles. They are for light brushing and perfect fit for everyday use. However, these brushes aren’t necessarily designed to penetrate a German Shepherd’s long coat, removing all of the dead fur and getting out any tangles. We recommend a different brush if you want a deeper penetrating one.
  • Slicker Brushes: Slicker brushes are generally made with bristles of the same length. Some of them are curved, while others are straight, having mildly different effects for both. Curved bristles tend to rake the hair in to get more strays.
  • You can buy a slicker brush that has its own cleaning mechanism. Oftentimes, this is a simple button on the back that you push, which retracts the bristles and drops the fur.
  • Other brushes you have to clean manually. This constitutes a simple gathering and pulling of the fur from the bristles. Most slicker brushes are also easy to clean, which adds to convenience.
  • These brushes are suitable for everyday use.
  • Deshedding Tools: Deshedding tools are unsuitable for daily use, but they are crucial to owning a double-coated breed like the German Shepherd. These tools will allow you to penetrate the coat all the way down to the skin, removing any loose fur or debris in the coat.
  • Combs: Combs are excellent for getting out knots and tangles. You can really put a focus on a specific area and release even the toughest tangles.
  • Bathing Gloves: Bathing gloves are not a necessity, but they can certainly be helpful. When you have your German Shepherd in the tub, you can use bathing gloves to remove the shed while you wash gently.

2. Do Not Bathe Your Shepherd Frequently

According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), frequent baths can really dry out a German Shepherd’s coat. Be very careful about how frequently you bathe this dog, as it can strip the natural oils and cause hotspots and other skin conditions.

It would help if you didn’t bathe your German Shepherd more than once every 6 weeks. But if you can, go longer times in between baths, giving them daily brushes instead to get rid of debris. You will notice a more vibrant coat as a consequence.

3. Buy the Correct Shampoo Products

Ordinary female customer buying flea treatment and shampoo in petshop
Image Credit: Caftor, Shutterstock

Since German Shepherds can have sensitive skin, it is crucial to get the correct shampoo products for your dog. You can try any nourishing formula, but we recommend steering clear of fragrance and other potentially irritating ingredients (like dyes).

It would be helpful if you purchased a fragrance-free shampoo with nourishing ingredients such as aloe or coconut oil.

4. Understand the Relationship Between Diet and Shedding

Diet, believe it or not, plays a huge role in how much your dog sheds. If your dog has a nutritious, well-balanced diet, they will likely shed a lot less. How so? We’re glad you asked!

Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids create a lustrous, shiny coat. A lack of these fatty acids and protein in your dog’s diet can cause a lackluster coat, leading to drier skin and more shedding.

5. Vacuum, Vacuum, Vacuum!

a woman vacuuming furniture in a house with a hand-held portable vacuum cleaner
Image Credit: Den Rozhnovsky, Shutterstock

If you have a German Shepherd, you’re going to get used to vacuuming your home regularly. German Shepherds often release tufts of fur that clump up and blow around your house like tumbleweeds.

You’re certainly going to want a handheld vacuum to pick up the shed as you see it. You could also buy a pet-specific vacuum capable of combating thick shed that can easily clog the hoses of a standard vacuum.

Regardless of your method, if you keep up with it every day, you are less likely to find your German Shepherd’s hair strewn about on your fabrics and furniture.

6. Get Creative with Nail Care

German Shepherds can have extremely thick, tough nails that are very hard to trim. To give them shorter nails, some people have to buy a Dremel tool or professional nail file and grind the nails down.

Traditional nail clippers usually don’t cut it once they reach adulthood unless they are very heavy-duty. Some German Shepherds have quicker growing nails than others, so trim them on an as-needed basis. Trust us, you’ll know when it’s time.

hepper-dog-paw-divider 4

Can You Give a German Shepherd a Haircut?

You should never cut your German Shepherd’s hair, even though it might seem like cutting their hair will reduce shedding and make them cooler in the summertime. However, these are common misconceptions. We’re here to bust the myth.

A German Shepherd has a thick double coat, which acts as an insulator for the body. Not only can it keep them ultra-protected in cold temperatures, but it helps to cool them down in hot months.

Can You Shave a German Shepherd?

If you shave a German Shepherd’s hair, it can actually throw off the body’s temperature regulation and make the dog hotter. So, while you might think you’re cooling down your pup in the summertime, you might be making things worse. All experts agree to refrain from cutting the hair of or shaving a German Shepherd.

grooming german shepherd dog
Image Credit: Karpova, Shutterstock

Alternatives to Haircuts

Instead of taking your dog to the groomer to get a haircut, you can just take them when they’re ready for a full body makeover. This spa day will be relaxing for your German Shepherd, making their coats look exquisite!

You can look at rates of professional groomers near you. Some prices will differ based on the company itself and the services you opt for. Since they won’t be getting a haircut, it could even be a little cheaper.



If you were tempted to give your German Shepherd a haircut, we insist you refrain. However, grooming is an absolute must. There are ways you can cut back on shed fur, such as daily brushing, routine vacuuming, and providing a proper diet.

Remember, you aren’t cooling off your Shepherd by cutting their hair, as their coats were designed to regulate their temperature. So, keep the clippers away and keep them brushed thoroughly instead.

Featured Image Credit: Karpova, Shutterstock

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