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Should You Cut or Shave Your German Shepherd’s Hair?

Kristin Hitchcock

By Kristin Hitchcock

woman shaving dog hair

Do you sometimes find yourself overwhelmed with the sheer amount of hair on your dog, your couch, and any object in your house (including the clothes you have on now)? Perhaps you’re considering cutting or shaving it all off, but we’re glad you’ve landed here so we can discourage you from that. We don’t recommend cutting or shaving your GSD’s hair, as it can often do more harm than good.

German Shepherds have a double-coat. Their outer coat is coarse and waterproof. It protects their skin and undercoat from the weather.

Their undercoat is soft and fluffy. It provides insulation and helps regulate the dog’s body temperature.

If you shave a German Shepherd, it messes up this balance between their inner and outer coat. Often, the topcoat will be cut down to the bottom coat. This prevents the topcoat from doing its job. It can’t protect the bottom coat if it isn’t over the bottom coat.

When it is no longer protected from the weather, the inner coat won’t do its job. It will get wet and dirty, preventing it from regulating the dog’s body temperature correctly.

Therefore, shaving a German Shepherd in the summer may make them hotter – not cooler. Their inner coat won’t be able to regulate their temperature correctly in the least.

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Can You Trim a German Shepherd’s Coat?

shedding tool for dogs
Image Credit: Amazon

You don’t want to shave your German Shepherd ever. It removes their protection from the elements and makes their coat not function properly. They weren’t made to be shaved.

However, you may be able to trim your German Shepherd to a degree. Often, this isn’t necessarily to keep them cool or anything of that nature. A dog’s coat isn’t like wearing clothes. It was designed to keep them cool in hotter climates as well.

It makes sense to trim certain areas of your German Shepherd’s body. For instance, you can shave around their ears to reduce the amount of dust and debris that get trapped inside. Often, longer fur can hold onto moisture and dirt. Eventually, these invaders can lead to ear infections.

You should also trim the fur on the bottom of their paws. This fur is not necessary for any reason. It doesn’t protect their feet or keep them warm. It can cause more harm than good. Mud and snow can get stuck in this fur and work into tiny balls – causing pain and discomfort when your dog walks.

It isn’t odd for your canine to develop mats underneath their feet, either. These can cause pain and often need to be cut out. Even if you brush your dog regularly, you probably don’t think about brushing the fur on the bottom of their paws!

With that said, you shouldn’t trim your dog’s whole coat. Doing so may remove too much of the outer layer, which causes the same problems as shaving.

Sometimes, you may trim around their eyes and face. This fur isn’t technically necessary, but it also doesn’t pose much of a problem for most German Shepherds. You can trim it if you want, but it is often unnecessary.

Do Long-Haired German Shepherds Need Haircuts?

plush coat german shepherd
Image Credit: hansbenn, Pixabay

Long-haired German Shepherds are not the usual variety you find in the United States. These dogs often come from Eastern Europe. Countries in this region are often colder and require longer-haired dogs. Therefore, these German Shepherds developed a longer coat than their western cousins.

Besides this slight difference, they are the same dog, though. There is not a significant temperament difference, for instance.

While these dogs do have longer fur, that doesn’t mean that you should shave them. They still have a double coat. Removing the top layer or shaving it too low can mess with their ability to regulate their body temperature. You may end up making things worse for your dog in the summer by shaving them – not better!

We don’t recommend shaving a long-haired German Shepherd, though they may benefit from a trim on some regions of their body. You will need to brush these dogs more, though. Their fur is prone to matting, unlike their short-haired cousins.

Do German Shepherds Need to Visit a Groomer?

No, not necessarily. If you manage your German Shepherd’s grooming needs, you won’t need to take them to a groomer. They do not need their fur professionally trimmed or cut regularly. They don’t even need baths all that much.

We only recommend bathing these dogs when they are filthy. Otherwise, you risk drying their skin out and causing irritation issues – even if you use a very hypoallergenic, gentle shampoo.

However, you do have to stay on top of their grooming routine. These dogs need to be brushed at least once a week. Many dogs benefit from brushing even more than this, though. We often recommend aiming for three times a week – at minimum.

Seasonally, German Shepherds will start to shed more. During these periods, they will require more brushing. Often, we recommend brushing as much as daily in these situations.

If you don’t keep up with your dog’s grooming, a groomer visit may be required! The hair can build up and quickly become overwhelming for some dog owners.

However, you shouldn’t plan on not grooming your canine and taking them to the groomer regularly instead. That isn’t exactly how it works! These dogs benefit most from regular, short sessions. You can’t take them to a groomer a few times a month and replace all the grooming sessions you missed.

How Should You Keep Your German Shepherd’s Hair?

german shepherd dog lying on wooden table outdoors
Image Credit: lancegfx, Pixabay

You should keep your GSD’s hair long and natural. There is little reason to make any alterations to your dog’s overall coat. It is designed to keep them cool and dry. If you trim it, their outer coat will be unable to perform its job – leading to their inability to regulate their body temperature.

We never recommend completely shaving or trimming your dog’s coat. It isn’t about whether you trim them with scissors or a razor. What matters is how short the topcoat becomes.

The shorter it is, the greater the chance that you’ll run into a problem!

You can trim the fur on the bottom of their paws and in their ears, though. We recommend keeping the fur in these places relatively short. As we have already discussed, it isn’t there for any particular purpose and can lead to problems.

You often don’t need to take your pet to the groomer to trim this fur, though. It is pretty straightforward to learn how to do it yourself!

How Long Does It Take for German Shepherd Hair to Grow Back?

There are some occasions where you have to shave German Shepherd hair.

For example, German Shepherds will often need their hair shaved for surgeries and the treatments of some conditions. In these cases, it can take quite a while for the fur to grow back.

It should start growing back after a week or so. However, it does depend on why the area was shaved, to begin with! If the area had some irritation or similar issue, it probably would take longer to grow back. In inflamed areas, the fur likely won’t grow back until the problem has been solved.

If nothing is wrong with the skin, it can take a couple of weeks at least for the fur to cover the spot. Depending on where the spot is, it can take months before the lost hair is no longer apparent. It will take a while for the hair to reach the same length as the surrounding coat.

It isn’t expected for the fur to grow quickly at first and then slow down. Once that spot is somewhat covered, the body will stop putting so many resources towards growing that fur. Don’t be surprised if the fur takes as much as a year before it reaches its standard length again.

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Final Thoughts

You shouldn’t shave your German Shepherd unless it is medically necessary. They have a double coat, which means that their fur is double-layered. If you mess with these layers, their coat will no longer be able to keep them dry, warm, or cool.

While German Shepherds may seem quite hairy for warmer climates, their coat is designed to keep them cool even when it gets pretty hot outside. Their inner coat can keep them insulated against the heat – and prevents sunburns as well.

Having a shaved German Shepherd in the summer may make them hotter than they were with the full coat. Their undercoat will be unprotected and may lose its ability to regulate their body temperature. For instance, this layer doesn’t work correctly when wet. Without the upper coat to protect it, your dog will lose their ability to stay warm or cool any time they get wet.

Plus, the odds of sunburn are very high. When a dog’s skin hasn’t been exposed to the sun due to their thick coat, suddenly exposing them through shaving can cause severe, body-wide sunburns!

It is always best to focus on brushing your German Shepherd instead of shaving them. It will not make your dog cooler in the summer – and can severely undercut their ability to regulate their temperature.

Featured Image Credit: GaiBru Photo, Shutterstock

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