Do German Shepherds Need to be Groomed?
Grooming double-coated dogs like German Shepherds can be quiet a challenge than their single-coated counterparts. Double-coated dogs require regular grooming to keep their coats stay healthy and shiny.
Here’s the list of six German Shepherds grooming steps that you should do:
- The Benefits of Regular Dog Grooming
- Detecting and Preventing Early Health and Skin Problems
- Managing German Shepherd Shedding
- German Shepherd Coat
- How to groom a German Shepherd
- 1. Brushing
- 2. Bathing
- How often should you bathe your German Shepherds?
- How to bathe your German Shepherds?
- Choosing The Best Shampoo for German Shepherds
- Where to Bathe Your Dog?
- Setting The Water Temperature
- Getting Started
- 3. Feet
- 4. Nails
- 5. Ears
- 6. Teeth
The Benefits of Regular Dog Grooming
There are at least three major benefits that your dog can get from getting groomed regularly:
Detecting and Preventing Early Health and Skin Problems
German Shepherd health and skin problems such as hot spots, dry skin, and hair loss can be caused by various factors like an allergic reaction, poor diet, bug bite, and underlying disease.
Regular grooming can help alert you when there is something wrong hidden beneath the furry surface. For example, you can spot if there are fleas and ticks living invisibly in the dog’s hair.
Even the understated untangle matted hair can go a long way to keep your dog stays healthy. Matted hair, when ignored, can progress from mild irritation to infected wounds.
Managing German Shepherd Shedding
How much do German Shepherds shed? While the amount of shedding hair can be attributed to several factors like diet, climate, and illness but they do shed a lot!
Performing regular grooming — weekly or daily brushing — can help you remove excess and loose fur and help spread your dog’s skin oil into the fur helping it stay in place.
German Shepherd Coat
German Shepherds come in four different coats: short hair, medium hair or also known as a plush coat, long hair with an undercoat, and long hair without an undercoat.
You can see most German Shepherds variants are a double coated dog. They have a thick and softer undercoat of short hairs that are wooly in texture covered by a straight, coarse and dense outer coat.
Apart from German Shepherds, some of the most famous double coat dog breeds include Huskies, Golden Retrievers, Australian Shepherds, Akitas, Bernese Mountains, Great Pyrenees, Pomeranians, and Newfoundlands.
Double-coated dogs are groomed differently than single-coated dogs. The number one cardinal rule you must remember is never to shave your German Shepherd.
Shaving your German Shepherd will ruin their coat for a long time. Unlike single-coated dogs, the coat of double-coated dogs takes much longer to grow.
Regardless of whether your GSD is short or long hair, they are all heavy shedders, which means once again you need to groom them regularly.
How to groom a German Shepherd
Six actionable steps to groom a German Shepherd.
Out of the six steps in this list, brushing is the most important German Shepherd grooming step and the one that you have to do regularly.
How often should you brush your German Shepherd?
It’s recommended that you brush your dog 3-4 times a week.
The longer you wait between grooming, the more chance that the inner and outer coats will mat and become more painful for your dog.
How to brush your German Shepherds?
For short-haired German Shepherds, you would want to use a bristle brush, (click here for a list of recommended top brushes and combs) as for a medium to long-haired German Shepherds you would want to get a pin brush.
Start by brushing your dog from the back and go forward to remove loose hairs and any debris from the outer coat. Then use an undercoat rake to remove any dead hair or tangles from the undercoat.
Remember when using brush, comb, or undercoat rake, you must never use them against the direction of the coat growth.
If there are stubborn mats in the inner or outer coat, you can use a de-shedder comb or detangler sprays to get rid of them.
How often should you bathe your German Shepherds?
Depending on your dog’s activity level and your dog’s skin health, under normal conditions, most German Shepherds only need to be bathed once every four to five months.
German Shepherds are a dog with a lot of natural oils in their coats. If they are bathed too frequently, their natural oils will be stripped from their coat and lead to dry skin.
How to bathe your German Shepherds?
Choosing The Best Shampoo for German Shepherds
When bathing your GSDs, you need to choose a shampoo (click here for the best shampoos that we recommend for German Shepherds) made specifically for dog hairs. You cannot use human shampoo for bathing your dog because dogs’ skin has different pH from human skin. Using human shampoos can make your dog’s skin dry or cause an allergic reaction.
For healthy German Shepherds, use a mild and gentle hypoallergenic shampoo for washing all parts of the body and tear-free shampoo for the head area. If your German Shepherd has skin issues, you may want to ask your local vet for advice.
Where to Bathe Your Dog?
For a medium to large-sized dogs like German Shepherds, you might find it easier to bathe your dog outside in the backyard.
Some dog owners prefer to bathe their German Shepherds using a garden hose set on low pressure.
Setting The Water Temperature
In summer, you may want to let the water cool down first before bathing your dog. In the colder days, you may want to prepare buckets filled with comfortable, warm water as opposed to cold hose water.
Always test the water temperature first before washing your dogs to ensure it’s not too hot or cold.
If it is not possible to bathe your dog outside as in the case when you’re living in an apartment, you can use a bathtub or dog tub.
If you’re using a bathtub or dog tub, you will want to put a non-slip mat in the bottom of the tub and around your bathroom to prevent any slipping.
It may be a good idea to bring your dog outside for a nice walk first before bath time. After coming back home, your dog will be a bit tired and less likely to be convulsive during bath time.
Start by wetting your dog’s hair from the neck area all the way down to the rest of their body. Remember not to soak their head area since this area is the most sensitive part of their body.
Apply the shampoo and massage the lather thoroughly until their whole body is lathered up including the undercoat (except the head) then rinse thoroughly.
It can be challenging to build up a sufficient amount of lather on a German Shepherd’s coat, so you may need to apply a good amount of shampoo.
Once finished, you can either continue to wash the dog’s head with tear-free shampoo or using a damp face cloth.
Do not apply conditioner to the double-coated dogs.
Many double-coated dogs may feel the air blowing from the dryer a little bit too hot. So it’s better to avoid using a hair dryer and only use a large absorbent towel to help your dog dry off.
If you want to use a hair dryer, make sure you set the hair dryer to the lowest setting.
During this drying session, you can once again brush through the coat to remove any leftover dead coat.
When the bathing session was over, you may also want to check your dog’s foot hair. Your dog’s foot hair should be trimmed regularly to keep any dirt and debris from getting stuck in there.
How to Trim Dog’s Foot Hair?
Brush up long hairs between the toes then use scissors to trim the hair around the top area of your dog’s foot and the paw. You should only use blunt-nosed safety scissors when trimming your dog’s fur.
Avoid trimming the hair between the toes.
If this is the first time you’re trimming your dog’s hair, and you’re unsure, it’s better to bring them to your local vet clinic or groomer for assistance.
Other body areas that may require regular trimming include:
All German Shepherds breeds have shorter nails compared to other double-coated dogs. However, once in a while you still need to trim the nails to keep them in good condition and prevent your dog’s toes from getting splayed when they walk.
Trimming German Shepherds’ nails can be tricky since they have black nails. If you are not sure what you’re doing or how to about it, it’s better to bring your dog to vet or local groomer for help.
How to cut your German Shepherd’s nails
First, pick a dog nail clipper that has a sharp blade and a clear line of sight. Prepare a jar of styptic powder to stop the bleeding in case you clip the nails too deep.
Let your dog sniff the clipper and feel it against their paws. Clip the tip of the nails a little at a time. Stop the clipping once you see a pale oval in the tip. A pale oval is a part of the nails near the vein.
Before cleaning your GSD’s ears, you should check for any sign of ear problems. The common symptoms of ear problems include ear scratching, a head tilt, head shaking, redness/swelling, and an unpleasant odor.
Then check the outside surface of the ears for any sign of ticks, fleas, bugs, and anything else.
If you find any sign of ear problems, bring your dog to the vet for further check.
How to clean your German Shepherd ears
For a regular grooming schedule, you should clean your dog’s ears to remove any excess wax and debris about once a month.
You don’t want to clean your dog’s ears too often because inserting ear products into healthy dog’s ears can potentially cause a problem.
To clean your dog’s ear, first, prepare a cotton ball with ear cleaning solution. Don’t use water as a replacement for the ear cleaning solution because water doesn’t evaporate quickly.
Wipe the inside surface of your dog’s ears but don’t go too deep using a cotton ball that has been soaked with the ear cleaning solution. A good measure is to go as far as your fingers can fit.
The last grooming step is to clean your dog’s teeth and gums. Just like humans, your dog can also suffer from dental problems such as gum disease, tartar buildup, cavities, etc.
Therefore it is recommended that you set aside enough time to clean your dog’s teeth as well, at a minimum two to three times per week.
How to brush your German Shepherd teeth
First, pick a toothbrush designed specifically for dogs. Then brush your dog’s gums gently with toothpaste formulated for dogs, baking soda, or water.
You just need to brush the outside surface; your dog’s tongue will naturally clean the top and inside surfaces.
You may also want to give your dog dental chew toys. In this way, they can satisfy their basic needs to chew and clean their teeth at the same time.