German Shepherds are big fluffy lovable dogs that are great to cuddle and spend time with. Their signature black and brown double coat of fur is thick, dense and easily recognizable. If you have ever owned one of these magnificent animals, then you are no stranger to finding hair all over the house including beds, chairs, sofas and rugs. It comes with the territory and is a small price to pay, for the joy and friendship that comes along with owning a GSD. In this article, we will answer the question “Do German Shepherds Shed A Lot” with an in depth look at their coat and how to prevent so much hair.
Yes German Shepherds do shed a lot. Their thick double coat means a lot of hair and a lot of shedding. They shed even more during molting season which happens during the spring and fall each year.
To get a better idea of what causes shedding and how to reduce it, we will be answering some common questions that should help you. We will cover topics such as coat details, seasonal shedding, reasons for shedding and how to best prevent a lot of shedding in the house.
The German Shepherd’s Coat:
The German Shepherd has an amazing double coat of fur that consists of two layers that are medium length. According to breed standards, the coat should be dense, harsh, straight and lying close to the body. A partially wavy outer coat that has a wiry texture is allowable. The head, legs and paws have short hair while the neck and backs of the legs have somewhat longer hair.
The top layer of their coat, or top coat, is sometimes referred to as the “Guard Coat.” It is a little more rough and wiry than the undercoat. The undercoat is quite a bit softer and lighter in color than the top coat. The two layers work together to keep the body temperature regulated during the summer and winter months. They also protect the German Shepherd’s skin from any harmful elements such as UV rays or water.
Single coated German Shepherds do exist but are very rare and considered a fault by the American Kennel Club. They are referred to as Smooth Coated Shepherds or “Smoothies” for short in dog shows. Their coat is technically still two layers but the undercoat is so thin, they are treated as a single coat.
- Black and Red
- Black and Silver
- Black and Tan
- Blue (Fault)
- Liver (Fault)
- Panda (Fault)
- White (Fault)
What Months Do German Shepherds Shed The Most?
German Shepherds shed continuously year round, hence the nickname “German Shedders.” However they are also seasonal shedders and will “blow” their coat twice a year. Their coat responds once in the fall (September-October) to prepare for winter by shedding their undercoat to prepare for a nice thick winter coat. This repeats in the Spring (April-May) to prepare for the hot summer weather. The amount of daylight signals the German Shepherd’s coat to respond accordingly. Shedding will normally last between two and four weeks.
Health Issues That May Cause Shedding:
There are several health issues that can cause German Shepherds to shed a lot. Skin issues can be one of the causes of increased shedding.
Several different types of allergies can cause a German Shepherd to lose hair. These include contact allergies, environmental allergies, flea allergies and food allergies. Any of these allergies mentioned can cause dogs to itch and scratch relentlessly resulting in patches of missing hair when the skin becomes inflamed.
Keep an eye out for these symptoms:
- Ear infections.
- Patches of missing hair.
- Red or watery eyes.
- Repeated Scratching.
- Skin that is red or irritated.
To help you determine which allergy your dog has, you should visit your local veterinarian. To get a better idea of the different allergies and their symptoms, you can read our article on German Shepherd skin issues.
There are many diseases that could contribute to a German Shepherd starting to shed a lot. In fact, there are over fifty hereditary diseases that can afflict German Shepherds. One of the most common diseases affecting this large dog breed is Canine Atopic Dermititis. Keep an eye out for these symptoms which normally surface at around six months to three years of age.
Symptoms of Canine Atopic Dermatitis:
- Ear infection.
- Hair Loss.
If your dog is experiencing any of these symptoms, it is a good idea to check with your local veterinarian.
Fleas and Ticks:
Parasites such as fleas and ticks can definitely cause itching and scratching which inevitably leads to hair loss if not treated properly. Sometimes the little buggers can be hard to find in your German Shepherd’s thick coat of fur, so make sure you do a thorough check every week to avoid any major infestations.
Symptoms to look for:
- Excessive itching or scratching.
- Frequent chewing or licking their fur or skin.
- Raw red skin or sores on their body.
- Tapeworms in their fecal matter.
To prevent fleas and ticks from infiltrating your dog’s fur, you should use a flea and tick treatment such as medication or special shampoo. You can treat your home as well by using a spray for carpet, couches and furniture. Prevention is key when it comes to these parasites. If left untreated, much more serious health complications can arise including anemia, bacterial infections, tapeworms and Neurogenic Dermatitis.
German Shepherds that are pregnant or have been recently neutered can have increased shedding for multiple months due to a drastic change in hormone production. This is because there is a connection between hormones, such as testosterone, and changes in hair follicles and elasticity of the skin. While this may be alarming, the coat will eventually revert back to it’s normal state after a period of time.
A poor diet with low quality food that is lacking essential vitamins can cause a German Shepherd to shed a lot. Essential Fatty Acids such as Omega 3 and 6 play an important role in keeping a dogs hair and skin revitalized and healthy. These EFA’s stimulate the growth of hair follicles and improve the elasticity of the skin which subsequently reduces the amount of shedding.
Because up to thirty percent of a dog’s daily protein from food is directed towards boosting the hair and skin, it is recommended that you use a high quality dog food that contains the Essential Fatty Acids. Supplements are also available to provide the proper nutrients.
Young German Shepherd puppies normally begin to shed their young fur at around the age of four to six months. They will shed a lot of hair for many weeks as they start growing their new adult coat. Long hair German Shepherds can take longer. The hair loss begins with a “racing stripe” on top of the dogs spine and slowly widens until all of the puppy hair is replaced with nice thick, plush adult hair. During this time, you may see some color changes which are normally darker then before.
Stress can play a significant role in a German Shepherd losing a lot of hair. When a dog is stressed, the body’s natural defense mechanism will kick in, causing them to shed a lot. For example, a trip to the vet can leave you covered in fur on the ride home.
Nervousness along with panting, is one of the first signs of stress in dogs. Stress is caused by Epinephrine, or adrenaline, the primary stress hormone in dogs. It is unknown how exactly the stress causes dogs to shed their hair. Compulsive licking from stress can be another factor causing them to lose hair.
Stress can be a one time event such as a car ride, loud noises or a trip to the vet but it can also be a chronic problem. Sometimes when a dog moves to a new home or environment it can trigger stress and subsequent shedding. A new pet in the home can cause stress as well.
Symptoms of stress:
- Aggression or avoidance.
- Compulsive licking.
- Decreased appetite.
- Drooling or panting.
- Itching and scratching.
- Shedding lots of hair.
- Tail is tucked between the legs.
Obviously certain stressful situations can be avoided, if identified, to reduce the stress. Sometimes the cause may be difficult to identify. A condition or disease could be leading to the stress. A veterinarian should be able to help you determine the cause.
Can I Shave My German Shepherd To Reduce Shedding?
You should never shave your German Shepherd in an attempt to reduce the amount of shedding. Occasionally owners are under the misconception that shaving their German Shepherd is the best way to reduce shedding along with getting rid of allergies and making fleas easier to spot. This is false. It may get rid of the hair for a few days, but their hair will grow back fast and they will start shedding shorter hair which is even worse. Short hairs are more difficult to clean up and get embedded into the carpet and furniture. Not to mention their coat of hair will never grow back the same.
It will also have an overall negative impact on their comfort and health. Their double coat of hair helps them regulate body temperature, keeping them cool during the summer and warm during the winter. Additionally, it acts as a barricade against the natural elements such as the suns harmful UV rays and water.
It is also false that shaving your German Shepherd will eliminate skin allergies. Exposing their skin will actually make them worse. This is because allergies are activated by oil, pet dander, saliva and skin flakes. When you shave the dog’s skin, more of this dander is released causing the dog to lick itself even more than before.
How Do I Stop My German Shepherd From Shedding A Lot?
While you won’t be able to completely stop your German Shepherd from shedding, there are several methods that you can use to reduce the amount of shedding. Here is a breakdown of the best techniques you can use to lower the amount of hair all over your house.
Grooming your German Shepherd is the most obvious and straight forward method for decreasing the amount of hair that your dog loses. However you will need to groom your dog on a consistent basis for maximum results.
Brushing your German Shepherd every single day is the single most effective way to reduce shedding in your dog. To be effective, you will need to brush their hair deep enough to reach their undercoat which is where most of the shedding occurs. Often times, owners are only brushing the top coat which isn’t nearly as effective in decreasing the amount of loose hair.
A good dog brush is critical to getting the maximum amount of loose hair out of your dog. An undercoat rake is the best tool for the job because it is a soft pinned comb that penetrates the top coat, or guard coat, and makes its way down to the thick undercoat which is where most of the loose hair presides.
Bathing your German Shepherd on a regular basis will help reduce the amount of shedding. A nice bath every three to four months should help remove any loose or dead hair while simultaneously keeping their coat smelling nice and fresh. Most dogs will love a nice bath!
Deshedding Shampoo and Conditioner:
Along with consistent bathing, you can use a deshedding shampoo and conditioner to reduce shedding as well. These premium bathing solutions are enriched with Omega 3 and 6 Fatty Acids to help promote healthy skin. This will help reduce the amount of hair loss while providing a clean shiny coat.
High Velocity Blow Dryer:
A high velocity grooming dryer is a great way to dry your dog quickly and reduce shedding at the same time. The power of the dryer works to blow out those loose stubborn undercoat hairs. They can reduce drying time by up to 60%, saving you and your furry friend lots of precious time. It is well worth the investment especially considering that your dog will shed up to 80% less for a period of two to three weeks following their drying session. This can be invaluable during their spring and fall shedding.
Do German Shepherds shed a lot? Yes German Shepherds do shed a lot of hair but the good news is, it can be managed. Follow the methods above to reduce the amount of shedding in your German Shepherd.
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Do you have any experience with German Shepherd shedding and any tips or tricks to help prevent it. We would love to hear about it!