Like most dogs, German Shepherds aren’t afraid to get down and dirty. But it just depends on each dog’s specific personality. Some dogs stay clean while others love to wallow in the mud on a rainy day. Unfortunately, a dirty GSD will start to stink without a nice bath to clean them up. But how often should you bathe a German Shepherd? You don’t want to bathe them too little or too much!
Typically, a German Shepherd should be bathed every 3 months or quarter-yearly for the best results. Of course, this depends on different factors. Some dogs stay clean while others get much dirtier year-round. If your dog is swimming a lot in ponds or lakes, he or she may need more bathes than your average dog. But you never want to over bathe your GSD. It can have a negative effect on their coat.
To better understand how often you should bathe or groom your German Shepherd, you should first learn about their coat and why it is important to have a bathing routine.
Why You Should Bathe Your German Shepherd?
Bathing your German Shepherd is an important part of grooming that will help keep your GSD fresh and clean. In addition to getting rid of dirt and allergens that may build up in their fur, it also helps remove any fleas or parasites that may have latched on to your dog’s skin.
Here are 5 good reasons to bathe your German Shepherd:
- Gets rid of dirt and allergens: This is the first and most obvious reason to wash your pup. Dogs love to play outside and some love to roll around in the dirt. Dirt and allergens can cause all types of skin issues depending on the dog.
- Helps prevent fleas and critters: Bathing your dog with a good flea and tick shampoo can remove any fleas and ticks that have made your dog’s skin their home. That being said, it won’t really prevent them from coming back in the future. You will need a good flea treatment plan to avoid another reinfestation.
- Reduces shedding: German Shedders are known for losing hair. Giving them a bath every three months and using a good undercoat rake should help remove any dead hair and reduce the amount of shedding.
- Makes their coat soft and shiny: GSDs have a thick double coat of fur. Bathing them with a quality dog shampoo will keep their coat nice and soft as well as giving it a nice shine. Fun Fact: You can also add 1-2 tablespoons of salmon oil to their dog food to keep that coat glistening!
- Keeps you on top of any health issues: While you should make sure to schedule annual health check-ups at the vet, you can also use bath time to check their skin and fur for any potential issues. Be on the lookout for any bald spots or redness on the skin. You should also check for any fleas or ticks!
When Should You First Bathe A German Shepherd Puppy?
While it may be tempting to give your cute new puppy a nice little bath, you will want to wait until they are at least 3 months old.
The first two months of your puppy’s life will be spent with Mom. It is very important that you wait until after weaning to introduce them to their first bath time.
In addition, your puppy will be replacing its fluffy little puppy coat with an adult coat. That transition can last up to six months. Therefore, unless your little pup gets into a mud hole on accident, there really is no upside to bathing them before the half year mark.
If you do decide to give them a bath in between 3-6 months, make sure you allow the appropriate amount of time following any vaccines.
On the other hand, it is also necessary to take into account the dog’s vaccination schedule before giving your puppy a bath for the first time. A puppy could suffer stress during their first bath, which can lead to a poor immunological response to vaccines.AnimalWised.com – When To Give A Puppy A Bath For The First Time
You should wait at least a minimum of 2 days before bathing after a vaccine to avoid upsetting the injection site which may be sore and irritated. Some veterinarians recommend waiting up to 1-2 weeks because of the stress factor.
While some modern-day vets claim that the stress caused from a bath isn’t enough to affect the vaccination, it is better to err on the side of caution.
How To Bathe A German Shepherd?
Bathing your German Shepherd should be simple and fun. It is also a great time to bond and spend time with your GSD. But before you lather him up, make sure you know the proper way to wash your pup!
Bathing A Puppy:
Before six months, you will want to keep bathing to a minimum. But if your puppy happens to get muddy, keep it very simple.
Just rinse him off and then let him naturally shake off the excess water. Then back brush his hair (brush in the opposite direction that the hair grows) then brush it back to its natural direction. Then dry him off with a towel.
Bathing An Adult:
After six months, you can start giving them regular baths every three months. Here are the 8 steps for washing your German Shepherd properly.
- Check the water temperature: Before you start to get your GSD wet, make sure that the temperature is suitable for your dog. I think we can all relate to the pain of a cold shower. Your dog is no different and won’t be too keen on a freezing cold bath. Use lukewarm water that is somewhere between 98-105 °F.
- Wet their coat with lukewarm water: Once the water is a nice lukewarm temp, rinse them off starting at the back of the neck and working your way all the way down the back of the spine to the tail. Let the water run long enough to soak their undercoat. If you need to, rinse off the legs and paws as well.
- Shampoo with pet-friendly product: Using a safe shampoo, apply it to your GSDs head and body. Massage it into their fur making sure to get deep down into their undercoat. Once they are lathered up, let the shampoo sit for a few minutes before rinsing. Make sure you avoid getting it in their eyes, nose or ears.
- Rinse them off with lukewarm water: Completely rinse off all of the dog shampoo starting at the head and working your way down to the tail. To get down to the undercoat, press the nozzle against his coat and let it run down his body. Make sure you get in those hard-to-reach places like under the arms, neck, and belly.
- Check for any excess shampoo: Once you are done rinsing him off, make sure there isn’t any leftover soapy residue on his coat. You can glide your hand along his body to check. If you don’t remove all of the shampoo, it can dry out the skin causing contact dermatitis, lesions or hot spots.
- Condition with pet-friendly product: Using the same method as the shampoo, condition the coat with a dog safe conditioner. Leave the conditioner on as long as recommended.
- Rinse off again with lukewarm water: Repeat step 4 and rinse off the conditioner making sure not to leave any extra in the fur.
- Let him shake out his coat: Once you are done rinsing him off thoroughly, let him go so that he can shake out the excess water from his coat. Stand back or you’ll be taking your own shower! You can leave him in the tub or make sure he is outside for this step.
- Back brush to remove excess hair: Brush with the hair using a good undercoat rake. Then back brush the hair using a soft pin brush to remove excess hair. This should make the coat nice and fluffy!
- Dry off the coat: You can go two routes when it comes to drying them off. You can use a regular bath towel or a blow dryer. The method depends on the specific dog. Some dogs don’t like loud noises. In this case, using a towel is the best choice!
Why You Should Never Over Bathe Your German Shepherd?
You should never over bathe your German Shepherd. While some breeds can be groomed monthly or even weekly, GSDs don’t need to be washed that often.
This is because they have a double coat of fur with each coat serving a specific function. They have an undercoat which regulates their temperature, keeping them cool in the summer and warm in the winter.
Their top coat works as an extra layer of protection from dirt, exposure to the sun, and even water. Their thick, dense double coat of fur contains natural oils that protect.
Washing your GSD too often can strip these natural oils, leaving them vulnerable to the cold, heat, and other elements. Not to fret! If you do end up having to wash your GSD more than 3-4 times a year, there are ways to improve his coat and get back that illustrious shine!
Tips for improving coat:
- Regular grooming: Consistent grooming will keep a German Shepherd’s double coat clean, healthy and shiny! Use a good undercoat rake and a finishing brush on a regular basis. Brushing them out once every 1-2 weeks will remove any dirt and allergens and keep their coat looking clean, healthy, and shiny!
- Add healthy oils to your dog’s diet: Certain oils have healthy benefits for your dog’s coat. You can add a spoonful of coconut, olive, or salmon oil to their regular food to improve their coat. Aside from the many health benefits, your GSD will enjoy the extra taste!
- Use a humidifier: If your German Shepherd’s skin is dry, a humidifier can help keep some of the moisture in. In addition to making your dog more comfortable, it can also help reduce the amount of shedding. Place it somewhere close to where your GSD spends most of his time in the house.
In addition to these tips, your dog’s diet plays a pivotal role in your dog’s coat. German Shepherds are big athletic dogs who should eat a lean healthy diet that is low fat and high protein. You also want to make sure that they are getting the proper number of calories for their age and weight.
How often you bathe your German Shepherd will depend on several factors including how often he plays outside, swims, or gets fleas and ticks. Certain situations will obviously call for more bath times. Remember, GSDs don’t need a lot of bathes so keep them to a minimum and try not to give them more than 4 or 5 a year. You don’t want to strip their natural oils from the coat.
German Shepherds are naturally clean dogs with minimal odor. They are known more for shedding than smelling! But when they do happen to get stinky, muddy, or smelly, a nice clean bath will bring their coat right back to its fluffy state! Have fun with it and make bath time a special bonding experience for you and your dog!
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How often do you give your GSD bathes? Let us know! We would love to hear about your personal story! Do you have any tips or advice for new owners?