German Shepherds are my favorite kind of dog. They’re loyal and beautiful, and high-energy. You may want to know, are they messy dogs, and do they shed?
Do German Shepherds Shed?
Yes, German Shepherds are known for being a breed of dog that sheds a lot. They even have the nickname “German Shedders” because of how much they shed. German Shepherds shed at all times of the year, but during some seasons they shed more than others.
There are several reasons for their large amount of shedding, and there are also ways to manage it. Dog fur is not many people’s favorite thing to deal with, so a prospective German Shepherd owner should learn what they can in order to be prepared.
Why Do They Shed So Much?
Shedding is good to know about, because many people may be allergic to the dander that gets trapped in dog fur. There are no truly hypoallergenic breeds of dogs, but some shed less than others. If shedding is an allergy issue, it may be good to consider getting another breed that isn’t a “German Shedder”.
German Shepherds are a breed of dog that is particularly good in colder climates. When they were used as actual shepherd dogs in Germany, they often lived in high altitudes and in cold winter months, where they had to be able to handle those cold temperatures.
German Shepherds adapted well to this, and like many other winter breeds such as huskies and mountain dogs, they have what is called a double coat for their fur. The double coat consists of an outer coat and an undercoat.
The undercoat is close to the skin, it is softer, and it’s used as insulation against harsh temperatures, whether that means cold or hot. The overcoat has fur that is typically longer and coarser, and it protects the dog against snow, water, and ice.
This type of coat is great for a dog in the winter because it gives them more protection against the elements and keeps them nice and warm. Unfortunately, it also means a lot of
German Shepherds can also come with short, medium, or long fur on their outer coats, and this can affect their level of shedding. Their individual genetics may also play a part in their shedding, but no matter what, a German Shepherd will shed.
“Shedding is a natural process that is primarily affected by hormonal changes which are associated with the lengthening and shortening of daylight hours. The amount of daylight will trigger new coat growth.”– The Happy Puppy Site
Their shedding also gets worse as the seasons change to spring and fall. Just like how we layer up in the winter to keep warm, a German Shepherd’s fur will often thicken and grow as winter approaches.
While in summer we wear fewer layers, for a double-coated dog, it will shed a lot more in order to prepare for the heat. The opposite happens for winter.
This process is called “blowing out” their fur, and it happens at each season change, but is typically more apparent as summer approaches. Their undercoats are making room for a more season-appropriate layer. This process can also happen for a few weeks, typically three, so it’s important to be aware of.
These are the basic, genetic reasons a German Shepherd will tend to shed a lot. There are also other reasons why one may be shedding more than expected. Below is a list of those reasons as well as ways to help your dog and hoepfully make the shedding more manageable.
While having a good diet may not make a German Shepherd stop shedding, or even shed significantly less, it can make them healthier and it can help their coat and fur be healthy as well.
A poor diet is also likely to negatively affect shedding because it can make their skin dry and flaky. They may even be omega 3 and 6 deficient which can affect shedding.
German Shepherds need a balanced and nutrient-rich diet of high-quality protein and certain fatty acids. When they eat well, their hair follicles are stronger and their skin tends to have more elasticity.
Also, if your dog is allergic to certain foods and eats them on accident, it can affect their health as well as their shedding.
If you want to help improve your dog’s shedding through their diet, feed them high-quality dog food and not food based off of corn or grains that can be harder to digest and are less nutrient-rich.
Make sure they get enough protein and fatty acids and even some olive or flaxseed oils. Human food that is safe for them to eat is also a good idea. Some people even feed their dogs a raw diet in order to help with this.
Also make sure your German Shepherd gets plenty of fresh water. They like to exercise a lot and are larger dogs, so they may need quite a bit of water. Dehydration is a big factor when it comes to shedding, so keeping them hydrated with plenty of water can be a big help.
If your dog is sick or has developed any type of disease or condition, they may shed more. Take them to a vet and get them checked out, and your vet will likely be able to give advice on how to handle it- as well as try to help your dog get better!
There are also signs of stress to look out for. Some of these signs are aggression or lethargy, avoidance, drooling or panting, destructive behavior, pacing, or their ears pinned back and their tail between their legs.
“Ever feel so stressed you swear you’re losing your hair? Dogs can feel the same way – but sometimes dogs are just better at hiding their stress.”– Play Bark Run
They may be stressed about a number of things, like overstimulation, a new environment, strangers, or pain such as sickness, an injured bone, muscle, or joint, or another illness. It may take some investigation to discover the source of their stress, but once it has been found and hopefully is able to be removed, then their shedding may decrease.
A change in hormone levels can also affect shedding. If a dog becomes pregnant or is in heat, or if it has recently been spayed or neutered, it may shed more for a few months. Luckily, this can go back to normal and the shedding will reduce over time.
If your dog has ticks, fleas, or other parasites that affect their health, it may also affect their shedding. It will tend to scratch at the bothersome parasite and this scratching can send their fur flying.
If you notice your dog scratching itself more than usual and shedding more as a result, you can take it in to see a vet to get checked out.
Do you ever shower and notice how much hair falls out? Or see how much is left in your brush after using it? This, of course, doesn’t mean that having good hygiene and showering and brushing your hair causes hair to fall out because it would be much worse if you didn’t do those things. You’re at least able to control it a bit more.
With German Shepherds, the concept is the same. They do not need to bathe very often, however, because it can dry up their skin, which makes shedding worse. Once every 6-10 weeks is typically a good time to give your dog a bath.
You can sometimes get by with even less than that for German Shepherds. Use good, high-quality shampoo in order to help their coat shine and retain the oils and moisture that it needs.
Some people brush their German Shepherd every day because it helps the shedding be more controlled, and not be as bad. If you don’t have time for that, at least twice a week your German Shepherd should get a good brushing. Every day is recommended during shedding season, however.
Using a rake brush is recommended because, with a thick, double-coat, it will get more fur on each brush, and won’t send it flying everywhere as other brushes might.
During shedding season, a de-shedding tool can help get the fur loosened, especially in the undercoat. A soft bristle brush should be used after to get the rest of the loose fur.
Brush in smooth strokes and work in the direction of the fur growth. If you brush too hard, it may make the hair follicles break and cause more shedding. Be gentle if there are tangles so that your dog doesn’t get hurt and try to get away.
You can also take your dog to a professional groomer, who may be able to help with shedding.
Never shave a German Shepherd. A German Shepherd relies on its double-coat to keep it insulated from the cold and from the heat. Shaving it gets rid of that protection and can be a serious risk to their health. It can also take a while to grow back, and it may never grow back as healthy as it had been before shaving.
Other Ways to Handle Shedding
Along with managing a German Shepherd’s shedding by adjusting their diet or grooming, or helping with their health, there are other things that an owner can do in order to manage the amount of fur that they have to deal with in their home.
- Use an air cleaner- there are several types of air cleaners available. Recommended is a HEPA type. These filters can get things in the air like pet dander and purify the air so that it isn’t everywhere. There are also vacuums available with this capability. This can help with allergies as well.
- Get wood or tile floors- Carpet tends to trap pet fur in it, and it can be near impossible to completely vacuum it all out. Your German Shepherd will shed no matter what. If you are able to easily sweep it up on a wood or tile floor, it’s easier to deal with and get rid of.
- Use furniture coverings- Plastic or other material coverings can be used on furniture so that the fur doesn’t become part of it. If you don’t want fur all over you every time you sit on the couch to watch Netflix, this can be a good option. Just make sure you wash these. It can also be good to train your dog to stay off of furniture so that these issues are lessened as well.
- Make one or more rooms “dog-free”- If you don’t want your German Shepherd’s fur all over your bedroom, then it will have to stay out of the room as a rule. You can have designated spaces where it is allowed to go in the home, and places where the doors are shut and it doesn’t have access to. This keeps the fur contained so that you can have places where you will know you won’t have to deal with it when you go home.
- Have “fur-clothes”- If you have a certain amount of outfits you change into for when you play and interact with your dog, then it can keep your other clothes clean and fur-free. That’s great if you don’t want dog-fur on you when you go to work! Just make sure not to wash these clothes with anything else, or the fur will just spread to everything.
Managing a German Shepherd’s shedding doesn’t have to be an extreme ordeal. A little cleaning every day can go a long way. By having short but consistent habits that include diet, grooming, and cleaning, the shedding can become tame and doesn’t have to take over your house.
Some people may decide that they don’t want fur inside their house at all and will want to make their German Shepherd an outdoor dog. This is not a good idea.
German Shepherds do need to spend time outside exercising, but living out there with no access to the home indoors can have negative effects on their health and behavior.
German Shepherds are intelligent and social creatures that love to please. They want to be a part of your family. Keeping them separate will bore them and make them feel lonely. This can lead to aggression and other bad behavioral tendencies such as barking and biting.
A German Shepherd simply won’t be happy as a completely outdoor dog, and it needs to feel like it is a part of the family.
If shedding is too much of a problem, you may want to consider another dog. But if you can handle some fur in exchange for a playful, intelligent, and lovable companion, then a German Shepherd may be the perfect dog for you.
When do German Shepherd puppies start shedding? German Shepherd puppies start to really shed when their adult fur comes in. This can be different for each puppy but typically occurs at around 6 to 8 months of age. There are of course outliers, as some have started very early and others haven’t started shedding for almost a whole year.
Are German Shepherds hypoallergenic? There are no true hypoallergenic dogs, and German Shepherds shed a lot, so they are not good for dog allergies. Pet dander is trapped in pet fur, and a dog that sheds a lot like a German Shepherd does can exacerbate allergies and become difficult to deal with.