Why Does My German Shepherd Have Dandruff?

A few months back, our dog died.  After some time mourning the loss, my husband and I decided it was time to get another fur baby.  We love bigger dogs and chose the German Shepherd to become a part of our family.  Last week we started to see these white specks on his fur, and we aren’t so sure what they are?  They look like dandruff that a human might get.  We want to uncover how or why he is getting this dandruff and how to fix it.

We spoke with his veterinarian on the phone and did some online research, here is what we found.

Why does my German Shepherd have dandruff?

Why does my German Shepherd have dandruff? A German shepherd can get dandruff for a variety of reasons relating to health and the environment.  German shepherds will suffer from dandruff because of skin or fur coat issues.  These skin and fur coat issues can come from various places, and the dandruff is a symptom of the health issue.

When the underlying problem is discovered and addressed, the German shepherds’ dandruff should go away.  Skin and fur coat issues can be as mild as dryness or more severe, like Seborrhea’s genetic disorder. 

For potential German shepherd owners, most dandruff is mild and easily remedied.  If they are diligent in their care of the dog’s fur and skin, dandruff can be a thing of the past.

What is dandruff?

Dandruff is a dead skin cell that gets caught in a German shepherd’s fur coat, like how we can have dandruff.  If the dog has a light-colored coat of fur, it may be harder for their owner to notice. 

If the dog has a darker coat or mixture of colors in their fur coat like the German Shepherd, it is noticeable.  

Dandruff is also noticeable where the dog sleeps and lays, their bed, the living room couch, and their owner’s lap.

What causes dandruff?

Dandruff’s caused by many things, including skin irritations, stress, environmental issues, and health problems.  Dandruff itself isn’t a health condition but a symptom of something else that is going on with a German shepherd.

If a German shepherd is stress or has nervous energy, it can show up in the form of excessive licking or chewing.  This licking and chewing can cause skin dryness and eventually, dandruff. 

Stress can also reveal itself in other behaviors such as excessive barking and scratching, owners must pay close attention.

If the air quality in the German Shepherd’s home is dry, this can also cause dandruff but is easily fixable.  This dryness can be from too much air condition or indoor heat and not enough fresh outdoor air for the German Shepherd.

A German Shepherd’s diet and grooming can also be a cause of dandruff.  Consulting their veterinarian to ensure that they receive the correct dog food and the right shampoo can quickly get rid of this symptom. 

Their veterinarian can also determine how often to bathe the German Shepherd. Bathing can affect their skin and fur coat if done too often.

Can dandruff be a sign of a health problem for a German Shepherd?

Yes, dandruff can be a sign of a health problem for a German shepherd.   A condition known as Mites can cause what appears to be dandruff on a German shepherd’s skin. 

Upon close inspection, dog owners will discover that the white specks that look like dandruff are moving around.  This “Walking Dandruff” which is common in German shepherds can be alarming but must be discussed with their veterinarian.

These mites can also affect other areas of the German Shepherd’s body, including nasal cavities, face, and ears.  They can also hop onto owners and other humans around the German Shepherd causing skin irritations.

Seborrhea is a genetic health condition that commonly affects the German shepherd breed.  It can begin to show up as early as one and a half years old and can continue to come and go throughout the German Shepherd’s lifetime.

Characteristically, Seborrhea is when the skin’s glands produce a more significant amount of sebum.  This excess sebum causes a scaly, itchy, and flaky skin that can also be red and irritated.  The condition can be either oily or dry, causing lesions of the same.

Typically dogs that have this condition, and notably the German Shepherd, will have an odor about them.

Seborrhea can be extremely uncomfortable for the dog and can be more problematic for the dog and owner since other infections can crop up.  This condition requires medical care from a veterinarian to ensure the best health for the German Shepherd throughout their life.

German Shepherd dandruff is caused by hormonal imbalances, parasites, allergies, infections, weather changes, obesity, and a dog’s difficulties grooming themselves properly.

How do I fix my German Shepherds’ dandruff?

How to fix dandruff in a German Shepherd begins with a proper diagnosis of why they are having the problem.  This diagnosis will likely start with inspecting their skin and fur to determine if something like dryness or dirt and filth is causing it.  This inspection should be while bathing them.

Investigating their diet, environment, and stress level will help their owner determine if exterior factors could be the cause.  Changes can include providing more water, reducing exposure to excess sun, heat, or air-conditioning, or simply changing their diet.

After these simple steps are done to determine the cause, planning a trip to their veterinarian is best if nothing is found.  They will help determine the right diagnosis if it is environmental, behavioral, or medical issues that cause their dandruff.

Along the way, the owner will want to be understanding and patient with the dog and themselves.  Finding dandruff flakes on our shoulders can be distressing enough, let alone seeing it on our dog and feeling helpless and just wanting them to feel better.

Why does my German Shepherd have dandruff | Embora Pets

Discovering the cause can take time, owners and dogs may go through many changes before they find out what is causing dandruff.  These can include eliminating treats and certain foods, offering different fabrics for bedding, adding supplements to the diet, changing up shampoos.  It isn’t a simple process.

If it turns out to be Seborrhea, this condition is lifelong for the German Shepherd.  While they will have periods of remission, it will return.  It is also likely that no matter what the owner does, this condition will continue.

Does age cause dandruff for a German Shepherd?

Yes, age can cause dandruff for a German shepherd.  As a puppy, the German Shepherd will go through many changes.  Weight gain and height are not the only things that will happen to the German Shepherd as they grow into adulthood.

Hormone levels fluctuate as a German Shepherd goes through these stages.  Growing as a puppy will bring many of those changes.  These changes can be seen on their skin and coat of fur.  As they develop, there will be ups and downs, such things ad dandruff may come and go throughout the months.

As adults and headed into senior age, these hormones continue to function and fluctuate, causing dandruff.

Female German Shepherds can also suffer more dandruff due to the changes they undergo during pregnancy and lactating.

Remedy with a proper nutritional diet for each stage and phase of life.  Puppies, pregnant pups, and nursing momma dogs need a higher nutritional value for every bite they eat.  If their diet is lacking, their skin and fur will suffer.

Can a German Shepherds dandruff come back?

Yes, a German shepherd’s dandruff can come back depending on the cause of this dandruff and what methods treat the issue.

The best way to prevent any dandruff in all cases is to implement healthy rituals for the dog.  Providing a healthy diet that is rich in vital nutrients and healthy water can help prevent dandruff.

It is best to make sure that the house has minimal stress, including environmental like bedding and social like the house cat can create well-being.

Regular veterinary visits, adequate exercise, and rest and plenty of love and affection can go a long way to keeping any dog breed healthy.

If a German Shepherd still suffers despite these measures, it isn’t a direct reflection of the owners grooming or care for the dog.  Some breeds are just predisposed to issues of skin allergies and other health problems.

Take heart, knowing they are getting the best care and love possible to provide them with the best life, which can make all the difference in the world.

Final Thoughts

Like all breeds, German shepherds can suffer varied health issues, and dandruff is just one of them.  Thankfully, this symptom is usually mild and most often caused by simple problems.

If the German Shepherd is healthy and thriving, a few white flakes shouldn’t be cause for alarm.  Simply take the time to lovingly address the issue and remember how much love they bring to our lives.

Nothing can take that away, not even some pesky dandruff!