German Shepherd Dogs (GSDs) are large working dogs that were originally developed in Germany to herd sheep. Today, however, these smart, obedient and courageous dogs are better known for working with law enforcement and spending time with family.
And yes, they do shed – a LOT.
German Shepherds have a medium length double coat that sheds constantly throughout most of the year, and even more for about 2-4 weeks during spring and fall as they “blow coat.” You can’t stop them from shedding, but regular brushing can help limit how much hair they drop around the home.
Let’s take a closer look at how much GSDs shed and what sort of effort is needed to maintain their coat and keep your home as fur-free as possible.
German Shepherd Shedding – What to Expect
German Shepherds are a high shedding breed.
And there are basically two different types of shedding you are up against as a German Shepherd owner. The first is the “regular” shedding they do throughout most of the year, which can still be quite high. And the second is the seasonal shedding they do, which is even more noticeable, but only for a short period of time.
Seasonal shedding occurs when the dog sheds (or moults) his undercoat to prepare for the change in season. And this normally happens in spring and fall (autumn) for about 2-4 weeks at a time. So for example, you may notice heavier than normal shedding in spring as your GSD sheds his winter coat.
Either way, you are going to notice fur floating around the home if your German Shepherd comes inside. Whether it be on your floors, furniture, clothes or all of the above. They drop fur anywhere and everywhere!
Some GSD owners even refer to them as “German Shedders” (lol). So it’s safe to say that if you’re looking for a non-shedding, or hypoallergenic, dog breed – the GSD is not it.
Most dogs drop at least some hair though. The only difference is how much fur they drop and how often. And, for the most part, this is determined by the individual breed.
Aside from the breed of dog, and the time of year, shedding can also vary based on things like his diet and how well you groom him. The better his diet and the more effort you put into maintaining his coat, the healthier his coat will be, and the less hair he is likely to drop overall.
Related: Why Do Dogs Shed Hair?
Also worth mentioning is that, in some cases, excessive shedding can be due to things like fleas, dry or irritated skin, stress or some other underlying health issue. So if you do have any concerns, contact your local veterinarian for assistance.
Keep in mind, however, that “normal” levels of shedding in a GSD are typically quite high compared to most dogs. And when it comes to minimizing this and keeping your home free of unwanted fur, the solution is often as simple as brushing regularly.
How to Stop Excessive GSD Shedding
You can’t stop any dog from shedding completely, this is a normal and natural process that most dogs go through. However, you can reduce excessive shedding and minimize how much of the hair ends up floating around your home.
And, in a healthy GSD, this mostly comes down to grooming him properly and making sure his diet is optimal. So let’s explore each of these further.
1. Reduce Shedding Through Proper Grooming
German Shepherds are fairly easy to groom. Brushing several times per week, along with the occasional bath, is usually enough to maintain their coat.
However, they are a double coated breed that sheds a lot. So if you want to keep as much fur out of your home as possible, it may be worth brushing him daily, especially during shedding season.
Brushing can help in a couple of ways.
First, it removes the loose hair from his coat before it falls out and onto your furniture. So daily brushing, even for 10 minutes or so, can make a big difference and significantly reduce the amount of time you’ll need to spend vacuuming. And second, brushing can help spread his natural coat oils, which in turn can help promote a healthier coat.
What sort of brush should you use?
Well, like any dog, the sort of brush you use really depends on what sort of coat they have. As in, how long the coat is and the texture of the hair.
According to the American Kennel Club breed standard, German Shepherds have a medium length double coat. The outer coat is made up of dense, straight, coarse, and close lying fur which comes in a variety of colors. And the undercoat is thick and dense.
What I have found is that, for dogs with thick coats like the GSD, a combination of a slicker brush and metal comb works well. A slicker brush is a type of dog brush made up of fine wire bristles with plastic tips on the ends. And a simple metal comb with wider teeth on one end and narrower teeth on the other, is ideal.
Here’s a helpful video that shows you how to groom a German Shepherd:
Slickers work well because they help to remove any mats your GSD may have accumulated, as well as removing any loose hair. Matting is common for dogs with this type of coat and, if left unchecked, can be painful for them. So the slicker and comb are good for carefully working these out, as well as removing the dead fur from his coat.
A good quality deshedding tool can also be effective during shedding season, as these tend to work better at removing the loose undercoat fur when they are blowing coat.
Bathing can also help you manage shedding. They only need the occasional bath, but some GSD owners bathe more often during shedding season as this can help remove the dead hair and loosen it up prior to a thorough brushing session.
It’s important not to over bathe him though, and always use a good quality dog shampoo that doesn’t dry out his skin and hair. Because bathing too often can cause dryness, which can strip his coat of its natural oils and actually increase the shedding.
2. Reduce Shedding Through Proper Diet
Another way to reduce excessive amounts of shedding is to ensure your dog is eating a healthy, balanced diet. Dog foods made from high quality ingredients, that are rich in vitamins and minerals, and that contain things like Omega-3, may help promote a healthier coat.
It’s not that you need to buy some fancy, expensive dog food to stop shedding. You don’t. But a quality dog food can make a difference to the condition of his coat and therefore how much it sheds. And like most things in life, you get what you pay for.
In addition to a healthy, balanced diet, there are also some great shedding supplements out there. And I don’t just mean the ones that are marketed as dog shedding remedies. Some people with high shedding dogs even find that simple things, like adding a small amount of oil to their dog’s food occasionally, helps. Whether it be virgin olive oil, fish oil, or coconut oil.
Of course, these aren’t guaranteed to work, and you should never alter your dog’s diet without first consulting a qualified veterinarian. But some find these are helpful in addition to a healthy, balanced diet.
At the end of the day, if you live with a German Shepherd, you are going to notice some hair around the home. There’s no way to avoid this completely. But with proper grooming and making sure he’s as healthy as possible, you can keep it to a minimum.
Check out this guide to reducing shedding if you want to learn more.
Why Do GSDs Shed So Much?
Shedding is normal in most healthy dogs, but some breeds shed more than others. And breeds that shed heavily, like the GSD, tend to have coats with a faster hair growth cycle. Which means their fur grows (anagen), stops growing (catagen), and falls out (telogen) at a faster rate than a low shedding dog.
Other factors that can contribute to shedding include the time of year, condition of their coat, their overall health and their diet, among others.
When Do They Shed Most?
German Shepherds shed heavily year-round, but especially heavily twice per year, typically during spring and fall, as they blow their coat. This can result in large amounts of fur loss over a 2-4 week period and is his way of preparing for the change of season.
How Can You Stop the Shedding?
You cannot stop shedding completely. But you can reduce it, and how much of it ends up on your furniture, through proper brushing, bathing, and making sure he’s as healthy as possible.
Can You Shave Your German Shepherd?
Shaving a German Shepherd is generally not a good idea unless your vet specifically recommends it. And the reason is because, like any double-coated dog, they need their undercoat to help insulate them from both hot and cold weather. Not to mention, help protect them against things like sunburn and mosquito bites.
Are They Hypoallergenic?
No, German Shepherd Dogs are not hypoallergenic because their coat produces dander and they shed heavily. So if you or someone in your home suffers from pet allergies, a GSD may be not the most suitable breed.
There is no such thing as a completely hypoallergenic breed though, because all dogs produce dander and other allergens like dried saliva which cause the allergies. However, some dogs are considered more suitable for allergy sufferers than others, which does not include the GSD.
What Are Some Lower Shedding Breed Alternatives?
There are lots of great dogs that don’t shed much, so it really depends on what you’re looking for. However, other great working dogs that shed less include the Aussie Shepherd and Standard Schnauzer for example. Or if you’re just looking for a low shedding, low maintenance breed, the Basenji is worth considering.