German Shepherd Dogs (GSDs) are large working dogs that were originally bred in Germany to herd flocks of sheep, and they’ve since become one of the most popular dogs in the U.S.
It’s not hard to see why, either.
GSDs are known to excel at virtually any task requiring a high level of obedience and intelligence, such as search and rescue, assisting law enforcement, and guide work.
They also make great family companions!
But how much do they shed?
Unfortunately, German Shepherds shed a LOT.
So much so, in fact, that they are sometimes referred to as “German Shedders” (lol).
Can you stop it? You can’t stop any dog from shedding completely, as this is a natural process that almost all dogs go through to varying extents. But you can reduce excessive shedding.
How? In short, the most effective way to reduce shedding is by ensuring that your German Shepherd’s diet is optimal and maintaining a regular grooming routine. If you get these two things right, you might be amazed at how much less fur you see floating around.
In this post, I’ll show you everything you need to know about GSD shedding and how to keep it under control so that you can enjoy your four-legged friend’s company without spending your days stuck behind a vacuum cleaner.
German Shepherd Shedding (All You Need to Know)
German Shepherds are a very high-shedding breed.
And most German Shepherds have a thick, medium-length double coat, too.
Why does that matter?
Because while GSDs will shed year-round, they also tend to “blow coat” for several weeks during spring and fall. This is known as seasonal shedding, and it occurs when the dog sheds (or molts) its undercoat to prepare for the change in season.
For example, German Shepherds will typically experience a very heavy shedding season in spring for two-to-four weeks as they drop their thicker, woolier winter coat, as they won’t need this as summer approaches. And likewise, they tend to shed their lighter summer coat in the fall (autumn) and grow back a heavier coat to prepare for winter.
The caveat to that is that some German Shepherds (especially the long-haired variety) can lack an undercoat, so it does depend on the individual dog.
But in most cases, you will notice fur on your floors and furniture if your German Shepherd comes inside, regardless of what time of year it is, and more so during spring and fall.
Why do they shed so much?
The reality is that, aside from hairless breeds, ALL dogs shed.
It’s just that some canines drop more hair than others.
And of the breeds that shed more, assuming there is no underlying health issue, one of the most common traits they share is experiencing a faster hair growth cycle, which means it takes less time for the hair to grow, mature, and fall out (before being replaced by new hair).
For instance, Poodles, which are very low shedders, have hair that is more like ours in that it keeps on growing longer and longer, to the point of needing to be trimmed. Whereas a GSD’s hair will typically grow to a shorter length and fall out because it has a shorter hair growth cycle.
There are also other factors that can contribute to shedding.
We’ve already discussed one of those, seasonal shedding. But another thing that can make a difference in how much a dog sheds is the type of coat they have.
Some dogs, like the Poodle, for example, have curly hair that tends to trap any hair they drop. So instead of falling onto your floors and furniture, a lot more of the hair will end up on the brush, which is not the case for straight-haired dogs like the GSD.
And aside from that, things like diet, the condition of your dog’s skin and hair, and their overall health can play a part in how much excess fur they drop.
In any case, whatever the reason, dog shedding is generally not difficult to get under control once you have an understanding of what I will discuss in the next section.
How to Reduce German Shepherd Shedding
As mentioned, you can’t stop any dog from shedding completely; this is a natural process that most dogs go through. However, there are some ways you can significantly reduce it.
And in a healthy German Shepherd, this mostly comes down to enduring his diet is optimal and establishing a proper grooming routine. So let’s explore each of these further.
One of the most effective ways to reduce excessive shedding is to ensure that your GSD is eating a healthy, balanced diet.
Dog foods that are made from high-quality ingredients, that are rich in vitamins and minerals, and that contain Omega-3 may help promote a healthier coat, which in turn can limit shedding.
It’s not that you need to spend a fortune on “special” dog food. You don’t. But some dog foods are specially designed to help reduce shedding. And good quality dog food, in general, can have a positive impact on the condition of your dog’s skin and hair while helping prevent dryness.
Not to mention, cheap kibble often contains fillers and artificial ingredients and lacks the ingredients that lead to an optimal coat.
So, optimizing your GSDs diet can be very worthwhile.
In addition to a healthy, balanced diet, there are also some great shedding supplements out there. Some supplements are essentially gimmicks, and it pays to consult your vet before making any changes to your dog’s diet, but there are some great omega-3 supplements available.
And these can make a big difference, which I explain in the above article.
Once you’ve got your German Shepherd’s diet in order, another highly effective way to reduce shedding is through regular grooming. In particular, brushing and bathing.
And thankfully, this is very easy to do.
One of the great things about a GSD compared to many low-shedding dogs is that they are very low-maintenance. Unlike some dogs (i.e., Poodles), you don’t need to spend hours brushing a German Shepherd each week, trim their hair, or take them to a professional groomer.
GSDs do not require any of that fuss!
However, because they shed so much, if you want to keep as much fur out of your home as possible, it can be worth brushing them daily, especially during shedding season. It can also be well worth bathing them every month or so, as this can get rid of a lot of the loose fur.
Let’s start by discussing bathing…
Bathing Your GSD
When it comes to bathing your German Shepherd, there are basically three main things you should know: avoid over-bathing, use a proper dog shampoo, and hair blowers are worth it.
- First, try not to bathe too often, as this can have the effect of stripping the natural coat oils from your GSD’s coat. And that, in turn, can cause dryness, which can increase shedding.
- Second, always use a dog-friendly shampoo. Using human shampoo (or low-quality dog shampoos) can be too harsh for their skin and hair, which, you guessed it.. isn’t going to help you win the battle against shedding.
- And third, if you want to remove as much of the old, dead hair as possible from your GSD’s coat after bathing – use a dog hair blower. Not only can these save you time compared to towel drying, but they blow the old hair right off your dog’s coat after a bath, which can save you time brushing while removing hair that brushing alone won’t get.
Brushing Your GSD
Bathing is something you’ll likely only do every month or so, but brushing is something you can do on a daily basis to help keep the shedding under control.
As you’d expect, brushing removes the loose hair from your dog’s coat before it falls out and onto your floors and 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.
Not only that, but brushing can help spread your dog’s natural coat oils, which in turn can help promote healthier skin and hair, further reducing the likelihood of excessive shedding.
What sort of brush should you use?
As with any dog, the best type of brush to use really depends on your dog’s coat. And in the case of GSDs, they typically have a medium-length double coat.
The outer coat is made up of dense, straight, coarse fur.
And the undercoat is short, thick, soft, and dense.
And with this coat, I have found that a slicker brush is ideal for everyday grooming, which is a brush made up of fine wire bristles with plastic or rubber tips on the ends.
Slickers work well because they help to remove any mats your GSD has accumulated, which 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, everyday brushing, and can work very well for removing the dead fur from his coat.
Another good tool to have on hand is a de-shedding brush.
This is not something I’d recommend using every day, but they are (by far) the best for removing old fur as they are specially designed for this very purpose.
Can You Shave Your GSD?
It’s only natural to wonder if you could just shave your German Shepherd’s coat to avoid the hassle of having to brush regularly to remove the old fur.
But is that really a good idea?
In most cases, no.
And this is especially true if your GSD has a double coat (i.e., two layers of fur).
Why? Because a dog’s undercoat is what helps insulate them in both hot and cold weather. So by removing this, you are exposing your dog to extremes in weather.
Not only that, but if you shave any dog’s coat down to the skin, they are not protected against things like sunburn, wind chill, and bugs like mosquitos.
So it’s almost never a good idea to shave your dog’s coat right off unless your vet specifically recommends this for some reason, such as preparation for a procedure.
Are German Shepherds Hypoallergenic?
No. German Shepherds are NOT hypoallergenic.
No dog is 100% hypoallergenic, though. Some dogs are considered “hypoallergenic” if they are less likely to trigger allergy symptoms, but the main cause of pet allergy typically arises from a dog’s dead skin (dander), sweat, saliva, and urine – not the hair itself.
And as such, ALL dogs can be allergenic.
It’s just that some dogs produce less dander and shed less. And the reason shedding makes a difference is that dander (and the other allergens I mentioned) stick to dog hair. So when a dog sheds a lot, those allergens tend to spread around and get airborne at a much higher rate.
Bottom line… GSDs are not hypoallergenic. Not even close. So if you’re looking for a dog that’s less likely to trigger allergies, then there are other dogs that better fit that description.
German Shepherds are awesome dogs that tick just about all the boxes you could want in a canine companion. They are smart, loyal, obedient, and protective.
But they do shed quite heavily.
And unfortunately, this is not something that can be completely stopped.
However, as I explained in this post, there are some very effective ways to significantly reduce shedding, and they are not very hard to do. For the most part, all it takes is making sure your GSD’s diet is optimal and factoring a regular grooming routine into your schedule.
Sometimes the shedding can be caused by an underlying health issue, though. For example, things like fleas, allergies, disease, and numerous other health-related factors can contribute to shedding. So if you have any concerns at all, speak to your vet.
But most of the time… shedding is just something these dogs do.
And with the tips I’ve shared in this post, you’ll be more than equipped to get this under control. You can also check out our in-depth shedding guide if you want to know more.