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How to Reduce German Shepherd Shedding: 7 Top Tips

Owning a German Shepherd is an incredibly rewarding experience. But, it does come with its downside. It seems like no matter what time of year it is or how much you brush and groom your German Shepherd – he just won’t stop shedding! So, how do you reduce German Shepherd shedding?

To reduce German Shepherd shedding, brush your dog regularly with good grooming tools and bathe 3-4 times a year. Feed a healthy diet that targets a healthy coat and skin, including Omega-3s, and make sure he is always hydrated. Also, control parasites by keeping flea prevention treatment up to date.

You can’t avoid your GSD “blowing his coat” twice a year, but all these methods will help to reduce shedding.

To fully grasp the best methods of reducing your German Shepherd’s shedding habits, you need to understand why he’s shedding so much in the first place. By taking note of what to expect, you can better deal with the shedding when it does occur.

German Shepherd after grooming with a de-shedding tool
My German Shepherd Willow being groomed.

So, let’s dive into the world of German Shepherd shedding and how to reduce it.

Do German Shepherds Shed a Lot?

Almost all dog breeds shed, but it seems like that’s all your German Shepherd ever seems to do! No matter what time of year, no matter what the weather, no matter what he’s doing, there’s always a pile of hair beneath him every time you pet him.

German Shepherds do shed a lot. As a double-coated breed, they are naturally heavy shedders and will molt their fur all year round. They will also “blow their coat” in the fall and spring. This is when they change their undercoat, ready for the new season ahead, and shedding is particularly heavy.

So, to understand this a little better, let’s take a more in-depth look at the type of coat that German Shepherds have.

German Shepherds are double-coated, having two layers of fur. The thick, soft, woolly undercoat protects them from the cold and heat and regulates their temperature. The outer coat (guard coat) is dense and coarse and protects the skin from water, dirt, and other external environmental factors.

This is why German Shepherds are good outside dogs and working dogs, as they can tolerate many different weather conditions.

What you might not know is that the shedding habits of the German Shepherd follow a schedule, in a sense. In fact, twice a year, German Shepherds “blow” or change their coats. That’s why they seem to shed a lot more during certain times of the year.

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Let’s now take a look at the molting habits of German Shepherds so you can understand how to reduce and control shedding.

German Shepherd Blowing Coat

The first rule of owning a German Shepherd is understanding his shedding habits. Twice a year, specifically in the spring and fall, your German Shepherd will “blow” his coat. 

At the change of seasons, your German Shepherd’s coats switch so they can adapt to the new conditions. This shedding is a completely natural process as your dog responds to the changing of daylight hours. This transition allows them to be comfortable all year long.

For about two weeks each time, his thick undercoat will begin coming out in clumps. The shedding will be quite intense during this time whilst he molts all of his dead undercoat.

You will easily know when this is about to occur as you will notice the clumps of fur falling from your GSD. His coat won’t look too great for a little while, and it may look a little shabby, but it will grow back pretty quickly and look even better than ever!

Year-Round Shedding

Though the period in which your German Shepherd blows his coat will be the worst when it comes to shedding, he will continue to shed year-round. When you consider his physical and athletic size and the vast amount of hair he has, you’ll understand why he seems to shed all the time.

This year-round shedding is the same for both the short-haired (including medium/plush-haired) and long-haired varieties.

How to Reduce Shedding in German Shepherds

Now, you can’t entirely prevent your dog from shedding twice a year, but there are several steps you can take to reduce the amount of your German Shepherd’s shedding and your constant cleaning up.

I believe that it’s best to target your German Shepherd shedding from all angles. That’s why I’ve developed a list of seven tips for reducing your German Shepherd’s shedding habits that you can start today!

1. Get a Tool Designed for German Shepherds

The best way to groom your German Shepherd is with a de-shedding tool designed specifically for German Shepherds. These tools take your German Shepherd’s thick undercoat into account and dig out any loose hairs that otherwise would find themselves scattered across the floor in your home.

You need to pick a comb or brush tool that will reach all the way through your German Shepherd’s fur and be able to latch onto any hair that might just be sitting there. They are ideal to use when your dog is “blowing his coat.”

German Shepherd with De-shedding Tool
My German Shepherd “Willow” with her FURminator de-shedding tool

I use the FURminator undercoat de-shedding tool from Amazon. It really does a good job by removing all the dead and loose hair as it reaches through your GSD’s topcoat without cutting his skin or damaging the outer coat. You can get this tool from any good pet store, and there are a ton of 5-star reviews that you can read on Amazon if you prefer online shopping.

To learn my THREE favorite grooming tools for German Shepherds, this page tells all.

Check out this video below showing an elderly German Shepherd being de-shedded, also with the FURminator tool. This dog hadn’t been de-shedded or brushed for around 6 months! There’s enough fur to make a woolly sweater!

How to Brush and Deshed a German Shepherd

2. Groom and Bathe Your German Shepherd 3-4 Times a Year

So, I already went over that your German Shepherd will blow his coat twice a year – once in the fall, once in the spring. Though you can’t stop the fur clumps from eventually coming out, you can help to get rid of more of it at once by bathing and grooming him during these periods.

Rather than allowing his undercoat to gradually fall out as the two-week blowing period progresses, you (or a groomer) can loosen up any remaining fur and get rid of it at bathing time.

Never over-bathe as this strips your German Shepherd’s natural oils causing dry skin – which then causes further shedding.

There are also specific de-shedding dog shampoos and conditioners you can get to release the undercoat during the bath. You can even find ones enriched with Omega 3 & 6 fatty acids, such as the FURminator deShedding Ultra Premium Dog Shampoo that help reduce shedding from Amazon, and I’ll cover the benefits of these at number 7 below.

3. Switch to Food That Targets The Skin and Coat

You may have already put in a lot of thought when picking food for your German Shepherd, but did you know that the type of food that you’re feeding him plays a huge role in his shedding habits?

Cheap dog food is largely made of ingredients that some dogs have difficulty digesting, such as corn and grain, not to mention all the added chemicals, preservatives, and colorings. You should instead look for a dog food that has a high-quality protein source as the main ingredient:

“It is reported that 25 to 30 percent of daily protein intake is systemically used solely for skin and coat renewal requirements. Any protein deficit quickly results in obvious effects on the coat.”

Veterinary Practice

If your German Shepherd is not receiving proper nutrition, the protein he’s receiving will maintain muscle mass, leaving the coat to suffer. I have a top article on the best diet for German Shepherds if you are looking for more information on the various types of diet for your dog, nutrition, and exactly what he can and can’t eat.

Sure, it costs more, but it will help your German Shepherd in many ways, not only by reducing his daily shedding but for maintaining a long and healthy life.

By selecting a dry food that better targets the nutrients needed by your German Shepherd to maintain a nice and thick coat, you can greatly reduce the amount of year-round shedding.

4. Maintain Regular Brushing

Just like most dogs, your German Shepherd will shed all year round. You can’t stop it entirely, but brushing and de-shedding your dog regularly will keep his hair from always finding its way onto your furniture and flooring.

German Shepherd after being groomed showing a pile of fur
“Ohh, that feels so much better!”

It doesn’t take all that much effort to brush him daily either! There are many good everyday brushes that you can get for your German Shepherd’s outer coat that will remove loose hair and debris and keep him looking nice and tidy, but I recommend a slicker brush.

I like the Hertzko Self Cleaning Slicker Brush (from Amazon) as it’s also great for removing tangled hair and mats. It’s easy to use and clean as it has a button that you just click, which removes all the fur from the brush.

All you need to do is a few quick run-throughs of your German Shepherd’s entire coat, and the amount that he sheds will be extremely reduced compared to if you only brushed him weekly.

5. Allow Your GSD More Access to Fresh Water

You might not even realize it, but allowing your German Shepherd to drink more water daily can greatly reduce the amount of shedding! That’s because dogs tend to shed a little bit more when they’re dehydrated. 

By giving your German Shepherd about one ounce of water for every pound of body weight, you can improve all areas of his health and limit the amount of hair that ends up all over your house.

If you’re having trouble keeping up with your dog’s water regimen, I recommend using an automatic dog water dispenser. This device allows you to fill up a big tub of water all at once, so you won’t have to keep remembering to add more water to the bowl throughout the day.

I’ve never had to use one of these; however, I’ve heard good things about them, and I think they can really do the trick. If I were choosing one from Amazon, I like the look of the Petsafe Drinkwell as it’s ideal for German Shepherds with its two-tiered design.

Tip! You can give your German Shepherd ice-cubes in the summer to keep him hydrated. You can also try frozen fruits such as raspberries or strawberries as an alternative healthy treat to help quench his thirst.

6. Stay Up-to-Date on Flea and Tick Treatment

Flea treatments themselves will not stop your German Shepherd from shedding, but they will stop your dog from scratching and gnawing at himself excessively if he happens to get a tick or fleas on him.

The more your dog relentlessly scratches to free himself from the discomfort of fleas and ticks, the more hair your dog pulls out in the process. No ticks and fleas mean less scratching and less shedding.

Remember to stay up-to-date with your German Shepherd’s flea treatment which for my dog is every three months, along with her deworming medication.

7. Include Omega Fatty Acids in Your GSD’s Diet

I already mentioned ways you can change your German Shepherd’s diet to reduce his shedding. Still, you can also add Omega fatty acids to your daily routine to reduce the amount of shedding that occurs year-round.

You can do this by selecting specific foods with Omega 3 fatty acids. Still, you can also achieve it by providing your German Shepherd with a daily supplement that includes these nutrients. Take a look at Zesty Paws Omega Bites from Amazon. They come in bacon and chicken flavor and get thousands of positive reviews. Always consult your vet first before giving supplements.

My German Shepherd’s cold-pressed dog food already contains fish oils and vegetable oil (rapeseed) which keeps her skin and coat in tip-top condition, so I don’t need to worry about this. You can find out what I feed her here.

If your dog food choice doesn’t contain sufficient oils, you can try adding a little olive oil to his food. Olive oil contains omega-3 fatty acids that help to improve the skin and coat. Check with your vet on how much to give your dog.

Tip! I also often add a little tinned tuna or mackerel in oil to my German Shepherd’s food – and she won’t be far away whenever we have salmon for dinner!

Including Omega fatty acids in your dog’s diet will mean much less shedding in the long-term, and your German Shepherd will be healthier at the same time!

Final Thoughts

You and I love our German Shepherds, and you know that his immense amount of shedding just comes with the territory. While you can’t entirely avoid shedding altogether, there are quite a few ways that you can reduce his shedding. Here’s a recap on how to do this:

  • Get a de-shedding tool for dogs with double coats and try to brush every single day.
  • Bathe your German Shepherd 3-4 times a year to get rid of any excess hair.
  • Change your dog’s food to one that focuses on a healthy coat and skin (omega fatty acids) and provide him access to plenty of fresh water.
  • Stay up-to-date on flea and tick treatments.

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