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, feed a nutritious diet that targets a healthy coat and skin, and ensure your dog is always hydrated. Control parasites by keeping flea prevention treatment up to date and bathe 3-4 times a year.
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.
So, let’s dive into the topic of German Shepherd shedding and learn how to reduce it.
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- Do German Shepherds Shed a Lot?
- How to Reduce German Shepherd Shedding
- 1. Get a Tool Designed for German Shepherds
- 2. Groom and Bathe Your German Shepherd 3-4 Times a Year
- 3. Switch to Food That Targets The Skin and Coat
- 4. Maintain Regular Brushing
- 5. Allow Your GSD More Access to Fresh Water
- 6. Stay Up-to-Date on Flea and Tick Treatment
- 7. Include Omega Fatty Acids in Your GSD's Diet
- Final Thoughts
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, the weather, or 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 they are double-coated. 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 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.
It’s also why German Shepherds are good outside and working dogs, as they can tolerate many different weather conditions.
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Let’s now look at German Shepherds’ molting habits 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 coat switches so it can adapt to the new conditions. This shedding is natural as your dog responds to changing 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 pretty intense during this time while 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 while, and it may look a little shabby, but it will grow back quickly and look even better.
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 his vast hair, you’ll understand why he seems to shed all the time.
How to Reduce German Shepherd Shedding
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 it’s best to target your German Shepherd’s 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 through your German Shepherd’s fur and be able to latch onto any hair that might just be sitting there. They are ideal when your dog is “blowing his coat.”
I use the FURminator undercoat de-shedding tool from Amazon. It really does an excellent 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 also 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.
Learn my THREE favorite grooming tools for German Shepherds. (With photos of Willow)
2. Groom and Bathe Your German Shepherd 3-4 Times a Year
I already mentioned 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 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 causes further shedding. You can read more here, 5 Defining Moments When to Bathe a German Shepherd.
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 (from Amazon), that help reduce shedding. 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 massive role in his shedding habits?
Cheap dog food is primarily 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 suffering. 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 by reducing his daily shedding and maintaining a long and healthy life.
By selecting a dry food that better targets the nutrients your German Shepherd needs to maintain a thick and healthy coat, you can significantly reduce the amount of year-round shedding.
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4. Maintain Regular Brushing
Just like most dogs, your German Shepherd will shed all year round. You can’t stop it entirely, but regular brushing and de-shedding of your dog will keep his hair from always finding its way onto your furniture and flooring.
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 click, to remove 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 you will significantly reduce the amount he sheds compared to if you only brush him weekly. This little pile of fur came off Willow in just a couple of minutes of brushing.
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 significantly control shedding. That’s because dogs tend to shed a little bit more when dehydrating.
Giving your German Shepherd about one ounce of water for every pound of body weight 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 large design and adjustable water flow.
Pro 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 prevent your dog from scratching and gnawing at himself excessively if he gets 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.
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 six months! There’s enough fur to make a woolly sweater!
7. Include Omega Fatty Acids in Your GSD’s Diet
I already mentioned ways to 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, as they 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.
If your dog’s 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 improve the skin and coat. Check with your vet on how much to give your dog.
Pro 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.
Can Changing My German Shepherd’s Diet Help Reduce Shedding?
Yes, a healthy diet that is high in protein and includes omega-3 fatty acids can help improve the health of your dog’s skin and coat, which can, in turn, reduce shedding.
Whenever you feel that your German Shepherd is shedding too much, it’s a reminder about restructuring the diet. It does help significantly. As a preventive measure, you can also provide supplements prior.
How Can Exercise Help Reduce Shedding In My German Shepherd?
Regular exercise can help reduce stress and anxiety in dogs, which can reduce shedding. Exercise also promotes healthy skin and coat, which can help reduce shedding. However, don’t walk your dog when it’s too hot or too cold outside. It can have the wrong outcome.
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 eliminate 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.