Dog Health

Do German Shepherds Shed? – An Owner’s Guide to GSD Shedding

Written by Richard Jeng

German Shepherds reign as one of the most popular dog breeds. They’re smart, athletic and loyal – but it’s not all good. Something a lot of owners don’t know ahead of time is how bad the German Shepherds’ shedding actually is.

So, do German Shepherds shed? Not only do German Shepherds come with thick double coats, but they shed almost continuously. So be prepared to spend a fair amount of time brushing and maintaining a GSD’s coat. Also, don’t be surprised if you find layers of German Shepherd fur across your entire home.

But this constant shedding doesn’t have to be a pain. And if your German Shepherd is shedding too much, it could even be a sign of health problems. That’s why we put together this guide on German Shepherds and how they shed.

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Understanding the German Shepherd Coat

As their name implies, the German Shepherd is a shepherding dog from Germany. Herding sheep and cattle was no small task, especially during cold winter months. And yes, they had to stay out in the blistering cold!

So German Shepherds developed a thick double coat that continually shed. This constant shedding of thick fur came with some advantages though.

By constantly shedding, they were less prone to fur matting or getting objects trapped in their coat. And the thick fur obviously was quite the literal life-saver during sub-freezing winter temperatures. Herding would be near-impossible without it!

German Shepherd are legendary for shedding. Get used to grooming. Even then when coats are blown out, you will still have hair in and on everything in the house. 

– Tapal2017 (GermanShepherds.com)

A double coat also provides a second layer of protection. While running through the fields, a lot of debris could potentially strike the dog. While the inner coat keeps the German Shepherd warm, their outer coat protects their skin!

Now, most shepherd dog breeds shed significantly. But German Shepherds take it the extra mile. So potential and current owners, be prepared with a sturdy brush for your GSD’s coat.

Additionally, a German Shepherd will have excessive shedding during spring and fall. This is called blowing their coat. This means they rapidly lose their undercoat twice a year. It would truly be an understatement to say that things get hairy during this time. 

How Much Do German Shepherds Shed?

There will be some variation to how much each German Shepherd sheds. But the important thing is to learn how much is normal for your individual dog. Of course, not all dogs will shed the same, even within the same breed.

We advise all GSD owners to make a mental note of how much their dog sheds while healthy. This will help you spot any irregularities and address them quickly.

Of course, the time of year when they blow coat will be different. However, this typically only lasts about 10 days. So if it goes on for longer, something might be up. And if excessive shedding persists, contact your local vet.

What It Means if Your German Shepherd Is Shedding Too Much?

A healthy German Shepherd should shed at a more regular rate. Sure, they will cover your home in fur anytime they are indoors, but it will be a predictable amount. And after a few rounds, you should be well aware of coat blowing season.

But what if they suddenly start shedding more quickly? And what if this shedding occurs at a time when it shouldn’t be? Unfortunately, this is rarely a good sign.

Typically, sudden increases in shedding can point to health problems. These can include:

  • Increases in stress levels
  • Allergic reactions
  • A response to pain
  • Changes in hormone levels and their balance
  • Fleas or ticks in their coat
  • Intestinal parasites
  • Or other health problems

There is some good news. Fortunately, most of these are not excessively dangerous. However, this does not mean you should ignore the situation and hope it goes away. They can be treated relatively easily only if you catch them early on.

If you notice any sudden changes in how your German Shepherd is shedding, we recommend taking them to your local vet. No online resource in the world (not even us!) can replace the act of an actual vet examining your dog.

Some solutions may be as simple as a change in diet. While others might involve some medication. Remember, always listen to your vet’s expert advise and you will be on the right track in no time.

Can You Stop Your German Shepherd from Shedding?

In short, no. In fact, shedding is part of a German Shepherd’s natural biology. There are only very few dogs that don’t shed ( see the rare hairless dog breeds here). Not only is it unstoppable, but it’s very important to their overall health.

By continually shedding old hair, they maintain a healthier coat that protects the skin underneath it. In other words, the old hair is constantly being replenished by newer hairs – just like with us humans!

Perhaps one day, there may be a genetically altered German Shepherd that does not need to shed. I know owners would rejoice at this. But that day is far in the future, if ever.

For now, shedding plays an important part in your German Shepherd’s health. Thanks to shedding they can:

  • Better sense their environment
  • Give their skin better protection from illness and injury
  • Better regular their body temperature

Can You Reduce Your German Shepherd’s Shedding?

Here’s some bad news. There’s nothing you can do to specifically reduce how much your German Shepherd sheds either. Aside from keeping them healthy, as a healthy GSD will shed less than one experiencing health concerns. 

But if you’re sensitive to dander (dog dandruff) and love German Shepherds, there is still some hope. In fact, there are a few effective ways of controlling how much your German Shepherd’s shedding impacts your life. 

There is no way around a German Shepherd shedding, but you can face it head on and reduce its impact by:

  • Keeping up a regular coat maintenance routine (explained in a later section)
  • Purchasing a quality vacuum and regularly using it
  • Keeping some locations in your home off-limits to your GSD
  • Restrict play time to outdoors (jumping or running in the house is a great way to spread fur everywhere)
  • Keep your environment hygienic (environmental factors can increase shedding)

Try implementing these and you can reduce the dominion that your German Shepherd’s fur will have over your life and lungs. You don’t have to do everything at once, but you can slowly introduce these habits into you and your dog’s life.

Can You Shave Your German Shepherd’s Coat?

That’s a big NO! No matter how annoying a German Shepherd’s shedding can be, you should not be shaving their coats! In fact, we strongly advise against shaving any dog that has a double coat.

It might seem like an easy way to get around spending time caring for your dog’s coat. But, it is quite the opposite.

Shaving a dog with a double coat can lead to a range of problems. There’s no guarantee that the coat will grow back the same. Not only do these put your German Shepherd at risk, but they will defeat the purpose of shaving your dog in the first place.

Contrary to popular belief, shaving a German Shepherd does not make him cooler. The coat of a GSD protects the dog from environmental elements, such as heat or UV rays. So by shaving a dog with a double coat, you’re exposing him to these elements.

Overall, it is not beneficial to even trim or cut your German Shepherd’s coat at all. Instead, let their fur grow at its natural rate. It’s far more beneficial to simply have a good coat maintenance routine – no matter how troublesome it may be.

Owning a German Shepherd is no easy task. And there are no shortcuts around it. The only thing to do is to embrace the shedding by providing them with the proper fur care. Otherwise, we suggest you pick a hypoallergenic or hairless breed.

German Shepherd Coat Maintenance

You’ve accepted that your German Shepherd will shed like crazy no matter what. Great! But, now what? How do you deal with the insane amount of shedding?

All there is to it is to get started on maintaining that coat. It’s no small task, but it does come with several benefits. Your home will be cleaner, for one. And your German Shepherd will be healthier.

Here’s our guide to keeping your German Shepherd’s coat healthy and under control.

Obtain a Brush & Use It Regularly

Your dog brush is going to be seeing a lot of action, so we advise investing in a high-quality product. And for double-coated dogs, I suggest going with the Furminator.

Plenty of German Shepherd owners swear by this product. Plus, I use this with both my dogs, a Corgi and an Australian Shepherd. Both of which, are double-coated dogs that shed just as much.

Now that you have a dog brush, be prepared to use it at least once a week. Brushing is going to be your main defense against keeping their topcoat healthy. However, you may want to brush them twice a week during coat blowing season.

Also, it helps prevent skin problems from developing while removing potential tangles or matted fur. If you don’t brush your German Shepherd for a long enough time, the matting can become extremely painful for them.

When brushing, follow these four tips to ensure the whole experience goes well every time.

  • Bring Treats: Your German Shepherd will be far more cooperative when rewarded for good behavior during brushing time.
  • Go With the Fur Flow: It is important to brush in the direction their hair grows, and never against it. Otherwise you risk damaging their skin.
  • Gentle Is Key: Rough or unattentive brushing can have the opposite of the intended effect. Instead of bringing benefits, it could damage their topcoat or cause your GSD pain.
  • No Cutting Corners: Always be thorough. We know it can be tempting to leave parts unbrushed, but don’t give in! Your German Shepherd deserves a quality brushing from head to paw.

Make Bathtime Happen

Fortunately, baths do not need to take place as often as brushing. While your GSD needs a solid brush-down once a week, baths are more situational.

For example, was your German Shepherd rolling around in the mud? Might be a good situation for a bath. But even then, a good rinse might be enough to keep their coat clean.

Generally, we recommend giving your German Shepherd a thorough bath only about once every 6-10 weeks. These baths are vital for removing any excessive old fur or dead skin that builds up beneath their coat. 

These full-on baths should include:

  • A mild, gentle deshedding shampoo and conditioner
  • A thorough cleansing of their coat
  • Gently brushing their undercoat (while still damp) with an undercoat rake
  • Wrapping it all up with a gentle towel drying

It’s worth noting that bathing your German Shepherd too frequently can be bad for their fur. Excessive bathing will actually strip away the natural oils in the dog’s coat, which protects their skin and fur.

You will need to give the coat some time to replenish these oils after a bath. That being said, it’s most likely not a great idea giving your German Shepherd a bath every week.

Healthy Diet

Keeping your dog’s coat healthy won’t come about only from brushing and bathing. Their diet plays a major part in coat maintenance.

There are several vitamins and minerals which your German Shepherd needs to keep both their skin and coat healthy. Vitamin A will be especially important for skin and coat health.

Without these you might start seeing excessive shedding, or even skin problems. So always check the ingredients and nutrients of your German Shepherd’s food. 

If it doesn’t have the minimum daily requirements for vitamins and minerals, we recommend switching brands. If you have any questions or need some recommendations tailored for your GSD, we suggest you consult with a licensed vet.

Coat Maintenance: The Essentials

To wrap up, here is a quick list of the four most important things to have to ensure your German Shepherd’s coat stays healthy.

  • High-quality topcoat brush
  • Undercoat rake
  • Gentle shampoo and conditioner
  • High-nutrient (vitamins and minerals) diet
  • Delicious treats to reward good behavior while grooming or bathing

If you have a German Shepherd, how do you deal with their shedding. Please share in the comments below what you do to keep your German Shepherd’s shedding under control while also keeping their coat healthy. 


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About the author

Richard Jeng

Richard has been raising dogs his whole life, including a Poodle, Pomeranian, Corgi and Australian Shepherd. He's always working with animal shelters and dog rescues because of his passion for all dogs. Fun fact: his all time favorite breed is the German Shepherd. Read More.

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