German shepherds have long been used as police and military dogs, but they’re great companion dogs, too. The German shepherd dog (GSD) is one of the most popular dog breeds out there — according to the American Kennel Club, this breed ranked fourth in the country last year.
It’s no wonder the German shepherd is so beloved. These dogs are active, loyal, friendly pets who make great canine best friends for those who can give them the exercise and attention they need. But for all their great qualities, the German shepherd has one drawback: They’ll leave a lot of dog hair around your home.
Do German shepherds shed? Yes, these dogs are considered moderate to heavy shedders. Keep reading to learn more about why these dogs shed so much, when you can expect the most shedding, and how to care for your German shepherd’s coat.
Why Do German Shepherds Shed So Much?
Every dog sheds to some extent, but some give off a lot more hair than others. German shepherds land on the heavy-shedding side of the spectrum. But why do German shepherds shed so much compared to other dogs?
The answer lies in the type of coat. Most German shepherds have a double coat, and double-coated dogs tend to shed more than single-coated dogs thanks to the seasonal shedding cycle. Here’s why they have a coat with two layers:
- The topcoat or outer coat is made of longer, coarser hair and serves to guard your GSD against the elements.
- The undercoat is softer and fluffier and serves as insulation to keep your dog warm in winter and cooler in summer.
There are short-haired German shepherds (sometimes called medium-length coats) and long-haired German shepherds. The short-haired GSD is more common and has a double-coat. Long-haired German shepherds sometimes lack an undercoat, making them single-coated dogs, but they shed about the same amount of fur as their double-coated counterparts.
Are German Shepherds Hypoallergenic?
Is the German shepherd a good choice for allergy sufferers? No, not in most cases. These dogs are not hypoallergenic because the more hair your dog gives off, the more likely they are to spread their dander and trigger allergies.
But do German shepherds shed so much that they’re completely off-limits for allergy sufferers? No, not necessarily. Plenty of people with dog allergies still own German shepherds. You’ll just need to take some extra steps to keep allergies at bay, like using air purifiers, cleaning regularly, and maintaining your dog’s healthy coat (we’ll learn more about that shortly).
Causes for Excessive Hair Loss
German shepherds shed seasonally. Dogs with double coats, the German shepherd included, shed all year round but especially during specific shedding seasons. It’s how this dog’s coat prepares for the changes in weather.
This is why your German shepherd will likely shed a greater amount of hair in the spring and fall seasons. In the spring, the “coat-blowing” or coat thinning helps prepare for the coming heat. In the fall, the summer coat sheds and a thicker winter coat starts growing to protect against the cold. This is perfectly natural — but it will result in some excess hair on your floors, furniture, and clothing.
Note that there are a few health problems that could cause excessive shedding, no matter the time of year.
- Parasites like fleas, ticks, and mites could result in hair loss.
- A nutritional deficiency could lead to a dull coat and increased dead hair.
- Lastly, allergies to pollen, dust, dirt, mold, or ingredients in your dog’s food can even cause excessive hair loss.
If you suspect one of these health issues in your German shepherd, set up an appointment to see your veterinarian. They will be able to diagnose the problem, prescribe treatment, and give you recommendations for keeping your pet healthy moving forward. (Bonus tip: Try Native Pet’s Allergy Chicken Chews if your dog suffers from allergies — they can help to build a defense against allergies and aid in long-term immune support.)
How to Maintain Your German Shepherd’s Healthy Coat
Any German shepherd owner will find loose hair around your home. There’s really no getting around it. But you can take steps to keep shedding to a minimum — and most of it involves keeping your German shepherd’s coat healthy.
Here’s how to keep your German shepherd’s coat in great shape:
1. Regular Brushing
Brushing is an absolute must for the German shepherd, and it should be done a few times a week. Brushing removes loose and dead hairs while spreading natural oils through the coat. It also prevents matting, which can stretch or pull the skin painfully.
Most professional groomers recommend using a pin brush for your German shepherd’s coat, since a regular brush might not reach all the way through your pup’s coat. This kind of brush can work for GSDs with long and medium-length hair.
Because German shepherds do shed so much, de-shedding tools like Furminator brushes can be very useful. These are specialized grooming tools made to remove excess fur from the coat, and they’re particularly useful during the coat-blowing seasons in spring and fall.
3. Occasional Bathing
Giving your GSD the occasional bath is another good way to remove a lot of excess hair from the coat and keep your dog looking — and smelling — their best. Be sure to use a dog shampoo made from natural ingredients, or an oatmeal shampoo, to protect your dog’s sensitive skin.
If you’re bathing a German shepherd puppy, make sure you’re using a product formulated specifically for puppies. Shampoos made for adult dogs can sometimes be too strong for a puppy’s sensitive skin.
4. Balanced Diet
Do German shepherds shed less when they’re fed well? Absolutely. A balanced diet keeps your dog’s skin healthy, which in turn makes for a well-moisturized coat and minimal shedding. A poor diet lacking in key ingredients, on the other hand, can lead to dry skin and more shedding.
Ask your vet if your dog’s current food is up to par, and upgrade Fido to a healthy diet if necessary. You can also supplement your dog’s diet to give an added boost of nutrition. Look for supplements that contain omega-3 fatty acids, which are great for skin and coat health. Native Pet’s Omega Oil is a great choice.
Do German Shepherds Shed? Yes — Here’s Why
Do German shepherds shed a lot? Yes, both the short- and long-haired German shepherd will shed a moderate to heavy amount. For most German shepherds, the root cause is their double coat, which sheds year-round and even more during seasonal shedding periods in the spring and fall. But even the long-haired German shepherd that has a single coat sheds a lot. Because of this, neither variant of the GSD is hypoallergenic.
It is possible for a few health issues — parasitic infestations, a poor diet, or allergies, for example — to lead to excessive hair loss. See your vet if you think your dog might be shedding more than usual.
Maintain your German shepherd’s coat, and cut down on the amount of loose hair in your home by following a few simple steps. Brush your dog a few times per week, and consider using de-shedding tools to get rid of a lot of that excess hair. Bathe your GSD occasionally with a dog-safe shampoo, and feed them properly to keep their skin and coat healthy.
Want to learn more about your dog’s diet, health, and wellness? Visit the Native Pet blog.
Further Reading on German Shepherds: