The German Shepherd Dog (GSD) is a canine legend; it’s one of the most famous breeds of dogs and is praised for its loyalty, intelligence, and willingness to put itself in harm’s way in defence of anyone it loves. But do you know how to keep your GSD well-groomed and looking his/her best? Some say German Shepherds should be called “German Shedders” because of the sheer amount of coat shedding they undergo all year round (more during seasonal changes).
In this article, you’ll learn how to groom your German shepherd so that excessive shedding becomes a thing of the past and you have the healthiest, happiest dog.
Why is Grooming Important?
The German Shepherd has a double coat. An outer coat of dense, coarse, and flat hair that lies close to the dog’s body, called a guard coat, and an undercoat of thicker and softer fur. These coats serve as protection from harmful UV rays and insulation from cold weather. If not regularly brushed, the fur can become tangled and matted, possibly causing some long-term health issues including parasites, hotspots, bald spots, and irritated skin.
Grooming your German Shepherd
If you have a German Shepherd, you probably understand the pain of finding fur everywhere – including your favourite t-shirt and trousers! Ideally, their coat should be brushed daily with a simple wire slicker brush, but life gets busy, so 2-3 times a week has also proven to be beneficial. This regular grooming will save you the pain of having hair all over your house, clothes, and will keep your dog dirt-free (and looking majestic and luscious as always).
You should carefully use a non-pointy rake to go over sections of your dog’s coat repeatedly to remove any loose hair. Take care to not scratch the dog’s skin while doing this. This is best done in a quiet environment without interference so that your dog doesn’t get spooked.
How often should you bathe your dog?
Believe it or not, German Shepherds don’t need to be bathed very often. They’re naturally odourless dogs. It’s proven that once every 3-5 months is ideal (unless covered in excessive amounts of dirt). Their double coats produce natural oils, and bathing too frequently will only strip away these oils, possibly causing their skin to become dry and irritated.
Bathing your GSD
When it comes to bathing your dog, you want to make sure you have the essentials:
- A large clean area (a bathtub works too).
- A hose (if you’re bathing him/her outside) or a shower attachment.
- Dog shampoo
- A brush to lather up the shampoo.
- A large bath towel (a hairdryer also helps a lot!).
- A soft brush to be used after the bath.
First, start by gently watering down the neck, holding the water close to the coat to make sure it reaches the undercoat, and then drag it along the back, down to the tail. Second, using breed-specific dog shampoo, lather your dog from the top of the head, the chest and legs, the sides, the tail, the tummy, and in between the toes. After thoroughly lathering, use the hose (or the shower attachment), closely against the coat to ensure all the shampoo is removed.
After the bath is done, let your dog shake out the coat to remove any excess water and shampoo and dry him/her off with a towel. And finally, brush the coat with a soft brush while the fur is still damp, so you can easily untangle any knots (a hairdryer is handy here!).
Tip: While you lather your dog up with shampoo, be sure to run your hands through to check for any questionable lumps and bumps.
Shaving Your German Shepherd, good idea?
Naturally, you might think shaving your German Shepherd might help them cool down during the heatwave of summer. Don’t be fooled – it doesn’t help! Unless it’s for a medical reason, shaving your dog will have an inverse effect. Without both coats, your dog will be hotter in the summer and colder in the winter.
Technically, shaving a GSD is removing both the protective layer and the insulating layer. With little to no fur, you’re putting them at risk.
German Shepherd Nail Care
If your dog’s nails are scraping the ground or you can hear them tapping on the floor, it’s definitely time to trim their nails. Short nails not only give a neater appearance to the paw but also allow the dog to stand, walk, and run normally, with no interference.
While you could just go to a vet to get your dog’s nails trimmed, it’s also a good idea to have a quick understanding of the process.
- Find the best nail trimmer for larger dogs, don’t use products made for humans. For example, a Millers Forge Trimmer works great.
- Firmly grasp your dog’s paw and hold one toenail with the hair pulled back so you can easily make the cut 2-3 millimetres from the bottom of the nail. Place your thumb on the pad and your forefinger on the toe above the nail. Push your thumb slightly up while pushing your forefinger toward to extend the mail.
- Trim only the end of the nail straight across. Keep the cut below the natural curve and cut only the end of the nail to avoid cutting the quick.
German Shepherd Ear Care and Dental Care
It’s a good idea to check your dog’s ears at least once a week during grooming. Keep an eye out for blisters and bumps that may signal that things aren’t right. You can use special eardrops from your vet to clear any mites and dissolve excess ear wax. Your dog should then shake the rest out at its pace. It’s important to report anything you find amiss when checking your dog’s ears to the vet, this will ensure that your dog gets the best care possible. Avoid home remedies as much as possible.
Just like humans, dental health has a lot to do with general health for German Shepherds. After all, they don’t have hands or opposable thumbs, so they have to rely on their teeth. Here are some techniques to help keep your dog’s teeth clean and healthy.
- Brush your dog’s teeth – you can use a regular (unused) toothbrush and some dog-approved toothpaste from the pet store. When brushing, pay close attention to the upper back teeth as they collect tartar more easily.
- Feed your dog dry food – dog’s can’t clean their teeth themselves, but textured products, such as dry food, can help clear away tartar and plaque.
- Chew toys – similar to dry food, the texture of chew toys (such as ropes) will help clean away any tartar, while they enjoy chewing away.