The German Shepherd Dog is one that is known for its distinctive look. It is a medium-sized dog with hair that is considered medium in length.
The German Shepherd is also known for copious shedding. So much so that individuals sometimes eschew owning a GSD simply for this fact.
What is the Coat of the German Shepherd Like?
The German Shepherd was developed in an area and during a time when dogs were necessary to help herd flocks of either sheep or cattle.
These dogs were bred in the often harsh northern European climate, and many of them had double coats as a result.
The German Shepherd Dog is one of these such sheepherding dogs. Ironically, although these dogs had an undercoat, the topcoat of fur was often less likely (when compared with other dogs) to pick up burrs, making care easier for the shepherds and farmers.
The German Shepherd’s topcoat is also resistant to dirt and grime. Furthermore, snow, rain, nor mud was able to penetrate the water-resistant undercoat of the German Shepherd Dog. This insulation of sorts gave the GSD a means of protection when working outdoors.
So the German Shepherd has Two Coats – Is this the Reason He Sheds So Much?
Not at all. The German Shepherd simply sheds a lot. It’s a part of his genetic makeup.
What does it Mean that the German Shepherd “Blows” his Coat?
When a dog “blows” his coat, this means that at least twice a year, the dog will undergo a huge shedding during which all his hair will be shed at once.
Now, this does not mean that the dog will be hairless. What that means is that all the “winter” fur will be shed as new “spring and summer” fur replaces the old coat.
Some individuals refer to this as “getting a new coat.” Again, the German Shepherd will not be without fur during this time. However, you will notice much more hair than usual on your furniture or maybe on your clothes.
How Can I Cope with the “Blowing” of the Coat?
First, you should know exactly when to expect Coat Blow. Typically, you will see this happen at the end of winter and just before winter begins. (In other words, spring and late fall are the primary times this will take place.)
Coat Blow actually involves not only shedding the topcoat, but also the undercoat of a dog. Owners with double-coated dogs claim this is the worst part of Coat Blow, as the undercoat often comes out in clumps. In fact, they state that one might fill trash bags with the shed hair!
When you begin to notice clumps of hair coming out of the dog’s coat, then you CAN take some steps to at least minimize the amount of hair that is freely shed.
You can purchase a slicker brush or a dog rake to help remove loose hair from both the top and undercoat of the German Shepherd Dog.
Keep in mind, dogs that are kept primarily indoors may have varying patterns of Coat Blow as the controlled climate of the indoors can lessen the phenomenon. Dogs that have been spayed or neutered also have differences in the typical Coat Blow.
Remember, this won’t completely eliminate the shedding from Coat Blow, it will help you to keep it more manageable.
So I Understand how to Combat Coat Blow, but what about Regular Shedding?
Shedding takes place not only because of the changing seasons and a dog’s need to rid itself of last season’s coat, but also simply a need to rid the dog’s coat of damaged or unnecessary hair.
You should keep in mind that all dogs shed, even though German Shepherds are known for their penchant for shedding.
Even though you cannot totally prevent shedding in the German Shepherd (a breed that is sometimes called “German shedders”), you CAN reduce the amount of shedding so that you can manage it.
Perhaps the best way to combat shedding is to commit to regular brushing. Regular brushing on a daily basis can help to loosen damaged or extra hairs.
Furthermore, you can control exactly where these hairs go – on a brush rather than just simply on your furniture or clothing.
Although some experts say it is just fine to brush three or four times per week, I recommend daily brushing on a hardwood or tiled area where you can sweep up any stray hairs.
Previously, the slicker brush was recommended for combating Coat Blow, and this is true. However, for daily brushing, you can use a combination of a slicker brush, a pin brush, and a finishing comb in order to remove as much loose hair – and the undercoat during Coat Blow – as possible.
If you will begin with a pin or slicker brush every day then finish up with the comb, you will be able to keep the coat clean and healthier looking. An added benefit to this practice is that dirt is greatly removed from the coat, leaving the hair cleaner and shinier.
You’ll also find that dogs that are brushed daily have fewer fleas or other parasites.
Will Bathing my German Shepherd Dog More Frequently Help to Reduce Shedding?
Yes, and no. You should give your dog a “routine” bath in order to combat shedding. Routine means that you give a bath on a regular basis whether that is once a week, once every two weeks, or once a month.
The bath itself may help to remove some of the loosened hair, but it will not remove all of it, nor is it a cure-all for shedding. However, it will help to prevent hair from just randomly falling anywhere and everywhere in your home.
It is of the utmost importance that you use a shampoo that is specially made for dogs, and that the shampoo is all-natural.
Look for a shampoo that is a dull yellow color, appears almost watery in consistency, and does not possess a very strong fragrance. Anything different from these criteria is likely to contain added chemicals that can harm your dog’s skin.