Do German Shepherds shed? How to Reduce Shedding? (Handy tips Inside!)

Every breed has its own unique characteristics. One of these traits is the frequency of coat shedding. If you are planning to buy a German Shepherd, you may already know that they have a so-called double coat. Shedding may become a nuisance, but it doesn’t have to be.

German Shepherds are shedding dogs by nature – they shed a lot of hair. Both short-haired and long-haired varieties shed hair regularly throughout the year. However, the greatest intensity of shedding occurs twice a year. This is when tufts of dense undercoat begin to fall out in accordance with changes in temperatures and seasons.

Why do German Shepherds shed?

Shedding is a natural phenomenon. Dogs replace their coat this way mainly to adapt to the current season and temperatures. Dogs can also lose their hair for other reasons, such as disease.

More than a handful of fur!

Natural hair shedding

In order to fully understand the best methods to control and reduce a shepherd’s tendency to shed excessively, it is first necessary to understand why this happens.

German Shepherds shed their hair when it goes through its normal growth cycle – the result is the loss of old or damaged hair. This happens naturally throughout the year. Fur is an important part of German Shepherd health, as it protects the skin, regulates body temperature and aids in sensory perception.

To better understand why German Shepherds shed their fur, we need to look at the type of fur.

German Shepherds are covered with a double layer of fur. Near the skin, they have a thick, soft, „woolly” undercoat that protects them from cold and heat and helps regulate temperature.

The coat is dense, coarse, slightly wavy or straight, and is designed to protect the dog’s skin and make it resistant to water, dirt and other external factors.

Unnatural shedding

Not all shedding is normal. Some patterns of hair shedding suggest health problems that in most cases should be addressed by a veterinarian.

If you’ve been paying attention to your German Shepherd’s coat and have a good understanding of his usual shedding pattern, you’ll know when something is wrong. Dog specialists can distinguish between coat shedding, which is the natural cycle of hair development, and coat loss caused by health, nutritional or environmental factors.

These symptoms may indicate

unhealthy shedding:

  • Dry or brittle coat
  • Skin allergies and irritation
  • Open sores, blisters and bald patches
  • Reluctance to be stroked

Factors causing abnormal hair loss in German Shepherds:

  • Improper diet. A healthy, balanced diet provides the German Shepherd with a steady supply of essential nutrients. A German Shepherd’s hair needs nutrients to stay in its follicles. A poor diet that lacks nutrients will cause hair loss.
  • Dehydration. When your dog loses more water than it takes in, it impedes healthy blood flow and oxygen delivery to tissues and organs, including the skin. The resulting loss of skin elasticity makes the coat fall out more easily. A cool solution may be to buy a small dog fountain. It encourages your dog to drink water more often. There are even some that contain carbon filters that remove unpleasant tastes and odours from the water.
  • Parasites, ticks, lice and fleas. All of these insects cause itchy skin, which leads to excessive biting or scratching. The fur breaks due to this, and the bitten skin can be prone to infection.
  • Cushing’s disease. In short, it causes excessive production of the stress hormone cortisol. This one, in turn, contributes to hair loss in dogs.
  • Hypothyroidism. Some of the symptoms include increased shedding, hair loss and thinning. However, this is not a common condition in dogs. And German Shepherds, fortunately, are not among the most susceptible breeds to this condition.
  • Insufficiently developed hair follicles. This can be something congenital, although not necessarily hereditary. This causes the hair follicles to not develop as they should, resulting in alopecia areata or general baldness.
  • Behavioural problems. High levels of stress and anxiety (caused by separation anxiety, for example), can cause a shepherd to bite its coat and skin.
  • Skin injuries. These can include bacterial and fungal infections, food allergies and others.
  • Certain pet medications. Mainly steroids can have a bad effect on the coat.
  • Inflammatory diseases and burns can cause excessive hair loss.
  • Pregnancy, lactation or convalescence can cause temporary loss of fur.
A German Shepherd chilling on a couch

When and How Many Times a Year does a German Shepherd shed?

German Shepherds shed the most in the fall and spring. In September, October and November, they shed most of their undercoat and replace them with a thicker, warmer winter coat. Then in March, April and May, they shed the old winter undercoat, making room for the lighter summer coat.

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Looking at it in terms of seasonality, shepherds shed due to temperature changes. This is a normal thing. The shepherd sheds most of its thinner, soft, „woolly” undercoat during the autumn months to make room for the warmer winter coat. In this way, it prepares for the upcoming cold winter months.

On the other hand, spring shedding is also the norm among German Shepherds. In spring, they shed most of their thick undercoat so that a lighter and thinner coat can better protect them from the summer heat. An interesting fact is that the outer coat protects against the sun by reflecting its rays.

When does a German Shepherd puppy start shedding?

Puppies start shedding their coat around 4 to 6 months of age when they begin to grow a new adult coat. You’ll notice an increase in shedding for the first few weeks, but you shouldn’t worry about it because it’s a normal part of growing a German Shepherd.

German Shepherd puppy in the sand

How to Reduce Shedding?

To reduce your German Shepherd’s shedding, brush him daily. Use a brush for the undercoat twice a week during high shedding periods. Bathe him no more than 3-4 times a year, provide him with a healthy diet, keep him hydrated and protect him from parasites.

Brushing is not the only thing that should be taken care of. There are also other factors that affect the abundance of shedding and the overall health of your German Shepherd’s coat.

Take Care of His Diet

One of the main causes of excessive shedding is feeding your dog cheap foods that are not nutritionally balanced. They contain large amounts of grains and corn. And dogs generally digest them poorly.

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Poor food also does not reflect well on the appearance of the skin. In fact, it can contribute to itchy skin.

If you suspect that the food your dog is currently eating is of poor quality and poorly balanced, try a different brand. Be sure to choose one whose first ingredient is real meat.

Another interesting solution is to switch your dog to a diet based on raw food.

You just need to figure out how to feed your dog the right amounts of food to ensure that he gets the vitamins and minerals he needs for his health. A healthy diet not only reduces shedding but also helps with dry skin and improves the immune system.

This is probably the most effective way to reduce shedding in a German Shepherd. However, don’t make drastic changes overnight. Change your dog’s diet but do it gradually.

Changing your dog’s diet too quickly can lead to an upset stomach and other problems.

Puppy eating blueberries and strawberries

Enrich your dog’s diet with fats

There are several fats that you can supplement that will help improve your dog’s coat. These can include flaxseed, cod liver oil or olive oil. They are great for improving coat texture and treating skin inflammation.

Another option is supplementation, as generally, the best dog supplements for dry skin contain one of the fats mentioned above.

Fats are effective because they contain omega-3 fatty acids. To make sure your dog gets enough omega-3 fatty acids, feed him salmon, tuna and other types of fish.

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Provide your dog with plenty of water every day

Dehydration is as bad for a dog as it is for a human. And dry skin is a clear sign that your dog is not drinking enough water.

Dry skin leads to increased shedding and can eventually lead to disease.

The best way to make sure your dog gets enough water is to make sure his bowl is always full. In addition, you can also feed him foods that contain large amounts of water – such as watermelon.

Well, GSDs don’t need THIS MUCH water but make sure he/she has access to fresh water around-the-clock.

Comb Your Shepherd Regularly

Your German Shepherd should be brushed regularly. Regular combing will help eliminate excess hair, and regular bathing will wash away hair that has already fallen out but is still woven into the fur.

However, keep in mind that your dog only needs 3 to 4 baths a year with a moisturizing dog shampoo.

Is it okay to shave a German Shepherd?

NEVER SHAVE A GERMAN SHEPHERD. This is definitely a very unwise idea because the German Shepherd’s coat protects it from frost and heat. After shaving, the coat grows back at a very slow rate. It may grow back thinner, shorter and lighter. Shaving a shepherd exposes it to sunlight (burns), parasites and insect bites.

In addition, shaving a shepherd at all does not mean that it will not shed. The fact is that a dog’s coat is always shedding. A shepherd will shed as much as ever only that in this case, it will be shorter hairs. And these are definitely easier to get into clothes, furniture plating or even carpet.

I had the opportunity to find out when I had a short-haired dog. The hair was getting into literally everything. And now owning a German Shepherd, I have to admit that it is not as bad as it was with the previous short-haired dog.