How to Deal with German Shepherd Shedding? (Other Than Vacuuming)
German Shepherds are also known as the “German Shedders” – they don’t earn this name for no reason. It is because they shed 365 days a year – as a way to adapt to the seasonal change around them, at the same time refreshing their coat to guard against flea and ticks.
In this article, we will first understand why GSDs shed the way they do. Then we will go through some tips on how to minimize shedding with proper feeding and grooming. Whether you are a current GSD owner or an owner-to-be, I hope by sharing these tips with you will let take the shedding more easily and accept that it is actually the way of life for you and your GSDs.
Why do German Shepherds shed (soooo much)?
All dogs shed. Some breeds shed more than others. German Shepherds are known to shed heavily. But why?
We have to understand German Shepherds are double-coated. In other words, they have two layers of coats for different purposes:
- The outer coat: This is the top layer that you see and feel for the most part. The hairs are thinker here than the inner coat. This is a protective layer that traps dirt or fleas and serves to protect their skin from any tick or flea. The outer coat sheds daily. Depending on the age, weight, size, lifestyle, or diet, the outer coat can shed more or less.
- This inner coat: This is the inner layer of soft fur in medium length, designed to keep your German Shepherd warm and water-resistant. The inner coat sheds twice a year, usually towards the end of winter and fall.
Watch this video to see how much a GSD shed:
You may have probably heard of the term “blowing” when it comes to German Shepherd shedding. This means, for twice a year, a German Shepherd will “blow” his inner coat all at once – to prepare for a seasonal change.
This usually happens over the course of a couple of days or a week.
Together, these two layers of coats work hand-in-hand to protect the German Shepherd from nearly anything weather or environmental conditions.
Shedding is a natural and constant process that replenishes fresh and new coats to keep your German Shepherd healthy.
Reasons for excessive shedding
While a certain amount of shedding is natural, there are other factors such as poor diet, dehydration, stress, or skin allergies, that can make the shedding even worse.
Excessive shedding in German Shepherds can be a signal of potential health issues such as:
- Poor diet with cheap dog food
- Lack of exercise
- Skin allergies, e.g fleas or fungal or bacterial infections
- Hormone or immunity disorder
- Stress under new environment
How do I know if my German Shepherd is shedding too much?
So how much is too much? Here are some things to watch for:
- Skin that is inflamed and red
- Skin that is flaky and dry
- Any wounds on your dog’s skin
- Discharge coming from the skin
- Missing patches of fur
- Excessive shaking and scratching
(Source: VETGEN Pharmaceutical)
If you notice any of these symptoms or suspect that your dog may have an underlying condition, consult a veterinarian for a full check-up.
How to reduce shedding in German Shepherds?
While you cannot stop your German Shepherd from shedding, there are several ways you can do to reduce it, including proper feeding and grooming.
Let’s take go through some tips:
Reducing German Shepherd shedding through feeding
1. Feed your German Shepherd with a meat-based dog food
One of the most effective ways of reducing shedding is to feed your German Shepherd with high-quality dog food.
Cheap dog food is largely made of ingredients such as corn and grain that is difficult for any dog to digest.
Look for dog food that has meat as the main ingredient. Sure, it costs more, but it is beneficial to your German Shepherd in lots of different ways.
Dog food with meat as its main ingredient is easier to digest and absorb.
Not only will it help to maintain a healthy coat and reduce shedding, it is also good for the overall health of your German Shepherd.
2. Add olive oil or flaxseed oil to your German Shepherd’s food
Start out by giving 1 tsp. (5 ml) per 10 pounds (4.5 kg.) of body weight. Olive oils contain Omega-3 fatty acids that help calm inflamed skin, decrease dandruff, and improve overall coat texture.
Other ways to increase your German Shepherd’s Omega-3 intake:
- Adding Omega-3-rich fish in the diet: Tuna or salmon are rich in Omega-3
- Using Omega-3 dietary supplements: They can come in different shapes and sizes (e.g. powder form or capsules). Ask your vet to figure out the best choice for your German Shepherd.
3. “Treat” your dog with “human food” occasionally
Bananas, cucumbers, sliced apples (without seeds), and lean meats like chicken breast are all moisture-rich foods that help your German Shepherd keep hydrated.
If that wasn’t good enough, they also contain lots of healthy nutrients that help your German Shepherds coat stay shiny and smooth and reduce shedding.
However, only 5-10% of your German Shepherd’s daily food intake should be treats of any kind – the rest should be the before-mentioned meat-rich dog food.
4. Supply clean and fresh drinking water at all times
Dehydration can lead to dry skin, which can cause shedding and (worse) illness. Make sure your German Shepherd has access to fresh and clean water at all times.
If your German Shepherd is not drinking enough by himself, you can always choose to incorporate moist foods into its diet.
Wet dog food contains up to 78% moisture – compared to 10% for dry food. Another way to do this is to add warm water or chicken broth into kibbles.
Reducing German Shepherd shedding through
1. Every day is a “brushing” day
Brush your German Shepherd for at least 5-10 minutes daily if possible.
Grooming your German Shepherd’s coat removes excess fur and redistributes your German Shepherd’s skin oils into its fur. This can prevent excessive shedding by moisturizing their hair and skin.
This can be achieved easily by using a Furminator (or similar de-shedding tool) that can reach the undercoat to remove loose hair easily.
Check out this video to see the real result for yourself:
Instead of letting the hair find its way around your house, this will directly minimize the amount of furball you have to pick up everywhere.
Check out more suggestions from existing GSD owners in our: Shopping List for Shedding Dogs.
Brushing your dog could also be a way to bond with him. The touching, petting and cuddling involved can be the best way to show your love and care to your pet pal. Every owner should enjoy doing it.
2. Use moisturing shampoo
It’s nothing new that some shampoo includes ingredients in their formulas to help moisturize the skin – which means less shedding.
As a typical adult German Shepherd only needs a bath three or four times a year, a bottle of shampoo can last for years to come.
Invest in a powerful vacuum
Vacuums, however, cannot reduce your German Shepherd from shedding, but can surely make your life easier in removing the furball around the house.
Trust me, no one on earth can survive the non-stop shedding at home without a powerful vacuum.
Heck yes! It is all too common for GSD owners to own multiple vacuums.
Look for a vacuum that can pick up lots of large clumps of hair without getting clogged. Sometimes it can be a challenging task.
Don’t worry, you are not alone.
We have actually asked current GSD owners for their suggestions: Roomba is one the most common vacuum they are using. Check out more suggestions from existing GSD owners in our: Shopping List for Shedding Dogs.
The bottom line: shedding is a way of life
At the end of the day, German Shepherds shed for their entire life no matter what you try to do about it. As a German Shepherd owner, you can only do your best to minimize it, but there’s no stopping it. Hopefully, this article has provided you with a handful of tips for that matter.
If you have any other suggestions, feel free to share them with us in the comment below.