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The best way to deshed a German Shepherd and reduce shedding won’t take you all day or break your bank account.
It’s a simple step-by-step process that you can easily follow to decrease loose fur and improve your dog’s coat.
And you know the best part?
It’ll help make cleaning your home easier and less stressful, all while increasing the relationship with your dog!
How awesome is that?
So let’s get started right away.
Deshedding a German Shepherd
Reducing shedding in a German Shepherd is an all-year task. German Shepherds are notorious for not only being a high shedding breed but for having thick coats with fur that sticks to clothing and weaves itself into furniture and carpets.
As if that’s not enough, they have a double coat with an undercoat of a very woolly texture and guard fur on top to protect their skin. Twice a year your adult Shepherd will lose his coat.
So, that means that German Shepherds’ coats:
are thick, double-coated with a soft underlayer and wiry outer coat
shed all year round
renew themselves naturally and prolifically during the spring and fall
At this stage, your dog will need more attention to grooming and de-shedding, as the undercoat will loosen and need to be groomed out to avoid excessive hair fall in the house.
You’re in a never-ending battle with your dog’s shedding!
I know the feeling of frustration at how much cleaning you’re overwhelmed with on top of your daily life!
That’s why it’s important to take the time to learn the best way to deshed a German Shepherd and to stick with the program.
It’ll make living with your German Shepherd more enjoyable and easier for you.
The Best Way to Deshed a German Shepherd
You don’t need an expensive groomer to get a show-quality deshedding treatment for your German Shepherd.
In fact, you can deshed your dog using affordable tools that are easy to use, all while avoiding the hassle of loading your dog into your car to get the groomers.
Here’s the deshedding cheat sheet you’ll want to follow for the best results — with important details you need to follow below for the best results!
While the deshedding process itself takes a bit of work, the amount of fur your German Shepherd loses will quickly decrease afterward.
How to Deshed a German Shepherd
Remove all tangles and clumps of fur.
Wash and apply moisturizing and deshedding shampoo.
Rake and remove dead fur.
Massage in conditioner to strengthen the fur.
Cleanse with a double-rinse.
Wipe down to dry with a microfiber towel.
Your cheat sheet to deshedding a German Shepherd in 6 easy-to-follow steps.
Step 1: Remove all tangles and clumps of fur.
Some owners make the mistake of immediately plopping their dogs into the tub for a good wash. But, this isn’t the right step to follow first.
Instead, you’ll get better fur removal when you use a rounded-tip undercoat rake brushon their dry first. This is essential to remove any clumps, twigs, dirt, or tangles before the bath.
Spend about 10 minutes ensuring the brush reaches through the thicker fur around the neck, hindquarters, and bushy tail (which tends to attract sticks, seeds, and twigs).
Use light pressure and shorter strokes about 6 inches in length so you don’t accidentally tug the skin when removing debris or clumps of fur. If you come across any clumps or deeply embedded tangles the rake brush isn’t the tool to remove them.
For tangles, you’ll want to use a safe dematting rake, which gently pulls out the embedded fur and releases the entwined hair more easily. The dematting rake makes detangling any fur clumps a breeze because the steel teeth glide through mats while the rounded edges serve to protect your dog’s sensitive skin.
When using a de-matting rake apply only gentle pressure and very short strokes of only 2 to 4 inches long to get rid of the tangles.
Step 2: Soak their coats and apply a moisturizing and shed control shampoo.
Wash out the damaged fur to keep their fur in the best condition by bathing them. Most German Shepherds don’t need frequent baths, but when you want a deep deshed treatment it’s essential to include a cleansing bath.
If you consider your dog a heavy shedder, then Patty Khuly VMD suggests more frequent baths. Start with a monthly deshedding and deep cleansing bath if you’re at your wit’s end with the fur flying.
While bathing, ensure you’re thoroughly applying a hydrating moisturizing shampoo to lock the natural moisture. I prefer Tropiclean Deshedding Dog shampoo since it’s soap-free and doesn’t dry out my German Shepherd’s coat like other de-shedding shampoos.
Let the shampoo sit on your dog’s skin for at least 5 minutes while you use your fingertips to loosen the dirt and hair. The German Shepherd’s coat is naturally water repellent which makes it harder to reach their skin. Massaging will help the shampoo break the surface tension of water and get down into their fur to break up dirt.
Consider that bathing is what gets bigger clumps of undercoat off your German Shepherd better than most anything else, though you will need to also make sure you place a hair catch screen over your pipes to avoid any expensive clogging of the pipes.
Deshedding tip: If your German Shepherd is blowing their coat it’s best to wait until they’re nearly done. Waiting until they’ve finished or almost finished casting their fur means that you’ll have an easier time bathing them and removing more of the loose fur.
After the shampoo sits and has a chance to penetrate the fur with the help of your massage you’ll want to begin to use your rake brush again in short strokes on the sudsy, wet coat.
I promise this removes the excessive shedding fur and when done correctly and on schedule, will give you noticeable improvements in the amount of hair your dog loses.
But one thing’s for sure…
This will take the longest portion of your time to go through your dog’s thick undercoat.
And, you won’t believe your eyes when you see the lump of fur you start to collect in the corner of the tub!
It’s best to use a rounded-tip undercoat rake, like this, because it avoids scratching your dog’s skin and pulling the skin. Plus, it’s made with a non-slip handle so will make your wet-brushing easier to perform safely.
Use shorter strokes and begin softly removing the dead wet fur. Do NOT glide the brush the whole way across your German Shepherd, as this can pull too much fur at once and is uncomfortable to them. Aim for a stroke length of about 4 to 6 inches long.
As you brush them in the tub, always brush in the direction the fur grows…
NOT against the fur growth pattern since this will pull the hair instead of only gently removing it.
And don’t forget that German Shepherd fur is thick and there’s lots of it, so it’s likely to clog your drain pipes. Opt for a plastic drain cover that catches loose hair so you can easily remove it before it messes up your plumbing.
Step 5: Massage in conditioner to seal in moisture and prevent fur breakage and loss.
After your long session of fur removal with the shampoo, it’s necessary to rinse all the suds off entirely. This could take a bit of work on a German Shepherd with all the fur you’ve just pulled out and the suds covering your dog.
Remember that no bath is complete without sealing the fur to prevent breakage. Adding a conditioner to your dog’s bathing routine is also essential to provide back sleekness to the hair shaft which will prevent moisture loss and keep flyaway fur at bay.
This conditioner also includes odor-controlling ingredients so that your German Shepherd doesn’t linger around your house making it smell like a wet dog.
While your conditioner takes a few minutes to work, use a wide-tooth comb to finish off your de-shedding treatment. Because you’re using the comb wet, it’s best to use a stainless steel comb with wide teeth. I prefer stainless steel since plastic combs don’t glide as smoothly for German Shepherd fur and are likely to break.
Stick to combs with larger gaps between their tines or teeth so that you don’t tear your German Shepherd’s hair. The wider tooth comb is better on the more coarse coat of your breed and will allow you to brush your dog in harder-to-reach places, like around the face, legs, and feet.
Shampoo or conditioner left on the coat and skin attracts dirt, can cause tangles, and will irritate your German Shepherd’s skin. It’s especially tough to ensure you’ve rinsed all the shampoo and conditioner off German Shepherds because their fur is so thick.
You can tell you’ve rinsed well when:
there are no suds left
the coat feels smooth, not slick
you run your fingers through the fur and don’t see any residue
This is such an important step that some owners rush through!
But, you’ll make your German Shepherd’s shedding worse if you don’t take the time to ensure there are no suds left. If you leave any cleansing products your dog is likely to scratch and itch their skin, adding to the shedding problem.
Time: 5 – 10 minutes
Tools: Clean, tepid water
Step 7: Wipe and towel dry thoroughly with microfiber.
Water left too long on a German Shepherd’s sensitive skin is a haven for bacteria and yeast build-up. It’s important to dry your dog off thoroughly, preferably with a microfiber towel to absorb as much water as possible.
Microfiber towels will also leave the hair smoother and are gentler on the hair cuticle, so there’s less breakage and frizz than regular towels.
Don’t let your dog outside until they’re dry and place them in a room without cold air drafts. A floor without carpet is better since a wet dog on carpet can cause smelly issues later. Place down a few old, clean towels on an easy-to-clean floor in your home and let your dog rest and dry.
To help them dry, use the undercoat rake brush again and smoothly brush the hair in the direction of growth while taking a microfiber towel and running it along their body.
You can use a professional-style hair dryer if you have one but stay away from personal hairdryers because these could burn your dog if you’re not careful. Plus, it’ll take too long to dry your German Shepherd and might dry their skin out in the process.
Stick to microfiber towels and use the undercoat rake instead, as it’s a gentler process and a great time to check your dog over for any lumps, bumps, scratches, or other issues to keep an eye on.
Time: 10 – 15 minutes with a microfiber towel (but much longer for them to fully dry)
O.K., so now that your dog is dry there’s one last step if you want to give your dog a more professional look.
Use the wide-tooth comb to reach into all the smaller areas that the wider undercoat rake might miss, especially around the ears, under the chin, on the legs, and the chest area. This will give your dog’s coat a smoother look.
I can’t guarantee how long your dog will stay clean, but take a picture so you’ll know you weren’t dreaming!
Your German Shepherd is now deshed, deodorized, and definitely looking his best. 💗
Essential German Shepherd Deshedding Tools
Removing clumps and tangles.
Gently loosening and removing the dense undercoat.
Moisturizing Deshedding Shampoo
Adding essential moisture to the skin to reduce fur loss while deep cleaning dead hair from the coat.
Moisturizing Deshedding Conditioner
Smoothes the fur to increase shine and resiliency to breakage so there’s less fur fall.
Stainless Steel Comb
Ensures a smooth brush out and an essential grooming tool to reach into smaller areas, such as under the legs and around the sensitive face.
Absorbs lots of water while keeping the hair smooth.
These German Shepherd deshedding tools are your essential basics to reduce hair fall.
How often can you deshed a German Shepherd?
You can deshed a German Shepherd monthly if you follow a gentle process. Perform this de-shedding treatment about every four weeks without harsh soaps or grooming tools. See how your dog’s skin reacts as some German Shepherds are more prone to itching and scratching.
The moisturizing products help to decrease irritation and dry skin but keep an eye on your dog to watch for any issues. If you notice they are too dry and itchy, decrease the frequency to every other month.
If in doubt or your dog continues to lose too much fur check with your vet for help.
What To Do When You Can’t Give Your German Shepherd A Bath
Sometimes it’s just not possible to take the time or effort to fully bathe your German Shepherd. I understand that life is so busy these days, so there’s a quick solution for that.
The simple truth is a waterless bath isn’t a replacement for a full-body bath, but it can get the job done in a pinch. Simply spray down your German Shepherd, massage the deshedding spray into their skin and fur, and use the gentle undercoat rake to remove the dead fur.
Spend about 20 minutes using short strokes to remove the shedding hair. If you come across clumps of fur, spray the deshedding spray and rub the solution into the tangle. This helps to remove the clumps and your brush should glide through more easily.
You can then wipe down your German Shepherd to help dry them off and remove any dirt with the microfiber towel. The towel is great for a quick paw wipe-down after a walk or even on rainy days to keep near the door for cleanup.
Finding A Perfect Deshedding Solution
There’s no one product that will cure your German Shepherd’s shedding problem. You’re going to need to do some hard work and follow a de-shedding routine to help with hair fall issues.
Even with all the deshedding specialist products, your German Shepherd will still shed. It’s natural and necessary to keep their skin and coats healthy.
Remember that the German Shepherd was once a full-time outdoor herding dog and didn’t have to live indoors. So, their large amount of hair fall wasn’t an issue. But, living in your modern home and world has created some challenges for you and them.
Now, consider it this way…
You can spend the time to follow a de-shedding routine, or you can deal with all the loose fur all over your home and take the time to clean.
It really is that simple.
I think the better way is to put the work into deshedding my German Shepherd since we can bond and spend more time together.
Hair Growth in German Shepherds
Your German Shepherd’s hair grows in stages.
Each hair follicle has a rapid growth period, followed by a slower growth period, and then the resting phase. While in the resting phase, the mature hair remains in the follicles, and at some point detaches from the base. When your dog starts to shed the new hair pushes out the old hair and then the cycle starts all over.
Normally it takes about four months to grow their coats, but this doesn’t mean they only shed every four months. They shed all the time because each hair follicle is in a different phase of the hair growth stage.
German Shepherd Shedding Schedule
German Shepherds shed their coats all year round.
But, they typically shed more as the hair coat thickens or thins during the seasonal changes. This is around fall and spring when the amount of shedding is more of a response to the length of daylight.
Longer periods of daylight in the spring activate the shedding process which generally lasts four to six weeks. In the fall, when the days grow shorter, this induces another round of shedding.
So, this means your German Shepherd shedding schedule looks like this:
Heavy shedding, begins to thin out for Summer
Normal, regular shedding
Heavy shedding, begins to thicken for Winer
Normal, regular shedding
The German Shepherd shedding schedule is all year round but has 2 main seasons.
Shedding is always more noticeable on German Shepherds because they have double coats, so they will appear to have large clumps of hair fall out and you might even see the undercoat exposed and notice your dog’s coat is not as shiny or thick.
This is quite normal during the spring and fall as their undercoat falls out and is replaced by new, fresh fur growth.
A word of caution…
At no point should you see your dog’s bare skin during the shedding process. Exposed skin is usually a sign of an underlying disease that needs your vet’s attention immediately.
Normal shedding is a gradual process that shouldn’t produce any noticeable bare spots
Along with the headache that living with a high-shedding breed causes there are some issues you need to watch out for.
Shedding can cause some problems for Shepherds with longer and thicker hair. Hair mats can frequently develop:
around the ears
in the thick mane and neck
in the long hair on the legs
and on the belly
However, mats can form anywhere on the body, especially if your dog wears a harness or collar frequently. Matted hair may lead to skin conditions like hot spots, redness and itching, and raw patches of skin.
Groom and brush your dog carefully to ensure you remove any clumps and mats to prevent later health issues.
The best way to deal with your German Shepherd’s normal shedding is to keep them groomed on a regular basis. During the shedding process spend time on their daily brushing to remove dead hair. This will decrease the amount of hair you find on your clothing, furniture, and floors. On a monthly basis perform a deep cleaning and de-shedding treatment at home.
Brushing is time for bonding and fun —especially when done with praise and rewards.
Follow this brushing routine to make the experience positive:
your German Shepherd should be brushed daily
each session must be a short and pleasant
brush the hair in the direction of hair growth
speak to your German Shepherd softly as you brush
praise them when you are done
never (ever!) leave your dog unattended during a grooming session, especially if they are in the tub or on top of a raised table
Brushing and coat care is generally the first line of defense for shedding. It’s recommended daily by many vets to not only enhance overall health but to reduce the amount of loose fur on your dog.
Food and Nutrition
One of the best ways to reduce excessive shedding is a healthy diet. Diet and nutrition are important elements in your German Shepherd’s overall well-being.
Even more essential is that nutrition influences how much hair actually falls out.
Why is that so important?
Because the healthier their coat, the less shedding there is.
German Shepherds are known as dogs with sensitive skin, and it’s a good practice to feed them a diet formulated to support skin health.
You might have also heard about the role that essential fatty acids (EFAs) play in coat and skin health for a German Shepherd. A diet that contains the right amounts and balance of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids will go a long way toward healthy skin and a glossy coat.
EFAs basically moisturize skin from the inside out. This means your Shepherd’s skin barrier is improved by allowing stronger resistance to irritants and allergic triggers.
EFAs also help play a role in the functioning of the nervous system and brain development, heart health, and even inflammatory response. Most vets recommended EFAs for their health benefits, and you can purchase an over-the-counter EFA supplement that enhances coat health (source).
Deshedding a German Shepherd for less hair, less mess, and less stress!
Even with the most effective shed control efforts, you’re likely to see find fur around your home. The best way to deshed a German Shepherd doesn’t mean they’ll never lose any hair or your floors will be spotless.
Deshedding a German Shepherd is a time-consuming process…
So stop thinking that all you have to do is use a shampoo and brush and all your problems will be solved.
Fortunately, there’s a time-tested routine that’s easy to follow:
Remove clumps and tangles.
Bathe with a deshedding shampoo.
Rake and remove wet dead fur.
Condition the hair to reduce hair fall.
Rinse and rinse again.
Dry gently with a microfiber towel.
And, you’ll need to repeat the process on a regular basis for optimum results.
The general condition of your German Shepherd’s skin and coat are prime indicators of their overall health. Although health and nutrition influence the luster and texture of your dog’s coat from the inside, regular grooming and skincare on the outside will help keep their coat clean and free of tangles.
So, what does all this really mean?
That knowing how to deshed a German Shepherd is your best answer to give your favorite companion show-quality results, reduce hair fall, and improve their coat health, right from the comfort of your home.
Catherine Krasavin owns Shepherd Sense, a dog website aimed at German Shepherd owners and lovers. She has a Bachelor of Science degree, with Honors, and has been training dogs for over a decade. Catherine’s currently attending continuing education courses to keep up with the latest in animal science, as well as earning her diploma in dog training. She owns a plush coat German Shepherd who was awarded Kennel Club Good Citizen Dog Scheme Gold Award - the highest level of achievement.
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