Known as intelligent, confident, courageous and hard-working, it’s no wonder the German Shepherd Dog is one of the most popular dog breeds in America. As an all-around working breed, German Shepherds thrive in the military, police force, farms and family life.
Above all, German Shepherds are known for their loyalty. Many will put their life on the line for their pet parents, and they deserve some of the best care in return—like vaccines, dental treats and grooming. As with any dog, grooming is an essential part of their care routine. Learn everything you need to know about grooming your German Shepherd right here and help them keep their coat looking great.
Regular brushing is important for double-coated breeds, or “heavy shedders”
They may not need haircuts but grooming a German Shepherd’s coat is a commitment. In winter and summer, performing your brushing routine once a week should be sufficient. But in the spring and fall—when dogs “blow their coat” or shed more heavily—you’ll probably need to brush them every day.
Before you begin grooming your German Shepherd, take them outside or into the bathroom as de-shedding and brushing can make quite a mess. Start with your undercoat rake or de-shedding tool and use it as directed. Start at your dog’s back and hindquarters—they’re usually more comfortable with you touching these areas. Then you can work your way up to the sides, chest, legs and belly. Go over each area multiple times to make sure you remove or loosen all the loose fur. Do NOT overbrush an area as this can cause skin irritation. As you go through the undercoat, have your metal comb handy to check your work.
Next, get out your slicker brush and gently brush through the topcoat, going with the grain of the fur. This brush helps distribute oils and remove any loose hair still in the coat. When you see their shiny, lustrous coat, you’ll understand why grooming your German Shepherd is worth it.
When bathing, the most important German Shepherd grooming tips relate to their double coat. Work the water and shampoo deep into the fur with massaging motions, and rinse thoroughly. Use a gentle, high-quality shampoo that’s free of potential irritants like preservatives or alcohol. Gentle shampoos typically don’t contain sulfates, fragrances or added colors that can strip natural oils from the coat and irritate sensitive skin. Shampoo formulated for your German Shepherd’s double coat helps remove excess loose undercoat, while conditioner helps seal moisture back into skin and coat. Using a sprayer and rinsing twice is recommended. Be sure to dry your pup completely afterward. Invest in a fluffy, super-absorbent towel or even a blow dryer, and fluff the coat to ensure it’s dry. Take particular care if using a dryer. Monitor the heat intensity and do not leave it on one area for too long and risk burning the skin.
Grooming a German Shepherd coat isn’t very difficult, but it does take time and dedication. As with any new routine, it’s important to introduce your dog to the grooming process as soon as possible, preferably when they’re still puppies, to help ensure they have a positive experience. Start with small steps. Do not try to brush your dog’s entire coat in one long session. Go slow, praise and/or treat your dog when you finish each section. With the proper knowledge, tools and strategies, German Shepherd grooming can be quick and straightforward—and you’ll have a clean and happy dog afterward.
German Shepherds can be trimmed but sparingly
German Shepherds generally don’t need their coats trimmed, but many pet parents like to do it in the summer months or to keep their pet looking sharp. Remember, German Shepherd grooming shouldn’t involve shaving. At the most, you should trim only particular areas and do so sparingly.
You can trim some of the hair on the back of their rear legs and the fluff around their paws—clip the edges, then brush up the hair between the toes and trim that. When there’s no fur sticking out from between the toes, that should be short enough. Here’s another tip: Trimming or shaving their hair will not eliminate shedding or help your dog stay cooler. Regular brushing and bathing are more effective.
Grooming a German Shepherd coat means going with the flow. They already have a beautiful, thick, shiny coat, so why mess with it. Always follow the direction that the hair grows and trim symmetrically and sparingly. Use traditional shears or scissors instead of clippers, which can interfere with the undercoat
If you decide to groom your German Shepherd at home, these supplies may help.
With their double coat, bathing your German Shepherd can turn into a lot of work over time. At Petco, we offer many grooming services that can save you time and help your pet look and feel great.
Our Petco certified stylists can clean those hard-to-reach places in a German Shepherd’s undercoat to help remove loose hair and improve dry skin. During their bath, your dog can enjoy a deep-cleaning shampoo, blow-dry, 15-minute brush-out, a gland expression, nail trim and a scented spritz . The Shed Release Plus grooming package can be a great option for grooming German Shepherd Dogs, and it includes teeth-brushing and nail care. Our Flea Cleanse can be great for any dog who needs help with pest control. It’s not available in all states, however, so check your local Petco to see if it’s an option for your German Shepherd. If it isn’t, a store associate can tell you about other solutions. The Hydrate and Restore package can help pups who are experiencing dry or irritated skin.