One of the most recognizable and popular dogs, the German Shepherd has the double coat typical of many herding dogs. The outer coat, or guard hair, is dense, coarse, and straight or slightly wavy. The hair is shorter on the face, legs and paws than it is on the neck, body and tail. For some German Shepherds, commonly called “coats,” the outer hair is longer all over the face, legs and body. This outer hair repels moisture as you will notice every time you bathe your dog. The undercoat, by contrast, is denser, and soft and wooly. When your dog goes into heavy shedding, or “blowing coat,” in spring and fall, you will see tufts of the undercoat poking out of its coat.
Brushing your German Shepherd weekly will keep its coat healthy, and reduce the fur balls and clumps of hair decorating your floors and carpets. Because your German Shepherd naturally repels dirt, bathe it infrequently, no more than once every couple of months. If your dog competes in conformation, you will bathe it before each show. In that case, check with the breeder or handler about the best shampoos and conditioners to use to keep the coat and skin from drying out.
What You’ll Need – Brushing
· Natural bristle brush
· Pin brush
· Metal rake
· Shedding rake
· Metal comb
As big and strong as German Shepherds are, many have sensitive skin and can be touchy about grooming. For maintenance grooming, use a natural thistle brush for the head, legs and feet. Use a pin brush for the body and tail. Because the neck and scruff hair is so thick, use a metal rake designed for double coated dogs; however, be careful not to rake so aggressively that you irritate the skin.
When you see tufts or clumps of undercoat coming out, you will know that heavy shedding has begun. For the most part, your metal rake will loosen and remove clumps and mats. For large or tough mats, use a metal comb. Work your way from the outside of the matted hair toward the body rather than pulling it all out at once from near the skin. A shedding rake, just like those used on horses, works well on the body to loosen and remove the outer coat.