When a German Shepherd sheds its coat, it is impossible to keep its hair off every part of the house! For busy dog owners who are frustrated, shaving their dogs might seem like the best solution.
No, a German Shepherd should not be shaved unless for medical reasons. Shaving him needlessly could cause skin damage, overheating, uneven coat texture, matting, and more issues.
The German Shepherd Coat Explained
A German Shepherd is renowned for its thick colored coat, one of his trademarks. But there is more to this big coat than the colors and thickness.
It is vital for keeping the dog healthy, active, and protected as you will soon find out.
The German Shepherd is a breed that is known to be from a working line of dogs. This may be the reason these dogs come fitted with a double coat.
The German Shepherd has two layers to its coat, an inner layer, and an outer layer.
The outer layer is what first catches your eye when you look at a German Shepherd. This is the dual-color appearance that the GS is known for.
Black, brown, and even a bit of cream make an appearance in this coating layer. Notice hair on furniture? Blame the outer layer for this.
Apart from making him look good, the long outer coat protects against insects, the sun, and other objects which may poke the dog.
The inner coat is short, thick, and dense and covers the entire body of the dog. It is composed of a cream-colored coat that is only visible in some areas.
This layer is responsible for keeping a dog warm and regulating body temperature in the hot summer.
Live in a hot area and plan on getting an Akita? Read all about Akita in hot weather.
Shaving Your German Shepherd Is No Solution
If your German Shepherd is blowing out his coat at the end of winter, it can be tempting to help him out!
Shaving the hair knowing that it is going to fall out might look like a worthy reason. Right? But this is not always considered logical thinking.
There are a lot of dog owners out there who believe that shaving their double-coated dog is the best call!
Risks Of Shaving Your German Shepherd
When you do take the drastic decision to shave your German Shepherd, there are consequences.
If they are not visible immediately, they will surely come to light after a few weeks or even months!
These are some risks you can expect if you shave your German Shepherd.
1. Skin Damage
Brushing out your German Shepherd during grooming helps to stimulate oil production and circulation across the whole body.
These oils help to moisturize the skin and keep it healthy and functional. Without both layers of hair, the production and spreading of natural oils produced by the hair and sebaceous glands will be disturbed.
Shaving his coat will produce this undesirable change to his skin and hair.
This spells problems for your German Shepherd’s skin. When it comes to keeping skin moist and healthy, nothing beats natural products from the dog’s skin itself.
2. Insect Bites
Dog’s spend most of their time outdoors. It is in the outdoors that your dog will come into contact with a range of insects.
Most of these insects cannot harm your dog if he has his double coat.
Insects get tangled in the outer coat, while their bites cannot penetrate the inner coat.
But, when you shave your dog the coat becomes easy to surpass. The most common insects to worry about are ticks and mosquitoes.
A shaved dog is extremely vulnerable to ticks which can easily latch onto the dog’s body to access skin.
A German Shepherd doesn’t need his coat in summer, right? So there would be no harm in shaving it off before summer.
While many dog owners might think this is true, it is actually false. A dog’s coat in full entirety is responsible for a temperature regulating system.
It is a system that you should leave alone, owners should not go out of their way to interfere.
Choosing to shave their coat would upset their natural shedding process and make irreversible changes.
Even in summer, you should not tamper with your German Shepherd’s coat. Surprisingly this thick coat helps to regulate body temperature and cooling.
How does it do that? Well, the way in which it works is interesting and a natural adaptation.
The two distinct layers of hair work together to let air pass from the inner layer to the outer layer.
Allowing air to circulate and a cooling effect to pass throughout the body of the dog.
4. Uneven Coat Texture
After shaving your German Shepherd, you may never get to witness his original coat ever again!
This is due to the fact that the coat may not grow to replicate its first texture. So, the hairs may regrow to be thinner, lighter, and of different quality.
This might not seem like a bad thing but it can affect his ability to adapt to weather changes.
Plus, won’t it be embarrassing when people notice and ask what happened? If you want to avoid both problems, just don’t shave your German Shepherd!
5. Inability to Keep Warm
Your German Shepherd’s coat serves more purposes than just making him look appealing!
In fact, you could say his coat is a survival tool. Imagine if you were to shave his coat a few weeks before the fall because you couldn’t handle the shedding?
Ultimately he would not be able to cope with the cold and keep warm (naturally). You would have to keep him warm yourself.
This is why shaving any double-coat dog at the wrong time is dangerous. They might not be able to make the changes to their coat in time for the season change.
6. UV Radiation
A dog’s coat is protective, this applies to both layers. When you shave your dog, it is likely that some things that didn’t affect him now will affect him.
The same is true in the case of skin damage due to ultraviolet (UV) rays. Apart from UV ray damage, your dog risks severe sunburn.
UV ray damage and sunburn make your dog’s skin irritated which is accompanied by pain.
Once sunburnt, your dog will always have dandruff and skin irritations even once he regrows his hair.
Considering the skin problems it causes, it is best to not tamper with your German Shepherd’s coat (or any dog’s coat for that matter).
7. Coat Matting
It just takes one decision to make permanent effects on a German Shepherd’s coat.
This is what happens when you shave your German Shepherd’s coat even once! By now you know that shaving the coat will lead to irregular re-growth.
But, what you might not know is that this irregular growth comes with a few problems as well.
Because the layers of hair are not growing as well naturally, matting can occur. This is because one layer grows faster than the other.
As you can imagine, matting makes grooming much more difficult and shaving is no solution!
If anything, it makes matters worse. You will have no choice but to adopt conventional grooming methods.
8. Guard Hair Growth
The guard hair layer is the outermost layer of a dog’s coat. Towards senior years, a dog’s guard hair growth will gradually decrease.
Shaving your senior German Shepherd is not a great idea and age should be factored into the equation.
Even if the hair grows, do not expect excellent results! His hair may not even grow as well as when he was a younger dog.
Continuing to shave your senior dog could leave him almost bare! This will create many problems, at least more than it solves.
Curious to know more about this breed? Read about How Big German Shepherd Mixes Get.
When It Is Okay To Shave Your German Shepherd?
Some occasions require you to shave your German Shepherd. For important medical purposes, both layers of hair may need to be shaved.
The reason is that the vet can get better access to a certain part of the body. This is the case if your dog needs to have surgery.
In this case, shaving his hair can also help to avoid any serious infections that may arise due to dirt entering the wound.
If your German Shepherd has a serious skin infection or other diseases causing hair loss, you might have to shave his coat.
These are the only times it is permissible to shave your German Shepherd dog.
Alternatives to Shaving Your German Shepherd
There are mainly two common reasons why owners shave their German Shepherd dogs.
These are because they think he is hot or because he is shedding a lot and they cannot keep up. So by now, you know that shaving is not a solution. What is the solution?
Well, on the basis of reason, solutions can be divided into two categories.
A) To Keep Him Cool
If your German Shepherd is feeling overly hot, you need to think of ways to keep him cool. Thankfully, you won’t encounter trouble doing this.
Shade is essential to keeping any living creature cool! If you have a large yard, make sure you plant enough trees and shrubs to provide shade to your German Shepherd.
But if you don’t have a big yard, make sure to keep your doors open for him to join you indoors.
Get a Kiddie Pool
An inflatable plastic pool with shallow water will be a delight for your German Shepherd. It will keep him cool and stop him from getting overheated in the summer months.
But, even then remember to keep an eye on him.
B) To Manage Shedding
Shedding is a job and a half when talking about the German Shepherd. But that’s no reason to quit and shave him instead.
The best way to tackle loose hair and shedding hair is through grooming. The tried and tested combination of bathing, drying, and combing/brushing works wonders.
The secret is to stay ahead of the grooming and not fall behind. Daily efforts would go a long way.
When it comes to brushing, the best tools to utilize are combs and rakes. This is because they get through both coat layers.
Circulation of oils in the skin is another advantage of using these specific tools for grooming.
Using a Dryer/Blower
No, we’re not talking about a regular human hairdryer. We’re talking about a high-power blower that will literally blow the shedding hair off his body!
This is not dangerous or painful and helps when there is a large volume of hair ready to roll off.
Do German Shepherds shed a lot?
Just by looking at them, you could probably predict that German Shepherd dogs shed a lot.
They have a double coat and each hair is constantly being replaced. Plus the change of seasons causes hair from both layers to come out simultaneously.