Why Do German Shepherds Shed So Much Hair?

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Known for intelligence, agility, and a courageous personality, the German shepherd is also known to shed a lot. In fact, this animal actually sheds at the highest level when compared with other dog breeds. If you own this pup type or even one of several different breeds of German shepherds, you can expect him to shed year-round and to also blow his coat, which is a massive hair-dropping event that occurs seasonally.

German shepherd puppies have soft coats for the first few weeks.
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If you're seeking a German shepherd hair fall solution, it's helpful to learn how this dog's fur grows and sheds. It can help to understand the German shepherd breed's hair growth and shedding capacity as well as how to manage all this fur so your house isn't covered from floor to ceiling.

German shepherds shed a lot

One reason that German shepherds shed a lot is due to a particular breed trait known as a double coat. This special fur covering consists of a soft inner coat that lays close to the dog's skin to help keep her warm (or cool depending on the weather) and an outer coat made of longer, coarser fur called "guard hair." Some of the shedding occurs in the summer, and it actually comes from the inner coat. Other dogs with double coats include huskies, golden retrievers, and collies.

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Understand hair growth

German shepherd hair grows year-round.
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German shepherd hair grows year-round, and as the individual hairs fall out, new ones replace them. The new hair emerges from the hair follicle as the old hair is about to be shed, so the dog keeps the same number of hairs even if it seems like she's shedding too much. This is a natural process for all dogs, though it's rather dramatic with German shepherds because of their thick double coats.

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Even if it seems that your dog has more fur than she needs, it isn't advisable to shave different breeds of German shepherds, as you may incur long-term damage to the coat that could change the texture and allow patchy bald spots to emerge. This dog's double coat acts as a natural defense mechanism that protects her from heat stroke and sun damage that could lead to skin cancer.

Prep for the seasonal blow

To prepare for cold weather, your dog sheds more of his overcoat, and a greater proportion of undercoat hair grows in. This is why he sheds in the fall when it might seem odd for him to be losing hair. As the weather becomes warm in the spring or summer, he'll shed a higher proportion of undercoat hair. The massive fall shedding that a shepherd undergoes may continue for weeks. One trick to try is to visit a groomer when your dog is blowing his coat to manage the fallout.

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Manage the shedding

A well-balanced diet that consists of high-quality dog food can help keep your German shepherd's skin and coat healthy and shiny. Pet owners should always make sure fresh water is available, as dehydration affects a dog's skin. You can ask your vet for dog food recommendations and inquire whether supplements for your dog's skin and coat are necessary.

Of course, grooming is your first line of defense against all dogs who shed hair, and the right tools help. Using a brush with firm, wide-spaced bristles every couple of days and a slicker brush once a week can help remove loose hair, dirt, and debris on a German shepherd. Bathing is part of the grooming routine, but this dog breed only needs an occasional bath every couple of months.

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Check for coat changes

Nutritional deficiencies can lead to excessive shedding.
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Keep a close eye on your dog's coat so you can spot any changes to it and know that several things can worsen shedding. These may include stress, a poor diet, dehydration, skin irritation from fleas or household products, and certain medical problems. If the amount of shedding you spy seems unusual for your dog or if she's developed a skin condition, such as a rash, lesions, or bald spots, consult your vet.

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