Why Do German Shepherds Shed So Much Hair?

By Gryphon Adams

German shepherds are known for shedding a lot, and some individuals shed more than others. They shed year-round and blow their coats, a massive hair-dropping event, seasonally. Several things can worsen shedding, including stress, poor diet, dehydration, skin irritation from fleas or household products and certain medical problems. If the amount of shedding is unusual for your dog, she has skin problems such as a rash or lesions -- or if she develops thin areas or bald spots -- consult your veterinarian.

Dog With a Double Coat

A double coat is a breed trait of German shepherds. Other dogs with double coats include huskies, malamutes and collies. The dogs have an insulating undercoat made up of soft, woolly insulating hairs and a protective outer coat consisting of thinner, longer protective hairs. Even if it seems that your dog has more fur than she needs, it isn't advisable to shave German shepherds. The shepherd's coat is a natural defense against the elements and injury.

Year-Round Hair Growth

German shepherd hair grows year round and the individual hairs fall out and new hairs 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 so much she'll run out. This is a natural process for all dogs and it's dramatic with German shepherds because of their thick, double coats.

The Seasonal Coat Blow

To prepare for cold weather, your dog sheds more of her overcoat and a greater proportion of undercoat hair grows in. This is why she sheds in the fall when it might seem odd for her to be losing hair. As weather becomes warm in the spring or summer depending on the climate, she'll shed a higher proportion of undercoat hair. German shepherds blow their coats, a massive shedding that may go on for weeks.

Manage the Shedding

A good diet keeps your German shepherd's skin and coat healthy. Provide fresh water at all times. Dehydration affects her skin. Ask your vet for recommendations for a quality dog food and supplements for your dog's skin and coat.

Grooming is your first line of defense against all who shed hair. The right tools help. A shedding rake helps remove loose hair. Brush her often; Use a brush with firm, long, wide-spaced bristles, or a pin brush and a slicker brush at least once a week.

Bathe her every few weeks with dog shampoo. Don't use shampoos for people or other household products. Visits to a groomer are an option for speeding up the shedding, especially if you schedule the grooming when she's blowing her coat. A vacuum cleaner designed for pet hair will simplify cleaning up shed hair in the house.