German shepherds are special—there’s no doubt about that. Which is probably why they rank #2 on the American Kennel Club website for most popular dog breed, and why they have a reputation for loyalty, smarts, courage and compassion that’s tough to compete with.
Descended from German herding dogs, this breed gained popularity in the United States during the early 1900s thanks to movie stars (movie pups?) like Rin Tin Tin. They’ve also long been considered the best breed for the job when it comes to police and military work because of their intelligence and, as AKC says, “willingness to put their life on the line in defense of loved ones.”
Plus, they’re super furry, which is wonderful for a snuggle but does mean you need to take some time to understand their somewhat intimidating medium-length, double coat.
To help you with the whole hair maintenance issue, here are some grooming tips unique to this breed.
Basic Grooming Advice
Keeping your German shepherd looking incredible is all about tending to their abundant tresses. They don’t need endless trips to the groomers, but they do need some serious upkeep on your part to tone down shedding and keep them looking tidy. Here are some tips:
- Because of their dense outer coat and soft undercoat, it’s essential to brush your German shepherd frequently to combat shedding. Every couple of days should generally do the trick. Rakes and de-shedding tools are your friends, so do your research about what brushes are best for this breed and hair length.
- There will be a couple of times a year when your German shepherd really sheds, requiring you to step up the brushing regimen until this intense molting period is over (1 to 2 weeks)—good luck!
- Bathing your dog about once a month is more than enough. Overdo the baths too much and you may have a pup with dry, irritated skin on your hands.
- Take some time every month to trim their nails. Though they’ll sometimes wear down on their own, keep checking to make sure they’re not getting long and uncomfortable for your buddy.
- And don’t forget the ears. You should clean your shepherd’s ears every week using ear-drops (never water!) and check them for any sign of infection.
- Buy a quality vacuum cleaner. We’re not going to sugar coat things, there will be hair everywhere so you may as well be prepared.
Why Shaving Your German Shepherd is a Bad Idea
While discussing grooming tips for this breed, it’s essential to emphasize that shaving your German shepherd is definitely not recommended. There are a number of reasons why this is a bad idea, but here are a few of the most important ones we want to mention:
- Their double-coat works together to keep your dog comfortable—cool in the summer and warm in the winter. The folks at German Shepherd Corner also tell us that, “The outer guard hairs, and fends off water, dirt and insect bites. The undercoat is soft and fuzzy and works to insulate your dog from heat and cold.” By shaving the coat, you’re removing all of those protective barriers provided by the fur.
- Shaving takes away the outer coat, which takes away much of the beautiful coloring and markings of your pup. All you’ll be left with is the undercoat—a less exciting, muted cream, gray or beige color all over.
- Even when they’re shaved, they’ll continue to shed (although the hairs will be shorter, obviously).
Best German Shepherd Hairstyle: Au Naturale
You won’t find much variety in hairstyles for your German shepherd. When it comes to looking (and feeling) good, it’s more about being properly brushed and groomed, and whether their coat is shiny and healthy. If you truly feel the need to trim your pup, purchase a pair of grooming scissors and give them very specific snips that won’t affect the rest of their gorgeous coat.
But really, so long as your giving your Shepherd’s tresses the attention they deserve through brushing and washing, they probably look great just the way they are.
Just remember to always pay attention to the cues that your dog is giving you, and if something is causing them stress, then it may be time to find a different approach/hairstyle/groomer/etc. We hope these hairstyle ideas and grooming tips have been useful for jazzing up your pup’s coif. Happy grooming!