Overall, grooming the GSD is pretty simple. There are NO kinds of surgical "enhancements" of any type that need be done (such as ear or tail docking) to the German Shepherd Dog. The German Shepherd is a "wash and wear" dog breed - especially when compared to many other dog breeds.
The German Shepherd Dog has a "double-coat". Their coat consists of a "downy" type undercoat next to the skin, with longer, coarse guard hairs as an outer shell. Under normal conditions, the GSD will require regular brushing, and an occasional bath.
Daily grooming of the GSD boils down to this: a quick brushing to keep the coat clean and healthy and also to help to combat shedding and a really great dog hair vacuum cleaner . The German Shepherd sheds constantly throughout the entire year and even more heavily with the changing of the seasons.
The dogs guard hairs will be shed all year round. The undercoat is "blown" twice a year. Without regular grooming, however, there is a great potential risk that the wooly undercoat of the German Shepherd will mat.
This can also result in hotspots, bald spots, rashes and other coat and skin problems, so do not take grooming too lightly.
If you let the clumps of fur build up and hang off their bodies, the coat and skin underneath cannot breathe properly and could possibly suffocate as a result causing more potential health problems for your German Shepherd Dog.
Expect to have to sweep or vacuum several times a week during the time these dogs "blow" their coats. And a really great pet hair vacuum is a must! Grooming the GSD is an important part of owning this breed. Click here for more information on using a shedding rake.
The German Shepherd can be easily groomed from start to finish in 15 minutes or less, assuming that you brush it a few times per week. Overall, the time and frequency of grooming the GSD will vary according to the GSD's length of coat and its condition. Some German Shepherds have a longer coat and may require more extensive grooming on a more frequent basis.
To help keep grooming the GSD in check, it is best to use a wire Slicker Brush which can be found at most pet stores. A grooming rake or brush are other good choices to use in general grooming - follow the grain of the coat when using these tools. Regular grooming sessions will teach your German Shepherd to stand quietly and even to enjoy these weekly grooming sessions.
Generally twice a year a German Shepherd will shed their entire undercoat over a 1-2 week period. While your GSD is shedding it's entire undercoat it has special grooming requirements. We have made an entire page covering what to do during this period. Click here to learn about a blowing coat.
German Shepherd Dogs only need baths occasionally. This is the case assuming that they are fed good quality food and brushed out and groomed on a regular basis. Baths should be given no more than once or twice a year to avoid drying out their skin - over-bathing your German Shepherd will strip its coat of it's natural oils.
Remember to use a shampoo made specifically for dogs since their body "pH" is so different from shampoos made for people. You may find that during flea season that you will need to bathe your German Shepherd more often as part of a complete program to control these little critters.
When grooming the German Shepherd and bathing it you should also place cotton in their ears to prevent water from entering the ear canal. This will help to prevent potential future ear infections.
If you don't know how to wash your dog properly we have created a new page entirely on the correct way to wash your GSD.
If your German Shepherd runs on pavement or other types of hard scapes on a daily basis then you probably won't have a much of a problem with their nails. It is a good idea to check their nails on a weekly basis (while you are already grooming the GSD is a good time) to keep split or broken nails in check. Broken nails are often the result of nails that have been left to grow too long. Commercial Nail Trimmers for dogs are available at almost any pet supply, grocery or department store. For best results, it is best to trim off small amounts of the nail, a little bit at a time, over a period of days instead of clipping larger amounts all at once.
Since the German Shepherd Dog's nails are usually very hard in density and are often very dark in color, the "quick" (small vein that feeds the nail) will often be hidden. If you were to cut the toenail too short it will be painful for your GSD and cause the nail to bleed.
If you do happen to cut into the quick of your GSD's nail and it starts to bleed you can do the following: use styptic powder, scrape the nail against a bar of soap, or press cornstarch firmly into the quick, to stop the nail from continuing to bleed.
It is very important to have at least one of these items on hand, and within easy reach when trimming the German Shepherd's nails, BEFORE you start, just in case. Teach your German Shepherd puppy to accept having it's nails clipped early on for better results when your German Shepherd is an adult. Read here for more information about clipping your dogs nails.
Your GSD's ears should be checked at least weekly and cleaned as necessary. You can buy products from your vet that will help to dissolve excess wax in the German Shepherd's ear canal. It is very important to keep a check on the health of the German Shepherds ears - to clean excess wax and/or dirt, simply deposit a few drops of the solution into each of the ears.
While grooming the GSD is an excellent time to do this. Afterward, massage the base of the dogs ear for a few seconds, and then wipe out the ear with a soft cloth. The German Shepherd will probably shake out the remaining ear drops.
Prevention is easily the key to maintaining healthy ears in your German Shepherd. While there are several "home remedies" that can be bought over the counter, I heartily suggest that you let your veterinarian treat any ear problems that your GSD may have right away. Painful ear infections may also occur as a result of water being trapped inside the ear canal. This is an ideal breeding ground for bacteria and fungus, often leading to painful sensitivity, redness, swelling and infection.
Never use Q-Tips or alcohol when cleaning your German Shepherd's ears. If you are uncertain as to how to proceed in the ear cleaning process while grooming your GSD, then just don't do it. Seek professional veterinary care to learn the right way.
Ear mites are another problem in dogs ears and ear mites may also be present in ear wax. GSD's with this problem often shake their heads and scratch at their ears. You can sometimes see ear mites by looking at ear wax removed from the affected dog - look for tiny white specks. Ear Mites must be treated for weeks and are very contagious. Since insecticides for ear mites kill the adult mites only, repeat applications are necessary to rid the dog of the ear mite infestation when grooming the GSD.
Common GSD ear problems to watch for:
Ears that are sensitive to touch.
Swelling and/or skin redness.
Head shaking and/or ear scratching.
Discharges or powerful odors.
Hematomas (blood blisters) on the ear flap.
"There are times when even the best manager is like the little boy with the big dog- waiting to see where the dog wants to go so he can take him there. - Lee Iacocca
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