How to Groom a German Shepherd


If you are wanting to know how to groom a German shepherd you have come to the right place! We all know and love the beautiful German shepherd and many people ask the question, how to groom a German shepherd. Their (commonly) black and brown coats remind us of their long body and elegance. With so much hair, though, it is important to keep them groomed. Though their fur is a big part in grooming a German shepherd, so is keeping their nails, teeth, and ears clean and in order. 

Coats on German Shepherds

There are various different types of German shepherds, resulting in different types of coats. Their coats can come in short or medium with an undercoat and long with and without an undercoat. An undercoat is another layer of fur underneath the fur we see. Having these two coats requires regular grooming. With these thick coats, if they are not groomed regularly it can develop matted and tangled fur, skin problems, odor, and discomfort for the dog. This is an important tip when learning how to groom a German shepherd.

What type of grooming should I do for my German Shepherd?

Though they have thick coats, it is important that you don’t cut or trim their hair. That is the most important tip when learning how to groom a German shepherd. The undercoat is beneficial to their skin, keeping them cool and protecting their skin. If you were to cut their hair, it wouldn’t grow back the same. So, the best ways to care for their coats are brushing and bathing them. 

You can find various helpful brushes online to help with brushing. Brushing can remove the dead skin cells and hair from the dogs coats. It can also remove some fleas, debris, and tangles that may have accumulated on your pup. It will increase the blood flow to their skin, making their fur healthier. Removing the excess hair from the dog will also make them more comfortable. With regular brushing, it will prevent the excess shedding that we see from German shepherds year-round. 

Bathing can remove the odor that is caused from oils in the dogs skin collecting in the fur. Just like brushing, it can also remove fleas, dirt, ticks, and debris and make them feel better. It keeps their coat moisturized and healthy. You can tell it’s time for a bath when their fur seems dirty, tangled, matted, or smelly. When you pet them, it will feel rough and you will be able to tell a difference in their coat after a good bath. Bathing will decrease their heavy shedding around your home. 

How often should I groom my German Shepherd’s coat?

It is important to brush them 2-3 times a week. This will prevent their fur from becoming tangled so badly that it takes work to get them out. It will keep their coat healthy and shiny. The American Kennel Club states that as long as the shepherd is regularly brushed and has a healthy coat, they only require a bath once every 4-5 months. Over-bathing can remove the healthy oils from the German shepherds skin and coat, leading to dry skin. 

How do I care for German Shepherd Nails?

When you brush and bathe your German shepherd, do a quick inspection of their nails. Some may be able to go a few weeks while other can go months. When the nails are too long, they will click on hard ground. It’s important to keep their nails short because long nails can cause overall changes in the dogs health.

When their nails are long, it changes the pattern of pressure across the dogs paw. The nails push into the hard ground, lightly lifting the paw. So, all pressure is on the nail ends, rather than the paw. This can change their posture and walking pattern. It will also make their nails and toes sore. Long nails can also snag on clothing, carpets, and other surfaces.  They can break, split, and get torn off which is painful for your pup.

Blood vessels grow down into the nail. This means that if you cut the nail too short then it will cause bleeding and pain. You’ll want to gradually cut their nails over time to make the blood vessels recede a bit. You want to cut so that the nail is in the shape of a point. You don’t want a jagged or “bowtie” end on the nail because it can expose the blood vessel. You can buy many different types of nail clippers online that are specifically for cutting the dogs’ nails appropriately.

If you accidently cut too short, don’t worry too much. It will normally stop bleeding in a bit. In the meantime, you can hold pressure on your pups paw, use a cold rag or ice, and even wrap it up in a bandage. If the bleeding doesn’t stop after about a few hours, seems to be getting worse, or bleeding quite a bit call the nearest vet.

How to Care for German Shepherd Teeth?

When grooming, you can lift their snout and take a look at their teeth. When you know what a healthy mouth looks like, you will know how an unhealthy one looks. German shepherds have 42 teeth that should not have any chips, cracks, or jagged edges. Their gums should be black and pink, with no signs of redness, bumps, or bleeding. The teeth should be clean with no plaque or discolorations.

You can find toothbrushes that were specifically made for dogs. You don’t want to use normal human toothpaste, however, because it can be harmful to dogs. Give them a small taste of the toothpaste you use to make sure it tastes okay. Otherwise, they’ll drool and possibly gag as you clean their mouths. You will raise their lips and brush the outside surface of their teeth. Make sure to reach the teeth in the back because these are likely to collect the most plaque.

Their teeth should be cleaned regularly with either solutions, pastes, toys, and brushes. There are special designed toys and treats that are made specifically to clean the teeth. This is a fun way to keep the pup’s teeth fresh and healthy. You can always consult a local vet for advice and products.

How to Keep German Shepherd Ears Healthy

German shepherds have the tall, open ears which is beneficial to their overall health. This can increase air flow to the ears, keeping them dry and preventing infections. It is still important to keeping them clean to maintain their healthy skin. You can determine if your shepherd has an ear infection from redness, a foul odor, inflammation, pain, warmth to the touch, and any debris.

If your German shepherd is consistently shaking his head or pawing at his ears, it may be time to give the vet a call. If an infection is left untreated, it can get worse and even lead to hearing loss. You normally only need to clean their ears out once a month. You’ll want to check their ears weekly and clean them as necessary.

When cleaning their ears, you can use a cotton ball or a soft cloth with a cleaning solution. You’ll want to lightly pull on the ear upwards to straighten it out and show the ear canal. You can clean the ear from tip to canal but be sure to wipe lightly and not going so deep that you hurt. You want to avoid using alcohol and peroxide because it can dry their ear out too much, or cotton swabs because they can cause irritation and pain. German shepherds may have very hairy ears so it’s important to keep them trimmed so the air flow will be able to reach into the ear.

As you clean their ear, drop the solution down into the ear canal. Massage the base of the ear so that the solutions is spread throughout the inside. Then you can use your soft cloth or cotton ball to remove the excess solution. Sine German shepherds dry pretty quick on their own, if you’re worried about drying you can use a dry soft cloth or drying powder to keep them from building up moisture.

What do I do if my German shepherd is scared or won’t let me groom?

When learning how to groom a German shepherd, this is the biggest issue for German shepherd owners. If your dog is scared or has been hurt in the past from a particular treatment (such as teeth brushing) they may be reluctant to let you help. The dog may have anxiety and want to pull away or keep you from doing your normal routine. There are a few steps to keep you both safe when grooming a worried pooch.

  1. Find a quiet place to do your grooming. The calm environment can prevent your dog from getting anxious from their surroundings.
  2. Use treats and rewards before and after. When you pet and praise your dog after your grooming, it will show them that this is positive behavior.
  3. Lay out the tools and let the dog sniff them. Once he is fully comfortable with them being them, give him treat or a praise to show that the tools are safe.
  4. After they have met with the tools, take them one by one and touch them to its body. If they worry or jump, give them time to get used to it. This will allow them to see that the tools won’t cause harm. Always give treats and praise.
  5. Start short and work your way up. The first session may just be 5 – 10 minutes of brushing and an ear inspection. Then 10 – 15 minutes with brushing, ear cleaning, and nail inspection. Gradually work your way up until you get your entire routine done.

It’s important to show the dog that grooming is safe, but don’t push them too hard at once. If they are completely reluctant for help, stop for the day and try again later. Putting so much on them at once can be stressful and cause more harm than good. You can always contact a groomer or a vet for tips, assistance, and products.

Dog Grooming Product Ingredients to Avoid

We all know there are toxic chemicals in almost all products we use for personal care and home cleaning. The same goes for dog grooming products. Knowing which grooming ingredients to avoid can help keep the grooming process less harmful and uncomfortable.

Once you learn how to groom a German shepherd, look out for grooming products such as shampoos, creams, cleansers, and toothpastes that can include ingredients that are harmful to dogs’ skin, hair, and mouth. Harmful ingredients may be more dangerous for your pup because they lick themselves frequently, meaning whatever is on their fur and paws will be going into their mouth. Harmful products can also be ingested by the dog through absorption into the skin and inhalation through the lungs. Keep an eye out for these words on your grooming products’ boxes and bottles.

  • Sulfates (Sodium Lauryl/Laureth Sulfate or Ammonium Laureth Sulfate) – This is an ingredient that allows cleansers to lather up. This can cause skin irritation and stay in the dog for up to a week after seeping into the skin.
  • Artificial fragrances and Phthalates – This is a petroleum-based ingredient making it a cheap and plentiful option for grooming products. This ingredient can be a hormone disruptor and the words “natural fragrance” can be used to hide these harmful products. Try to find grooming products that lists what is in the fragrance.
  • Artificial colors and dyes – These can make the products more appealing to the eye. These ingredients can lead to skin irritation, breakouts, rash, and allergies. A few dyes may be blue 1, yellow 6, and green 3.
  • Mineral oils – This is also petroleum -based and can clog pores. It can also prevent the dogs ability to make their own natural oils on their skin.
  • Parabens – These are preservatives that prevent bacteria and extend shelf life. Essentially these products will end with “-parabens” (Propylparaben, methylparaben etc.).
  • Isothiazolinones – This is another type of preservative. Some go by the names Triethylisothiazolinone, Benzisothiazolinone, Isothiazolinone, Octylisothiazolinone, Mehtylisothiazolinone, and Biethylisothiazolinone. They are toxic to water environments and to skin cells.

You can always look at the ingredients on the bottle and search for the best products without these ingredients. Natural products that are organic can be found with a simple Google search.

Every dog is different, so make sure you just find what works for you and do it that way. The more comfortable your dog is with the grooming routine, the more likely they will be to help you. Hopefully we have given you some great tips and taught you how to groom a German shepherd!

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