German Shepherds require only modest grooming effort. They have a double layered coat, with the outer layer composed of medium-length, coarse hair and an undercoat that is soft and dense. The outer section provides protection against bushes and ground while the inner layer keeps the dog warm and protected from sunlight.
Proper care for a German Shepherd’s coat starts before you ever take out a brush – with a good diet. Feeding your dog high quality food that’s appropriate to its nature as a carnivore is key. High protein, high fat kibble or well-prepared chicken, lamb or beef are great for this. If you choose to make your own dog food, though, take some care to get the right balance of needed components.
Dogs have relatively straight stomachs, unlike humans. That means they don’t have the means to so easily digest vegetable matter, which take a long time to break down. Wheat, corn and other plant material should make up a very small portion of the total.
Once you have a good diet in place, grooming practices take the forefront.
Brushing that double-layer coat twice a week is needed in order to keep skin oils well distributed and undo tangles in hair near the skin. It helps remove dead hair and skin cells and keeps the skin well aerated. A standard metal rake-style brush or slicker is a good tool, provided it’s properly used. But supplement that with other types of brush, as well. Take care not to scrape the skin and create a lesion.
Brushing should be done against the direction of the hair to get up any matted areas, followed by brushing in the direction of growth. Using a variety of brushes will help cover all the bases.
Bathing intervals vary considerably depending on where you live and the dog’s typical routine. If you live in very dusty conditions, such as a ranch or farm, once a month or more may be required for optimal health. Even living in some cities can mean there’s enough grime in the air to warrant a regular bath. In a typical suburban neighborhood every two or three months may be enough.
One way to judge is simply by feel. If you pat the dog and a dust cloud flies off, it’s time to put Rex into the tub. If the coat feels very greasy that’s a signal that they need a bath. Naturally, since dogs love to roll in foul smelling things, any time there are feces, mud or other things built up on the coat it’s time for a wash off.
Proper shampoo selection is important. German Shepherds, like many other breeds, can be sensitive to wheat or exhibit other evidence of an allergic reaction. A good oatmeal shampoo can provide soothing relief. But those do build up material on the hair quicker, so bathing will need to be more frequent. A good aloe shampoo can also help with this problem.
With regular care your German Shepherd’s coat can be kept healthy and beautiful. That will benefit your dog and please you.