The German Shepherd, like any dog, needs to be groomed routinely so they can stay healthy and clean.
There are many steps to groom your German Shepherd. These steps involve taking care of their coat, dental health, nail clipping, and ear cleaning.
But before, we get to the steps and areas of grooming a German Shepherd, let’s dive into the German Shepherds coat type and colors.
The German Shepherds coats type
A German Shepherd, naturally, has a double coat. They have an outer protective coat and an inner coat.
- The outer protective coat is straight and dense with flat hair that lies close to their bodies. These are the hair that you see when playing with your German Shepherd. This type of hair help keeps dirt and moisture away from your dog.
- The undercoat is thicker and softer than the outer coat. The coat is very dense and made from short hair. It helps them stay warm in cold temperatures and regulate their temperature in warm temperatures.
The German Shepherd is available in four coats:
- Short with an undercoat
- Medium with an undercoat
- Long with an undercoat
- Long without an undercoat
Many German Shepherds dogs with a short and medium coat are used in dog shows. The medium or plush coat is longer and fuller than the short coat.
The long coat is longer than both types of coats and has long tufts on the ears, back of legs, and tails.
A long coat without an undercoat has the same long tufts but the outer coat is soft instead of coarse.
The classic look for a German Shepherd is the black and tan with a black saddle.
Another color that the German Shepherd has is the sable. Sable German Shepherds look like wolves. They are either very light in their color or very dark.
The other color is the bicolor where they are a variation of black or tan. A German Shepherd will typically be all black with only a few areas that are brown or tan.
Some German Shepherds’ color is completely black. It’s very rare to find a black German Shepherd but they do exist.
The last coat color of a German Shepherd is white. The white color in the German Shepherd is actually an absence of color. They can be black, tan, or sable, however, the dog’s true color is masked.
Why is it important to groom a German Shepherd?
So, why exactly is it important to groom a German Shepherd? It’s because German Shepherds shed all year long so their hair will make a mess and keep the house untidy.
It can also impact their health where they will become sick when they aren’t groomed routinely and properly.
Also, if you don’t groom your German Shepherd, their hair will become matted especially in the undercoat. This will let the dirt get trapped in the mats leading to infection which will be dangerous for your dog.
So, when you groom your dog routinely, you will minimize the shedding by getting most of the loose hair out.
This will also help keep dirt away from your dog and keep them fresh and clean.
How to groom a German Shepherd’s coat?
To groom your German Shepherd’s coat, you have to follow certain steps and tips so you can successfully groom your dog.
Types of brushes
Pin brushes have a number of long metal bristles that look like pinheads. The wires are also spaced further apart than in a slicker brush. These are very useful for German Shepherd whose fur can trap dead hair.
So how does the pin brushes help? They do so by brushing away gently the loose hair that is trapped and pulling it to the surface.
However, you got to be careful while using this type of brush because it can irritate sensitive skin.
These brushes have thin, short wires that are spaced very closely together and are great at loosening tangles and mats.
These brushes are actually best for medium to long-haired German Shepherds.
You got to be careful while using these brushes as those thing wires can actually hurt your German Shepherd’s skin if pressed with too much force.
This type of brush is designed to go deep into your German Shepherd’s coat. It will definitely remove mats and the dead coat.
It is the best brush for German Shepherd with long hair. It ultimately removes all the dead shedding hair during their shedding season.
These brushes are best for short-haired German Shepherd where it will remove dirt and debris from your dog’s coat and keep it shiny and tangle-free.
These brushes have tightly packed bristles for effective use on short-haired dogs.
Steps to brushing your German Shepherd
Step one: Start brushing your dog’s head with a slicker brush
Place a slicker brush at the top of your German Shepherd’s head and then begin brushing their entire back all the way to their tail.
Repeat this across their entire backside except for their haunches and tail.
Step two: Brush your dog’s hips and tail with the brush
Start to brush your dog’s hips. Even though they don’t hold a lot of fur in them, they are important to brush thoroughly.
After you are finished with the hips, move to brush the tail.
If your German Shepherd has a long tail, then hold the tail in one hand and brush the bottom and top of the tail with the other hand.
Step three: Guide your dog to the other side of their body
This will definitely be tricky especially if your dog isn’t a fan of brushings. After you get your dog to the other side, start from the underside of their neck and start brushing them.
Then, start to brush their belly. In this step, it is very important to not put so much pressure on their belly.
Step four: Use the brush on their front and back legs
If you have a long-haired German Shepherd, then you definitely need to brush off their front and back legs.
Short-haired German Shepherds don’t need their legs to be brushed because it’s too short. However, if you want to stay on the safe side, an occasional brushing of the legs won’t hurt.
Step five: Run a metal comb across your dog’s body
As a final step, you will need to run a metal comb across your dog’s body to get all the excess loose hair that the brush didn’t get.
However, you have to not get close to your dog’s stomach.
Step six: Use a shedding rake
Use a shedding rake along your dog’s back, tail, and hips. Go against your dog’s hair and don’t use the rake on your dog’s stomach or legs.
The shedding rake gets deep down to the undercoat and lifts up the excess fur from your dog’s coat.
Step seven: Run a soft bristle brush
Run a bristle brush through the areas that you used your shedding rake on.
This will definitely flatten your German Shepherd’s coat.
How to bathe your German Shepherd?
Supplies you’ll need
- A sponge
- Dog shampoo
- A non-slip mat so your dog doesn’t slip
- Blow dryer
Step one: Start with brushing your German Shepherd
Brush your German Shepherd to remove all tangles and mats. It’s important to do this step so when you bath your German Shepherd their coat doesn’t get tangled.
Step two: Get your German Shepherd used to the water and bathtub
Let your German Shepherd become used to the water and being in the bathtub by slowly introducing them to the water.
You could do so by running a bit of water in the bathtub and letting your dog touch it.
Use a non-slip mat so your dog doesn’t slip away and stays into place and doesn’t slip.
Step three: Apply shampoo on your dog
After your dog gets used to the water and being in the bathtub, you can start to apply shampoo on your German Shepherd.
Start shampooing your dog through rubbing their all their body except their head. You could either use your fingers or a sponge.
You have to make the head the last thing that you apply shampoo on because your dog will shake their head. So, it must be the last thing to do.
Step four: Rinse your dog with water
Rinse your German Shepherd with water so all the shampoo is rinsed from your dog and all the dirt is gone.
Use a water hose and let it pass throughout their bodies to clean them effectively.
After you finish, let your German Shepherd shake so they can get the excess water from their head.
Step five: Dry your German Shepherd with a towel or blow dryer
Use a towel to dry off your German Shepherd. You have to be sure that your German Shepherd is well dried off.
The difference mainly lies in summer or winter. In summer, you can just towel dry your German Shepherd and let the air dry them off.
While in the winter, you have to use a blow dryer to dry off your German Shepherd.
Dental Care for a German Shepherd
Why it’s important to clean your German Shepherd’s teeth?
There are four important reasons why every dog should have their teeth cleaned:
1.) Prevent your dog from having bad breath
Cleaning your dog’s teeth will most likely prevent bad breath from developing by removing food that is stuck in between their teeth.
If left, this food will most likely leave an odor.
2.) Remove plaque and tartar
It will actually remove tartar and plaque from your dog’s teeth. This tartar and plaque can actually cause many dental diseases that will take a lot of time to be treated and will affect your dog’s wellbeing.
It can also cause blockages that can ultimately affect organs and other joints.
3.) Prevent periodontal disease and internal damage to your dog’s organs
One of the most common diseases that affect German Shepherds when they don’t clean their teeth is periodontal disease.
It can be easily prevented by cleaning their teeth regularly.
There are also toxins that come from periodontal and other oral diseases and can be absorbed into your dog’s bloodstream.
The toxins will cause damage to your dog’s organs such as the liver, heart, and kidney which filters the blood.
This is the sole reason that cleaning your dog’s teeth is very crucial for your dog.
Signs of poor dental care
- Bad breath
- Yellow tartar on teeth and gum
- Drooling more than often
- Aggression and biting
- Swollen or red gums
- Decreased appetite
Steps on how to brush your German Shepherd’s teeth
Supplies you’ll need
- A dog toothpaste
- A dog toothbrush
Step one: Find the right time
You have to find the right time where your German Shepherd is comfortable and relaxed.
By doing so, your dog is going to be less scared when you brush their teeth. They are going to get used to brushing their teeth and it will easily become a routine.
Step two: Test your German Shepherd’s willingness
In this step, you have to test your German Shepherd’s willingness by touching or rubbing their upper gums and teeth.
If your German Shepherd, doesn’t feel comfortable, repeat this exercise for some time until they feel comfortable.
Otherwise, if they are feeling comfortable, then proceed to the next step.
Step three: Let your German Shepherd taste the toothpaste
Put some toothpaste into your finger and allow your German Shepherd to taste it.
Tasting the toothpaste will determine whether your German Shepherd is comfortable or not.
If they taste it and don’t like it, then switch to another dog toothpaste. Try again with your dog until they are comfortable with the toothpaste.
Step four: Use the toothbrush and toothpaste together
First, lift your dog’s upper lip. Then, start using the toothbrush and toothpaste together.
As you are in direct contact with your dog’s teeth, angle the toothbrush to reach your dog’s gum line.
This is done by placing the toothbrush in a 45 degrees angle so it will remove plaque and tartar from all of your dog’s teeth and gum line.
Step five: Use a circular motion
Brush in small circles while you go to the top and bottom of the teeth. As you move the brush along the gum line, some a little bit of bleeding may happen; this is totally normal.
However, if the bleeding is too much, it will be because you are using too much force.
Step six: Take it slowly
Begin by brushing a few teeth at the time so your dog gets used to the process. Just aim for two minutes a day but don’t rush to clean as many teeth as possible.
In the beginning, you can just clean one tooth at the time so your dog is comfortable. You can start at the outsides of the canine and back teeth and move on to the inside of the teeth.
Once your dog is comfortable enough, you can clean as many teeth as you want.
Step seven: Give your German Shepherd a treat
At the end of the session, end it with lots of praise to your dog and give them treats for being so calm and patient during the process.
In this way, they will associate brushing their teeth as a positive experience.
Why you have to clip your German Shepherd’s nails?
Nails are important for keeping all dogs including a German Shepherd balanced when they walk so they can walk and run easily.
Also, they don’t experience pain or discomfort from having long nails. This mainly happens because all of their body weight and pressure is put on the nails.
Thus, clipped nails will help keep your dog balanced in their walk and run and eliminate discomfort and pain.
Also, when the dog’s nails contact the hard surface of the ground, they are pushed back into the nail bed. This will put pressure on your dog’s toe joints and can force the toe to twist to the side causing discomfort and pain.
Prevents split nails
Nails could actually split if they are too long. They could get too long that when a dog walks or run, they could accidentally stumble and fall causing their nails to break.
When you routinely clip your dog’s nails, the chances of having their nail break is very low.
When your dog’s nails break, if left untreated, it will lead to the development of an infection.
This infection will cause your dog lots of pain and discomfort. It will also cause you to go to the vet and to pay lots of money to treat it. Your vet may either prescribe an antibiotic or perform a surgical removal.
All of this is preventable when you clip your dog’s nails routinely so they wouldn’t develop an infection.
When to start clipping your German Shepherd’s nails?
You will know that you have to cut your German Shepherds nails when they are too long.
If you can hear their nails clicking on the ground, then they probably need their nails to be clipped because they are too long.
However, you have to be careful to not clip the quick and hurt your dog causing them bleeding and discomfort.
Steps on how to clip your German Shepherd nails
Supplies you’ll need
Plier nail clippers, also known as scissor-type clippers work will on large dogs such as German Shepherds.
You can use leverage to apply pressure and clip the nails easily; it works like a scissor using two blades to cut the nail, unlike the Guillotine which uses one blade against and cutting it in one direction.
Don’t use the Guillotine clippers as they will definitely cause your German Shepherd discomfort from squeezing and the strong pressure that is applied. This pressure is concentred so your dog will be in discomfort.
A nail grinder can also be used to clip your dog’s nails. Many dog parents prefer the grinder to the clipper. Here are the reasons that they do:
- Grinder creates a smooth nail trim.
- Nails cab shaped while they are being clipped.
- It allows the nails to be clipped close to the quick without causing discomfort by allowing you to see how close you are to the quick so you can stop without causing your dog injury.
Styptic powder is needed in case your dog is injured and is bleeding from their nail.
A cotton ball to be also used to stop the bleeding.
Step one: Stay in a comfortable location
Don’t stay in a dark room but rather get your dog to sit comfortably in an area with light where you can see carefully. You have to also be comfortable while holding your German Shepherd firmly before you cut.
It’s also a nice idea to allow someone to assist you in holding your dog.
Your dog has to not be moving and you have to hold your dog’s paws firmly.
Step two: Get your dog used to seeing the nail clipper
Call your German Shepherd over and pick up the nail clipper. Show them that you are happy while holding it and you could open and close so they get accustomed to the sound of the nail clippers.
Always give your dog a treat when they do something good; in this case, they are getting over their fears of nail clippers so giving them treats will make the experience a positive one.
Step three: Train your dog to allow paw handling
When your German Shepherd is relaxed, lightly touch their shoulders and work your way down to the paw.
Using a calming voice, gently touch her paw while you reassure them. Then, give your dog’s toes a squeeze.
If your dog becomes afraid, stop and start again when your dog is calm again. Don’t scold your dog when they are afraid.
If all is going well, give your dog praise and treats so they can understand that they have done a good job and associate this behavior as a positive one.
Step four: Combine both paw handling with nail clippers
The main purpose is to get your dog relaxed as possible when you use the nail clipper. In this step, sit on the floor while your dog is relaxed.
Then, handle their paw with one hand while you open and close with the other hand. Repeat this action gradually while moving close to your dog’s nails.
If your dog is relaxed with the presence of the nail clippers, then you can let the clipper touch your dog’s toe while you talk to them in a soothing voice. Give them a treat if they are calm.
If they are comfortable, then you can proceed to the next step. However, if they are uncomfortable, take a break and start again when they are calm.
Step five: Clip with a nail clipper
Once your dog is ready, hold your dog’s paw gently without squeezing. Hold the clipper in your dominant hand and the other hand holds your dog’s paw.
Place your thumb at the bottom of the footpad while your fingers on the top of the foot.
Clip your dog’s nails gradually and bit by bit. Cut the nails at a 45 degrees angle. You have to be careful to not cut the quick as this part has blood vessels and will cause bleeding when injured.
Step six: Use styptic powder for injuries
If it happens that you have cut too deep into the quick, your dog will likely yelp in pain.
You can still manage the bleeding by applying pressure using a cotton ball that was dipped in the styptic powder.
Why it’s important to keep your dog’s ears clean?
The main reason to clean your German Shepherd’s ear is that ear debris and wax built up over time and can cause infection when they aren’t cleaned routinely.
Make it a regular habit to check on your dog’s ears regularly for signs of infection. Some of the signs of ear infection are that the ears appear red and inflamed and have a bad smell.
This infection will definitely cause your dog pain and you will need to go to the vet to find the best possible treatment.
Supplies you’ll need
- Dog ear cleaner
- Cotton balls
- Dog treats
Steps on how to clean your dog’s ears
Step one: put a few drops of ear cleaner
Begin by holding out the ear flap up and putting a few drops of ear cleaner inside of the flap near the ear opening.
Then, put some a few drops into the ear opening so you got all the inside covered with the ear cleaner.
Step two: Massage the ear
In this step, massage the base of the ear with your hands. By massaging your dog’s ears, you are loosening the ear debris inside the ears.
After you massage your dog’s ears, allow them to shake their head because they will naturally do so.
Step three: Wipe the ear with a cotton ball
Once your dog shakes their head, lightly wet the cotton ball with the ear cleaner. Use the cotton ball with your finger to wipe out the ear canal effectively.
You have to also not go to deeply so you don’t cause ear damage to your dog’s ears. Just use the cotton ball without so much force.
If your dog bleeds or is in pain, stop immediately and go to the vet.
Still, if their ears are dirty, repeat the process until their ears are cleaned. Repeat the same steps for the other ear. Then, dry their head with a towel and give your dog a treat for being so patient.
Grooming your German Shepherd is very important to their health and hygiene. They need to be groomed regularly so they won’t become sick.
Grooming only your dog in one area will still cause your German Shepherd to have problems in another area. So it’s important to groom your dog in every area.
To know more about the origin and history of German Shepherd, check The History, Origin, and Profile of a German Shepherd Dog
Share your experience with grooming your German Shepherd. Was it an easy experience?