A lot of us have been there, It’s a hot day and your German Shepherd is panting heavily, worried your pup is getting too hot you’ve found yourself looking at the clippers and wondering if you can shave your German Shepherd’s fur, or possibly you’ve been watching the 100th clump of hair that day work its way loose onto your freshly hoovered floor and curiously want to inquire if you can speed up the malting process by lending a clippered hand.
Can you shave a German Shepherd? It’s a frequently asked question amongst German Shepherd parents. The answer in short: Technically you can shave your German Shepherd, but it certainly isn’t recommended. Unless it is for health or medical reasons.
For reasons why it is recommended you do not shave your German Shepherd dog and alternative fixes please read on.
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Why should I not shave my German Shepherd?
There are many reasons why you shouldn’t shave your German Shepherd. Typically, German Shepherds are a double coat breed. This double coat is made up of an undercoat and a coat guard. The coat guard helps to protect the undercoat from sun, mud and water. Whilst the undercoat acts as a great insulator. If you shave your German Shepherds coat it may grow back uneven and blended which will make its natural defences less effective.
German Shepherds dual coat enables them to reflect sunlight in the summer and trap warmth close to the skin in the winter. If you shave your German Shepherds fur you will be removing the guard coat and some of the undercoat which could lead to more harm than good:
Sunburn: If you remove the outer guard coat you will be removing your German Shepherds natural sunscreen. This can put your German Shepherd at higher risk of sunburn which can be very unpleasant and painful for them.
Heatstroke: By shaving the double protection your German Shepherds coat gives them you can make them more susceptible to heatstroke. Heatstroke can rapidly become an emergency situation for your pet and possibly a threat to life. So, any suspected heatstroke will require immediate action and attention. Even if mild heat stroke is suspected your beloved pooch will have to be closely monitored by a vet.
Hyperthermia: It is also important to make sure your German Shepherd doesn’t get too cold. If you remove more insulation than your German Shepherd would usually shed they can get too cold. Even in the summer months temperatures at night can drop once the sun has gone down. Dogs who get too cold can develop hypothermia. Like Heatstroke hyperthermia can cause your German Shepherd to deteriorate quickly and can be life threatening.
Bites and stings: When you remove your German Shepherd fur you are also removing a double layer of protection against bites and stings. Short haired dogs are more vulnerable to the effects of wasp and bee stings along with stings from some ants including fire ants, harvester ants, and oak ants. These stings can be unpleasant and painful for your German Shepherd. Although rare in some cases dogs can be very sensitive to these stings which can then be lethal.
Although less painful bites can also be very frustrating for your German Shepherd. The most common insects which like to feast on dogs are mosquitos, spiders, fleas and ticks.
Skin conditions: When your German Shepherds skin has less protection, it becomes more susceptible to becoming dry and irritated. This can cause your companion to scratch. They will likely use more force than needed as they will be used to scratching through their double coat. Which means they will be more likely to break the skin. Once your dog has an open wound it can lead to a whole range of skin infections which can be unpleasant for your German Shepherd and expensive for yourself.
Shedding: If you are trying to combat shedding clipping the hair will not help. German Shepherds shed 365 days a year and twice a year they will shed their undercoats. Once for their summer undercoat and once for their winter coat. By shaving their fur, you will only be making the strands shorter, spikier and harder to clean up.
When is it acceptable to shave a German Shepherd?
There maybe times when your German Shepherd will need to have their fur shaved. This should be done under the guidance of a veterinarian and can be for the following reasons:
Hot spots: These large, raw, inflamed sores are caused by a bacterial infection. Shaving the area around these sores can help to give some relief to your German Shepherd. For more information on hot spots please see our article on hot spots in German Shepherds- Everything you need to know.
Operations: If your German needs to undergo any surgery they will need to have their fur clipped. This is to make the fur shorter so the skin surface can be sterilized to prevent any bacteria and reduce infections.
If your German Shepherd does need to have their fur clipped for any of the above reasons it should eventually grow back. However, it’s good to keep in mind that in some cases it may grow back duller, patchy or not the same as it was before.
Alternative ways to keep your German Shepherd cool:
As we’ve discovered shaving your German Shepherd is not a good idea. Here are some ideas on how to help keep them cool on a hot day:
Fresh water: constant access to fresh water is a necessity when keeping your German Shepherd cool. Is it a good idea to keep the water in a shaded area to help keep it cool. This also helps to lure your pooch away from the sun’s rays.
Add ice to their water bowl. A fast and effective way to cool your German Shepherd is to add a few ice cubes to a shallow water bowl. Make sure there isn’t too much water in this bowl as ingesting too much cold water quickly can cause your German Shepherd to bloat. For more information please see our article on bloat in German Shepherds- everything you need to know.
Grooming: Regularly grooming your German Shepherd helps to keep them cool as any matted fur will stop air flow and trap heat.
Shade: It is important to ensure your German Shepherd has access to shade at all times. If your German Shepherd cannot escape the sun’s rays they can begin to overheat quickly. If your Yard has little to no shade at certain times of the day it is worth investing in a canopy or creating a shaded area which your German Shepherd can easily retreat to.
If you have the space long term you could look at planting some fast-growing trees. For more information on fast growing shade trees please see this article.
Sprinklers: If you have sprinklers in your yard on a hot day make your German Shepherd super happy by leaving them on for them to play in. This not only helps to cool them down but will also help water your garden.
Frozen treats: To help cool your German Shepherd dog down from the inside out dog friendly frozen treats are a great way. For a couple of our recipes including Frozen pupsicle pops and frozen yoghurt and peanut butter bites please see our article on best healthy treats for training a German Shepherd dog.
Doggy paddling pool: As you can see from the picture above these German Shepherds are very much enjoying their cool down in their doggy paddling pool.
Although these are good ways to help cool your German Shepherd down on a hot day. It is recommended on extremely hot days where possible you keep your GSD indoors.
Alternative ways to reduce shredding:
Although shedding is expected when a German Shepherd joins your family sometimes the sheer volume can be surprising. How can your dog malt that much fur and still have more to give!? Although you cannot stop the malting there are ways to help control it:
Regular grooming: It’s recommended you brush your German Shepherd between 3-4 times a week. When your GSD is shedding their undercoat, a daily brush would do no harm. It’s important to ensure your using the right grooming tools to help reduce those German Shepherd fur balls blowing across your floor. We use this Oster Dog rake and shedding brush on our German Shepherds which we can highly recommend.
Baths: It’s recommended you bathe your dog every 4-5 months. If you can match this to when your German Shepherd starts to shed their undercoat once in the fall and once in the spring it’s a great way to help loosen the fur. Regular bathing is not recommended as it can strip the natural oils your German Shepherd produces, which will leave their skin dry.
Shaving your German Shepherd can be more harmful than helpful. We hope this article has given you enough insight into alternatives and answered any questions you may have had in relation to shaving your German Shepherd.
If you think we could add anything for other users or if you have a question you would like to have answered relating to German Shepherds please contact us using the form on our home page or leave a comment below 🙂