It’s been my observation that there are two trigger points that can get owners of German Shepherds, and other canines with substantial coats, to contemplate the merits of shaving their dog! The first is where an owner considers the solution to having a thick fur coat in warm weather is to take it off! The second trigger point can be exasperation at the amount of hair getting deposited all over a home during their dog’s shedding.
Other than the less-than-wonderful appearance resulting from a complete dog shave, you cannot blame well-intentioned owners in either situation. But well-intentioned is not enough, for we need also to be well-informed!
Oh, and I should include a third category, where a dog is shaved, or partially so, for questionable cosmetic purposes. I’ll add a photo for this one – see the “lion-dog”, above!
The German Shepherd sheds year round, but does so copiously for a couple of weeks in spring and again in fall. During these times of “blowing the coat”, as it’s sometimes described, the quantities of hair coming off can leave their mark in almost every corner of a house.
Good Grooming Matters
This natural cycle is all about getting rid of the old-growth and making way for healthy new hair. Inconvenient as it may be for humans, this is a good and healthy thing for the GSD. There’s nothing we can do to reduce or eliminate the process.
Good grooming practices however, help to remove excess hair, getting the dog looking better faster. And of course, the more that is removed in this way, the less remains to be scattered around our living spaces.
For more on grooming, I invite you to read our article, which covers the basics concerning the tools and methods for dealing with the “hairy monsters”; our beloved German Shepherds: Grooming Your German Shepherd.
So, What About Shaving the German Shepherd?
The short answer on whether it is O.K. to shave your German Shepherd, is NO, it is not! With rare exceptions, we should not even entertain the idea! We will explore the various reasons for not shaving your dog in a moment. But first I’ll address situations which may constitute those rare exceptions. Even so, I raise such possibilities with caution:
There may be two exceptions to the rule of never shaving your German Shepherd:
- In the event of a medical necessity on the part of the dog resulting in the strong recommendation of a TRUSTED vet.
- If a human member of the family is suffering from serious allergic or other reactions to the dog’s hair. Preferably such incompatibilities between housemates can be anticipated ahead and thus avoided. But where the problem surfaces after the arrival of a new family member, canine or human, it must be addressed accordingly.
A Reader’s SOS
Here is a question we recently received from a reader – only her name has been changed. Following is my response to her, with minor edits for additional clarity:
Our 4 year old german shepherd of 33 kilos, is somehow shedding “tons of hair”. (down here we are in summer.) My husband said next time, he’ll have her shorn, so as not to be sweeping up handfulls of hair from the oddest places. Would this be a good idea?
Reasons for Not Shaving Your German Shepherd
I understand the predicament of the dog that sheds abundantly. So, let me share some thoughts on this (not necessarily in order of importance):
- A German Shepherd’s thick coat provides temperature control – all year round! Cooling in the summer, and heat in the winter.
- Removing a dog’s coat makes them vulnerable to sunburn and to heatstroke.
- Shaved to the skin, a dog is more prone to insect bites.
- A shorn dog is likely to suffer from dry-skin conditions.
- A shorn dog still sheds. This means that the short new growth, when shed, consists of short prickly “pins and needles” that can be worse to deal with in the house than normal long shed hairs.
- The appearance of a shorn German Shepherd represents a sad shadow of his former, coated, self.
- Human hair is thought to grow back thicker and better- looking after shaving the head. But such is not the case with German Shepherds! Their coat may never quite recover after a shaving. The new growth can be patchy and uneven, especially if the dog remained shaved for a few months.
These seven points, taken together, provide a compelling case for not shaving our dogs, barring the kind of rare exceptions previously noted!
So, we’ve seen that concerning a German Shepherd’s coat, and their need to shed in accordance with nature’s plan and schedule, good maintenance on our part is the best policy. Deep brushing a couple of times a week, using the appropriate brushes (per our article, aforementioned) is the best shedding-season solution for the German Shepherd owner.
Something that you might also find helpful is to give your pooch a good coat massage before grooming. He or she will enjoy this, plus it will loosen the dead hairs, resulting in more effective removal as you brush.