How to groom a German Shepherd (Alsatian)

How to groom a German Shepherd (Alsatian)

German Shepherd (Alsatian)

Germans Shepherds (or GSDs) are an extremely versatile and intelligent breed, making them ideal for both pet and working roles. Due to their extreme intelligence and stamina, GSDs need plenty of mental and physical exercise daily to become well-balanced happy dogs.

GSDs are powerful, demonstrated by their well-muscled shoulders and legs. Originally bred as herding dogs, they have a weather-resilient double coat. There are two strains of coat: Short and Long. The coat around the head, front legs and feet is naturally short, while the coat on their neck, back, back of legs and hindquarters is generally longer.

GDSs shed heavily. Daily brushing is ideal to keep the coat free of loose/dead hair, however minimal bathing is recommended to maintain the natural PH of the skin

It can be a natural inclination to want to shave all the coat off double coated breeds in warmer months/climates – never recommend this to pet owners. Once the outer coat and undercoat have been removed, it disrupts the natural thermoregulation process and can lead to sunburn and skin cancer. Encourage a de-shedding treatment or spend the time to brush out the excess undercoat daily (especially in Spring & Autumn). This diagram created by Brook Wilkins explains the process very well:


Diagram showing the effect of shaving a double coated breed. Created by Brook Wilkins

Diagram showing the effect of shaving a double coated breed. Created by Brook Wilkins

Coat Type

Double Coated / Harsh

Grooming Requirement

Bathe & Brush Out

Grooming Notes

If the coat is not thoroughly dried as quickly as possible after bathing, the warm, damp conditions are the perfect breeding ground for bacteria which can lead to odour, itching and skin infections

  • GSDs shed heavily due to their thick double coat, extra grooming may be required in Spring and Autumn when shedding intensifies further
  • Long Coated GSDs will require more grooming and tend to shed more than the Shorter Haired strain
  • Due to the thick undercoat that the GSD has, it can be worthwhile taking them to a professional groomer to be bathed as they will have the correct equipment (High-Velocity Blaster) to ensure that the coat is thoroughly dried, preventing that ‘wet dog’ smell and skin infections

Grooming Guide

A blaster is useful at all stages of grooming for this breed. Use the blaster prior to bathing to help lift skin dander, debris and loosen undercoat. Use a blaster after bathing to help remove excess moisture from the coat and speed up the drying process

  • Use a blaster prior to bathing to lift skin dander, debris and loosen coat
  • Using a rubber curry brush/jelly scrubber during bathing can help loosen dead/shedding coat
  • Use a blaster after bathing to remove excess water from the coat, blow away any coat loosened in the bathing process and encourage skin health
  • Coat around the neck, shoulders, chest and rump can be especially dense and require extra attention
  • Use a slicker brush, undercoat rake, coat rake or shedding blade to remove any remaining loose coat. Brushing is not finished until little/no hair is being removed. Take care not to cause discomfort/brush burn but brushing repetitively or with a heavy hand
  • A bristle brush can be used on a daily basis to help encourage the distribution of natural oils around the coat and lift away loose hair
  • Edge ears with thinning/detailing scissors if necessary
  • Trim paw pads with a #15 – #40 blade
  • Back brush long coat from between toes and trim with thinning/safety scissors
  • If the coat around the hocks is particularly long trim with thinning scissors or a #4F

Grooming Tool Recommendations

Other Health Recommendations

Clipper Blade Recommendations

Shampoo Recommendations

For everyday use, mild/hypoallergenic shampoos are recommended. You can also use coat specific shampoos depending on the coat requirement, such as shedding treatment, deep clean, speed dry or itchy skin relief.

Conditioner Recommendations

A conditioner is highly recommended for this coat type as it adds ‘slip’ to the hair making it easier to remove undercoat with a blaster/brush.

Coat Care Recommendations