How to Brush German Shepherd Hair

by Lisa

German Shepherds are a popular breed known for their intelligence, loyalty, and striking appearance. Their double coat, which consists of a dense undercoat and a coarser outer coat, requires regular grooming to keep it healthy and free of mats and tangles. Brushing your German Shepherd‘s hair not only helps maintain their coat but also promotes a strong bond between you and your pet. In this article, we will delve into the intricacies of brushing German Shepherd hair, covering everything from the type of brushes to use, the best techniques, and tips for dealing with shedding.

Understanding the German Shepherd Coat

Double Coat Structure

German Shepherds have a double coat that serves a vital purpose. The undercoat is soft and dense, providing insulation and protecting the dog from extreme temperatures. The outer coat, also known as guard hairs, is coarser and water-resistant, offering additional protection from the elements.


Seasonal Shedding

German Shepherds are notorious for their shedding, particularly during the spring and fall when they “blow” their coats. During these times, the shedding is more intense as they lose their winter or summer coat to make way for the new seasonal coat. Regular brushing is crucial during these periods to manage the excessive shedding.


Tools and Brushes for Grooming

Slicker Brush

A slicker brush is an essential tool for any German Shepherd owner. It has fine, short wires close together on a flat or slightly curved surface. This brush is excellent for removing loose hair and detangling the outer coat without damaging the skin.


Undercoat Rake

An undercoat rake is specifically designed to penetrate the thick undercoat and remove loose fur. It typically has long, widely spaced teeth that can reach deep into the coat without causing discomfort to the dog.


Pin Brush

A pin brush resembles a human hairbrush and is useful for general grooming. It helps to smooth out the coat and can be used to finish the grooming session. However, it may not be as effective at removing loose undercoat hair as the slicker brush or undercoat rake.

Deshedding Tool

Deshedding tools like the Furminator are specifically designed to reduce shedding by removing loose undercoat hair. These tools can be very effective but should be used with caution to avoid over-brushing and irritating the dog’s skin.

Brushing Techniques

Regular Brushing Routine

Establishing a regular brushing routine is crucial for maintaining your German Shepherd’s coat. Aim to brush your dog at least three times a week, and daily during peak shedding seasons. Consistency will help keep their coat healthy and reduce the amount of loose hair around your home.

Starting with the Right Brush

Begin your grooming session with a slicker brush to remove loose hair and detangle the outer coat. Work in sections, starting from the head and moving down to the tail. Be gentle and use short, gentle strokes to avoid causing discomfort.

Addressing the Undercoat

After using the slicker brush, switch to an undercoat rake to tackle the dense undercoat. Use the rake in the direction of hair growth and be mindful of sensitive areas such as the belly and legs. The undercoat rake will help remove any remaining loose hair and prevent mats from forming.

Finishing Touches

Once the majority of loose hair has been removed, use a pin brush to smooth out the coat and give it a polished look. This brush can also help distribute natural oils throughout the coat, promoting a healthy shine.

Dealing with Mats and Tangles

Identifying Problem Areas

Common areas for mats and tangles include behind the ears, under the legs, and around the neck. Regularly check these areas and address any mats as soon as they form to prevent them from worsening.

Detangling Spray

Using a detangling spray can make the process of removing mats easier and less painful for your dog. Spray the solution on the mat and gently work it through with your fingers before using a slicker brush or a comb to remove the tangle.

Patience and Gentle Handling

When dealing with mats, patience is key. Avoid pulling or yanking on the mat, as this can cause pain and damage to the skin. Instead, gently tease the mat apart using your fingers or a mat splitter, and then carefully brush it out.

Managing Shedding

Diet and Nutrition

A healthy diet plays a significant role in the condition of your German Shepherd’s coat. Ensure your dog is receiving high-quality food with the necessary nutrients, including omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which promote a healthy coat and skin.

Bathing and Conditioning

Regular bathing can help manage shedding by removing loose hair and keeping the coat clean. Use a dog-specific shampoo and conditioner to avoid drying out the skin. However, avoid over-bathing, as this can strip the coat of its natural oils. Aim to bathe your German Shepherd once every 6-8 weeks or as needed.


Consider adding supplements to your dog’s diet to support their coat health. Fish oil, flaxseed oil, and other supplements rich in essential fatty acids can help reduce shedding and improve coat condition.

Seasonal Grooming Tips

Spring Shedding

During the spring shedding season, increase the frequency of brushing to daily sessions. This will help manage the excessive shedding and prevent mats from forming. Use an undercoat rake to remove as much loose hair as possible.

Fall Shedding

Similar to spring, fall is another peak shedding season for German Shepherds. Regular brushing and the use of deshedding tools can help keep the shedding under control. Pay special attention to areas prone to matting, such as behind the ears and under the legs.

Grooming Tips for Puppies

Introducing Brushing Early

Start brushing your German Shepherd puppy as early as possible to get them accustomed to the process. Use a gentle brush, such as a pin brush, and keep the sessions short and positive.

Positive Reinforcement

Reward your puppy with treats and praise during and after grooming sessions to create a positive association with brushing. This will make future grooming sessions more enjoyable for both you and your dog.

Handling Sensitive Areas

Puppies may be more sensitive to brushing, especially around the ears and belly. Be gentle and patient, gradually working up to longer grooming sessions as your puppy becomes more comfortable with the process.

Grooming Tools Maintenance

Cleaning Brushes

Regularly clean your grooming tools to ensure they remain effective and hygienic. Remove hair from the brushes after each use and wash them with soap and water periodically.

Replacing Worn Tools

Over time, grooming tools can become worn out and less effective. Inspect your brushes and rakes regularly and replace them as needed to ensure optimal grooming results.

Common Grooming Mistakes


While regular brushing is essential, over-brushing can cause irritation and damage to your dog’s skin. Be mindful of how much pressure you apply and avoid excessive brushing.

Ignoring Mats

Allowing mats to form and worsen can cause discomfort and skin issues for your dog. Regularly check for mats and address them promptly to prevent complications.

Using the Wrong Tools

Using the wrong grooming tools can make the process less effective and more uncomfortable for your dog. Invest in high-quality brushes and rakes designed specifically for German Shepherds.

Health Benefits of Regular Grooming

Skin Health

Regular grooming promotes healthy skin by removing dirt, debris, and loose hair. It also helps to stimulate blood circulation, which can improve overall skin condition.

Early Detection of Issues

Grooming provides an opportunity to check your dog for any signs of health issues, such as lumps, bumps, or skin irritations. Early detection allows for prompt treatment and better outcomes.

Bonding Experience

Grooming is not just about maintaining your dog’s coat; it’s also a bonding experience. Regular brushing sessions strengthen the bond between you and your German Shepherd, promoting trust and companionship.

See also: How often Do I bathe my Aussiedoodle?


Brushing your German Shepherd’s hair is a vital part of their overall care routine. Regular grooming helps maintain their coat, reduces shedding, and promotes healthy skin. By using the right tools, techniques, and maintaining a consistent grooming schedule, you can keep your German Shepherd looking and feeling their best. Remember, grooming is also an excellent opportunity to bond with your pet, making it a rewarding experience for both you and your furry friend.


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