German Shepherds are notorious shedders. In this article, you’ll learn about the various GSD coat types and why brushing is important. I’ve also recommended four of the best brushes for German Shepherds.
- Types of German Shepherd Coats
- Which Types of Brushes and Deshedding Tools Are Suitable for GSDs?
- 4 Best Dog Brushes for a German Shepherd
- German Shepherd Grooming and Brushing Tips
- Frequently Asked Questions
German Shepherds usually have a double coat, consisting of thick outer guard hairs and a softer undercoat. Double coats regulate body temperature in hot and cold weather, while protecting the skin from dirt, debris and parasites.
Double-coated breeds shed more than single-coated dogs, particularly when their coat has its annual “blow.” During this time, keeping loose hair at manageable levels can seem like an impossible task (I’m sure any GSD owner knows exactly what I mean!)
Adopting an effective and regular grooming regime can minimize the amount of hair to clean up. Brushing also promotes a healthy skin and coat, by spreading natural oils and preventing matting.
It’s vital that you use the right type of brush for a German Shepherd’s coat though. Here’s a guide to choosing a GSD brush, along with four of the best pet grooming tools for this breed.
Our #1 Pick: Furminator Undercoat Deshedding Brush
Effective at removing loose hair – but don’t overdo it!
The Furminator is our top pick for most German Shepherds. It can remove huge quantities of hair from your dog’s coat, so it’s great for reducing shedding. Be gentle and don’t overuse it though – this certainly isn’t a brush for daily grooming (you’ll need a pin and bristle brush for that.)
Types of German Shepherd Coats
German Shepherd dogs (GSDs), have two formal coat types. These are the Stock Coat (short) and Long Stock Coat.
Unofficially there are actually four types, although not all are recognized as part of the Breed Standard. Before you select a brush, you need to know what type of coat your dog has.
- Short-Coated/Stock Coat. This is the most common type of coat seen in German Shepherds. It consists of a dense, harsh, close-lying outer, and a softer and shorter undercoat. The length can vary, and some dogs have a fuller coat to the rear of their body.
- Medium/ “Plush” Coat. This isn’t recognized as part of the breed standard, but it’s commonly used in the United States to refer to a dog that has a fuller and longer coat than a standard short or long-haired GSD. The ‘plush’ coat is often favored in the show ring. These dogs also have a full undercoat.
- Long Stock Coat. Not as common as the standard Stock Coat, this type has a much longer and fuller topcoat that features fringing on the chest and legs. The mane around the neck is also fuller. The undercoat tends to be much denser in cold weather conditions.
- Long Coat (Without Undercoat). German Shepherds with this type of coat aren’t part of the official breed standard, and they aren’t common. Their single coat is soft, fine, long and light, and it forms in feathers on the ears, tail and legs.
Given that most German Shepherds have an undercoat, you’ll want at least two brushes: a grooming brush for the topcoat and a brush to penetrate the undercoat.
Short-coated German Shepherds usually benefit from a deshedding tool, to remove loose hairs in the undercoat, and a pin or bristle brush. For longer-coated dogs, a slicker brush will also help to manage any knots and tangles in the dog’s fur.
What about the rare GSD without an undercoat? A combination of slicker, pin and bristle brush is probably all you need for these dogs. Make sure you pick a gentle brush that won’t be uncomfortable or irritate the skin.
Tip: We’ve also written a guide to the best dog brushes for Australian Shepherds.
Other Tips for Managing a German Shepherd’s Shedding
A powerful vacuum with a pet tool is essential if you have a German Shepherd. You’ll probably need to vacuum daily – especially during the moulting season. A never-ending supply of lint rollers is also important for your clothing!
Daily brushing can minimise loose hair that ends up on carpets or furniture. Brushing outside is often a good idea, especially when using a deshedding tool.
Ultimately, managing your dog’s coat takes patience and plenty of grooming to remove loose hairs. There are no miracle solutions. You should never shave a German Shepherd, as this destroys the temperature regulating qualities of their coat.
Which Types of Brushes and Deshedding Tools Are Suitable for GSDs?
There are many brushes on the market. It can be tricky to know which type will suit your German Shepherd’s coat. Here’s a list of recommended brush types that are effective for most GSDs.
Bristle brushes are often overlooked when grooming German Shepherds, but they are a useful tool for managing the topcoat. In particular, they are effective at removing loose hair and dirt from the outer coat and distributing natural oils.
The bristle length can vary a lot. Generally, the longer the coat is, the longer the bristles should be, as this allows them to penetrate more effectively.
Bristle brushes can also be great for brushing around the delicate leg areas.
A pin brush has much more widely spread bristles than a traditional bristle brush. They are great for preventing tangles and improving general coat health – especially when grooming medium or long-haired German Shepherds.
Make sure the pins have rubber ends, however, otherwise they can be painful on the skin.
Double-sided brushes that include a pin and a bristle side are available, and these can be a good choice for managing both the top and undercoats.
Deshedding tools are probably the most important for managing the amount of hairs you find around your home. They lift out a frightening amount of dead hair from deep in the undercoat, which would otherwise end up on your floor. Deshedding tools can also loosen knots and prevent matting in a German Shepherd’s coat.
When using a deshedding tool, apply minimal pressure and a gentle brushing action. These tools can be uncomfortable on your dog’s skin if you’re too harsh, and it’s possible to break hairs that are still attached. Be careful not to overuse them!
The Furminator is the most well-known deshedding tool for German Shepherds, but there are lots of other brands to choose from.
If your dog isn’t keen on deshedding tools, like the Furminator, then a slicker brush can be a good alternative to remove loose hair. The stiffer bristles also help to remove dirt and penetrate deep into longer hair and undercoats.
Note: If you’re bathing your dog, wait until their hair is fully dry and then give them a really good brush out. Bathing, especially if you use a high-quality deshedding shampoo, can help to loosen dead hairs. If you’re struggling with tangles, you may also want to read our guide to dog detangler sprays.
4 Best Dog Brushes for a German Shepherd
Listed below are four of my top recommendations for brushes for German Shepherds. Make sure you read each review carefully to learn about the pros and cons of these brushes.
1. Furminator Undercoat Deshedding BrushVIEW PRICE
If you’re exasperated by the amount of dog hair that appears almost immediately after vacuuming, then you may be surprised by how much difference a Furminator Deshedding Brush will make. Few tools lift out dead hair as easily and effectively as a deshedding brush, and this brand is one of the best.
The Furminator has stainless steel teeth that penetrate deep into the undercoat to remove dead hair more effectively than other brushes. These brushes are fast to use, easy to clean, and last a long time, so it’s no surprise they are incredibly popular.
There are various teeth length options, so make sure you choose a brush that’s the right length for your dog’s coat. Too short and the brush won’t penetrate the undercoat properly, but too long and brushing could be uncomfortable.
For the best impact, you should use the Furminator regularly on your German Shepherd. When their coat is having its annual blow, using it a few times a week will be beneficial. The first time you use it, expect to remove vast amounts of loose undercoat hair, and the quantity should decrease with regular use.
Outside of the moulting season, using the Furminator once a week will likely be enough.
The most important thing when using a Furminator is to make sure you’re not applying too much pressure or dragging it through the coat too harshly. A gentle brushing action is all you need. If you apply too much pressure, it can become irritating or uncomfortable for your dog.
The Furminator is more expensive than your average brush. But for an excessive shedder, it’s probably the best brush for German Shepherds.
Note: It’s best to avoid deshedding brushes when grooming German Shepherds without an undercoat. The Furminator isn’t designed to be used on single-coated breeds, and could even cut healthy hair if overused. I also don’t recommend using this brush if your dog has sensitive skin or allergies.VIEW PRICE
2. GoPets Professional Double Sided Pin and Bristle BrushVIEW PRICE
A double-sided pin and bristle brush, like this one from GoPets, is an essential tool for grooming German Shepherds. While neither side of the brush will remove as much hair as a deshedding tool, the GoPets is gentler and suitable for daily grooming.
You can use the bristle side for removing dry mud or other debris on the top of the coat. The bristles are also useful for spreading natural oils across the coat. It won’t penetrate a thick double coat, however, so don’t expect it to lift out lots of dead hair.
The pin side penetrates deeper into your dog’s coat. It’s great for preventing tangles and giving the coat a healthy appearance, plus it can remove a decent amount of dead hairs.
Another benefit of the GoPets Professional is the comfortable silicone handle. This might not be the most durable option, but it makes the brush easy to use.
Keep in mind that if your dog has a very dense coat, you won’t find this brush has the same longevity as the bladed teeth of the Furminator. The pin bristles may start to come loose with prolonged use, but this is common for all pin brushes – it isn’t unique to GoPets.VIEW PRICE
3. Hertzko Self Cleaning Slicker BrushVIEW PRICE
If you’re looking for something that lifts dead hair a little more easily than a pin brush, you could try a slicker brush. The Hertzko Slicker Brush is one of the best options in this category, as it’s effective, self-cleaning, and provides excellent value for money.
The metal bristles on the Hertzko slicker are firm and durable. They penetrate denser double coats and groom long hair, making this brush a great choice for most German Shepherds.
The retractable mechanism protects the bristles when the brush is stored. More importantly, being able to retract the bristles makes it easier to remove dead hair that gathers during brushing.
The bristles on slicker brushes aren’t as durable as the rake teeth of the Furminator, so you won’t get the same longevity with this brush. Once the bristles start to break off or lose their shape, it would be best to replace the brush to ensure it doesn’t cause discomfort or lose its effectiveness.
Dogs with sensitive skin or a short coat may find the Hertzko uncomfortable. For thick coats, however, it’s the best brush for German Shepherd dogs in the slicker category.VIEW PRICE
4. AtEase Accents Double Sided Dog BrushVIEW PRICE
The AtEase Accents is an alternative double-sided pin and bristle brush to the GoPets. Both are excellent options, so the “right” choice really depends on your personal preferences.
This brush doesn’t have the comfortable, anti-slip rubber handle the GoPets option does, but it’s made with an environmentally-friendly bamboo wood handle. The handle is highly durable, so you won’t have to worry about it breaking.
Like the GoPets brush, the Accents is a decent size, making it perfect for larger breeds like German Shepherds.
As with any pin and bristle brush, don’t expect the AtEase to penetrate a thick double coat like a slicker or a deshedding tool. The pin side can lift dead hair out, however, and the bristle side is great for removing dirt and leaving a healthy shine.
It’s gentle too, so it’s a good option if your dog isn’t keen on being groomed and you want to build up a positive experience. This also makes it a good choice for German Shepherds with sensitive skin.
A downside is that the pins aren’t as durable as the handle. The pins can start to recess into the cushion over time, although you should get plenty of use from it before this becomes an issue.VIEW PRICE
German Shepherd Grooming and Brushing Tips
Choosing the right brush for your German Shepherd is important, but how you brush is also essential. Here are some tips for brushing your GSD:
- Be gentle when brushing. Never go over the same area too many times, as this can lead to “brush burn.” Brush hair with the direction of growth, rather than against it.
- Nervous dogs may need some positive reinforcement training to feel comfortable during brushing. Provide plenty of treats and keep sessions short.
- When you bathe your dog (which shouldn’t be more often then every 1-2 months), consider applying a deshedding shampoo. These products can help loosen dead hair, making it easier to brush out.
- Healthy dogs tend to shed less, so make sure your pet is being fed a high-quality and nutritional diet.
- Professional groomers often use a high velocity dryer to remove large amounts of hair in ultra-quick time. If you decide to use a dryer, make sure it’s safe for dogs and do plenty of positive reinforcement training to ensure your pup isn’t anxious or scared.
- Even with frequent brushing, you should still expect plenty of hair to end up in carpets and on hard floors. It’s worth investing in a high-quality pet vacuum to make cleaning up easier!
Frequently Asked Questions
Are German Shepherds Double-Coated Dogs?
Yes, most German Shepherds have a double coat. Those with a stock coat, plush coat, or long stock coat all have both a topcoat and undercoat.
The exception is GSDs with a long coat. This rare variation typically doesn’t include an undercoat, instead having a single coat that’s soft and light.
How Often Should You Brush a German Shepherd?
For most of the year, brushing your GSD 3-4 times per week with a bristle or pin brush is sufficient. You can also use a deshedding tool once a week to reduce shedding.
During shedding season, you’ll need to brush your German Shepherd more frequently with a deshedding tool.
How Often Should I Bathe a German Shepherd?
It’s important not to over-bathe your dog, as this can lead to dry skin and irritation. It also strips the healthy natural oils from your pup’s coat.
A bath every 1-2 months is enough for most German Shepherds.
Can I Shave My GSD?
No. Double-coated dogs, like the German Shepherd, should never be shaved (unless there is a medical reason.)
Shaving ruins the insulating properties of the coat, which means your dog will get hotter in warm weather and colder in cool conditions. The coat also may grow back patchy and uneven.
Nearly all German Shepherds shed…a lot. Selecting the right German Shepherd brush can limit the amount of fluff bunnies gathering in the corners of your home. More importantly, lifting out dead hair keeps your dog’s coat and skin in a healthy condition.
My top pick for breeds that have a thick, double-coat, like a German Shepherd, is the Furminator. It penetrates deep into the undercoat, lifts a lot of hair out with each grooming session, and is easy to clean. Just make sure that you select the right size and that you don’t apply too much pressure during grooming sessions.
Do you have any questions about choosing the best dog brush for German Shepherd dogs? Or do you like a brush that I haven’t included? Please let me know in the comments section below.