Grooming your German Shepherd is a large part of taking care of him or her. And it’s not all about just keeping them clean and stuff.
A good grooming regimen will have a huge positive impact on your dog’s health and mood. And in the challenges of mental health that many of us also suffer from it’s great for us to – bonding and talking to your pet can help lower both your stress levels.
You may find the prospect a bit daunting their coat – especially those long haired shepherds but also their teeth and paws need attention. But as you’ll see in this guide, the whole process doesn’t have to be complicated, just take it one step at a time and do it regularly.
Before you start to groom your dog – what do you need?
Grooming your German shepherd needs some preparation – you need somewhere conducive enough for you to work on your dog, an assortment of supplies depending on what you want to do, and – most importantly – some time to complete the task.
It’s common sense to find a location that is both practical and also comfortable for both you and your dog – where you’ll be calm and it will be a positive experience. On the whole somewhere that is both quiet and distraction-free.
Also, make sure the spot is well-lit. That way, you can do a thorough job and – for some grooming routines like nail clipping – ensure you have good light to use those trimmers with care.
Of course, you’ll need some tools whether it’s brushing your dog’s coat or their teeth. Here are some basic items you’ll need depending on the task at hand:
- A pet bath tub or your own tub, though when it’s warm we do use the hose in the yard!
- Dog shampoo and conditioner if you wish
- A dog brush
- Dry towels
- Slip-proof mat
- A shower attachment for your bath taps is handy too
- A jug to pour water
Brushing the coat
- A dog brush
- An undercoat rake
- A slicker brush/pin brush
- Dog toothpaste
- Dog toothbrush
Clipping your dog’s nails
- Nail clippers
And don’t forget you might like to have some treats handy to keep your dog interested.
Our 5 step guide to groom your dog – let’s get started
1. Brushing your dogs teeth
Hardened plaque can cause various dental problems in dogs such as tooth decay, periodontal, and mouth inflammation.
Brushing your dog’s teeth once a day is enough to keep the plaque away. We know that’s a big ask so try to get it done at least once a week – and keep that doggy bad breath at bay!
- Choose a calm place and time.
- Sit or kneel beside your dog. Choose a position that’s comfortable for both of you.
- Before introducing a toothbrush and toothpaste, try opening your dog’s mouth and holding his jaws in the various hand positions you’ll use when brushing his teeth. If you training your dog for the first time then maybe you want to give a great and stop now…
- Now try touching the gums. Run a finger along the gums as if you were using a toothbrush. Again, give a treat if necessary.
- Bring out the toothbrush and let them look at it and sniff it then touch it to their gums and along their teeth.
- Apply a small amount of toothpaste on your finger and let the dog lick it off. The idea here is to get them used to the taste and texture.
After your dog has become used to all the steps above, you can start brushing their teeth for real.
You can start with the front teeth, brushing in circular motions, and move onto their back teeth once they are happy and accepting.
TIP: Don’t use too much tooth paste!
The steps aside, not all dogs are going to be comfortable with having their mouths opened or their teeth brushed. So if you’re having problems with your dog and brushing their teeth to address their oral hygiene, there are alternatives to the toothbrush and toothpaste. Remember though they don’t replace a good clean.
You could try using:
- Chews – especially those designed to help with their teeth and tartar control
- Toys – similar to chews there are toys that aid teeth hygiene
Some of our favourite products for cleaning your dogs teeth are…..
If you really can’t get you dog to let you brush its teeth then an alternative might be this product: TropiClean Fresh Breath No Brushing Oral Care Gel.
It’s a product that removes plaque and tartar from your dog’s teeth without you having to brush them!
What about combining play with teeth cleaning – how good is that! We love a 2 for 1.
There are plenty of toys that combine chewing and dental care and we like this fun cactus chewing toy, which has bristles on the side into which you can squeeze your dog toothpaste. Then when your dog is chewing it will provide a teeth cleaning session, to help control plaque growth and tartar.
It’s also strong enough for our large dogs and we like that it’s made from natural, non toxic and FDA tested rubber.
2. Grooming your German Shepherd’s coat
Our beautiful dogs have a rapidly-growing undercoat which makes them quite the shedders. Not including some regular brushing can turn your home into a swirling vortex of dog hair when you eventually do decide to have a grooming session. And not paying attention to their coat could lead to you not spotting skin infections, cuts or sore areas, and of course matting
During heavy shedding seasons (normally Spring and Fall), it would be best to brush every day. It’s much better for both you and your dog to have a quick brushing session every day than a massive session once a week, where you both get bored and frustrated.
This is also the time to remove the undercoat altogether using an undercoat rake.
The whole process is pretty straightforward:
- Have your dog in a standing position and calm, then using your brush or undercoat rake gently run it through their coat along their back and hind quarters.
- Once they are relaxed and accept the rake you can then shift over to other parts such as the chest, belly, neck, etc. taking care not to know their joints such as their elbows and hocks. We always end up spending lots of time on the fluffy areas down the backs of their legs – so much hair!
- If possible do this undercoat grooming outside because there is going to be a lot of hair to deal with, especially during those shedding seasons.
- Don’t forget to gently brush around their ears and face. A soft brush is best for these delicate and sensitive areas.
We like this rake comb – the Maxpower Planet Grooming Brush as it’s wider than other rakes so we can get the job done quicker. It also has rounded teeth so is more gentle – great if your dog is sensitive to the touch or doesn’t enjoy being groomed.
This dog comb makes it easy to reach and remove loose hair and dander – it will get rid of hair tangles and knots and is great for removing the dense double coat our dogs have.
3. Bathing your German Shepherd
Like grooming, bathing is also important in keeping your dog’s coat shiny and their skin healthy. To make the process of bathing your dog a bit easier, it’s a good idea to brush them right before bath time. It helps to get rid of the tangles and extra hairs.
Whilst we recommend you brush your dog daily it’s not recommended to give your dog a bath too frequently since it can rid the dog’s skin and coat of its natural oils
The American Kennel Club recommends just about once or twice a year – and any other time when your canine friend gets really dirty.
Here’s how you should go about washing your dog:
- Get them into a bathtub or a in the shower – use a slip-proof mat – whatever works for you. On a hot day just use the hose outside!
- If you’re using a bath rub or shower make sure the water is the right temperature – not too cold and too hot – before you put any on your dog.
- Use a large cup, jug or the shower attachment to soak your dog – make sure to avoid or be careful on their heads as this tends to be quite sensitive and you want to prevent water getting into their ears.
- Now it’s time to grab some dog shampoo. Apply some on your dog again taking care not to touch his head region. But be sure to rub it throughly through their coat. Most dogs love a massage at this time or a scratch getting the shampoo through their thick coats to their skin.
- When you’re satisfied with the shampoo, slowly wash it off. You may want to do a double wash but be mindful of stripping those natural oils out. If you want to use a conditioner now is the time to do that making sure you rinse thoroughly
- Use a towel (or two) to dry them off. A dryer can be useful here, especially if it’s cooler weather or you have an old dog you don’t to be left with damp fur. Ensure you keep the dryer at a safe distance and keep it on the “cold” or “cool” settings.
We don’t think twice about buying a nice shampoo for ourselves so why not treat our dogs to a shampoo which is especially developed just for them.
Oliver’s Choice Pet Shampoo not only smells fantastic but will deodorize your pet, and leave them beautifully clean, smelling and looking fabulous.
The gentle shampoo has an infusion of Oatmeal, Aloe and Shea Butter fragrance. It’s suitable for both dogs and puppies of all breeds. Oliver’s offers a guarantee of your money back if you’re not happy with the product in any way
4. Trimming your dogs nails
Most dogs will need their nails trimming every once in a while though the frequency of this will depend on where and when your dog spends their time outdoors.
If your dog walking includes pounding the pavements every day then it’s likely your you won’t need to clip their nails at all. They’ll just wear out to a certain length on their own.
For other surfaces such as grass and carpet, your dog’s nails will grow and probably need a trim every 2-3 weeks.
To make the process easier, make a habit of handling your dog’s paws often. If you didn’t start when your dog was a puppy it’s never too late – you can start today! Once they are happy with you handling their paws and looking in between their toes you can move onto a gentle to trim – take off the very ends as they get used to the pressure of the clippers.
To be on the safe side, you can always ask for your vet’s input as far as trimming the length is concerned, or get your vet to do it on one of your visits.
Generally, you need to target the slightly curved part of the nail, and avoid the darker area where you should be able to see the ‘quick’ – the part with blood vessels. Just to be prepared, have some styptic powder at hand in case you cut into the quick.
Consider filing the nails afterward to smoothen off any sharp or rough edges. It will avoid them scratching themselves and you!
OUR RECOMMENDATION and that of professional dog groomers is The Boshel pet nail clipper .
These easy to use and ergonomically designed nail trimmers help make sure you get a clean cut every time and they work on large dogs too.
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5. Cleaning your dog’s ears
Those beautiful big ears can be pretty sensitive so you don’t want any dog shampoo near them.
But it’s a good thing to check and clean them regularly to prevent any issues and infections. For this, we recommend a cleaning product especially designed for the purpose such as Virbac Epiotic Ear Cleanser. It’s recommended by vets and helps to safely remove dirt and wax. The low pH value helps care for the sensitive skin within their ears.
Whilst you are cleaning their ears check for any signs of inflammation and or infection, also notice if there is any bad smell. The skin should not be red or irritated.
Taking care to be gentle, move the outer ear so you can see into the ear canal. Squeeze in a few drops of your chosen dog ear cleanser and gentle massage the ear to distribute. If your dog is like ours they will try to shake their head so hold them firmly to prevent this until you can take a cotton wool ball and carefully wipe out the excess cleanser and dirt/wax.
After a while your dog will become familiar with this, and even lean into you as they enjoy the ear massage!
Final thoughts on how to groom your German Shepherd
So that’s it, we hope our helpful steps on how to groom your German Shepherd and keep them clean and healthy. Some steps may be challenging in the early days or if they are not used to the attention but they will come to enjoy the attention and it’s a great time for you to bond and develop your relationship.
The point is to ease them into it over time. Don’t forget to have some treats with you.
And as always if you are unsure, or come across something which is worrying you don’t hesitate to talk to your veterinarian.