Do you have a new German Shepherd puppy? Are you wondering how often to bathe them and what dog shampoo to use? Here’s everything you need to know about how often you should bathe a German Shepherd.
How Often Should You Bathe A German Shepherd? German Shepherds should be bathed once every 3-4 months. However, if they’re long-haired or spend a lot of time outdoors, you may need to bathe them slightly more often. Don’t bathe your GSD too often though, because it can irritate their sensitive skin.
Read on to find out what dog shampoo is right for a German Shepherd, whether GSDs smell, and for a step-by-step guide on how to bathe them at home.
Never use the advice in this article as a substitute for professional veterinary advice or treatment. I am NOT a Vet, qualified dog trainer or dog behaviourist. This article is based on research, personal opinion and experience of owning dogs over the last 12+ years.
What Dog Shampoo Should I Use For My German Shepherd?
You’ll need to choose a dog shampoo for your German Shepherd that lathers well and is ideally made from natural ingredients.
They’ve got a thick coat and many of them also have sensitive skin
So, it’s vital that you never use human shampoos, even ones designed for babies, as they can irritate your GSD’s skin, making them itchy and sore.
A dog’s skin is considered neutral with a pH level between 6.2 and 7.4. Human skin is more acidic with a pH level of around 5.5 to 5.6.
Using human shampoo can damage the acid mantle of your German Shepherd’s skin, causing it to dry out.
This can make them scratch more and increase the chances of them developing skin infections.
Avoid any dog shampoos that contain artificial fragrances and go for one that’s moisturising and gentle on your German Shepherd’s skin.
Earthbath is a brand of fragrance free dog shampoos and conditioners that are a great option for adult dogs.
The ingredients contain oatmeal and Aloe Vera which help to soothe and moisturize your GSD’s skin.
Some of the products in the Earthbath range can also be used for puppies over 6 weeks old too. Just be sure to check each individual product label to make sure it’s suitable.
Another option for puppies is the Animology range. They have a mild puppy shampoo with a built-in conditioner that doesn’t contain parabens, sulphates, silicone or SLS. Unfortunately, it does contain fragrance so bear that in mind!
Do German Shepherds Smell?
German Shepherds are not generally a smelly dog breed.
They only really tend to smell bad if they:
- Are wet after going swimming, being out in the rain or having a bath
- Eating a poor diet or foods that don’t agree with them, causing them gas or upset stomachs
- Have a skin condition like a yeast infection which smells ‘musty’ or a bacterial infection
- Have anal gland problems which smell ‘fishy’
- Have dental issues like gum disease, tartar build-up or damaged teeth causing them bad breath
- Have rolled in something smelly like fox poo!
You’ll know how your German Shepherd usually smells, so you should be able to recognise if they begin to smell differently.
If you’re concerned they’re smelling differently and you don’t know the cause, it’s best to get advice from your Vet who will be able to help you.
How Do I Bathe My German Shepherd?
Here’s how you should bathe your German Shepherd:
Groom Your German Shepherd Before You Bathe Them
Brush your German Shepherd thoroughly with a de-shedding brush to help reduce the amount of loose hair they lose when they’re being bathed.
This’ll also help their doggy shampoo get down to their skin without it being wasted on loose hair.
If possible, you should cut your GSD’s nails a few days before bathing them too.
This can help them get a better grip on the slippery surface of the bath and stop them from scratching it!
Get Everything Ready For Bath Time
Make sure you’ve got your doggy shampoo, brush, treats, towels and anything else you might need before you start bathing your German Shepherd.
You’ll have a hard time searching for a towel with a soaking wet German Shepherd trying to get out of the bath!
Having everything you need lined up will make your life much easier.
Use A Non-Slip Mat For Your German Shepherd
It’s important your German Shepherd doesn’t slip or twist in the wet bath because they could hurt themselves.
Using a non-slip bath mat or a towel on the floor of the bath can help them get a better grip and make the bath less slippery for them.
Protect Your Drains From Your German Shepherd’s Fur
German Shepherds can shed a lot, especially if you’ve not kept on top of their brushing.
The last thing you need is having your drains blocked up with their fur!
There are lots of different drain protectors you can use to trap the dog hair before it has chance to go down your drain.
Get Your German Shepherd Into The Bath
Some German Shepherds can be prone to hip and other joint conditions, making it difficult for them to jump into your bath.
Because they’re such big dogs, there simply may not be enough room in your bathroom for them to jump in safely.
Some owners place a step by the bath so their GSD can climb in. Others have doggy baths fitted into their homes just for this purpose.
You could even have a hot water tap fitted outside to wash your GSD in the garden using warm water.
You’ll have to decide which suits your circumstances best.
Start From Your German Shepherd’s Neck And Work Down
Make sure your German Shepherd’s whole coat is wet. They’ve got a very thick coat so it can take several minutes soaking before their undercoat is wet, especially if they’re long-haired.
Their top-coat is designed to repel water, so you’ll need to work the water through to their under-coat and skin.
Start at their neck and work down across their shoulders and back, doing their belly and legs last. This way you won’t leave any dirt behind.
Don’t Wet Your German Shepherd’s Ears
Most German Shepherd’s ears stand upright, so it can be easy to get water inside them when they’re being bathed.
Avoid directing any water or applying doggy shampoo onto their ears or face.
Use a cloth or soft sponge to wipe your GSD’s face gently.
Use A Zoom Groom To Shampoo Your German Shepherd
Because your German Shepherd’s fur is so thick, a zoom groom brush can be helpful to lather their doggy shampoo more and get it right down to their skin.
Otherwise, you may just be washing their topcoat, which won’t eliminate any dirt or oil build-up from their skin.
This also gives your GSD a massage while you’re shampooing them, which they’ll probably find quite relaxing!
Make Sure All The Dog Shampoo Is Rinsed From Your German Shepherd
Thoroughly rinse all of the dog shampoo from your German Shepherd’s coat. Leaving any behind can dry their skin and make them itchy.
Use the showerhead to direct the water onto their coat and make sure all the doggy shampoo is washed away.
Let Your German Shepherd Shake Themselves
Shaking is the best way for your German Shepherd to remove the water from their coat.
It’s completely natural and they can remove up to 70% of the water in their coat in 4 seconds!
They’ll soak you and anything around you, so be sure to cover them in a large towel to stop them from shaking water over everything.
Use A Doggy Dryer To Dry Your German Shepherd
Because they’re a double-coated large breed, your German Shepherd can take a long time to dry themselves off naturally.
The longer they’re wet, the more likely they’ll start to smell bad or doggy.
You can towel dry the excess water off, then use a doggy dryer to get them completely dried.
Doggy dryers or blaster dryers can be better than a human hair dryer.
They’re more powerful, but they’re not as hot, so you won’t burn your German Shepherd while you’re drying them.
Don’t Leave A Wet Collar On Your German Shepherd
Leaving a wet collar on your German Shepherd can irritate their skin and lead to skin infections developing.
It can also rub on their neck and cause hair loss and sore spots.
So make sure their coat and collar are completely dry before putting their collar back on.
So there you have it! German Shepherds only need to be bathed once every 3-4 months, unless thy get smelly or dirty from being outside. Don’t bath your GSD too often though, because it could dry out and irritate their sensitive skin.
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