Common German Shepherd Behavioral Problems And Personality Traits
Over the years working as a dog trainer, Ive probably worked with as many German shepherd dogs as any other breed.
Most often, they are an incredibly loyal breed, are devoted to their owners, and have really sweet and fun personalities. And so, to those of you who love the breed and wouldnt consider anything but a German shepherd in the future, I understand!
Yet, some people are terrified of them and feel they are dangerous dogs to own.
To those of you that are wary of German shepherds, I understand where you are coming from, too! First off, they are very large dogs and can come off very intimidating.
Second, their instinct to protect their family or property is strong and can lead untrained German shepherds to becoming very protective, aggressive, and scary dogs.
The keyword here is untrained, as any untrained dogregardless of breedcan have the same problems.
Over the last decade I really feel like Ive come to understand German shepherds and have personally fallen in love with this breed. Ive also realized that theyre so misunderstood due to poorly trained German shepherds often ending up in the news and how they are portrayed on TV and in the media.
For this reason, I wanted to write todays post in hopes that, if you are someone who fears this breed, are looking for help and direction with your dog, or you know someone who is wary of German shepherds, then this honest truth about this lovely breed might change your mind.
Why A German Shepherd Is Shedding Excessively
Excessive shedding in German shepherds can be a signal indicating multiple medical conditions and disorders:
- Bad Diet
- Low hydration: Leads to dry skin, dry skin stimulates hair loss
- Stress: increases hormone imbalances and consequently shedding
- Exercise level and time spent indoor/outdoor: low activity level increases hair loss
- Hormonal change
- Kidney, liver, thyroid related diseases
Reasons Why My Dog Is Losing Hair Around Eyes
If youre feeling concerned or confused at noticing that your dog is losing hair around eyes, get familiar with what it means and how to deal with it so that your pooch stays his healthy and happy self.
If a dog is losing hair around his eyes, it is most likely he is dealing with an issue relating to his eye and/or his skin. The hair loss around the eye would be a symptom of a larger issue. You take a breath of relief, however, in remembering that larger issue doesnt necessarily have to be a scary or life-altering thing. Its just something that demands some attention for you and, if possible, a vet. Take a look at the various causes of hair loss around the eyes, the reasons why hair loss around the eyes is different from other hair loss, and how to treat it.
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Your Aging German Shepherd
Much like humans, dogs age differently depending on their diet, exercise, genetics, and even stress.
It is difficult to reliably gauge when a dog becomes elderly due to these factors.
However, the first and most common sign of aging is reduced activity levels and increased amounts of sleep typical for your dogs breed.
This may be followed by lack of interest in going for walks and playing.
If you suspect that your German Shepherd is beginning to become elderly, it is advised that you take them to a veterinarian clinic for a routine check-up.
Why Do German Shepherds Shed So Much
One of the main reasons a German Shepherd will shed so much is because usually, they have two coats.
The top coat is the long, wiry, and wavy hair that lies close to the body of the dog. The top coat protects the dog from dirt and moisture, keeping it away from their skin. The guard hair may be short, medium-length, or long depending on the type of coat your German Shepherd has.
The undercoat, on the other hand, is soft, dense, short, and also lighter by color. This layer is what helps the dog regulate its body temperature.
Having this two-layer coat makes German Shepherds incredibly adaptable to all kinds of weather conditions, but it also makes them shed like crazy.
There are actually a few different types of coats your German Shepherd may have. Most commonly, GSDs have short hair with a double coat. The long-haired German Shepherd does not have an undercoat, but they tend to shed about the same because their fur is long, dense, and thick.
The difference is that long-haired German Shepherds don’t go through shedding seasons, because they don’t have that undercoat that needs to come off.
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How To Reduce The Risk Of Health Issues In Your German Shepherd Dog
Over 50 preventable diseases plague this breed. These hereditary diseases can be eradicated through ethical breeding
Sadly, more than 50 hereditary disorders affect German Shepherds and are preventable through responsible breeding.
However, the risk and severity of many health issues can be reduced with proper care.
Here are some critical steps you can take at home to reduce the risk of significant health issues in your GSD.
- If you are considering purchasing a German Shepherd puppy but haven’t taken the leap yet, you can avoid many genetic issues by finding a responsible breeder and avoiding puppy mills.
- Obesity contributes to many chronic health conditions, so maintaining a healthy weight is essential. If you’re unsure about your dog’s weight, check with your vet to see if they need to lose a few pounds.
- Avoid heavy impact and overwork of the joints until your dog is fully grown. Large breeds mature more slowly than small dogs, and overworking their bones when they’re still growing can lead to major issues later in life.
- Provide daily walks and exercise. They’re crucial not only for physical health but for mental health as well.
- Provide socialization from a young age for good mental health.
- Provide regular checkups so your vet can catch health issues early.
- Feed a high-quality, species-appropriate diet.
Add Olive Oil Or Flaxseed Oil To Your German Shepherds Food
Start out by giving 1 tsp. per 10 pounds of body weight. Olive oils contain Omega-3 fatty acids that help calm inflamed skin, decrease dandruff, and improve overall coat texture.
Other ways to increase yourGerman Shepherds Omega-3 intake:
- Adding Omega-3-rich fish in the diet: Tuna or salmon are rich in Omega-3
- Using Omega-3 dietary supplements: They can come in different shapes and sizes . Ask your vet to figure out the best choice for your German Shepherd.
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Allow Your Gsd More Access To Fresh Water
You might not even realize it, but allowing your German Shepherd to drink more water daily can greatly reduce the amount of shedding! Thats because dogs tend to shed a little bit more when theyre dehydrated.
If youre having trouble keeping up with your dogs water regimen, I recommend using an automatic dog water dispenser. This device allows you to fill up a big tub of water all at once, so you wont have to keep remembering to add more water to the bowl throughout the day.
Ive never had to use one of these however, Ive heard good things about them, and I think they can really do the trick. If I were choosing one from Amazon, I like the look of the Petsafe Drinkwell as its ideal for German Shepherds with its two-tiered design.
Tip! You can give your German Shepherd ice-cubes in the summer to keep him hydrated. You can also try frozen fruits such as raspberries or strawberries as an alternative healthy treat to help quench his thirst.
What Is The Coat Of The German Shepherd Like
The German Shepherd was developed in an area and during a time when dogs were necessary to help herd flocks of either sheep or cattle.
These dogs were bred in the often harsh northern European climate, and many of them had double coats as a result.
The German Shepherd Dog is one of these such sheepherding dogs. Ironically, although these dogs had an undercoat, the topcoat of fur was often less likely to pick up burrs, making care easier for the shepherds and farmers.
The German Shepherds topcoat is also resistant to dirt and grime. Furthermore, snow, rain, nor mud was able to penetrate the water-resistant undercoat of the German Shepherd Dog. This insulation of sorts gave the GSD a means of protection when working outdoors.
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Tips On Dealing With German Shepherd Shedding
You cant stop your GSDs seasonal shedding because its a natural process. However, you can control or manage it by following these tips. For easier reference, we separated what you need to do and what you dont need to do.
Pressure Sores May Limit Hair Growth
Dogs may also lose hair where their elbows and other bony body parts come into contract with the floor and other hard surfaces. Over time, this pressure causes the hair to fall out. The skin will thicken into calluses, which can in turn pressure sores if the calluses crack, become infected, or are otherwise damaged. Dogs that are prone to this condition include:
- Older and middle-aged dogs
- Overweight or naturally bulky dogs
- Lean and naturally bony dogs
Each of these types of dogs tends to put more pressure on their joints.Pressure sores can be easily treated with antibiotics and bracing. You can also use moisturizers and thicker bedding to treat sores and prevent future ones from forming.
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Has Your German Shepherd Had The Same Food Throughout His Life
YES Most likely not a food allergy, as these will most often present only if there has been a significant change from your dogs regular diet.
NO If you have recently changed your dogs diet , then there is a good chance that your GSDs itching is due to a food-related allergy.
If this is the case, speak with your veterinarian. She will be able to help you identify what is in the food that is causing the allergic reaction in your dog, and will also provide suggested foods based on your dogs individual needs.
Why Do German Shepherds Lose Hair
German shepherd puppies have soft coats for the first few weeks. They shed year-round and blow their coats, a massive hair-dropping event, seasonally. Several things can worsen shedding, including stress, poor diet, dehydration, skin irritation from fleas or household products and certain medical problems.
Why do German Shepherds shed their hair? Like all Nordic dogs, German shepherds shed hair because they have a type of coat for the hottest seasons and another to protect themselves in winter. The time between the transition of these two coats is when we will experience the most shedding in our home.
Why do dogs lose hair? Partial or complete alopecia is commonly seen in dogs and can be due to a variety of conditions including skin infections, allergies, and endocrine disorders. Dogs of any age or breed can experience hair loss.
Why is my dog shedding so much? Warnings. Excessive shedding also can be caused by extreme stress. If hair loss continues for more than three months after a dog gives birth, it could be due to other factors. Check with your vet to make sure that your dogs hair loss isnt related to something other than breeding and lactating.
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Bathe Your German Shepherd
Since German Shepherds have such a dense coat, they actually dont need to be bathed very frequently every six to ten weeks is plenty unless they get exceptionally dirty.
Even though most German Shepherds enjoy a splash in the water, As we mentioned, bathing your German Shepherd too often can be counterproductive since it dries out their skin and can actually cause more shedding.
However, strategic bathing can be super helpful for quickly removing the bulk of your dogs undercoat. Just be sure to use mild shampoos that wont irritate their skin. You can also opt to use a deshedding shampoo to help lubricate the hairs, which makes it easier to remove the undercoat. One of the best options is this shampoo from FURminator who are the same folks that make the awesome brush I recommended above. Brush your German Shepherd with your undercoat rake while hes still damp.
Its easiest to perform this whole bathing/brushing operation outside, unless you want to spend an hour cleaning wet wads of fur out of your bathtub or shower after the fact.
You can take the spa day one step further with a professional blow-out after bathtime . This will not only cut down the drying time, but it will also help remove the undercoat quickly.
However, keep in mind that blow-drying your shedding German Shepherd will get hair absolutelyeverywhere, so it may be worth paying a professional to handle this entire bathing, brushing, and blow-drying task. Or, again, set aside some time for cleanup.
Thinking Of Getting A German Shepherd
German Shepherds are very loyal, brave, and easily trained dogs, however, they are also known to be prolific shedders. For some, shedding can be a daunting experience, but if you are a dog lover, you should already accept that it is a part of your dogs life. With proper grooming practice and using only the best grooming tools, dealing with your German Shepherds shedding will not be a big problem for you.
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Yeast Overgrowth And Skin Infections
Hot and humid places can encourage yeast growth in GSDs and so does bacterial infections. They are more seen in skin folds. Yeast overgrowth encourages excess oil production. The oil build-up in skin may result to severe itchiness that will eventually lead to skin infection.
Untreated open wounds usually result in skin infections which are caused by bacteria. Their skin may appear to be red, moist and sometimes with pus. Depending on your GSDs immune system, it may worsen over time.
What Are The Best Ways To Minimize Shedding
For those wanting German Shepherds that don’t shed, you’ll need to redirect your sights to another breed if you don’t think you can handle the shedding! If you want to know how to stop German shepherd shedding, you once again may want to consider a different breed, however, there are certain things you can do to decrease shedding. Here are the best things you can do to try to reduce shedding in German shepherds:
Change Your Dogs Diet
One of the main reasons for heavy shedding is feeding your dog cheap dog food thats not nutritionally balanced. Such dog foods usually contain large amounts of grain and corn, which are not digested well by canines. These types of foods also dont reflect well through the skin. In fact, it can be a cause of your dogs itchy skin.
If you suspect your dog food is cheap and not well-balanced, try a new brand but be sure to buy one that has real meat as the first ingredient. Another wonderful choice is beginning your dog on a raw food diet. Youll just have to research and learn how to give your dog the right amounts of food to ensure they get the vitamins and minerals necessary for their health needs.
Healthy diets not only reduce shedding, but also help with dry skin and improves the immune system. This is probably the most effective way to cut down on your German shepherds shedding, but be sure to change the diet gradually. Changing your dogs diet too quickly can lead to stomach upset and other issues.
Add Oils to Your Dogs Food
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Underlying Health Conditions Or Skin Irritants
There are also a whole host of health conditions, pests, and irritants that can cause abnormal shedding. These might include external factors like allergies, mites, fleas, lice, ticks, sunburn, or other topical irritants.
Internal conditions that may cause hair loss include kidney disease, liver conditions, side effects from medication, immune conditions, hypothyroidism, adrenal issues, and follicular dysplasia. Bacterial and fungal skin infections can cause localized hair loss, especially if the infection is itchy and your dog relentlessly scratches the area.
German Shepherds generally have pretty sensitive skin, and it can get irritated from being bathed too frequently or with harsh soaps, which strip the natural oils. This makes their skin dry out, which can cause extra shedding.