We often refer to German Shepherds as the ‘Canine Royalty.’ And why not? From lush coat to strong muscular build, great intelligence, high courage, and large size, everything about German Shepherds speaks delight.
Several attributes make German Shepherds in the first few positions for Canine preference across the world. Ever wondered; how much maintenance actually goes behind German Shepherds?
Or besides keeping German Shepherds shine and stand so strong, how much time and effort actually goes? Before the discussion goes deep and varied, let’s make the basic answer clear first.
German Shepherds are very high maintenance dogs; however, they do not also take them as low maintenance. They may not want as much as some other breeds like English springer spaniel or Akita, but a regular check that still goes behind them.
In this detailed article, we take a look at the type of maintenance German Shepherds need. What kind of grooming is necessary for them and how you can take care of them properly? What health concerns you should pay attention to?
Written By Sergey Uhanov – Certified Veterinarian.
Sergey Uhanov is a certified veterinarian for dogs over 10 years, breeding 3 dogs. He loves dogs and has his own pet clinic in Israel. He likes to help other people with their dogs by sharing his experience and knowledge.
Why Are German Shepherds High Maintenance?
As stated above, German Shepherds are not high maintenance, although there is a serious commitment behind them. While they do not need frequent haircuts, you definitely have to ensure their coat health.
In addition, they are prone to several health conditions and separation anxiety, which requires them to be with owners who can actually be there for them.
What Kind of Grooming Maintenance is Necessary for German Shepherd?
Grooming in German Shepherds is not always about how they look but also about how they behave.
You can make them look well-groomed from the exterior. However, with improper training and other issues, the time may not go on best for you both.
Here are a few tips for Grooming Maintenance for German Shepherds.
Caring For A German Shepherd
- Haircut (Low-Maintenance)
In most common cases, German Shepherds do not need a Haircut. They have a medium-length outer coat along with a thick undercoat. While their outer coat does not grow very long, the thick inner coat sheds seasonally during the summers.
Therefore, it helps them stay relaxed and comfortable, even when the temperature exceeds. However, the same thick undercoat keeps Shepherds warm in winter.
Many pet parents are tempted to cut their Shepherd’s hair, especially during the warm months. Some also take trimming and shaving as an option.
However, experts suggest that until your Shepherd has generated some skin condition, refrain from cutting, trimming, or shaving their hair.
Their coat is important to provide them protection; thus, owners do not have to worry about its length and thickness regardless of the weather.
- Shedding and Brushing (High-Maintenance)
German Shepherd’s does not need a hair cut or trim, but that doesn’t mean you can rest assured from the department. Especially when it comes to Shedding, it becomes a great deal with German Shepherds.
Thus, every 3 to 4 days a week, make sure you are brushing (gently) your Shepherd’s coat.
This habit will not only keep their coat sleeky and shiny but will also keep shedding at a minimum.
- Bathing (Low-Maintenance)
Unlike several other dog breeds, German Shepherds can go even over a month without bathing. Or until the dog starts to smell bad, avoid giving him a bath.
Frequent bathing then recommended will sap the oil from Shepherd’s skin, which in effect will start showing in their coat.
This will make their skin dry, itchy while their coat will lose its shine and health.
- Nails (High-Maintenance)
German Shepherd’s nails are hard and black. If they remain indoor and on easy surfaces most of the time, you need to look after their nails regularly.
From clipping every once or twice a month to filing them safe, there goes a lot of work for their nails.
For the owners who overlook, such Shepherds tend to catch more nail and paw infections their others.
However, if your dog is often active on rough surfaces, their nails will naturally wear down, requiring no more grooming.
- Off-Lease (Low-Maintenance)
German Shepherds absolutely love their owners. Thus, instead of seeking the surroundings and other individuals, they will prefer sticking by your side.
Even if they accidentally go off their lease, they won’t jump the fence or run away (until you have made them deprived of the outer world and they want to explore).
- Velcro or Clingy Dogs (High-Maintenance)
German Shepherds undoubtedly are the clingiest dogs you can own. They absolutely hate it when their chief caregiver is away from them.
This way, Shepherds are extremely high-maintenance, and leaving them home alone even for a little time can prove difficult. For individuals who stay alone and have a dedicated work-life, a German Shepherd is not the right dog breed to them.
Instead, if you have family who can give your dog enough time, or you yourself can provide the same, choose Shepherds.
- Training (Low-Maintenance)
German Shepherds are very easy to train, thanks to their obedient personalities. However, training them easy is also a by-product of their clingy nature. Because they absolutely love their owners, they often follow all the training and commands that are being taught.
Shepherds will listen to you and obey your command. Unlike some other dog breeds, they will never give you a hard time publicly as well (except in a few circumstances).
- Physical and Mental Stimulation (High-Maintenance)
The toughest job that a German Shepherd owner has to go through is to ensure their physical and mental stimulation. German Shepherds were never meant to be house dogs, and they even won’t do well when confined.
You cannot simply keep them as decorative dogs, but equal treatment and love as humans must. Outside of regular family day-to-day life, German Shepherds need extra attention.
Two walks a day, an hour of exercise, gameplay or swimming, and some human interaction, all of it is a must for them.
Also, not just physical but mental stimulation is the need of the hour when you own a German Shepherd.
- Dietary Needs (High-Maintenance)
To maintain a strong, energetic, and athletic personality, your German Shepherd needs a proper diet.
A diet that is power-packed with high content of protein. (At least 22% is the recommended protein in an adult Shepherd’s diet). Fat is another must nutritional requirement for Shepherds.
However, exceeding fat can make them obese, while limiting the same can lead to skin problems in Shepherds.
As per the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), 5% to 8% is the recommended fat content for German Shepherds. Also, avoid high carb and grainy foods for German Shepherd.
Besides that, German Shepherds are the hard-core carnivorous breed, thus ensuring their daily meat requirements.
Though until they have a health or medical condition associated with meat, do not skip it from their diet.
What Health Concerns Can German Shepherds Be Prone To?
Although German Shepherds are known for their strong build and masculine personality, they become prone to health issues with age. Some of the very common health concerns they are prone to include hip and elbow dysplasia.
German Shepherds, unfortunately, do not lead to a healthy joint life.
Especially when they age, they are likely to suffer from hip and elbow dysplasia. So there are only a few from this breed who can have their life staying safe from the said problem.
Ways to lower the chances of hip and elbow dysplasia in German Shepherd:
- Spaying or Neutering German Shepherds after their first birthday reduces the chances of hip and elbow dysplasia.
- Low impact exercise throughout their life, especially during their puppyhood, also reduces the chances for the same.
- Rather, Shepherds who exercised too strenuously during puppyhood are more likely to develop hip and elbow dysplasia.
Another common health concern in German Shepherd includes Degenerative myelopathy. It is basically a progressive spinal cord disease that is more common in old-aged dogs. From making their hind legs weak to even paralyzing them, this health condition proves with a really ill-effect.
The worst part is that there is no cure for the same until today, besides managing the symptoms. Osteoarthritis is another common dog problem that not only Shepherds but several big dog breeds suffer from. It is likely a form of arthritis that leads to joint pains.
However, the condition is manageable, and here are a few things you can do,
- Monitor early signs of Osteoarthritis.
- During senior years, take your Shepherd for a regular Vet visit.
- A diet full of the right nutrition and enough supplements will help the condition.
- Several medications are proven to help.
- Maintain your dog’s weight.
Last, though another common health concern in German Shepherds includes, Bloat. It is nothing but gastric dilatation and volvulus.
Mostly deep-chested breeds like German Shepherds suffer from the same. Some of its symptoms include a swollen belly, retching, abdominal pain, and salivation.
Though bloating in animals is still not fully understood, but experts relate it to having a huge one meal rather than several small.
If you ever sense Bloat, inside of using home remedies or waiting for improvement in German Shepherds, reach your vet soon. If not, this can also prove life-threatening.
German Shepherds are not high-maintenance dogs, but they need intermediate maintenance to lead a healthy life. For a politically correct answer, they need fairly average maintenance.
Owning German Shepherds isn’t a really big responsibility. However, if you cannot give them the right time, attention and love, avoid thoughts of this breed.
If any day after owning them you feel that you are not enough, consider landing them in a safer and more committed home.