Although bathing your German Shepherd too often will dry out his coat and skin, an occasional bath or shower is necessary to remove dust and dirt and maintain a healthy shiny coat. German Shepherds that live most of their time outdoors will require bathing every six weeks or more, depending on how dirty they get. Smooth-coated German Shepherds can go longer between baths than curly or double-coated German Shepherds. A careful thorough brushing most days will keep a German Shepherd’s coat clean and in good condition and will reduce that “doggy” smell by removing dust and dirt from the coat and skin.
It is a good idea to get your German Shepherd used to being groomed and bathed while he is still young (although no younger than five weeks) as this will make it a much less stressful event for him and make him more manageable during the procedure.
Choose a German Shepherd shampoo suitable for your German Shepherd’s needs. If he has dry skin, a dry coat or any sort of skin problem, consult your vet and use the shampoo that he recommends.
Standard German Shepherd shampoos can be diluted before use to help spread it through the coat and to make it last longer. I recommend adding 25% water to a small amount of German Shepherd shampoo in a clean empty bottle.
You should give your German Shepherd a thorough grooming with a good quality German Shepherd brush before bathing him. You must carefully brush out all dirt and matted fur as this will only become worse once the fur is wet. Have towels and shampoo ready to hand before starting, and place a non-slip rubber mat in the bottom of the bath or shower as German Shepherds slip very easily and will feel insecure if they can’t get a firm footing.
Wear old clothes as you WILL get soaked while bathing your German Shepherd – there’s no way to avoid that! Use warm to tepid water – make sure it’s not too hot or too cold by testing it on he inside of your forearm, and ensure the room is heated if you’re in a cold climate. You should also make sure your German Shepherd stays warm afterwards (but not trapped in direct sunlight) until his coat is completely dry.
Start by wetting the German Shepherd from the neck and shoulders towards his tail. Get someone to help hold your German Shepherd if he is difficult to handle. Shampoo his legs, tail, rear end, chest and body. Then wet his face and ears and very carefully wash his face without getting suds or water into his ears or eyes, even if you’re using a non-stinging shampoo. Now rinse your German Shepherd very, very thoroughly with clean, clear water. This will take three or four times as long as the rest of the process as it is the most important part. The rinsing is the part that really cleans your German Shepherd, taking away all the dirt, loose hair and dead skin. You must rinse away every little trace of the shampoo to ensure he does not get itchy, irritated skin. So when you think you’re rinsed enough, rinse a few more times just to be sure.
When your German Shepherd exits the bath or shower, his first instinct will be to shake and there’s nothing you can do about that! So either stand back or wrap him quickly and gently in clean dry towels to blot up as much of the water as possible. Then dry him carefully all over with the towels. Some German Shepherds will tolerate a hair dryer and some will find it too traumatic, so don’t force your German Shepherd if he is too scared. If you do use one, be careful not to hold it too close to his skin and don’t put it on a hot setting. All German Shepherds will dry off better naturally in a warm climate or a warm comfortable room.