German Shepherds have two coats: a longer, firm outer coat with coarse hairs that usually shed out as single hairs and a softer, fluffier undercoat that sheds in big clumps. The German Shepherd loses or “blows” his ample undercoat twice a year (more often for pregnant/nursing females or bitches coming out of season).
GSDs need regular grooming year-round, but the grooming that takes place during the time a German Shepherd blows his coat (usually in the late summer or early fall) needs to be more intensive than usual.
You’ll notice your German Shepherd is blowing his coat when you start to see clumps of light-colored undercoat coming out when you brush him or her.
This is a good time to give your dog a once-over with the brush and run a warm bath. Warm water, as well as the skin massage that comes with a bath, helps to loosen the dead hair so it will fall out more easily. Use a large rubber grooming brush in a circular motion to both shampoo and rinse during the bath (this Grooma Original General Purpose Comb works well).
After the bath, towel your GSD thoroughly to remove excess water from her coat. If your pup will tolerate blow-drying, use a high-powered dryer or a hair dryer on the “cool” setting along with a pin brush or comb to blow out the loose hair as your dog dries. An easy way to clean up after the brushing process is to groom your dog while he’s standing on an old bedsheet — when you’re finished, simply pick up the sheet and dump the hair in the trash. Shake the sheet outside and it is ready to put in the washing machine.
Just when you thought you were finished, the real fun is about to begin. An undercoat grooming rake will be the key to getting the rest of the undercoat that’s falling out. Use this tool lightly over your dog’s shoulders, flanks and tail, and not at all on the face, legs or ears.
You’ll want to brush until you’re tired for this first brushing (shouldn’t take long as there will be so much coat to pull); then wait a couple of days and brush another 5-10 minutes. You might do one to two more brushings about a week later with the grooming rake, then use it as a maintenance tool about once per month the rest of the year. If overused, the rake can remove too much undercoat, which is your German Shepherd’s protection against the elements. Use a regular pin brush for your dog’s weekly grooming sessions.