How To Groom A German Shepherd (5-Simple Steps)

Let’s face it! Dogs aren’t cheap, so if you can save yourself some cash by grooming your German Shepherd at home, all the better. 

I decided to start grooming from home and it’s been my best decision yet.

german shepherd being groomed in bath tub

My dog is happier, and I can be sure that the job is done to the highest standard each and every time.

In this guide, you’ll learn: 

  • How often to groom a GSD
  • Supplies that you’ll need to begin grooming
  • How to groom a GSD step by step

What's In This Guide?

      What do you need to know about grooming German Shepherds?

      You might have noticed that some GSDs are referred to as ‘long haired’ while others are short.

      The main differences are that short-haired GSDs will likely sport a double coat while some long-haired have a single layer.

      Both types shed a lot and require regular brushing to maintain healthy growth.

      Note, German Shepherds are high-energy dogs that are prone to high levels of anxiety, so it’s best to attach a leash for this job.

      Or you could start with a bath first to help calm your dog before grooming.

      How Often To Groom Your German Shepherd

      While German Shepherds are adaptable, versatile dogs with low grooming needs, some TLC is still required to keep your beloved pooch happy and healthy. 


      German Shepherds have beautiful, thick coats that need to be brushed up to 3 times per week. If you have time, daily brushing can also be done.  

      Regular brushing can prevent dry skin, irritation, and hair loss. Brushing removes the dead hair and dander, leaving behind a healthy, radiant coat. 

      In addition, brushing removes any burrs, tangles, or other stuff that your pup might have picked up on his daily walk or while running around in the yard. 


      Unlike many other breeds, German Shepherds are not known to be exceptionally dirty, and only require a bath every few months or as needed.

      Their water and dirt-resistant topcoat prevent dust and other particles from penetrating deeply into the coat. 

      Of course, in the summer months when it’s hot, you can bathe your German Shepherd a little more regularly. Your Shepherd will also thank you for it! 


      Keeping your German Shepherd’s nails short is vital to his well-being. If the nails get too long, they can curl under and grow into the dog’s skin, which can be painful. 

      Additionally, if the nails are too long, they can make it difficult for the dog to walk or run properly, affecting their gait and potentially causing much more bone and joint problems down the road. 

      As a general rule, German Shepherds should have their nails trimmed every four to six weeks. 

      You can tell when they need to be trimmed when you hear them clicking on the floor. If you hear a clicking noise, they are too long. 

      The frequency of nail cutting varies depending on your pooch’s lifestyle.

      For example, if your German Shepherd runs frequently on hard surfaces like concrete or asphalt, nails might wear down naturally. 

      However, you’ll still have to monitor the nails closely and give them an occasional trim when necessary. 

      If your dog runs a bunch on trail or grass, you’ll have to cut their nails much more frequently.


      German shepherds have large, floppy ears that are prone to dirt and debris.

      To prevent damage or infection from the buildup of dirt and debris, it is important to clean your dog’s ears on a regular basis.

      Depending on how much time your German Shepherd spends outdoors and environmental factors, you can clean ears every week or two. 


      German Shepherds are not prone to eye problems or tears, but regular cleaning still will have those gorgeous brown eyes looking their best. 

      A simple wipe every week keeps the eyes free of dirt, debris, and other irritants. Eye cleaning also keeps the eyes healthy and free of any potential infections. 


      In addition to dental bones, regular dental care removes plaque and tartar. Plaque is a sticky film that forms on the teeth and gums and contains bacteria.

      The bacteria produce acids that can damage the teeth and gums. Tartar is a hard film that forms on the teeth and is made up of plaque, bacteria, and minerals from saliva.

      Tartar can cause gum disease, tooth decay, and bad breath.

      Brush your GSD’s teeth with a canine toothbrush and some flavored toothpaste every few days to ensure optimal dental health. 

      What Supplies Will you Need For Your grooming your German Shepherd?

      How To Groom Your German Shepherd (5-Step Guide)

      Step 1. Preparing For Bath Time

      You can brush your Shepherd’s coat before a bath. This not only keeps the drain from becoming clogged but also minimizes the amount of hair that comes off your GSD and falls into the bathwater.

      If necessary, remove any loose fur, clumps of hair, knots, and tangles with a detangling spray before the bath. 

      Use a rounded-tipped brush to remove loose hairs and undercoats.

      Depending on where you bathe your dog, prevent slip hazards with a rubber mat if you are intending to have your dog stand on a slippery surface like a bathtub. 

      It might be prudent to place a hair strainer on the drain to prevent hair from getting into the pipes.

      Although you’ve already brushed out dead hair, German Shepherds tend to shed a lot! 

      Step 2. Bath Time! 

      1. If your dog doesn’t want to get into the tub, you can try using treats to temporarily coax them into it.
      2. Be patient and work with your GSD to create positive reinforcing behavior, so they know when they get in the tub they get their favorite snack.
      3. Start by spraying a small amount of water on your arm to test the temperature.
      4. If your Shepherd is resistant to baths or fussing, there’s this nifty little thing called the Aquapet Licky Mat you stick on the wall to keep pooch distracted during the bath. Apply some frozen peanut butter and you’re good to go! 
      5. Thoroughly soak and apply a moisturizing shampoo to your dog’s coat and skin. This will help keep the coat shiny, smooth, soft, and avoid dryness, thinning fur, or flakes.
      6. It’s best for your German Shepherd if you use a shampoo with organic ingredients. We really like this one by TropiClean.
      7. Avoid spraying water directly into your dog’s ears and face. It can be harmful to them and make them afraid of taking a bath. 
      8. If you have to wash their face, use a washcloth instead. 

      Step 3. Post Bath! 

      1. Make sure you wash off all the residual shampoo thoroughly. 
      2. Your pooch is going to shake soon and drench you, so be prepared to get wet! 
      3. Towel dry and you’re pretty much done with the bath.
      4. Get out of the way! Dogs often have the zoomies right after their bath. It is their way of showing happiness and excitement from being let go of a potentially stressful situation. 

      Step 4. Now ears and eyes

      To clean your GSD’s ears, apply ear cleaning solution onto a cotton ball or washcloth and gently remove all wax residue or any other debris within the ear canal.

      Then wipe down the eye area with an eye cleaning solution.

      Step 5. Trim the Nails 

      Nail trimming can be a traumatic experience for dogs, especially if the quick has been nicked before.

      If your GSD is easily stressed, maybe save nail trimming for another day. 

      However, if your GSD is receptive to letting you trim or grind down their nails, now’s the best time to do it.

      Nails are softer when wet after a bath and will be easier to clip, especially for large dogs like German Shepherds. 

      Trimming your German Shepherd’s nails can be a bit tricky if you don’t know how to do it properly. You can either use a clipper or a grinding tool. 

      If you’re using a clipper, use one with a safety guard to prevent over-trimming. Take only small bits off at a time to avoid cutting into the quick. 

      If you’re using a grinding tool, make sure to hold the paw still and move the grinding tool in a circular motion.

      Of course, if in doubt, you can always go to a professional groomer and get them to show you how, or have them do it for you. 

      Final Thoughts On Grooming a GSD

      German Shepherds are one of the most popular dog breeds around and for good reason. They’re loyal, intelligent, and make great companions. 

      But like all dogs, they need regular grooming to stay healthy and look their best.

      So whether you’re a first-time Shepherd owner or just need a refresher course, we hope these tips make it easier for you to give your beloved pooch the best care.

      Picture of Adeline Ee

      Adeline Ee

      Adeline holds a BA in Mass Communication from the University of Washington. She is a certified canine behaviorist, marine conservationist, rock climber, and scuba diving instructor. Originally from Singapore, she now lives on Gili Air, an island off Lombok, Indonesia.

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      Picture of Adeline Ee

      Adeline Ee

      Adeline holds a BA in Mass Communication from the University of Washington. She is a certified canine behaviorist, marine conservationist, rock climber, and scuba diving instructor. Originally from Singapore, she now lives on Gili Air, an island off Lombok, Indonesia.

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