German Shepherds consistently remain among the top of the world’s favorite dog breeds, and we can see why. These dogs are incredibly smart, loyal, and can become your best friend in no time. There are many features that make German Shepherds stand out from other breeds.
They are one of the more affectionate dogs and will often never leave their loved one’s side. They are easily recognizable because of their coat colors and pattern. German Shepherds have a pretty thick coat, and we are often asked the question: do German Shepherds have a double coat?
Do German Shepherds Have a Double Coat?
Yes, German Shepherds are known to have a double coat. They have the top layer, called the guard coat, and the bottom layer, called the under coat. Their guard coat is shiny and wiry while the undercoat is thick and fluffy.
You may be curious to know how to tell if your German Shepherd has a double coat. It’s fairly easy to check and shouldn’t take you much time. You can easily spot the guard coat, as it’s the tan and black outer coat you know and love.
If you lift this fur up, you will notice some thicker, softer fur towards the base of your dog’s skin. This extra fluff is the undercoat, and if you see it, your dog has a double coat! If you do not see a thicker coat underneath, don’t worry.
There are very few German Shepherds that will not have a double coat depending on their coat length. The coat length can range from dog to dog, some are short haired and others are long haired. The length of their fur is typically the only difference between the dogs, but we will get more into that later.
What is the Purpose of a Double Coat?
The purpose of a double coat is a pretty smart trait for dogs to have developed. The fur that makes up the guard coat, again that’s the outer layer, is wiry and thin. Because of its shape, it’s able to keep dirt and water away from the skin of the dog.
This helps keep German Shepherds free of disease and infections. Their undercoat, the layer underneath the guard coat, is a perfect insulator for cold weather. Dogs naturally produce their own warmth, but since the undercoat is extra thick, it holds that warmth in for longer.
During winter months, the dog’s undercoat will actually begin to grow thicker. Now this thick hair would not be ideal for the summer heat, which is why German Shepherds shed their undercoat as the weather starts to get warmer.
This will keep them cool, along with their coat having the power to reflect away sun rays. German Shepherds truly are an all-season dog.
Do All German Shepherds Have a Double Coat?
As stated before, it is known that German Shepherds are double coated dogs. However, there are plenty of German Shepherds that do not have that thick, fluffy fur and only have their guard coat. This is on the rarer side, but is still seen from time to time.
Many consider German Shepherds that only have a single coat to have a genetic defect, since it is so rare. Because it’s considered a defect, these dogs are not allowed to compete in dog shows as they are not considered the standard German Shepherd.
There are usually no behavioral differences between dogs with a single coat versus dogs with a double coat. A single coat will never be seen in Shepherds that have a medium length coat, also referred to as a plush coat.
This is the most common length seen throughout the German Shepherd breed. There are also short haired, long haired with an undercoat, and long haired without an undercoat. The latter is the least common coat to come across.
It is thought that the Shepherds with a single coat were originally bred in areas where they did not need the insulation of the undercoat to keep them warm. As that is the main purpose of the undercoat, this makes sense.
Unfortunately though, these dogs will still shed just about as much on a regular basis as their double coated relatives.
Do Dogs With Double Coats Shed More?
While it might make sense to think that dogs with double coats shed more because they have double the amount of fur, it is not exactly the case. Dogs with double coats have shedding periods where they get rid of their old undercoat and grow a new one, while single coated dogs do not.
The length and duration of these periods depend on the breed of dog. German Shepherds have two shedding periods a year, one in the spring and one in the fall.
These periods can last anywhere from 2-4 weeks. During this period, they are losing their summer or winter coats and preparing for the next season. It may seem like the hair never stops coming out during this time.
Dogs with single coats do not have this issue, but they still manage to shed just as much on a yearly basis. Their “shedding period” happens gradually every day throughout the year, so it may seem like less fur because it’s not coming out all at once as it does for dogs with shedding periods.
German Shepherds do tend to shed more than other dogs, but this is not solely based on them having a double coat. It’s just one of the traits of the breed as a whole.
How Should I Groom My German Shepherd’s Coat?
Since German Shepherds are prone to shedding a little (or a whole lot) more than some dogs, they require regular brushing. You should brush them about 3-4 times a week. This will most likely turn into everyday during their shedding period.
You will need a comb or brush that is made for thicker fur and will reach the undercoat. Along with brushing, you may want a tool specifically for de-shedding.
These should be used outside, unless you want balls of fur flying around your house, then inside is fine! These tools should not be used very often, only once or twice a month unless a vet recommends more.
German Shepherds do not require regular bathing, a few times a year maximum is what most owners will do. Too much washing can rid them of the oils they need to maintain a healthy coat and skin.
And lastly, you should never shave your German Shepherd. Their coat is used as armor for their skin, and shaving it can cause skin irritation and make them more prone to getting infections. Shaving them will not cause them to shed less, in fact, it will probably have the opposite effect.
German Shepherds are easily recognizable for their iconic coat, which is most often a double coat. This double coat helps them maintain their reputation as a dog that does well in all types of weather because it’s waterproof, insulated, and sheds away at their need.
Grooming will be a daily task with your Shepherd, and you’ll most likely need a vacuum to sweep up all the fur they leave behind. Their double coat is not to blame, it’s just one of the traits that make German Shepherds one of the most loved dog breeds in the world.