German Shepherds are well known for shedding hair all year. Knowing why and how this happens is important so that German Shepherd owners are able to identify abnormal levels of shedding, which may indicate medical problems. There are three main reasons that German Shepherds shed hair, and also a few diseases that can cause excessive fur-loss.
German Shepherds have a double coat, an outer lining of fur that sheds all year and an inner lining that molts twice a year. The outer coat consists of long hairs that protect the undercoat from dirt and matting. This coat should be brushed regularly and the dog should bathed if he/she starts to smell. The undercoat consists of much finer hairs and can be left to naturally molt and grow as the weather changes.
Time of Year
Twice a year, the coat of a German Shepherd will molt to prepare for a new season. These periods are known as the Telogen stage, as the old coat is shed to leave room for the new hair to grow. In the fall, fur molts so a thicker winter coat can grow, while in spring the warmer winter coat is shed and replaced by a less-insulating summer layer. In between these molting periods, hair exists in the Catagen stage. This hair, which is neither growing nor actively shedding, may fall out with stiff combing or when the dog brushes against furniture, as it's less firmly attached to the follicle. The only stage of growth when hair is unlikely to fall out is the Anagen stage, when the hair is growing.
German Shepherds' shedding can be explained by the dogs' response to different temperatures. In the winter, when the dog leaves the house, it experiences the kind of weather that precipitates summer coat shedding and growth of an insulating layer of fur. When the German Shepherd returns to a centrally heated home, however, the warm temperature sends the opposite signal, that it's time to shed the winter coat. The reverse process occurs in summer, especially in air-conditioned homes. These mixed signals can lead to continuous molting.
Excessive levels shedding may be caused by a medical condition. German Shepherds can suffer from skin allergies and infections that lead to dandruff, rashes and shedding. Shedding may also indicate even more serious conditions such as diabetes, parasites or a reaction to sunlight known as solar dermatosis.