Are German Shepherds Hypoallergenic? Achoo!


German Shepherd and allergies

German Shepherd dogs (GSDs) are a loyal, hard working, and super intelligent breed, so it’s easy to see why many people want one. However, people often feel that they their allergies will not allow this. This begs the question – are German Shepherds hypoallergenic?

German Shepherds are not hypoallergenic. But, to be fair, no dog is hypoallergenic. German Shepherds shed all year round, and their fur contains dander. Contrary to popular belief, it is dander, and not fur, that causes allergic reactions in people.

But don’t let the fact that GSDs are not hypoallergenic prevent you from getting the dog that we know you want!

If you take certain precautions, you can minimize the effect that a German Shepherd has on your allergies.

Read on to discover just how to do this!

What Causes Dog Allergies In Humans?

Did you know that pet allergens exist in homes without pets? Sounds wacky, right?

But that’s what the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences says. That means a pet-free home is no guarantee of no allergies.

Not to mention, prospective dog parents need to understand what exactly causes dog allergies, so they’re well-equipped to handle the situation once their fur baby is home.

Shedding isn’t to be blamed for allergies in humans. Instead, it is the dander present in your dog’s fur is the real cause behind allergies.

Pet dander is microscopic flecks of dead skin that animals like cats, dogs, and even birds shed. These tiny bits of skin are what triggers allergies in people who’re susceptible to it.

People with allergies to dander have sensitive immune systems that react to dander the same way as bacteria or viruses. The sneezing or watery eyes that follow an allergy attack are your body’s way of flushing out the allergens.

Symptoms Of GSD Allergies

GSD allergy symptoms can vary in degrees of acuteness. For most people, the symptoms of a dog allergy are pretty similar to nasal allergies. These include:

  • Coughing
  • Itchy eyes
  • Wheezing
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Sneezing

On the other hand, people with more severe symptoms can experience skin reactions like hives.

However, people with weak immune systems or those with health conditions like asthma can develop serious symptoms and should be extra careful about watching out for signs of dog allergies.

The first step towards getting your allergies under control is understanding what causes your GSD to shed her fur, and therefore release dander – the yucky stuff we just mentioned that is the true culprit.

How Much (and Why) Does a German Shepherd Shed?

Let’s just say that on a scale of 1 to 10, you can expect a GSD to score a 9 or 9.5 when it comes to shedding. But, the good news is that you can control the shedding if you’re well prepared.

For the complete lowdown on GSD shedding, be sure to check out this article: Do German Shepherds Shed? All You Need to Know

Even though your German Shepherd will shed lightly throughout the entire year, her shedding cycle will go into overdrive during summers and the fall.

In the summertime, your pup’s coat will shed to prepare for the hot days ahead. Conversely, your dog’s fur sheds in the fall to prep for winter and the upcoming drop in temperatures.

This cycle is nature’s way of making sure your dog’s body temperature can withstand the changes in the elements.

Just take a look at this entertaining video to get a good idea of just how much you can expect your German Shepherd to shed. (Here’s a hint: It’s A LOT!)

However, you’ll need to keep a close watch on your GSD to make sure the shedding is not related to other causes.

Next, we will explain other reasons why your German Shepherd may shed so that you can do your part to minimize these, and therefore minimize the effect that your pup’s shedding may have on your allergies.

Diet

GSDs are classified as a medium-to-large sized breed, and their diet needs to be nutrient-rich to make sure their health isn’t compromised in any way.

For instance, a diet rich in proteins and fatty acids can go a long way in maintaining your dog’s coat and lessening unnecessary shedding.

If you notice your canine’s fur is looking dull or lackluster, or excessive shedding – then diet is a likely culprit.

To learn how to feed your GSD the right way, we have what is quite literally the best article on the internet about feeding your German Shepherd linked for you linked below. It will take all the guesswork out of feeding your GSD for you.

German Shepherd Feeding Guide: All You Need to Know

Health Conditions

Sometimes dogs can experience excessive shedding because they’re suffering from a health condition. Conditions like kidney/liver disease, bacterial infections, or parasites are also known to cause shedding.

One sure-fire way of telling if your German Shepherd’s shedding is health-related or not is to look for accompanying symptoms.

Generally, dogs display lethargy or go off their food when they’re not well. If your dog is exhibiting such symptoms, book a trip to the vet – asap!

Stress-induced or Depression Related Shedding

Believe it or not, your GSD may experience enhanced shedding due to a stressful event, which can also lead to depression.

Be it a moving to a new home, going to the vet’s office, or the addition of a new pet – a significant change in your furball’s life can play havoc on his mental health.

If your pet has recently undergone any such dramatic change, and its shedding has gotten worse – you should contact your vet about options.

Typically, your vet will refer your furry friend to a dog behaviorist – who’ll help put your doggy back at ease in no time.

To learn more about German Shepherd depression (yes, it’s a real thing!), be sure to read this informative article that we’ve written for you:

Do German Shepherds Get Depressed?

Skin Problems

Another reason behind your doggo’s shedding woes can be skin problems.

For instance, issues like ringworm, dermatitis, etc., can all cause hair loss too. If you notice bumps, scabs, or rashes on your GSD’s skin (along with hair loss), contact your vet pronto.

Most GSD skin conditions are curable, and chances are that your veterinarian will be able to prescribe either a pill or topical medication that will alleviate whatever skin problems that your GSD may be experiencing.

How To Control German Shepherd Shedding?

While there’s nothing you can do to rule out a GSD’s natural shedding cycle – you can take specific steps to ensure you and your furry pal live together in peace (and without allergies).

Although, before you decide to bring a GSD pup into your home, it’s a good idea to be sure that no one in your family suffers from severe dog allergies.

In such a situation, you might want to reconsider and adopt or purchase a different breed of dog altogether. As we’ve mentioned, no dog breed is absolutely hypoallergenic, but there are some that have non-shedding coats, which, in turn, produce less dander.

Breeds that have coats which produce less dander include:

  • Standard, Miniature, and Toy Poodle
  • Giant, Standard and Miniature Schnauzer
  • Kerry Blue Terrier
  • Irish Water Schauzer
  • Bichon Frise
  • Afgan Hound
  • Affenpinscher
  • Barbet
  • Bedlington Terrier
  • Maltese
  • Portugese Water Dog
  • Yorkshire Terrier

If acute allergic reactions aren’t a problem, you can implement the following tips to ensure that even the minutest allergic reaction can be avoided.

Grooming

A German Shepherd has a double coat – which means their undercoat is soft and wooly, and the outer coat consists of long and thin hair.

Double coats are mother nature’s way of protecting your loveable pooch from all types of harm, like injuries and infections.

In short, the double coat is there for a reason and should not be shaved (even to control shedding).

But, that doesn’t mean there aren’t other effective grooming methods of minimizing shedding in a GSD.

Grooming your pup can help you maintain your furball’s shedding, and when done right, dogs find the process relaxing, too – so it’s a win-win situation!

GSD in grass

When it comes to grooming brushes for dogs, you’re likely to run into three varieties:

Bristle Brush

A bristle brush is available in variations according to bristle length and gap. Generally, this type of brush is suitable for all dog breeds and coats.

Nonetheless, when it comes to a double-coated canine like the GSD, it’s best to opt for a brush with longer bristles (and wide gaps in between brush bristles) to ensure the brush runs through both coats evenly.

Pin Brush

As the name suggests, a pin brush comes equipped with wire pins, with a protective ball at the tip to protect your pooch’s skin.

This type of brush is perfect for long-haired dogs and offers a pain-free method of grooming without damaging your dog’s coat in any way.

Slicker Brush

A slicker brush is perfect for getting rid of all the caught-up debris, knots, mats, and loose hair in your German Shepherd’s fur.

It’s also great for deep grooming – which means it works to get rid of dander as well. This type of brush is reserved for dogs with thick coats, which require a meticulous grooming routine.

One of our favorite grooming tool for German Shepherds is the Hertzko Self Cleaning Slicker Brush because it’s incredibly efficient at getting rid of knots and loose hair that harbor tons of dander.

The best part is you can clean the brush with the push of one button. Trust us – when dealing with German Shepherds, this is a huge convenience!

Bathing

You can fight off excessive shedding by bathing your German Shepherd too. Bathing works wonders for getting rid of loose hair. But, use this method with caution.

Generally, German Shepherds should not be bathed more than 3 to 5 times a year – unless they’re absolutely filthy and need a bath right away.

Over-bathing a GSD will strip their fur of natural protective oils, which can cause dry skin and make their shedding even worse.

Talk to your vet to understand how many times you can safely bathe your particular dog based on her lifestyle. Oh, and don’t forget to brush your doggo once it’s fur is dry!

You can even utilize a deshedding shampoo like this one from FURminator to help you get all the loose hair out of your pet’s fur.

Although, make sure you go through the shampoo’s ingredient list to ensure your pup isn’t allergic to anything in it.

If you would like to understand literally everything that you need to know about grooming your German Shepherd, the be sure to read our complete guide on doing just this:

Grooming a German Shepherd: All You Need to Know

After reading the article linked above, we are sure that you will have no questions left unanswered about grooming your GSD!

Diet

You know the old “you are what you eat” mantra? Well, that’s true for your adorable fur baby as well.

An imbalanced diet can lead to heavy shedding because low-quality dog food contains large amounts of ingredients like corn or grain. These ingredients aren’t easy for your canine’s tummy to digest and may also lead to skin allergies.

The best way to counter this problem is to defer to your vet about the best options out there when it comes to dog food.

Top-tier dog food brands have ingredients that tick all the marks when it comes to proper nutrition. They contain ingredients that provide your canine with all the necessary vitamins and minerals.

Although, be advised that changing your GSD’s diet overnight isn’t a good idea. An abrupt change in diet can cause your hound tummy issues, among other things.

Also, be sure to ask your vet about supplements that promote healthy skin and coat in canines.

For instance, the Zesty Paws Omega Bites Soft Chews are quite a favorite among dog parents because they contain Omega Fatty Acids (with EPA and DHA).

How To Reduce Allergy Symptoms While Living With A German Shepherd

Remember that living in a GSD-free zone is no guarantee of avoiding allergies altogether. However, you can implement a few tips to ensure that you and your GSD co-exist in harmony.

And, before you get too worried – let us tell you that as far as the level of difficulty is concerned – these pro tips are easy peasy.

Allergy Medications

Here’s what’s tricky about GSD allergies – it’s challenging to be sure you’re allergic to your dog unless you have yourself tested.

For instance, some people assume they’re allergic to dogs when in reality they’re allergic to the pollen (or mold) their canine may be carrying on its coat.

You can have yourself tested for dog allergies to be 100% sure. An allergen-specific IgE (Immunoglobulin E) test can help you figure what’s causing you to experience allergy symptoms. And, then you can take your precautions accordingly.

Typically, your doctor may recommend any of the following standard allergy drugs to treat your condition:

  • Decongestants: This type of medication helps in relieving congestion and reduces the swelling in your nose. One over-the-counter example is Allegra-D.
  • Nasal Steroids: Sprays like Budesonide aid in relieving the symptoms of allergy by controlling your inflammation response. This type of medication is generally the first-line treatment for allergies and is also available over-the-counter.
  • Antihistamines: Some popular examples of antihistamines are Claritin and Benadryl. Antihistamines work to prevent the impact of a chemical that can trigger dog allergy symptoms. Some antihistamine medications are also available as sprays for people who don’t like taking pills.

At-Home Pet Allergy Test

As we mentioned above, it may be a good idea for you to get yourself tested for allergies to dander. While this sounds great in theory, many of us tend to put things like this on our “to-do” lists, but yet we struggle to get them done.

If your preference is to avoid the hassle of going to the doctor, you can opt to take an at-home allergy test.

Everywell makes an indoor and outdoor allergy test that you may find is the right choice for you and your busy schedule. Take a look for yourself to see if this test may be for you.

Cleaning Around The House

It goes without saying that your cleaning routine plays a big part in keeping your home relatively dander-free. Here are some house cleaning tricks to ensure your allergy symptoms are a thing of the past.

Vacuuming Daily

Vacuums are perfect for sucking up loose GSD hair lying around on your floor and furniture. Additionally, you can use your vacuum cleaner’s wand/hose to get into hard to reach places.

If your daily schedule is too busy to make room for a daily vacuuming operation, you can also invest in a robot vacuum. These handy little gadgets can vacuum and mop your floors to guarantee pet hair-free floors and carpets.

Lint Rollers

If you’re worried about getting your GSD’s fur out of the sofa, pillows, or even your curtains – you can purchase some lint rollers.

These rollers are also ideal for picking up dander that’s settled on various surfaces in your house.

Other Precautions

Apart from medications and strategies to keep your home dander-free, here are few other pointers you can implement to make sure there are no incidences of a dog-related allergy attack in your home.

Brush Your German Shepherd Outdoors

During the shedding season, your German Shepherd will need to be brushed several times a week to keep the loose hair littering your home to a minimum.

But, be it normal conditions or shedding time – always remember to groom/brush your German Shepherd outdoors.

This will help your interior hair and dander free and give your pooch a chance to soak up some vitamin D.

Keep Your German Shepherd Away From Your Bed

If you allow your German Shepherd access to your bedroom or bed, then it shouldn’t surprise you to find your beddings full of dog hair and dander.

Not to mention, the average person spends at least 8 hours asleep, and that’s a long time for your body to be exposed to an allergen.

Instead, make your German Shepherd a cozy little corner of her own to wind down in.

Designate German Shepherd Areas

Having a pet-free zone in your house can help you find respite while your allergy medication kicks in.

German Shepherds love to feel included, but allowing them free access to all the areas of your house isn’t something that you should do.

Of course, you don’t have to block off your furball’s access to most of the house – just keeping your bedroom safe will do.

Remember, your German Shepherd will grow to behave the way you teach her to behave. Getting your pup accustomed to her own bed early on will make your life easier in the long run.

Air Filters

The air filter of your HVAC system can help you reduce the incidence of pet dander (and other allergens) and keep the air you breathe clean. According to the MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value) system, air filters are rated on how accurate they are at removing air particles.

A filter with a MERV rating of 9-12 can block out most mold spores, fine dust, and pet dander. Filters with a MERV rating of higher than 12 are generally used in hospitals and smoking lounges.

Air Purifiers

These function like mini air-filtration systems to provide you with extra ventilation protection.

Instead of opting to go for a permanent air purifying system, you can choose to place portable air purifiers where your GSD tends to hang out the most in your home.

To target allergens like dander, pollen, and smoke you can utilize high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters because they’re able to trap even the smallest of particles floating in the air.

Final Thoughts

German Shepherds are amazing creatures – they’re intelligent, easy to train, and super-devoted to their owners. As such, don’t let the fear of an allergy push you towards making your GSD an outdoor dog.

Millions of dog lovers around the globe manage to live with their furry pals despite their allergies. All it requires is some extra TLC.

We don’t doubt that you’ll be able to do the same in no time with the tips we’ve mentioned here.

Also, if you have a handy tip that we missed or want your question answered – feel free to send us a message through our contact page. Our team would love to hear from you.

Hunter Reed

I've owned and trained German Shepherds for over 20 years now. While I've lived in many different places and traveled extensively - the places change, my dogs don't. German Shepherds have been my constant companions. I love every aspect of training them and simply just having them around. I also enjoy sharing my knowledge about German Shepherds with the world, and I encourage all future dog owners to consider one as a companion as well. Read my story here.

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