The German shepherd is an intelligent breed of dog easily recognized because of its striking fur coat. Additionally, this breed of dog has a reputation of shedding its fur a lot throughout the year.
That said, can you tell whether your German shepherd has a single coat or a double coat? If yes, that’s great; however, if your answer is no, this article will be of help to you.
By the end of this article, you will have learned to differentiate a dog with a single coat from one with a double coat. Later, you will learn the importance of a shepherd’s coat and how you can keep it healthy.
What Is A Single And A Double Coated Dog?
Dogs can either be classified as single coated or double-coated.
Single Coated Dogs
Single coated dogs, as from the name, have only one protective coat of fur. Often they are short-haired dogs that lack the inner soft undercoat. These dogs lack a second coat, thus they are not suitable for regions with low temperatures.
Single coated shepherd dogs or smooth-coated dogs are popular in show line events.
Double Coated Dogs
For double-coated breeds of dogs, they have two layers of coat, an undercoat comprising short hairs, and a top coat (guard hair) comprising long hairs.
Double-coated dogs shed a lot as compared to single coated dogs.
Are German Shepherds Single Coated Or Double Coated?
What’s your thought? Do German shepherds have a single coat or a double coat?
An answer to the above question is that German shepherds are considered double coated. However, it’s common to find single coated shepherd dogs. Single coated shepherds are considered having genetic defects; hence some kennel clubs don’t consider them real shepherd dogs.
Single coated shepherd dogs cannot live in cold areas since they don’t have a second coat or an insulating undercoat to keep them warm.
Double coated German shepherd dogs have two protective coats. The topcoat or the guard coat has wiry and abrasive hairs, protecting the dog from harsh environments such as dirt and water. It’s more of an outer protective coat.
The inner coat or the undercoat has dense, fluffy hairs that act as an insulator to conserve the shepherd’s energy.
Double coated shepherd dogs are good since they can survive in either hot or cold environments. In that, during cold weather, the double coats function to conserve the available warmth.
Additionally, when the weather is too hot, both coats reflect sunlight to avoid overheating the dog.
As you can see, all these coats have a dual function, whether it’s during winter or summer.
However, with the extra coats comes another problem, shedding. Hence be ready to brush your double-coated shepherd fur regularly.
German shepherd Coat Length and Color
The German shepherd coat comes in a variety of lengths and colors.
Short Length Coat
These dogs have a coat length not exceeding one inch. Popular as service and police dogs. Most of the working / service dogs you see have a short length coat. A short length coat will barely destruct the dog when working as compared to a long-haired dog.
Medium Length Coat
Another name for a medium-length coat is a plush coat. What’s more, it is the most popular coat length that has desirable features, according to the American Kennel Club (AKC). The medium coat length ranges from 1 to 2 inches. Often they function as show dogs.
Long Coat with an Undercoat
These dogs have a longer coat that ranges above 2 inches. Additionally, they have a short, dense undercoat.
Long Coat without an Undercoat
The dogs often have a thicker coat towering above 2 inches. Contrary, they lack the inner soft undercoat.
German shepherd Coat Color
Perhaps you are familiar with the black shepherd dogs with tan markings; however, the shepherd dog also comes with other coats colors.
Some of the color coats are acceptable according to this dog’s breed standards, whereas some are considered a fault.
Black And Tan
One of the color combinations that everyone associates the GSD with. The famous GSD Rin Tin Tin had this color combination.
Dogs with such a coloration have a black back stretching from the head to the tail, with tan markings on the chest legs and hind legs.
Black and Red
These shepherd dogs are similar to the black and tan ones; however, in this case, the tan markings are replaced with red.
Bicolor German shepherd
Often a variation of the black and tan. Bicolor shepherd dogs have complete black bodies with some patches of brown or tan markings on their feet.
These dogs have a pure white coat. This genetic defect often masks the original shepherd’s color with white markings. Additionally, most popular kennel clubs consider white shepherds a faulty breed.
Rare shepherd colors
Sable Colored Shepherds
Such shepherd dogs have fur hair of different colors. Each strand of hair has different pigmentations; however, most have black hair tips. Most of the sable colored shepherds resemble wolves.
Most kennel clubs consider them as faulty breeds and not classified as pure breeds.
Liver brown is a rare color to find and often results from a mutated gene. These dogs don’t have any black or grey markings, but they have a liver like color. Often considered as a faulty breed, they rarely compete as show line dogs.
Similar to its name, this shepherd dog resembles the panda. 60-70 %of the body is covered in black, and the rest is white.
A rare breed bred that manifest as a result of genetic mutation. Additionally, the origin of this breed is not clearly defined.
Does A Coat Color Affect My Dog’s Temperament?
It’s a common misconception that the color of the color can affect the behaviors of your dog. That is not true.
Whether single coated, double-coated, black, or blue, a dog’s temperament will depend on how it’s nurtured and trained.
How to Make a Shepherd Shiny
Whether single or double-coated, a shepherd’s coats need to be taken care of. However, as a reprieve, shepherds have minimal grooming needs. A shiny inner and outer coat signifies that your dog is in the right state of health.
Below are some of the methods that will make your dog have a shiny coat.
Brushing Is Necessary
For your dog to have a crispy shiny coat, you will have to take the grooming process seriously. As compared to single coated shepherd dogs, double-coated dogs have more grooming needs.
An undercoat rake will be necessary to undo those hard mats and help maintain a free-flowing coat. Also, heavy shedders like the German shepherds will require a quality comb to remove excess hair and dead cells that come with shedding.
Here are some of the best dog grooming tools you can use.
That said, you should brush your shepherd’s coat a week thrice and, if possible, daily. Daily brushing is a proven method of minimizing shedding in shepherd dogs.
Bathing your dog is one of the best grooming processes that will help maintain free-flowing hair. However, for German shepherds, you should give them a bath at least twice a year.
While at that, use a veterinary dog shampoo that will match your shepherd’s skin and hair texture.
For example, for dogs prone to seborrhea, use a shampoo intended to moisturize and make the skin less flaky and itchy.
Also, you can use shampoos that have been fortified with vitamins and minerals.
Worth to note, regular bathing is not necessary for a German shepherd’s coat. The reason being, bathing may strip off the dog’s healthy natural oils leading to dry, flaky skin.
A good diet will translate to a shiny coat. Thus keep a close eye on your dog’s diet. Feed your dog high-quality food that is rich in nutrients, eventually nourishing your dog’s coat.
If the commercial food you are using is not working right on your dog, you can visit your vet to give you a detailed guide on the best dog food.
Consider foods containing high contents of protein like poultry and fish. Also, avoid human foods as they lack the necessary nutrients needed by the dog.
Similar to humans, food supplements like omega 3 and biotin can work magic on your shepherd’s coat. Supplements help ensure that your dog is getting a balanced diet. You can give you dog supplements in the form of treats.
Here are some of the best supplements for your German shepherd’s coat.
Omega 3 and omega 6
These healthy supplements that can either be plant or animal-based will be helpful to your dog. Omega 3 helps keep the dog’s coat free of inflammation. Furthermore, omega 6 improves blood circulation in the outer coat, thus making it healthy and shiny.
Vitamin A is one of the ultimate supplement you can give your shepherd dog. Vitamin A helps keep the hair follicles sturdy and strong, thus reducing the shedding rate.
Vitamin E helps reduce the wearing out of the skin cells on your dog. Vitamin E supplements reduce flaking in high shedders like the German shepherds.
Vitamin B Complex and Biotin
A dog with a deficiency of vitamin B complex will have scaly skin. Also, a shepherd dog with biotin deficiency has weak hair follicles.
However, if you note that your dog’s skin looks unhealthy, consider consulting your vet before self-treating your dog.
Copper and Zinc
Copper gives your dog its natural hair coloring. Also, a dog’s hair enriched with copper is soft and good looking.
Zinc supplements can be useful for shepherds, who itch a lot after shedding. This supplement stops itchiness and inflammation on your dog.
Check for Parasites
Parasites can determine whether your German shepherd’s coat will be shiny or dull. Thus, consider checking your dog’s coat now and then for parasites like ticks, fleas, and mites.
Check-in areas like the tail, under the ears, and the tummy, where parasite may take cover.
Intestinal parasites can also take a toll on your shepherd’s fantastic coat. Consider visiting your vet. Your vet will do a fecal float to check for any traces of intestinal worms.
Regular Vet Visits
A vet will be better positioned to give you professional or qualified advice on making your German shepherd’s coat look clean and healthy.
Also, a vet will help diagnose health problems that make your dog’s coat look dull and flaky.
Is It Right To Shave My Shepherd Dog?
Although shaving seems like a noble idea, it’s not advisable. Shaving your dog’s undercoat or guard hair exposes it to harsh environmental conditions.
So, shaving your dog coat will make it worse than better.
German shepherds are predominantly double coated. However, single coated shepherds are not rare.
Additionally, shepherds dogs have a diverse length of their coats, be it short or medium. What’s more, the shepherd dog has different coat colorations, some acceptable according to the breed standards, whereas other colorations are unacceptable.
That said, by now, I know you are in a position to differentiate between a single coated and a double-coated shepherd dog.
Talk to us in the comment section. Do you have a double-coated or single coated shepherd dog?