Do German Shepherds Groom Themselves

Have you ever wondered if your loyal German Shepherd has an innate ability for self-grooming, just like our feline friends? As a devoted owner of these magnificent dogs, you’re well aware of their beauty and loyalty. But the mysteries of their grooming habits might still fascinate you.

As we explore the wonderful world of German Shepherd grooming, a burning question arouses curiosity in our minds: Do German Shepherds groom themselves?

While German Shepherds are known for their cleanliness, they don’t groom themselves like cats. They rely on their owners for grooming support, making regular brushing, occasional baths, and attention to their diet essential for maintaining their coat’s health and luster. 

Join us on this enlightening journey as we uncover the grooming habits of your beloved German Shepherd.

We’ll explore whether they groom themselves and guide you about the vital role you, as their beloved owner, play in keeping them healthy and well-groomed.

Let’s embark on this adventure together!


Self-grooming habits of German Shepherds

As you embark on your journey of companionship with these remarkable dogs, you’ll soon discover that German Shepherds possess a grooming routine that’s as unique as their character.

These intelligent and loyal canines have developed their own set of self-care habits rooted in their natural instincts.

do german shepherds groom themselves

Understanding these grooming tendencies not only deepens your bond with your furry friend but also represents responsible ownership of German Shepherds.

Following are some self-grooming habits of German Shepherds:

1. Face-Focused Grooming:

German Shepherds are particularly attentive to their faces.

They use their large, expressive paws to clean around their eyes and mouth.

This behavior isn’t just about tidiness; it’s also a means of removing food particles and any foreign matter that might have accumulated.

It’s like a dog’s version of washing up before dinner!

2. The Art of Paw Scrutiny:

Watch your German Shepherd closely, and you’ll notice them carefully inspecting their paws.

It’s not just curiosity; it’s a grooming habit.

They’re checking for any foreign objects, like thorns or burrs, that may have lodged in their paw pads.

If they find anything wrong, they’ll delicately use their teeth to remove it. It’s a testament to their resourcefulness.

3. Occasional Paw Chew:

You might notice your German Shepherd occasionally chewing on their paws.

While this can be a grooming behavior to clean between their toes, it can also indicate discomfort.

Allergies, insect bites, or skin irritations can lead to excessive paw chewing.

It’s a signal to pay attention and ensure their paws are in good condition.

4. Licking for Cleanliness:

German Shepherds take pride in their appearance. You’ll often watch them carefully licking their fur.

This isn’t just about maintaining a glossy coat; it’s an instinctive behavior to stay clean.

Their tongues have tiny, backward-facing barbs that help remove dirt and loose hair.

This self-cleaning ritual not only keeps them looking sharp but also helps in regulating body temperature.

The following video will provide valuable insights into the reasons behind dogs’ excessive licking.

Source: Mrs. YBAL Dog YT Channel

5. Ear Maintenance:

German Shepherds are very cautious about their ears. They use their paws to scratch or shake their heads to keep their ears clean and free from debris.

However, while this self-maintenance helps, it’s not a substitute for human intervention.

Regularly inspect their ears, as German Shepherds are prone to ear infections due to their floppy ear shape and hair growth around the ear canal.

Benefits of Self-Grooming for German Shepherds

German Shepherds use self-grooming not only for cleanliness but also as a tool for survival.

From maintaining hygiene and regulating temperature to reducing stress and strengthening bonds, their self-grooming has surprising benefits.

A well-groomed german shepherd dog standing in a garden

Let’s explore these advantages in depth, allowing you to understand how these grooming habits are essential for their overall well-being.

1. Hygiene Maintenance:

German Shepherds, with their thick double coats, are known for their flawless cleanliness.

Self-grooming is their way of upholding this reputation.

Through a meticulous act of licking, nibbling, and scratching, they remove dirt, debris, and loose fur from their coat.

This not only keeps them looking tidy but also prevents matting and maintains the integrity of their fur.

2. Temperature Regulation:

Nature has equipped German Shepherds with an efficient cooling and insulating system.

When it’s hot, the saliva on the fur acts as a cooling agent when it evaporates.

However, during cold weather, their self-grooming helps trap warm air close to their skin, providing natural insulation.

This innate ability to adapt to various climates is a testament to their remarkable self-regulation.

3. Stress Reduction:

Self-grooming serves as a coping mechanism for your German Shepherds.

The rhythmic act of licking and nibbling has a soothing effect, helping them relax in stressful or uncomfortable situations.

It’s their way of self-soothing when the world becomes overwhelming.

4. Bonding and Social Interaction:

Grooming isn’t always a solo act. In multi-dog households, you might observe dogs grooming each other.

This social grooming isn’t just about hygiene but also fosters bonds within the pack.

It’s a display of trust and care, reinforcing their social structure and relationships.

This is one of the ways they express their belonging to a family or pack.

5. Health Alertness:

German Shepherds use self-grooming as a way of keeping an eye on their own well-being.

They can spot anything unusual, like skin problems, injuries, or the presence of external pests like ticks, during their grooming sessions.

This heightened self-awareness can lead to early detection of health issues, allowing you to take swift action as their caregiver.

6. Oral Health:

Additionally, you may notice your German Shepherd chewing on their paws or other parts of their body during self-grooming.

While this might seem odd, it has some oral health benefits.

Chewing on harder surfaces can help reduce tartar buildup on their teeth.

While it doesn’t replace regular dental care, it’s a natural way they contribute to their overall well-being.

Limitations of Self-Grooming

While German Shepherds are known for their self-grooming abilities, it’s essential to acknowledge that even these intelligent and diligent dogs have limitations in their self-care routines.

Just like us, German Shepherds also have their own limits when it comes to self-care routines.

Here are some self-grooming limitations for German Shepherds:

1. Inadequate Cleaning:

When your German Shepherd engages in self-grooming, it’s quite effective for their daily maintenance.

However, there are times when it may not be enough, especially when they encounter substances like mud, sap, or other sticky materials that their tongues can’t remove entirely.

In such cases, your furry friend may need a thorough bath to get completely clean.

2. Matting and Tangles:

Your German Shepherd’s self-grooming efforts can be beneficial in preventing some matting and tangles.

However, it’s essential to remember that self-grooming isn’t foolproof.

Especially for German Shepherds with long coats, areas like behind the ears and under the legs can still develop knots of fur that may become painful and lead to skin issues if left unattended.

To effectively prevent and manage matting, regular brushing and occasional professional grooming are essential.

matthew young pet polite blog founder with smiling face

“German Shepherds do have a natural tendency to lick their fur, but this is not enough to keep their coat clean and free of mats.”

– The American Kennel Club

3. Limited Pest Control:

While your German Shepherd’s self-grooming instincts are sharp, they may not always effectively remove pests like fleas, ticks, or mites.

These tiny intruders can be challenging to eliminate through self-grooming alone.

To ensure your furry friend remains pest-free, it’s crucial to implement regular preventive measures, such as flea and tick treatments, to keep these parasites at bay.

4. Injury and Irritation:

If you observe your German Shepherd excessively grooming himself, it’s crucial to pay attention.

This behavior, which includes constant licking or biting, can sometimes lead to injury or skin irritation. It might stem from allergies, discomfort, or behavioral issues.

If you notice your furry friend obsessively grooming a specific area, it’s important to investigate and address the underlying cause promptly.

5. Oral Health:

Chewing on objects during self-grooming can contribute to oral health, but it’s not a replacement for proper dental care.

Just like all dogs, German Shepherds need routine dental maintenance, which includes brushing their teeth and scheduling professional dental cleanings to keep their oral health in check.

6. Stress Indicator:

If your German Shepherd starts grooming excessively or obsessively and appears agitated during grooming sessions, it could be a sign of stress or anxiety.

It’s essential to evaluate their surroundings for potential stressors and consult with a veterinarian if you notice any abrupt changes in their grooming behavior.

7. Limited Reach:

While German Shepherds excel at self-grooming, there are certain body parts they may find challenging to reach.

Areas like their ears, hindquarters, or underbelly can be tricky for them to groom effectively.

This can result in the accumulation of dirt and debris, potentially leading to infections or irritation.

How to Support Your German Shepherd’s Natural Grooming Tendencies

As we explore the grooming habits of German Shepherds, it becomes evident that they have innate tendencies deeply rooted in their biology.

To truly enhance their well-being and maintain a harmonious companionship, it’s essential that we not only understand but actively support these natural grooming behaviors.

A girl sitting with her german shepherd dog

Now, we’ll explore how you can play a pivotal role in assisting your German Shepherd in his self-care journey, enhancing his overall health and happiness:

1. Provide a Clean Environment:

Ensure your home environment is clean and free from potential irritants. Regularly clean their living space, including their bed, toys, and feeding area.

A clean environment reduces the chances of skin irritation or allergies.

2. Regular Brushing:

Encourage your German Shepherd’s natural grooming behavior by incorporating regular brushing sessions into their routine.

Use appropriate grooming tools to remove loose fur, prevent matting, and promote healthy skin and blood circulation.

According to a survey by The Spruce Pets, 65% of German Shepherd owners brush their dogs at least once a week.

3. Balanced Diet:

A well-balanced diet rich in essential nutrients is crucial for your dog’s overall health, including their coat and skin.

Consult your veterinarian for dietary recommendations that support a healthy, shiny coat.

matthew young pet polite blog founder with smiling face

“A German Shepherd’s diet should be high in protein and fat, and low in carbohydrates.”

— The Spruce Pets

4. Hydration:

Ensure your German Shepherd has access to fresh water at all times.

Proper hydration is essential for healthy skin and coat condition.

5. Supervise Self-Grooming:

Keep an eye on your dog’s self-grooming habits. While it’s a natural behavior, excessive licking or biting can indicate underlying issues like allergies or skin irritation.

Consult your vet if you notice any concerning changes in their grooming behavior.

6. Regular Vet Check-ups:

Routine vet check-ups are essential for maintaining your German Shepherd’s overall health.

Your vet can identify and address any grooming-related issues, such as skin conditions or parasites.

7. Flea and Tick Prevention:

Use appropriate flea and tick prevention methods recommended by your veterinarian.

These parasites can disrupt your dog’s grooming routine and lead to discomfort.

8. Professional Grooming:

Schedule regular professional grooming sessions for your dog.

Groomers have the expertise and tools to provide deep cleaning, trim excess fur, and address specific grooming needs.

Grooming TaskFrequency
Brushing3-4 times a week
BathingEvery 6-8 weeks
Nail TrimmingEvery 2-4 weeks
Ear CleaningWeekly
Teeth Brushing2-3 times a week
Coat Trimming (if necessary)As needed
This table provides a general guideline for maintaining your German Shepherd’s grooming schedule. Individual needs may vary based on your dog’s activity level, coat type, and specific requirements.

9. Provide Chewing Toys:

Chewing on appropriate toys can help with oral health and reduce stress.

Ensure your dog has access to safe and durable toys that satisfy their chewing instincts.

10. Positive Reinforcement:

Encourage positive grooming behaviors with rewards and praise.

If your German Shepherd enjoys being brushed or bathed, use treats and affection to reinforce these activities as enjoyable experiences.

11. Monitor Stress Levels:

Be mindful of your dog’s stress levels. Stress can impact grooming habits.

Provide a calm and safe environment and address any sources of stress or anxiety in their life.

12. Address Skin Issues Promptly:

If you notice any signs of skin irritation, allergies, or hotspots, consult your veterinarian promptly.

Early intervention can prevent these issues from worsening.


In conclusion, you might have wondered if German Shepherds, those loyal and intelligent companions, have a knack for self-grooming like some other animals.

While they indeed possess certain grooming tendencies, they’re not quite the self-sufficient groomers that cats, for instance, are known to be.

Your German Shepherd does engage in some self-care activities, such as licking their paws or nibbling at the occasional itch.

However, their thick double coat requires more attention than what self-grooming alone can provide. This is where your role as a responsible owner comes in.

Regular brushing, monitoring their skin and coat for any issues, and providing a clean environment all contribute to maintaining your German Shepherd’s grooming health.

While they may not be self-sustaining groomers, with your support and care, they can enjoy the benefits of a shiny, healthy coat that complements their striking appearance and playful spirit.

So, embrace your role in their grooming routine and keep them looking and feeling their best!

Frequently Asked Questions:

Can self-grooming lead to skin issues in German Shepherds?

Excessive self-grooming can sometimes lead to skin irritation or hotspots in German Shepherds, particularly if it’s done obsessively. This can result from allergies, discomfort, or behavioral issues.

Do German Shepherds groom themselves for oral health?

German Shepherds may chew on objects during self-grooming, which can help with oral health to some extent. However, regular dental care, including brushing and professional dental cleanings, is still essential for their oral health.

Can self-grooming replace professional grooming for German Shepherds?

While self-grooming is essential, it may not replace the need for professional grooming entirely. Regular brushing and professional grooming are still necessary for maintaining their coat.

What areas do German Shepherds focus on when self-grooming?

German Shepherds often focus on areas like their fur, paws, face, and ears during self-grooming to keep themselves clean and free from debris.

Can German Shepherds groom themselves if they have long coats?

German Shepherds with long coats can still groom themselves, but they are more susceptible to matting. Regular brushing is crucial to prevent matting in long-haired Shepherds.

Should I intervene if my German Shepherd is chewing their paws excessively during self-grooming?

If you notice your German Shepherd excessively chewing their paws during self-grooming, it can indicate discomfort or allergies. Therefore, it’s crucial for you to investigate the cause and consult with a vet if necessary.

Resources Used For Research:

Leave a Comment

Do not miss this experience!

Ask us any questions

Get in touch