You can adore dogs and still be allergic to them. What a curse, right? So this may lead you to wonder if there are any hypoallergenic dogs and whether a German shepherd is one of them.
German shepherds aren’t a hypoallergenic dog breed. Instead, German shepherds are hypoallergenic, meaning if you are prone to suffer from allergies due to pet allergens (the proteins in a dog’s dander or saliva), then there’s a high chance you’ll have an allergic reaction when a German shepherd is near.
Hypoallergenic Dogs and Why German Shepherds Are Allergenic
A hypoallergenic dog is a dog that has very little chance of setting off an allergic reaction. So what makes a dog hypoallergenic, and what is it that people are allergic to regarding dogs?
Technically, no dog is 100% hypoallergenic, even though people seem to have other ideas. This comes from the fact that some dog breeds are less allergenic or rather more hypoallergenic.
In other words, if you are sensitive and allergy-prone, having a hypoallergenic dog breed is less likely to cause allergic rhinitis, which comes with the symptoms of red, itchy eyes, congestion, or a runny nose, rashes or hives, asthma attacks, sneezing, and/or coughing.
So dogs that aren’t considered as allergic are those breeds that have non or low-shedding coats that produce less dander. Dander is dead skin cells, which is what people are allergic to, in addition to the proteins found in a dog’s saliva. When a dog sheds, this dander is then released into the air around you and what you breathe in.
So, less shedding equals less dander, which equals a lower chance of you experiencing symptoms related to allergic rhinitis.
That brings us to whether or not German shepherds are hypoallergenic.
German shepherds are allergic dogs, not hypoallergenic. This is because these dogs shed a lot! And “a lot” isn’t an underestimation.
As naturally heavy shedders, German shepherds shed the whole year. However, the heaviest sheds happen twice a year. These heavy sheds are during the two to four weeks when fall moves into winter and spring into summer. It can take a German shepherd eight weeks to completely blow its coat.
Thus, with shedding all year round and blowing their coat twice a year, the German shepherd produces a lot of dander, which makes this an allergenic dog – there’s a high chance the dander from this dog breed will cause you to have an allergic reaction if you are prone to being allergic around dogs.
How to Make German Shepherds More Hypoallergenic
If you have your heart set on a German shepherd but suffer from allergies, then there’s great news. There are a few ways you can make your German shepherd more hypoallergenic and decrease the chance of you having an allergy attack. Here’s how:
Groom Your Dog More Often
Grooming your German shepherd more often will prevent tufts of loose fur from overtaking your home. Grooming removes loose fur, tangles, and any debris (such as dander) in their coat. This also improves your pooch’s coat health and makes for a shiny coat.
It is ideal to brush your Shep at least three to four times a week. Using a slicker brush, groom in the direction the fur grows and use short strokes with a firm pressure to ensure the hair doesn’t needlessly break or pull out.
Pro tip: if you suffer from allergic rhinitis, get another member in your family to groom your German shepherd or take your pooch to the groomer to reduce the chance of you being exposed to any allergens.
Using Deshedding Products
You can also opt to use a de-shedding product like a shampoo or supplement. A de-shedding shampoo exfoliates and cleanses your dog’s coat while encouraging new hair growth, strengthening hair follicles, and removing loose fur. This kind of shampoo also conditions the coat to make it shiny.
A de-shedding supplement nourished your pooch’s hair and skin with the essential nutrients needed to reduce shedding while improving the overall condition of the coat.
Choose a supplement in liquid, powder, or chew form, and mix this in your dog’s meal according to the instructions. Ensure the supplement contains zinc, biotin, omega 3 and 6, and vitamin E for the best results.
While you can safely add the supplement to your dog’s meal, ask a groomer, your partner, or your friend to bathe your German shepherd in the de-shedding shampoo.
Change Your Dog’s Diet
Another way to help your Shep strengthen their hair follicles to prevent breakage (which may reduce shedding), is to ensure your pooch eats a healthy and balanced diet.
Ensure that the kibble you feed your German shepherd contains high-quality protein sources, with protein listed as the first ingredient on the label. Good sources of protein for a German shepherd are fish, beef, and poultry.
Next, your dog should eat quality carbohydrates, grains, fats, and vegetables. These can be in the form of rice, barley, rolled oats, peas, blueberries, carrots, and omega-3 fatty acids. With the grains, make sure your pooch isn’t allergic to gluten.
Cleaning daily gets rid of the danger that lies on the surfaces in your home. So vacuum your house or the rooms your dog spends time in every day.
You can also use certified asthma and allergy-friendly air cleaner to remove any dog allergens from the air in your home.
Pro tip: Use a HEPA vacuum cleaner that has strong suction capabilities to remove microbes, dust particles, pollen, and pet dander from your home.
Keep Your Dog Away From Your Bedroom
You spend at least a third to half of your life in your bedroom. So keeping your dog away from your sanctuary keeps dander and other pet allergens at bay while you sleep or spend time in your bedroom.
Keep the door to your bedroom closed at all times. And if your pooch had access to your room before you decided on a “no access” policy, you need to thoroughly clean your bedroom and everything in it to remove any dog allergens.
Teach Your Dog to Walk at Liberty
Another strategy to reduce coming into contact with dander is to train your dog to walk at liberty. This means your German shepherd learns to not come near you or touch you, which at least limits the dander coming into contact with your clothes. You can use a clicker and treats to reward your Shep instead of petting them.
Medication – For You
The last strategy is to ask your medical healthcare professional to prescribe antihistamine medication and nasal sprays, allergy shots, or consider other forms of immunotherapy.
Are German Shepherds Hypoallergenic FAQs
Can you get German shepherds that don’t shed?
There isn’t a German shepherd that doesn’t shed. However, if you cross a German shepherd with a poodle, the doodle may inherit the low-shedding trait from its poodle parent. So a doodle that’s part German shepherd may be more hypoallergenic if it doesn’t shed a lot.
Do German shepherds shed a lot?
German shepherds are one of the dog breeds that shed a lot. They shed continuously, and they also blow their coats twice a year when the seasons change from winter to spring and summer to fall.
Do German shepherds make you sneeze?
You’ll sneeze and exhibit some other symptoms like a stuffy or runny nose, watery or itchy eyes, hives, and possibly coughing if you are allergic to dog allergens. Even if your allergy alarms didn’t go off initially when you got a dog or were around them, it is possible to develop an allergic reaction to dogs over time. It is the dog’s saliva and dander that you are allergic to, and any dog that sheds a lot will make you sneeze.
Knowing which dogs are hypoallergenic and which dogs are allergenic is a good thing if you are allergic to pet allergens. Now you can rather choose a dog breed that is hypoallergenic so you don’t have to worry about pet dander and saliva setting off a bout of sneezing, itchy and red eyes, and hives.
However, if you still want a German shepherd, you can make this allergenic dog breed more hypoallergenic by:
- Regularly cleaning your home
- Grooming your dog often (or get a professional dog groomer to do it for you)
- Using de-shedding shampoos and supplements
- Ensuring your dog eats a healthy and balanced diet
- Teaching your German shepherd to walk at liberty
- Keeping your dog away from your bedroom or limiting access
- Asking for immunotherapy solutions or getting antihistamine medication