If you have dog allergies, then this specific dog breed may not be the best fit for you. German Shepherds shed all year, but nearly twice a year they start blowing their undercoat and shed even more severely, which is not ideal for people who are allergic to pets.
A German Shepherd dog has a full and thick double coating of luscious fur that covers its entire body. This means that unfortunately, the German Shepherd dog is not a breed of dog that is hypoallergenic.
Continue reading on to learn what it means when a dog is hypoallergenic, how you can reduce allergens from your German Shepherd dog, and if there are any types of German Shepherds that could become hypoallergenic.
Are Dogs Actually Hypoallergenic?
Unfortunately, there is not really a true allergy-free dog. There is one hypoallergenic cat that has been bred. Allerca, a San Diego-based firm, discovered a line of hypoallergenic cats due to a naturally occurring mutation of the protein Fel d1.
The protein is detected in cat saliva, urine, and skin exudates. There have been confirmed stories of people who are severely allergic to cats being capable of playing with them without sneezing. However, no mutation in any homologous protein has been discovered in dogs.
What Does a Dog Being Hypoallergenic Mean?
Because there is not a true version of a hypoallergenic dog, many people consider dogs that do not shed to be as close to hypoallergenic as you can get. While it is true that dogs who do not shed or shed very little, seem to have less of an effect on pet allergies, all dogs can become a health nuisance for a severe allergy sufferer.
Do German Shepherds Shed?
German Shepherds shed a lot. In fact, a pure-bred German Shepherd dog is one of the heaviest shedders when it comes to breeds. This is because a German Shepherd dog technically has two coats of fur. The coats are called the undercoat and the topcoat.
These very heavy coats help to keep the German Shepherd dog warm in the winter and regulate their body temperature from overheating during the summer. Two coated dogs also shed twice per year rather than the one big shedding season that most dogs go through.
Should I Shave My German Shepherd to Reduce Allergies?
Never shave your dog! Many allergies are caused by pet dander, not merely shedding. Pet dander can adhere to your dog’s fur, coat your hands when you pet him, and float around in the surrounding air.
People usually have worse allergies when they are around a dog breed which sheds. This is because as their fur sheds, the dander adheres to it, and as the fur drifts around in the house, the dander is disseminated everywhere.
This means that even keeping your German Shepherd shaved, which is not recommended, would not resolve the allergen issue. Though it may reduce the severity of the allergy, shaving your dog would not alleviate it completely.
How Hypoallergenic are German Shepherds?
German Shepherds are one of the least hypoallergenic dog breeds. Because of their heavy double coat and their twice-yearly shedding, pet dander tends to get trapped in between their coats and constantly falls off and into the air while they are moving.
Can a German Shepherd Mix be Hypoallergenic?
If you want to get a German Shepherd but are concerned about allergens, you may find that cross-breeding your German Shepherd could be a way to reduce the pet dander and your allergies from the dog.
Inter-breeding with non-shedding dogs, such as standard poodles, is a fantastic way to reduce the number of allergens that flow into the air. However, inter-breeding is not an exact science. While you may find that you have a cute German Shepherd – Poodle mix, you could end up with a dog that sheds just as much as a regular German Shepherd.
Signs You May Be Allergic to German Shepherds
You may be allergic to dogs if you have symptoms such as a runny nose, nasal congestion, irritated or itchy eyes, coughing, or wheezing while in the presence of a German Shepherd. This is more plausible if the symptoms mysteriously disappear once you go away from the dog.
Some people are allergic to only one type of dog, whereas others are sensitive to all pets. Others may not be allergic to dogs at first but acquire an allergy to them with time. If you think you are allergic to German Shepherds, there are several steps you can do to lessen the level of pet dander in your environment and hence your allergies.
How Can I Reduce the Amount of Dander from a German Shepherd?
People who are extremely allergic to pet dander will be unable to live with a German Shepherd. Others with less severe allergies, on the other hand, may be able to live with a German Shepherd if they take precautions to keep dander from building all that much in the environment.
There are several steps, however, that you can take to reduce the amount of dander coming from your German Shepherd if you have manageable pet allergies. Here are a few ideas to ease your allergy pains.
Always Be Brushing!
Brushing your German Shepherd daily is one of the most effective ways to decrease dog allergies. Brushing on a regular schedule removes all the unwanted hair that would otherwise be drifting around the house.
Removing loose hair also aids in the reduction of pet dander on your dog. Grooming your German Shepherd should be done outside so that the fur and dander may be released outside rather than inside your home.
German Shepherds require little grooming under normal circumstances. They will look great if you comb them every week or so. During the shedding season, however, they must be combed many times per day to keep their hair at bay.
Vacuum More Than You Think
While you are brushing your dog daily, another key factor in decreasing allergies is frequent vacuuming, especially while your German Shepherd is blowing their coat. Investing in a good vacuum for dog fur will help reduce pet dander significantly, as many pet vacuums are specifically designed to remove pet dander from the carpet.
Restrict Areas and Do Not Sleep with Your Dog
Although many owners find that German Shepherds are quite a clingy dog breed, you could try to restrict areas like your bedroom, to keep off-limits for your dog. This can help severe allergy sufferers by reducing the amount of pet dander buildup in specific areas, like your bedroom.
Speaking of bedrooms, if you have an allergy to your German Shepherd, you should not sleep with your dog. Lying in a horizontal position while constantly breathing pet dander while you sleep could trigger massive allergy attacks and create an inhospitable sleeping environment.
Try Medication to Reduce Symptoms
You might find that the most successful way to treat your pet allergies is to talk to your doctor. They may be able to prescribe medications for you that can reduce your allergy symptoms and make having a German Shepherd much more enjoyable.
Note that allergy medications do not treat the actual allergy, but the symptoms of the allergen itself. This means that medicine will not make you allergy-free, but the wheezing, coughing and itchy eyes could lessen over time.
Change Your Clothes Often
Another thing you can do to reduce dog dander is to keep your clothes as clean as possible. When you are in the presence of your German Shepherd, the fur and dander adhere to your clothing. As a result, even if you are not in the presence of your dog, you may be suffering an allergic reaction.
Some people even have outfits that they only wear for dog activities and clothes which they never wear during dog activities. Reduced dander on your clothing will protect you from sneezing all day, even if you’re not around your dog.
Install a Filtration System
Another excellent solution for decreasing pet dander in your house is an air filtration system. These units filter out dander and debris in the air that also is known to trigger allergies, reducing the amount of it in your home.
They also create systems specifically intended to manage pet dander; however, they are notoriously expensive. If you really want to have a German Shepherd but have pet allergies, an air filtration system is worth considering.
Should I Get a German Shepherd If I Have Allergies?
It is possible to live with a German Shepherd and pet allergies at the same time. The severity of the allergy, the size of the dog, and how much care and consideration you are willing to put into grooming are all factors that could affect owning a German Shepherd.
While German Shepherds are great dogs for their loyalty, protection, and comedic relief, they are not easy to care for and this is even more so when it comes to maintaining pet allergies. Try finding a reputable breeder in your area and spend the day with the German Shepherd dogs. This will help you learn your allergy tolerance level and influence your decision to own a GSD.