Oily Skin & Coats on German Shepherds

A greasy, oily coat may indicate a skin infection or allergy.
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The plush, shiny coat of the German shepherd is a trademark of the breed. While these dogs do not require as much grooming as some breeds, they are genetically susceptible to a number of skin and coat problems that can make the coat greasy and smelly.

Proper Grooming

While German shepherds don't typically require trimming, they do have a thick undercoat that needs regular maintenance. Use a shedding blade to brush out the undercoat regularly, and increase the frequency of brushing in the summer months. Without frequent brushing, the undercoat can trap oil in the fur and skin, resulting in a dirty, greasy coat.

Skin Infections

German shepherds tend to have sensitive skin and are especially likely to develop lick granulomas -- commonly referred to as hot spots. These irritated, raised bumps are caused by excessive licking and chewing, usually due to fleas or a skin allergy. Because the bumps are uncomfortable, they can cause your dog to continue her excessive licking and chewing, resulting in a dirty coat that may also develop bald spots. Check your dog's skin for hot spots, and consult your veterinarian if you notice that she's constantly licking and scratching. Hot spots can be caused by a number of ailments, but one common cause is canine seborrhea, which can also make your dog's skin extremely greasy.


If your dog's coat is greasy a day or two after a bath and smells bad, she may have a yeast infection. Yeast is a fungus that can result in excessive licking. It commonly affects the ears, but can also spread to other areas of the body. Your veterinarian may prescribe an antifungal treatment or recommend you bathe your dog several times a week with an antifungal shampoo until the infection clears up.

Food Allergies

Food allergies are extremely common in German shepherds. They are especially susceptible to allergic dermatitis, which is an allergic reaction on the skin. These allergies can cause an assortment of skin and coat problems, including excessive oil, excess shedding and frequent scratching. Consult your veterinarian, who can help you uncover the source of the allergy. Avoid foods that contain common allergens such as corn and grains. These fillers provide little nutritional value to your dog, who needs a high-protein diet.

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