7 Common German Shepherd Allergies

Last Updated: April 28, 2023

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If you suffer from allergies, you know how uncomfortable it is to be around irritants. While it may come as a surprise to many, dogs are susceptible to allergic reactions, too. It's more common than you would think.

It's estimated that one out of every seven dogs suffers from some kind of allergy. Some dog breeds are more prone to these issues than others. German Shepherds are known to be quite sensitive.

Despite their tough demeanors and thick coats, it doesn't take much for an allergen to wreak havoc on their bodies.

German Shepherd with possible allergies

Sometimes, those allergic reactions are quite serious. Canine allergies tend to be a bit tougher on the body. Not only can your dog experience physical discomfort in the form of rashes and itchiness, but they could also display some flu-like symptoms.

The best way to care for a German Shepherd with allergies is to avoid irritants altogether. Understanding how your dog reacts to certain allergens is the first step. Here are some of the most common German Shepherd allergies.

7 of the Most Common Allergies in German Shepherds

#1. Fleas

All dogs are affected by fleas. However, it's one of the most common allergies among German Shepherds. Not only are they affected by the bite, but the flea's saliva can cause a pretty nasty allergic reaction.


The moment that the flea bites your dog's skin, their immune systems kicks into gear to try and fight off the threat. This leads to noticeably large red spots that are inflamed.

In some cases, dogs may even start to lose their fur where they were bitten. On top of all of that, the spot will itch like a normal flea bite! All around, it's a recipe for disaster for German Shepherds.

The best way that you can prevent these reactions is by keeping your home, yard, and dog flea-free. Pest control products for inside your home and out in the yard can be quite effective. 

To prevent stray fleas from biting your pup, consider speaking to your vet around a prescription deterrent. Once-a-month pills can keep fleas, as well as ticks and other pests, away. Alternatively, you can also use over-the-counter topical solutions and sprays.

#2. Grains

Grain allergies are relatively common in dogs. That's why you see so many grain-free kibble products on the market today. In the past, grains were used to keep costs low. Cheaper brands still use them as a filler.

Truth is, those grains aren't necessary. Corn, wheat, and soy are the worst offenders. Those ingredients don't do anything to help your dog from a dietary standpoint. In fact, many dogs have trouble digesting them.

They're empty calories, so it's best to steer clear of them. Grain-free dog food products are plentiful these days, so you shouldn't have any issues finding one that your dog loves. Make sure to read the ingredient list.

For German Shepherds with grain allergies, consuming the stuff usually results in red and itchy skin. Those physical symptoms may also be accompanied by chronic diarrhea. Making the switch to grain-free foods will be a welcome change.

Related: Homemade Grain-Free Dog Treats

#3. Protein-Based Food Ingredients

In addition to grains, some German Shepherds don't take too well to certain proteins. Chicken and beef are some of the most common allergens.

Unfortunately, many manufacturers use those two types of meat as the foundation for their dog foods. Thus, it can be a bit harder to find recipes that don't have them.

Limited-ingredients dog foods or those that are specifically designed for allergy sufferers are available. Many of them use simple wholesome ingredients to avoid allergic reactions. You can also go with a formula that has unique protein sources.

For example, some brands will use ingredients like fish, bison, lamb, and more. They're a great way to give your dog all the protein they need without the unwanted side effects.

The symptoms of this allergy are similar to the previous one. You can expect chronic diarrhea and irritated skin.

When you're shopping for new dog food, make sure to read the ingredient list carefully. If your dog is allergic to chicken, avoid all poultry products. This includes chicken meal, turkey, and eggs. Also, ensure that no chicken or beef byproducts are used.

#4. Pollen

Pollen allergies are pretty rare in the dog world. Unfortunately, German Shepherds are one of those breeds pollen tends to affect more than others. Pollen allergies are genetic, so it's passed on through many generations.

The interesting thing with pollen allergies is that it can get worse over time. Most symptoms will start to pop up when the dog is about six months old. Then, they will reappear seasonally when pollen is most prevalent in the air. As your dog gets older, they may begin to display symptoms year-round.

pollen can cause allergies in german shepherds

Pollen is an airborne substance produces by trees. When German Shepherds inhale it, the immune system mistakes it for a serious threat.

This results in red itchy skin, runny noses, and a host of other ailments.

The allergy can also cause Atopic Dermatitis. This is a chronic condition that will flare up periodically whenever your dog is exposed to pollen. Unfortunately, there is no cure for the condition.

However, you can work with your vet to keep flare-ups under control. Supplements and medications can help to alleviate symptoms and provide some relief.

#5. Dust

Like pollen, dust can cause Atopic Dermatitis in dogs when inhaled. Dust is made up of a range of substances, so allergic reactions can vary dramatically.

Usually, dust mites and airborne dirt particles are the worst. It can cause breathing difficulties, rashy skin, and even asthma.

Dust is unavoidable, but you can do your part to limit your dog's exposure. Keep your home clean and keep your pup out of particularly dusty areas of your home.

This includes basements, attics, or storage sheds. When you're cleaning your home, keep your dog separated to that kicked-up dust doesn't affect them.

#6. Mold

Mold is bad news for any living creature. It's a particularly nasty substance that can cause all kinds of illnesses. Some mold spores have even been known to cause serious health complications and death.

German Shepherds can develop mold allergies. It's similar to pollen or dust allergies. The dog's immune system will fight to fend off the mold spores whenever they are inhaled.

Excessive scratching, inflamed skin spots, decreased appetite, and vomiting are the most common symptoms. The problem with mold is that you can't always see it. Mold tends to grow in damp and dark spaces. 

Leaks and sources of humidity are notorious for causing mold growth. Those spores can then spread throughout your home because of your air conditioning ducts.

HVAC system mold can cause allergies in dogs

For your safety and the health of your dog, it's good to have your HVAC system inspected regularly. Ductwork is a common source for mold growth.

You may also find it growing in bathrooms, underneath sink cabinets, and other hidden areas. Getting rid of mold will alleviate the problem.

#7. Cleaning Products

If you like to use strong cleaning chemicals in your home, you run the risk of triggering an allergic reaction in your dog. Contact Dermatitis is a condition that happens when dogs make physical contact with an irritant their body doesn't agree with.

Cleaning products are the most common. Strong chemicals that you use to mop your floors, clean your carpets, and wipe down surfaces could be causing allergic reactions.

To prevent your dog from experiencing issues, stick to natural cleaners. Environmentally-friendly cleaning products don't use harsh chemicals. They're safer on the skin and usually don't cause flare-ups.


These allergies are only a small collection of things that could affect German Shepherds. Truth is, all dogs are different. Some dogs experience odd reactions to the most benign things. If you suspect that your German Shepherd is allergic to something, take a trip to your vet's office. 

They can perform an allergy test to diagnose the problem and figure out exactly what's going on. From there, you can make the necessary changes to turn your home into a safe and healthy place for your pup.

Also Read:  Hypoallergenic Dog Treats & Allergy-Free Snacks


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About the author 


Steve is a writer with over 10 years of experience in dog training and nutritiion.

His goal is to educate dog owners about the ins and outs of canine behavior as well as keeping up with the latest scientific research in the field.