==> "Want a daily dose of bacteria, or pleasant kisses?"

Kibble and canned dog food rottens your dog's mouth if not looked after!

GSD Mouth Care

To the uninformed the above may sound odd, but really, if you don't regularly clean your dog's mouth the right way then you risk unnecessary infections and pain for your German Shepherd. Also note that mouth infections are being constantly ingested by your dog, leading to seemingly unrelated illnesses down the line!

For the modern-lifestyle GSD the right dental care and gum care is crucial, and it can add healthy years to your dog's life.

This MYGERMANSHEPHERD PERIODICAL shows how to easily keep your dog's mouth healthy - and to enjoy pleasant kisses too. ;-)

  • Risks of poor mouth hygiene
  • Signs of poor dental care
  • The right GSD mouth care
  • Other important points

Risks of poor mouth hygiene

By their nature, German Shepherds would heavily tear apart large chunks of meat into smaller ones, gnaw on bones, tree trunks and branches, eat vegetables like sweet potatoes and carrots, and chew on wild grasses. This type of diet has a significant cleaning effect on the dog's teeth and gums.

The majority of German Shepherds in the world however are fed kibble and canned dog food: 84% among our subscribers! :-| Usually supplemented by the odd piece of filet-style meat and commercial dog treats. This type of diet indeed involves a high risk of dental and gum disease.

To provide a basic understanding of WHY dental and gum care is important for the modern-lifestyle GSD, we can survey a few dental and gum problems that may occur as a result of poor mouth hygiene.

Plaque and Tartar

GSD PeriodontitisWith every meal and treat your German Shepherd eats (especially if it's sweet), plaque starts to build up as a film on the teeth and along the gum line. When this plaque mixes with saliva and bacteria in the mouth it turns into tartar. Tartar can be easily identified as a yellow brown substance on the teeth and along the gum-line (see the image).

If not removed regularly and completely, the tartar hardens and encapsulates many bacteria, which can then underneath freely attack teeth and gums, permanently settle in tooth gaps and gum pockets, and savage any wounds in the mouth!


If you don't brush your German Shepherd's teeth regularly and the right way (see below) then food particles and residue start to accumulate between and behind the teeth and in gum pockets. This provides bacteria a good habitat to live in and multiply, causing Gingivitis or inflammation of the gums.

If left untreated Gingivitis can lead to Periodontitis, which is an infection and inflammation of the ligaments and roots of the teeth. This means these infections are hidden from you, you cannot see them although they may cause significant pain to your GSD.

As explained in prior Periodicals, pain in dogs is a typical (but regularly overlooked) cause for behavioral issues, all the way up to and including dog aggression and dog biting!

German Shepherds will not normally show their pain through constant whining and retreating to their den, like most other dog breeds do. Nonetheless, if the pain is too much or for too long, they too need a negative energy release. These are the reasons why you hear of GSD owners complaining that their dog 'suddenly' became aggressive or even bit. Aggression and biting releases negative energy.

Signs of poor dental care

Your German Shepherd's teeth are like a mirror to the overall health of your dog. White pearl like teeth usually indicate good health, while yellowing teeth can be an early signal of poor overall health of your GSD.

The signs you need to look out for:

  • bad breath
  • drooling
  • swollen or bright red gums
  • yellow-brown tartar on teeth and along gum line

Usually, if your German Shepherd has built-up tartar your dog will have a really bad breath. The symptoms of Gingivitis include bleeding gums, redness and pain in gums.

All of these symptoms should be a point of concern for you, because bad oral health can take years away from your GSD's life and we do not want that!

So, if your German Shepherd shows any such signs, you need to put in place a better regime of regular dog mouth care. Otherwise you and your GSD may have to visit the vet fairly soon. By all means, you should aim to avoid this, and not just for reasons of cost:

Getting mouth infections treated and teeth cleaned by a stranger (namely the vet) puts enormous stress on your dog - even before and after anesthetics have been given (which the vet will normally do before they dare to put their hand into a German Shepherd mouth!). A future Periodical will show how to curb stress at the vet.

The right GSD mouth care

You can add healthy years to your German Shepherd's life by just being more caring when it comes to dental health. The right cleaning regime in place avoids any stress, both for you and your dog.

Although the lady in this video clearly avoids all stress for her and her dog, the actual cleaning regime she applies is WRONG (see why further below):

The typical toothbrushing - which is WRONG

But let's start at the beginning: First of all, if you can, start early in your dog's life to get the dog used to dental care.

This is what a Top dog expert says:
Find out more: Click to save vet cost, training cost, and your nerves!

The ideal is to introduce a GSD puppy to dental care around age 6 weeks. Since reputable and responsible German Shepherd breeders will not normally give you a GSD before age 7 to 8 weeks, once you get a new GSD puppy immediately introduce it to dental care.

When you get an older GSD, say from a GSD Rescue Center, try to find out what the prior owner or handler has done in terms of dental care. Because, if your new GSD is not used to opening its mouth to get its teeth worked on(!) (s)he may not like this idea at all! Although in general GSDs are more easy with this than other dog breeds, still it is a very awkward situation for any dog.


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The right regime of dog mouth care

Introduce your dog to dental care very carefully!

Wait for your dog to be totally calm and relaxed. 10 to 15 min after heavy exercise is a great time.

Bring out the necessary cleaning utensils:

  • Great tasting dog toothpaste
  • Long-armed dog toothbrush
  • Finger brush
  • Small piece of cloth or latex glove
  • A great dog dental care kit that comprises all first three items together comes from Petrodex f

Lay out the utensils in front of your GSD. Squeeze a small amount of the dog toothpaste on the back of your hand. Let your dog sniff and then lick it. IF your GSD likes the taste, continue. If not, get a different dog toothpaste. It's crucial that your dog likes it.

Squeeze a bit of the toothpaste onto the toothbrush and start with the front teeth on the lower jaw. Slowly let your dog get used to getting something put into its mouth.

Gently brush in vertical(!) movements, tooth after tooth, down and up, down and up. After each say 5 times down and up, move on to the next tooth. Once all around, attend to the upper jaw. Do not get rushed or excited while brushing. Be PATIENT.

Then use the finger brush and gently massage the gums, again in vertical movements - because all that horizontal scrubbing you see people doing in TV ads etc RUINS the gums and the foundation of the teeth along the gumline! It promotes infections and bleeding gums! They literally first ruin the gumline and then rub the bacteria into the gumline...! Now, you, please don't do that. Neither to your GSD nor to yourself.

Apply this process every other day. That's normally sufficient to maintain your dog's oral health!

NEVER use human toothpaste for your GSD, and NEVER use your own (old) brush because the bacteria stems are very different and some survive for months even on dry brushes! In addition, the bristles of a dog toothbrush are different.

Other important points

  • Whether you feed RAW or not, give your GSD the odd raw bone to gnaw on. These bones work by scraping off built-up plaque as they rub over the teeth. The tendons and ligaments along with the bones provide natural flossing for your GSD's teeth.
  • Always SUPERVISE your GSD while (s)he gnaws on bones. And do not give cooked bones, as they can easily splinter and hurt your dog.
  • Eliminate all sugary and starch-rich food items from the diet of your German Shepherd. A good alternative are raw vegetables like carrots, sweet potatoes etc.
  • Every now and then allow your GSD to chew on Greenies f
  • Also good is to get your GSD the Nylabone Dura Chew Wishbone f, as it is great for massaging your GSD's gums and rubbing against its teeth.
  • If you don't like to brush your dog's teeth the way recommended above, or if you can't get your dog to like it, then alternatively you can use Petzlife Oral Care Gel (and Spray) f, which surprisingly is a full substitute of the entire tooth cleaning regime.
  • Better still seems to be Leba III (with tooth scaler) f. By using these oral care products you can save yourself from heavy vet bills, and your German Shepherd from the trauma of unnecessary vet visits and surgeries.
  • Adding a small amount of Plaque Off f to your GSD's food also helps to avoid the build-up of any film of plaque on the teeth.

Your GSD's dental health is important, as it is linked to its overall health: Everything your GSD eats and everything your GSD drinks passes through its mouth, hence any contamination in the mouth is being ingested and can reach inside your dog's body. A survey even suggests that dogs with bad dental conditions are more likely to develop heart problems.

Put in just a bit of time, energy, a little of shopping and a lot of love. With all this done it is for sure that your German Shepherd will live longer and healthier.


Checklist * (see note at the bottom)

  • Bad oral health can take years away from your GSD's life
  • The right regime of regular dog mouth care helps to avoid high vet bills and vet-related stress for your GSD
  • The right mouth care prevents that your GSD gets its daily dose of ingested bacteria, tartar, periodontitis, gingivitis, and toothache and pain in the gums
  • Thus, the right mouth care also avoids behavioral issues, up to and including aggression and biting, that are often caused by pain!
  • Always brush gently and in vertical(!) movements, never scrub horizontally! - The same advice applies to yourself too
  • NEVER use human toothpaste, and NEVER user your own (old) brush
  • A great dog dental care kit that comprises dog toothpaste, dog toothbrush, and finger brush together comes from Petrodex f
  • Both Greenies f and the Nylabone Dura Chew Wishbone f allow your dog to play an active role in its own dental hygiene
  • Signs ot look out for to prevent dental and gum problems:
    • bad breath
    • drooling
    • swollen or brighter red gums
    • yellow-brown tartar on teeth and along gum line
  • If you can't (or don't want to) get your GSD to accept the mouth cleaning regime as laid out above, then alternatively you can simply use Petzlife Oral Care Gel (and Spray) f or Leba III (with tooth scaler) f - both are easy and quick solutions to canine oral care
  • To prevent and remove at least the plaque and tartar on your dog's teeth, adding a bit Plaque Off f to one of your dog's daily meals is an easy solution



==> Next edition: GSD Puppy Leash Training <==

Miguel at 28w Can you give back a bit today?



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    We don't do Facebook or Tweets so are very grateful for the valuable information we can access with the "45 second" plan. Mouth care is something we need to address right now so thank you so much.


      Not sure if I mentioned it above at that time, Bill: The key reasons for regular dog mouth care are these:

      - It allows bite inhibition training (covered in my books and of course in Ian Dunbar's After you get your puppy)
      - It helps to avoid veterinary dental treatment
      - Thus it saves enormous vet cost
      - It saves your dog from anesthesia
      - Thus it also saves your dog from medicament-mediated intoxication
      - And it saves your dog from intense stress!
      - Stress is the primary reason for dog aggression
      - Thus it also saves you from an unbalanced or even aggressive dog
      - This combines with the first point above
      - It promotes mutual trust (dogs normally don't let anyone touch inside the mouth)
      - Thus it significantly improves bonding and relationship building
      - It allows you to notice abnormalities inside the mouth (gums, teeth, tongue, throat)
      - Thus you can seek vet treatment when necessary and when still easiest to treat

      In short: Regular dog mouth care (ideally toothbrushing incl. with dental finger, alternatively at least plaque-off or oral spray) has financial, medical, and behavior benefits.


    Accurate professional advice! Extremely well written!


    Thanks for this info. I am so glad that you listed all the great reasons for cleaning your dogs teeth. I never really thought about it. I always gave my dogs bones, and milkbone treats, and they always had good teeth, so I never thought the rest of it was so important. Thanks for opening my eyes to this. I will be making every effort to brush my dogs teeth from now on.


    Another fantastic & informative article. Thanks Tim!


    Great article Tim and I have been concerned about the proper dental maintenance for my Matt. So far, his teeth look healthy and no sign of tarter. Thanks for covering a necessary health concern and a great "how to" article.


    Thanks for another informative article! My last dog was a rescue who lived a nice long life, but she came to me with horribly chipped and battered teeth. Without a doubt, this tooth decay caused her much pain towards the end. I've been using a finger brush on my LB Jeffries, but I feel more prepared to fight the plaque having read your article.


    My GSD is 6 months old and I have started to notice his canine teeth all 4 are yellowish and small in size. Along with the two bottom ones are soft and move what does this mean? He has been to vet few times and i have just noticed this about a week to two ago and he has his shots about a month ago


    Thanks for the "how to" and insight! Good information for a first time dog owner. Yes, Stasi is my first dog and my first GSD.


      Thanks, I just had a chance for a brief look at your GSD: "Kibble" and "Locked inside". Do you see any chance to change both Crystal? ;-)


    Hi Tim
    Thanks for the great info in your articles they've helped me so much with jose(my 7 month old GSD)but this time i seem to be having trouble viewing the actual correct way of brushing the teeth in your article is there a link i should click cause I can't find anything!
    Ps: i can see the video which is said to be the wrong way and no correction


      I can't reproduce your problem: I see "The right regime of dog mouth care", in bold, and it's even inside a red box. So that's the "correction", no?


    Sorry Tim but I don't see a red box! Maybe something's wrong with my phone since I'm logged on with my cellphone
    It's a pity I've been looking forward so eagerly for the mouth care articles


      Yeah phones regularly omit content as they don't have much space to show it all


    Great artical my girl is over 13 yrs old her teeth are great except for a slab fracture of her largest upper molar, although her geriatic panel was very good both my vet and myself especially are very nervous to put her under to pull it out it has only been infected once and was treated but i am afraid of not removeing it

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