German Shepherds are one of the world's most popular and recognizable dog breeds. With their loyal, intelligent nature and impressive size, it's no wonder they have become a favorite for many families. But there is something else about German Shepherds that you may not know: some of them can have moles!
That’s right – these majestic dogs can sometimes be born with small patches of darker fur on their coats. So why do German Shepherds have moles? Let’s take a closer look at this unique feature to find out!
When we say a mole, we probably think of the little black dot you can find on the German Shepherd's face, right? But what if we told you that this isn't a mole?
The black spot on a German Shepherd Dog's face is neither a mole nor a cosmetic mark; rather, it is an inherited trait that affects the look of the coat and frequently results in a black circular patch of hair. It is supported by a network of nerves, and the thick hairs that emerge from it are "vibrissae," or whiskers.
Vibrissae, commonly known as whiskers, are specialized hairs found on the face of most mammals. On dogs, they are usually most prominently seen on the muzzle and around the eyes. However, some breeds, such as German Shepherds, may also have them on other parts of their bodies.
Unlike the fur that covers most of a dog's body, vibrissae are deeply rooted and act as sensory organs. They contain nerve endings that allow the dog to feel vibrations in the air around them, enabling them to perceive their environment better.
Vibrissae are incredibly important for German Shepherds. This is because they provide a vital source of sensory information about their environment. Not only do vibrissae help the dog to identify objects in its field of view, but they also allow the canine to detect vibrations from a movement that might be too subtle for them to pick up with their other senses.
This part of their body (where are whiskers) must never be shaved! Further, German Shepherds are double-coated dogs and should be shaved only when necessary, as your veterinarian says. If you must shave your German Shepherd, DO NOT shave the "black spot" on their face.
Shaving a dog's whiskers can potentially cause more harm than good. The nerve endings in the whiskers are incredibly important for the dog's sense of perception and understanding of its environment. Without its vibrissae, a German Shepherd can no longer detect vibrations or subtle movements that it previously could pick up on.
Sounds amazing, right? We completely understand you!
When we first hear about this, we're surprised how something so small could mean so much to German Shepherds. So please, don't shave your German Shepherd without good reasons, especially around vibrissae.
Do all German Shepherds have a black dot on their faces?
Not all German Shepherds will have a black dot on their faces; it's an inherited trait that not every dog will possess. Some may have more than one, while others may have none! Some German Shepherds can have a black dot on their face that sometimes can look more like a stain than a perfect black circle.
Why do German Shepherds have moles on their cheeks?
German Shepherds do not have moles on their cheeks. The black dot or patch of fur on its face is a vibrissa. The presence of vibrissae on a German Shepherd's cheeks is because this area is particularly sensitive to the animal's environment.
As we mentioned a couple of moments ago, vibrissae are deeply rooted hairs densely packed with sensory nerve endings, allowing them to pick up vibrations and subtle movements from their surroundings that are otherwise undetectable.
Are German Shepherds prone to skin problems?
German Shepherds are not particularly prone to a variety of skin problems. However, they may suffer from allergies and other dermatological issues due to their sensitive nature. The most common skin condition seen in German Shepherds is Atopic Dermatitis, an inflammatory skin disorder caused by an allergic reaction to environmental allergens such as dust mites, pollen, or other particles in the air.
German Shepherds may also suffer from infections of their vibrissae due to bacteria or fungi that can enter the follicles if they are damaged or shaved too close to the skin.
If you're ready to expand your knowledge, we prepared the 10 most common skin issues that German Shepherds can face!
What are the most common skin issues in German Shepherds?
German Shepherds are considered a very healthy dog breed, but unfortunately, this dog breed can sometimes have skin problems.
Here is the list of the 10 most common skin issues in German Shepherds:
1. Atopic Dermatitis
2. Hot Spots
3. Allergic Dermatitis
4. Acral Lick Granuloma
5. Mange (Demodex or Sarcoptic)
6. Pyoderma (Bacterial Skin Infection)
7. Follicular Dysplasia
8. Hyperpigmentation and Hypopigmentation
9. Hair Loss (Alopecia X or Color Dilution Alopecia)
10. Ectoparasite Infestations
Atopic Dermatitis is an inflammatory skin disorder that can affect German Shepherds and other dog breeds. An allergic reaction to environmental allergens such as dust mites, pollen, or other particles in the air causes it.
This type of skin disorder can be genetic or acquired and is characterized by extreme itching, redness, and skin inflammation. Treatment for Atopic Dermatitis includes anti-allergy medications, topical steroids, and special shampoos that can help reduce itching.
Hot spots, or Acute Moist Dermatitis, is a skin condition affecting many dogs and is particularly common in German Shepherds. It is characterized by an inflamed and irritated area of furless skin, usually on your dog's face, neck, or chest.
The affected area typically looks red, moist, and infected. Allergies, flea infestations, or underlying skin conditions such as Atopic Dermatitis can cause hot spots. Treatment for this condition includes antibiotics to reduce the risk of infection, topical ointments to reduce inflammation and itchiness, and medicated shampoos to help soothe the area.
Allergic Dermatitis is an allergic reaction to something in the environment, such as a specific food item or a particular type of pollen. This kind of skin disorder can cause redness and itching but can also lead to hair loss and infection if not treated quickly.
Treatment for Allergic Dermatitis typically involves avoiding contact with the allergen and anti-allergy medications and topical ointments to reduce skin inflammation. A veterinarian may recommend immunotherapy or other specialized treatments in more severe cases.
Acral Lick Granuloma
An Acral Lick Granuloma is an abnormal tissue growth that develops when a dog licks the same area of their skin excessively. This can occur due to boredom, stress, or physical discomfort from an underlying medical condition such as a food allergy or infection.
📝 Related blog post: Best dog food for German Shepherds with skin allergies
These granulomas typically appear as red, raised lesions and may be painful for your dog. Treatment for this skin issue usually involves antibiotics to treat any underlying infection and medications to prevent excessive licking.
Mange (Demodex or Sarcoptic)
Mange is a skin disorder caused by parasites such as Demodex mites or Sarcoptes scabies mites. German Shepherds are particularly prone to this infestation, resulting in intense itching, hair loss, and skin infections.
Treatment for mange includes medicated shampoos to kill the mites and topical ointments or injectable medications to reduce inflammation and irritation. In more severe cases, a veterinarian may recommend antibiotics or hormone therapy to treat any underlying infection or condition causing the mange.
Pyoderma (Bacterial Skin Infection)
Pyoderma is a bacterial skin infection that affects the outer layers of your dog's skin. It is caused by Staphylococcus or Streptococcus bacteria and can lead to intense itching, redness, and discharge.
Treatment for Pyoderma includes antibiotics to kill the bacteria, topical ointments and creams to reduce inflammation, and medicated baths or shampoos. A veterinarian may prescribe oral medications or surgery to remove any infected tissue in more severe cases.
Follicular dysplasia is a genetic disorder affecting the hair follicles in German Shepherds, resulting in patchy baldness and recurrent skin infections. The exact cause of this disorder is unclear, but it is believed to be inherited from both parents. Symptoms of follicular dysplasia include thinning or loss of fur, redness and skin irritation, and recurrent infections.
Treatment for this disorder includes topical ointments to reduce inflammation, antibiotics to treat infection, and special diets to promote healthy skin growth. In severe cases, a veterinarian may recommend surgery or hormone therapy.
Hyperpigmentation and Hypopigmentation
Hyperpigmentation is a skin disorder that causes an increase in the production of melanin and dark spots on your dog's skin. This condition can be caused by exposure to the sun, hormones, or genetics. Hypopigmentation is characterized by lighter patches of fur or irregularly shaped white areas on your dog's coat.
Treatment for hyperpigmentation and hypopigmentation typically includes topical ointments to reduce inflammation and itching. In some cases, a veterinarian may recommend light therapy or laser treatments to reduce the appearance of discolored patches.
Hair Loss (Alopecia X or Color Dilution Alopecia)
Alopecia X is a condition that causes hair loss in German Shepherds due to abnormally high production of the androgen hormone. Genetics, hormones, or environmental factors can cause this type of alopecia. Color dilution alopecia is a genetic disorder that results in patchy or circular bald spots due to a mutation in the coat color gene.
Treatment for hair loss includes medications such as anti-inflammatories or antibiotics, hormone therapy, and topical ointments or creams. In severe cases, a veterinarian may recommend surgery to remove bald patches.
Ectoparasite infestations are caused by fleas, ticks, mites, or other parasites that live on your dog's skin. These organisms can cause intense itching, irritation, and secondary bacterial infections. Treatment for ectoparasite infestations includes medications to kill the parasites, topical ointments or creams to reduce inflammation and itching, and special baths or shampoos.
Sometimes, a veterinarian may recommend allergy testing to identify environmental triggers contributing to your dog's condition. It is important to consult with a veterinarian if you suspect your dog has an ectoparasite infestation.
In most cases, skin disorders in German Shepherds can be managed with medication and lifestyle changes. Working closely with a veterinarian is important to develop an appropriate treatment plan for your dog's specific condition.
Are all German Shepherds' face spots vibrissae?
Not all face spots found on German Shepherds are vibrissae. The black spots on German Shepherds' cheeks are pretty normal and natural. Black spots found on the other parts of the body can be dangerous and a sign of some health issues.
Let's see what black spots can represent that are not found on the German Shepherd's cheeks (face).
- Dog moles
- Dog ticks
- Canine Hemangiosarcoma
- Skin cancer
- Atopic Dermatitis
Dog moles, or cutaneous melanocytes, are benign skin growths typically found in German Shepherds. Dog moles can appear anywhere on a dog's body but are most common around the head and neck.
They range from a few millimeters to several centimeters across and can be any color or shape. If you notice any changes in your dog's moles, such as size or color, it is important to consult a veterinarian immediately.
Ticks can cause serious health issues if left untreated, so it's important to check your German Shepherd for ticks regularly. Ticks are typically found around the head and neck but can be found anywhere on the body.
If you find a tick, use tweezers to remove it. If any parts of the tick remain in your dog's skin, consult a veterinarian immediately.
We strongly recommend leaving tick removal to a veterinarian if you live close to one. If not, do it yourself, but be very careful and remove the entire tick.
Hemangiosarcoma is an aggressive form of cancer that affects the blood vessels of German Shepherds. White spots on the skin characterize it and can be fatal if left untreated.
If you notice any white spots on your dog's skin, it's important to consult a veterinarian immediately. Early detection and treatment are essential for the successful management of canine hemangiosarcoma.
Tumors can be benign or malignant. Benign tumors are not cancerous and typically don't spread, but a veterinarian should monitor them to ensure they do not become cancerous. Malignant tumors can spread to other parts of the body and may require surgery or chemotherapy for treatment.
If you see any lumps or bumps on your German Shepherd's skin, it's important to monitor them and have them checked by a vet.
Skin cancer is a serious condition that can affect all breeds of dogs, including German Shepherds. The most common type of skin cancer in dogs is squamous cell carcinoma. This type of cancer typically appears as a raised, firm lump with a red or black crust.
If you notice any suspicious lumps or bumps on your German Shepherd's skin, it is important to consult a veterinarian immediately. Early detection and treatment are essential for successfully managing canine skin cancer.
Atopic dermatitis is a skin condition caused by an allergic reaction to certain environmental triggers. It can cause intense itching, redness, and inflammation of the skin. German Shepherds are more prone to this condition than other breeds.
If you suspect your German Shepherd has atopic dermatitis, it is important to consult a veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment. Treatment may include antihistamines, topical steroids, or other medications to help relieve symptoms.
Not all black spots on German Shepherds are vibrissae (whiskers). Some of these spots can indicate underlying conditions requiring medical attention. If you notice any changes in the black spots on your German Shepherd's body, it is important to consult a veterinarian immediately.
Early detection and treatment are essential for successfully managing any health issue your German Shepherd may face.
Should I remove moles from my German Shepherd?
Removing moles from your German Shepherd without consulting a veterinarian first is not recommended. Dog moles are typically benign and need not be removed unless they cause irritation or become cancerous.
If you notice any changes in your dog's moles' size, color, shape, or texture, it is important to consult a veterinarian immediately. Early detection and treatment are essential for successfully managing your German Shepherd's health issues.
Removing moles from a dog without consulting a veterinarian can have several negative side effects. Without proper care and guidance, the procedure can cause unnecessary discomfort to the dog and lead to infection.
If the mole is malignant, removing it on your own can spread cancer cells throughout the body, significantly increasing the risk of metastasis and further complicating the situation. For these reasons, removing moles from your German Shepherd without consulting a veterinarian first is not recommended.
It is important to regularly inspect and monitor your German Shepherd's fur and skin for any changes in its moles' size, color, shape, or texture.
Is it bad if my German Shepherd has a mole?
No, it is not bad if your German Shepherd has a mole. Dog moles are typically benign and need not be removed unless they cause irritation or become cancerous.
Moles can vary in size, shape, color, and texture. They are usually harmless and benign but can sometimes become cancerous or cause irritation. It is important to regularly inspect your German Shepherd's fur and skin for any changes in its moles' size, color, shape, or texture.
Moles should be removed only with the guidance and supervision of a veterinarian. Removing moles from a dog without consulting a veterinarian can have massive negative side effects, including unnecessary pain and discomfort to the dog and the risk of infection.
What do cancerous moles look like on dogs?
Cancerous moles on dogs can vary in size, shape, color, and texture. They may appear as raised lumps with a red or black crust and can be painful. Cancerous moles may also bleed easily or exhibit other changes in appearance over time.
If you notice any suspicious lumps or bumps on your German Shepherd's body, it is important to consult a veterinarian immediately. It is also important to regularly inspect and monitor your German Shepherd's fur and skin for any changes in its moles' size, color, shape, or texture.
Here is an image of a cancerous mole found on the dog:
Early detection and treatment are essential for successfully managing canine skin cancer.
Now that we know that the black dot on the German Shepherd's face is not a mole, already vibrissae (whiskers), we want to repeat this: don't shave German Shepherd vibrissae (whiskers)!
Also, it's important to be aware of moles on your German Shepherd's body and to inspect it for any changes regularly. If you notice any suspicious lumps or bumps, consult a veterinarian immediately, as early detection and treatment can help manage canine skin cancer more successfully.
Be sure to familiarize yourself with what normal vibrissae (whiskers) look like to recognize potential issues quickly and easily.
Frequently asked questions
Do you still have questions? Check our FAQ section, and you can find your answer here!
❓What are the black spots on German Shepherds?
As we mentioned in this article a few moments ago, the black spots on German Shepherds are typically vibrissae (whiskers). However, some of these spots can indicate underlying conditions requiring medical attention. If you notice any changes in the black spots on your German Shepherd's body, it is important to consult a veterinarian immediately.
❓Why does my German Shepherd have black dots on this tongue?
The black dots found on the tongue of some German Shepherds are known as papillae, and they are a normal part of canine anatomy. These small, black bumps are made up of filiform papillae composed of keratin and are designed to help dogs grip their food more securely when eating.
They can also help detect small temperature or texture changes when the dog is examining something with their tongue. While these black dots are normal, it is still important to regularly inspect your German Shepherd's mouth and tongue for any changes or irregularities.
Suggestion: Why do German Shepherds have black spots on their tongue?
❓Do German Shepherds get skin tags?
Yes, German Shepherds can get skin tags. Skin tags are benign growths of extra skin that can appear anywhere on a dog’s body. They typically look like small bumps and may be flesh-colored, pink, or dark brown.
While these growths are usually harmless and do not cause any discomfort to the dog, they can occasionally become irritated or cancerous. It is important to regularly inspect your German Shepherd's fur and skin for any changes. If you notice any suspicious lumps or bumps on your German Shepherd's body, it is important to consult a veterinarian immediately.
❓What dog breeds have moles on their face?
Many dog breeds, including German Shepherds, can have moles on their face. Moles are small pigmented cell growths that usually appear as brown or black spots. Dog moles are typically benign and need not be removed unless they cause irritation or become cancerous.
Some of the most common dog breeds that have moles on their face are:
1. German Shepherd
2. Labrador Retriever
3. Golden Retriever
5. French Bulldog
8. Shih Tzu