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Dry skin on German Shorthaired Pointers can be concerning. It should be easy for you to tell how healthy your dog’s skin is based on the health of their coat. GSP’s with a coat that gleams have healthy skin where dogs with a dull coat usually have some kind of problem.

Diagnosing dry skin problems is tricky due to there being so many causes for dry skin. If your GSP is suffering from dry, itchy, or flaky skin, it’s best to get treatment before it gets worse.

GSP Dry Skin Problems

German Shorthaired Pointers with dry skin is common due to their tight, water-repellant coat. Dry skin can be a sign of a bigger problem and can be associated with a wide range of conditions from fleas to serious medical disorders, like Lupoid Dermatosis.

Some of the causes of dry skin are:

  • Poor nutrition
  • Environmental conditions
  • Fleas
  • Mites
  • Lice
  • Other parasites
  • Allergies
  • Bacterial and/ or fungal infections
  • Auto-immune diseases
  • Cushing’s disease
  • Cancer
  • Hypothyroidism

Dry skin can also have a variety of other causes not listed above. Due to the wide range of possible causes, it’s always best to visit your veterinarian for a proper diagnosis, especially if your GSP is acting out of character.

Going to the vet for dry skin is especially important of the GSP breed. As the breed has a degenerative disease that is only seen in German Shorthaired Pointers, (Lupoid Dermatosis).

If you think your dog has dry skin, you can confirm your suspicions with the symptoms listed below. Knowing the symptoms will also help your vet to diagnose your GSP’s skin problem quicker, which means treatment can start sooner.

Symptoms of dry skin:

  • Itchiness
  • Dandruff
  • Flaking
  • Pimples
  • Scaling
  • Hair Loss
  • Inflammation
  • Odor
  • Increased oiliness
  • Scabs

Be aware that some dogs may only experience one of these symptoms, while others may be showing several. Keep an eye on your dog’s symptoms and any noticeable changes.

Your veterinarian will likely also conduct a skin scraping and test for parasites or other conditions.

If your puppy is itching a lot, then be sure to read our post on Puppy Itching here.

Skin allergies and dry skin

GSP’s can have skin allergies just like humans do. Allergies can be triggered by food, seasonal changes, and other environmental factors such as pollen, dust, feathers, grass, grain, flea saliva, and animal dander.

If left untreated, these allergic reactions can result in a skin condition called atopic dermatitis that causes dry skin, itching, redness, and inflammation, which can lead to secondary skin infections.

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In American dogs, flea allergy dermatitis is the most common skin disorder. This type of dermatitis is a reaction against the saliva of fleas. The best way to avoid flea allergy dermatitis is to keep your house and dog flea-free as far as possible.

The best you can do for your GSP’s skin allergies is to speak to your vet about treatment options to reduce the symptoms. If you can identify the cause, try and avoid it at all costs. For fleas, you can get any flea treatment suitable for your dog’s age and weight.

Parasites causing skin problems

Parasites are a common cause for dry skin on dogs. Dry, flaky skin can be a sign of mange parasites such as the Demodex mite, canine scabies, and cheyletiellosis (also known as walking dandruff).

The vet will prescribe you a shampoo to wash your dog with. The number of washes required will depend on your dog’s condition and what is recommended by the doctor. The vet might also prescribe a cream that you will need to apply to the affected areas several times a day to help with itching and killing the parasites.

To help, you can get your dog a cone of shame. The cone will prevent them from continuously licking affected areas preventing healing. If your dog’s condition doesn’t improve or gets worse, you might be referred to a veterinary dermatologist for extra care.

Infection causing dry skin

Bacterial and fungal infections can be responsible for a variety of skin problems in dogs. Veterinarians usually diagnose skin infections by taking a skin scrape for cytology. Sometimes these infections can be a sign of a bigger problem which is exactly why dry skin should always be taken seriously.

Some canine skin infections, like the notorious ringworm, can also be transmitted to humans so it is best to be careful. If you notice any skin infections on your GSP, your vet will be able to prescribe the correct treatment before it potentially spreads to you and your family.

Systemic skin disorders

Sometimes, dry skin can be a sign of a major underlying health problem. There are two main metabolic diseases that go hand in hand with dry skin on dogs, namely Cushing’s disease and hypothyroidism. Both of these conditions are often accompanied by other symptoms, like dry and brittle hair, hair loss, and skin infections among others.

Auto-immune diseases and cancer can be another cause of dry skin in dogs. These conditions are serious and should be treated by a veterinarian immediately. It is important that you take dry skin very seriously, you might be able to save your dog’s life if treatment starts early.

GSP skin bumps

Skin bumps in GSP’s can be a sign of a serious underlying condition. Skin bumps are often associated with lupoid dermatosis and skin cancer. It can also be associated with bacterial infections, such as staph infections.

Bacterial infections often need to be treated with antibiotics before it gets worse. It would also be best to diagnose any serious conditions early on for the best chance of recovery for your dog.

If you notice bumps after your dog was in contact with a certain plant or substance, it could potentially be an allergy. The best thing to do would be to give your dog a bath to remove any remaining irritants on his skin, and then avoid the culprit.

Keep an eye on your dog’s condition and take them to the vet if their condition worsens in any way.

Environmental conditions and dry skin

You will be surprised how big an effect the environment can have on the condition of your dog’s skin. Conditions such as very dry hot or cold weather conditions, excessive bathing, harsh soaps, and poor nutrition can be prime suspects when it comes to dry skin.

If you suspect your GSP’s dry skin is due to environmental conditions, nutritional deficiencies, or excessive bathing habits, it’s still a good idea to consult your veterinarian to rule out more serious conditions.

Once the veterinarian clears your dog, you can go ahead and change your dog’s environmental conditions where possible to improve their skin condition. The veterinarian should be able to give you some tips and advice on the matter.

Changes you can make includes:

  • Fewer baths
  • A humidifier in the room they sleep in
  • Better, more nutritional food (Consult the vet if you’re unsure what is best)
  • Use only dog safe soap and shampoo

Lupoid Dermatosis in German Shorthaired Pointers

Lupoid dermatosis is a serious degenerative disease that is only seen in German Shorthaired Pointers. This disease is progressive and will spread to the spleen, kidneys, and lymph nodes very quickly. Skin problems such as dry skin are usually the first indication that something is wrong.

If you have a GSP, it is very important to take him to the vet if you notice any kind of skin disorder. Lupoid dermatosis is often sorted into stages one and two. The stage your dog is in depends on the severity of the condition and if any of the internal organs has been affected.

The symptoms of lupoid dermatosis are greatly varied as it seems to affect each dog in a different way. In some cases, it only affects the skin, but in others, it progresses to stage two very quickly, affecting the dog’s internal organs. Sadly, most dogs don’t make it past two years old.

The most often reported symptoms are:

Stage I:

  • Scaly skin with lesions and blisters spreading from the head to the rest of the body
  • Bruising and red splotches
  • Retinal hemorrhage
  • Thickening of the skin
  • Pigment changes
  • Hair loss
  • Stiff legs
  • Joint pain and swelling
  • Weakness
  • Slow reflexes

Stage II:

  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Increased thirst and urination
  • Dehydration (dry skin)
  • Swollen lymph nodes, spleen, tonsils, and adenoids
  • Increased heart rate and respiration
  • Kidney failure


Lupoid dermatosis is considered to be untreatable, but there is medication that can slow down the progression. In some cases, it is possible to get the disease to go into recession, but in most cases, GSP’s with this disease are euthanized before their fifth year due to complications such as kidney failure.

Preventing Dry Skin in German Shorthaired Pointers

When it comes to skin conditions in GSP’s, prevention is always better than cure. While dry skin is more common in GSP breeds than others, there are a few things you can do to prevent it.

Adding oil onto their food

Many GSP owners recommend adding oil into their diet.

Wheat germ oil is a good choice as the Vitamin E helps repair skin damage through antioxidant action. About a tablespoon per day, mixed in the food, is sufficient.

Flax seed, Emu oil or fish oil supplements are all other good choices. Some GSP owners even recommend some bacon grease on their food once or twice a week!

It may take a 3 to 6 weeks to see the effects of adding oil into their diet.

For an extreme case of dry skin, and perhaps you’ve tried everything else, then it might be time to try using coconut oil over your dog. Check this video out on how to do it:

Less bathing

A GSP doesn’t need a bath as often as other breeds. If your dog is smelly, or visibly dirty, then by all means give them a wash. However, if your GSP doesn’t smell or isn’t dirty, then consider bathing them on a few times per year.

Too much bathing with soap (especially Oatmeal shampoo) will dry the skin and not replenish with moisture or oil.

Be sure to read our GSP Guide to Grooming and Shedding.

Changing their diet

Some dog foods can be detrimental to a GSP’s skin. Some dogs don’t tolerate corn or grain well, and can have a skin reaction. Be sure to stick with the best brands, which include:

Blue Buffalo Life Protection

Taste of the Wild Grain Free

Purina Pro Sensitive Skin

Brushing dry skin

Brushing can help to remove dry skin and stimulate the oils to the surface. Again, be sure to check out our post on GSP grooming.

Skin supplements

There are some great skin supplements on the market that can help improve the dry skin of your GSP. It can take a few weeks for them to take effect, but can be a good option to add into other strategies you’re implementing.

We recommend PetHonesty Allergy SkinHealth Chews, and for a more powerful skin supplement, go with PetHonesty SkinHealth Food Topper for Immune Function, Digestion, and Allergies.

Summary of skin health options

  • Feed a high-quality diet
  • Prevent parasites with preventatives
  • Groom your dog regularly
  • Give supplements
  • Schedule vet checkup

Being a proactive owner is the best way to ensure that your dog leads a happy, healthy life. While you can prevent some skin conditions, not all are preventable so don’t feel bad if your dog does end up with dry skin, at least you caught it before it got out of hand.

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