For some breeds of dogs, excessive drooling is a normal breed characteristic and is to be expected. For others, excessive drooling generally only occurs at very specific times (such as when they are around food) or is due to an underlying condition.
As the German Shepherd is one of the most popular breeds in the world and many people may be considering adding one to their household, it is worth finding out if they are one of those dog breeds that drools heavily if that is a concern you have.
Even people who have a German Shepherd may be wondering if their pup’s drooling habits are normal or not.
So, do German Shepherds drool a lot?
German Shepherds are not excessive droolers, and are not known for drooling outside of feeding times or when in a state of high anxiety or excitement. Most drooling is probably normal and not concerning, but several serious medical conditions could trigger sudden excessive drooling in a German Shepherd which would require veterinary attention.
In the article below, we’ll discuss why German Shepherds don’t generally drool as much as other breeds of dogs.
We’ll also discuss the possible reasons your German Shepherd may be drooling more than normal, especially when an underlying medical condition is suspected as the cause of the drooling.
Finally, we’ll talk about when the drooling may be a concern and when a trip to the vet is necessary, and how you can help reduce your German Shepherd’s drooling when it is due to a non-medical reason.
Do German Shepherds Drool A Lot?
German Shepherds are not known for being a “drooly” breed, unlike Mastiffs, Bulldogs, and other breeds that have more skin around their jowls, and which can cause an increase in drooling.
That being said, individual German Shepherds may drool more than others due to their own genetic makeup, and they definitely aren’t a breed that doesn’t drool at all. Nor do most other dogs that look similar to the GSD.
There are also several other underlying causes that could be causing your German Shepherd to drool, some of which need immediate veterinary attention.
Medical Reasons Why Your German Shepherd Might Be Drooling A Lot
Some German Shepherds may drool more if they have an underlying medical issue. In some instances, if the drooling begins suddenly and is not something your German Shepherd does normally, a trip to the emergency vet is needed.
Here are a few possible medical reasons that could cause your German Shepherd to drool more than the breed normally does:
Ate Something Bad
As far as medical conditions go, the sudden drooling in your German Shepherd is probably most likely to be caused by them eating something that they shouldn’t have. While dogs do sometimes understand what is and is not food, they may also experiment and eat something that’s not good for them.
Saliva is an important part of a dog’s digestive process and helps their bodies break down foods and keeps the mouth and throat moist. But if your German Shepherd has eaten something that doesn’t sit well with them, excess drooling could be the body’s way of trying to break down that food product more rapidly than other food products.
Acidic foods and certain fruits can cause an increase in drooling, and in some instances, foods that are toxic to dogs can also cause an increase in drooling.
Toxic non-food items such as rat poison, cleaning products, and other potentially harmful things that could wind up in your German Shepherd’s mouth may also cause a sudden increase in salivation, due to both the body’s way of trying to process it and also because your German Shepherd is likely not feeling very well and anxiety and illness can also lead to an increase in saliva production.
If you suspect your German Shepherd’s sudden drooling is due to something toxic that they’ve eaten, you should get them to an emergency veterinarian immediately. If you have the packaging or pieces of what they ate, bring them with you as this can help the vet determine a treatment for your pup.
Issues In The Mouth
Abscesses, tumors, bacterial infections, and other types of infections can lead to an increase in drooling in your German Shepherd. Abscesses and tumors can form in a dog’s mouth, esophagus, and throat, and their size could impact how well your German Shepherd can swallow.
If he’s unable to swallow or move his mouth and throat normally, this could cause a build-up of saliva.
Infections may also cause an increase in drooling and can be accompanied by a bad smell in the dog’s mouth. Similarly, if your dog has a foreign object stuck in their mouth or throat, this could also cause an increase in slobber. A broken tooth can also be a possible cause for a sudden increase in drooling.
Blocked Salivary Gland
Some dogs can develop blocked salivary glands due to trauma around the throat and neck area. If your German Shepherd recently experienced trauma around that area and you’ve noticed an increase in drooling, it’s best to get them checked out by the vet as soon as possible.
Swelling around the throat area, trouble swallowing, and blood mixed in with your dog’s saliva may also be present.
Stomach Upset Or Gastric Distress
German Shepherds can be prone to sensitive stomachs and digestive upset, including stomach ulcers, acid reflux, and general unease with their digestive system. Foods and environmental stressors can be triggers for these issues, and an increase in drooling can be a sign of gastric distress.
Additional symptoms can include burping and gas (both of which smell different than normal), restlessness and an inability to lie down and relax, whimpering, and a bloated appearance.
Several of these symptoms are also symptoms of HGE and bloat (which I’ll discuss below), so a trip to the vet is necessary if you start seeing this in your pup.
Overeating Or Eating Too Fast
Like all dogs, German Shepherds probably won’t turn down some tasty food if they are given the opportunity to eat it. This can lead to your pup eating too quickly, which can cause choking and as a result an increase in saliva to try and help move the food down their esophagus.
Eating too much at once can also cause a “backup” in their stomach and esophagus, which may also trigger an increase in saliva production to help lubricate their digestive system to try and move things along, along with vomiting and dry heaving if the food becomes lodged in their throat.
Overeating and eating too quickly can also trigger an increased risk for bloat, something which German Shepherds can be very prone to. If your German Shepherd tends to eat too fast or likes to overeat, feeding smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day can help curb that issue.
Slow feed bowls or puzzle toys are another good way to slow down their eating!
Genetic Issue Or Trauma
Some German Shepherds may drool more due to an underlying genetic issue. This is often related to a poorly formed jaw, weak muscles around the mouth and neck area, or a neurological condition that causes weakness in the body.
Trauma to the dog’s mouth and neck could also lead to an increase in drooling if the jaw is broken and does not heal properly, or if part of the jaw is removed due to infection or cancer.
As dogs do not sweat in the same way that people do, it is harder for their bodies to deal with high temperatures. Sudden, excessive drooling is an early sign of heat stroke in dogs.
If your German Shepherd has been exposed to high heat and direct sun without access to water and they begin panting heavily and drooling, get them to a cooler location immediately and contact your veterinarian for further guidance.
If left unchecked, exposure to high heat will cause a dog to go into shock if they are unable to cool down, which can lead to death.
While seizures can be triggered by various underlying conditions, the German Shepherd is a breed that is more prone to epilepsy. Excessive drooling can be seen just before the seizure (in the aura phase), during the seizure itself, and immediately after the seizure as the brain and body attempt to return to normal functioning.
As the dog’s body begins to seize, they’ll lose control of their muscles (including around the mouth and throat area), which can cause an increase in drooling.
While it’s unknown what emotions a dog may be feeling while the seizure is occurring, it’s not unreasonable to think that they experience some form of anxiety or fear, both of which can also contribute to excessive salivation.
Excessive drooling can be a warning sign of hemorrhagic gastroenteritis, or HGE. Acute forms of this condition can occur suddenly and without warning, even in otherwise healthy dogs.
The exact cause for this disorder is unknown, but if HGE is suspected as a cause for the sudden drooling in your German Shepherd, you should take your dog to the emergency vet immediately. Additional signs and symptoms include sudden vomiting, bloody diarrhea that is jelly-like in texture, lethargy, pale gums, and dehydration.
Bloat (or GDV) is another medical issue that German Shepherds are prone to, and in which sudden excessive drooling may be present.
Bloat is considered a medical emergency, so if your German Shepherd is drooling suddenly and the drooling is accompanied by dry heaving, pacing, the dog repeatedly looking at their belly area or being unable to lay all the way down, pale gums, or a distended stomach, take them to the emergency vet as soon as possible.
Rabies is now relatively rare in the North America and many other developed countries due to strict vaccine management of pet dogs, but in other parts of the world it still runs rampant in dog populations.
Even within areas where rabies is under control in pet populations, there are still risks of a pet dog contracting the disease if they come into contact with an infected wild animal.
The disease has an almost 100% fatality rate, and for dogs that are suspected to have rabies, they are generally euthanized as a precaution to avoid spread or infection in humans.
Signs of rabies in dogs include excessive drooling and difficulty swallowing, sudden aggressive or bizarre behavior that is opposite of how the dog usually acts (including becoming overly affectionate), staggering and an inability to control muscle function, and seizures.
As this condition is relatively rare in most places, it is unlikely your German Shepherd’s excessive drooling is due to rabies, but if any of the above symptoms are present and you believe your dog recently came into contact with an animal that is known for rabies within their populations (generally raccoons, foxes, and bats), please get them to a vet immediately.
This is especially important if your German Shepherd’s rabies vaccination has expired, or they never received one to begin with.
Other Reasons That Might Cause Your German Shepherd To Drool
In addition to the medical issues described above, there may be other non-medical reasons as to why your German Shepherd may be drooling excessively. These can include:
Anxiety Or Stress
This is one of the more common behavioral reasons as to why your German Shepherd may begin suddenly drooling excessively. In states of high anxiety, stress, or fear, dogs will produce more saliva and the excess will result in drooling and saliva bubbling around their mouth.
A good example of when this type of stress-induced drooling can occur is when you are first crate training a dog, or when you take them to the vet.
If this is what you suspect your German Shepherd’s drooling is due to, try to locate the trigger of the dog’s anxiety, stress, or fear and either remove the trigger or remove your dog from the situation to help calm them down.
If it is impossible to remove the trigger or your dog, reach out to a local trainer who specializes in behavior issues. It is possible to change a dog’s negative association with something into a positive one, and help reduce their reaction to the trigger with time, patience, and positive reinforcement.
Your German Shepherd’s vet may also be able to provide your pup with medication to help calm them down. Calming supplements, sprays, and other stress-reducing products may also be worth investigating.
If your German Shepherd is in a high state of excitement, they may begin drooling a little more than they normally do. High arousal in dogs can lead to an increase in saliva production, especially if the excitement is accompanied by frenzied barking, whining, or there is a tasty treat present.
Some dogs can get so excited over something that they become a drooling machine!
In most cases the excessive drooling in these scenarios is nothing to be concerned about, but if the hyper arousal is also accompanied by other unwanted behaviors, reach out to a local trainer who can help your dog learn how to find different outlets for their excess energy and remain calm even when in the presence of something really exciting.
In the video below, it’s likely this German Shepherd is drooling because he is interested in something his owner has (either food or a toy).
Eating Or Drinking
Think about the last time you ate something you really, really liked. I bet you noticed an increase in saliva production, didn’t you? Dogs are the same way!
It’s fairly common for your German Shepherd to begin drooling more around their normal feeding time, and sometimes even if they just smell something really good that you are cooking up in the kitchen.
This extra saliva helps lubricate the esophagus so that food can pass more easily and helps prevent the food from becoming lodged in the throat.
Drinking can also cause a temporary increase in saliva production in your German Shepherd, and the breed is known to be a “messy” drinker which leads to dribbles of drool and water as they finish up at the water bowl.
Some dogs can be prone to motion sickness in moving vehicles. This is actually a fairly common issue, and why it’s so important to expose your German Shepherd puppy to car training when they are young so they can get used to the movement of a vehicle.
Just like people, some German Shepherds can be more prone to motion sickness than others, even with exposure training. Excessive drooling is a major sign of car sickness, usually accompanied by vomiting or dry heaving.
If your German Shepherd experiences motion sickness and heavy drooling while traveling, speak to your veterinarian about possible solutions to help your pup be more comfortable in the car.
Sometimes, your German Shepherd may just be drooling because they are having a really good dream!
Like us humans, a dog’s face and mouth can become relaxed enough in sleep to allow some drooling to occur during sleep.
Dogs are also capable of dreaming, and perhaps your German Shepherd is drooling due to dreaming of some tasty food.
Is It Bad If My German Shepherd Drools So Much?
In some cases, excessive drooling in your German Shepherd is a cause for concern and a trip to the vet is in order. Underlying medical conditions are always a cause for concern, and depending on the signs and symptoms that accompany the drooling, an appointment should be made with your vet for a check up as soon as possible.
If HGE, bloat, heat stroke, trauma, or a foreign object stuck within the dog’s mouth or throat is suspected, you should get your German Shepherd to the emergency vet ASAP.
If the excessive drooling is due to something like anxiety, motion sickness, or excitement, it’s probably not concerning and is just a normal part of your German Shepherd’s bodily functions.
How Do I Get My German Shepherd To Stop Drooling So Much?
Because saliva production is a normal and necessary part of the digestive process, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to stop the drooling completely. If the drooling is due to an underlying medical condition, your veterinarian will likely have suggestions for what to do, and depending on the condition the drooling may disappear once your pup feels better.
When the excessive drooling is due to a behavioral issue such as anxiety or over arousal, a trainer may be able to assist with helping reduce your dog’s reaction to stressors and teach them better outlets for their energy to reduce the chances of an increase in saliva production.
For German Shepherds who drool due to motion sickness, your vet may be able to provide anti-nausea medication that can help keep your pup comfortable.
If your German Shepherd’s drooling generally only occurs around feeding time or after drinking water, you probably won’t be able to do anything to reduce it.
Placing a mat underneath your dog’s food and water bowls can help “catch” the extra drool, and giving your pup’s mouth a quick wipe down with a rag or paper towel after they eat or drink can also help manage the mess.
Even though German Shepherds are not considered a breed that drools a lot, there are certain situations in which you may notice your dog is drooling more than normal.
Some of these situations, such as those that are related to an underlying medical issue, should be checked out by your vet as soon as possible.
In other situations, like when your pup is stressed or they are just excited over feeding time, the drooling is not an immediate concern and in many cases, it’s just a normal function of your German Shepherd’s bodily processes.