German Shepherd Dog

Type: Herding Dog

Height: Males are 24 - 26 inches; Females are 22 - 24 inches.

Weight: 60 - 140 lbs.

Life Span: 10 - 13 years.

Litter Size: 5 - 10 puppies. German Shepherds produce large litters.

Country of Origin: Germany

Activity: High. Inside and outside.

Watch-dog: Very High. German Shepherds are very aware of their surroundings, and may occasionally even perceive a threat where it looks like there is, but may be none.

Guard-dog: Very High. They are extremely protective of their family and will stand up to an adversary, but will remain friendly to non-threatening people if trained and bred correctly.

Description: The German Shepherd Dog is a strong, agile, well-muscled dog, alert and full of life. They are extremely intelligent and make a wonderful companion, show or obedience dog. The German Shepherd is exceptionally trainable and works well as a police, guide, or search and rescue dog. German Shepherds are one breed that becomes truly bonded to their family and may suffer from separation anxiety when apart from their people. They are lively, intelligent and very strong. They are excellent in agility and obedience tests. They excel in serving their masters, and they are continually responsive. Well-mannered German Shepherds should be calm, consistent in attitude, obedient and alert. Some lines of of the Alsatian have become nervous and aggressive due to poor breeding tactics and the popularity of the breed. Overall and generally though, the German Shepherd is an ideal breed. They are large and alert enough to protect, and are loving and friendly towards friends and family. Knowledgeable training and handling are required, however, due to the German Shepherd's natural instinct to protect their owners. Alsatians are large, powerful dogs that are lean enough to have great agility. They have a handsome look, with prick ears and an evenly dispersed weight. They have perpendicular hocks when they stand, rather than angled, which makes them look as if they are posing for a photo. Some have long hair and some have short, and either can be black, gray, tan, gold or white, although whites and golds are not accepted by some associations. German Shepherds make an ideal pet--fun, friendly, and desiring to serve.

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Other Names: Alsatian, Deutscher Schäferhund, German Shepherd

Colors: Solid black or grey; black saddle with tan or gold to light grey markings; grey with lighter or brown markings (sables). Blues, livers, albinos and whites highly undesirable, although white is recognized by the CKC.

Coat: Length is medium, straight and hard and close lying with a dense undercoat, and a full outer coat which may be slightly wavy.

Temperament: German Shepherd Dogs are intelligent, responsive, and with solid temperament. They should have consistent behavior, be calm and without aggression. They are friendly towards family, and a little reserved with strangers, although they do warm up to them quickly once they perceive to be friendly. They are protective and good guard dogs as well as watch dogs. They are alert, full of life and can be playful. They have proven their trainability in an innumerable amount of ways. They are reliable, good with children, and is said to have the intelligence of a 7 year old child!

With Children: Yes, loves their owner's children, but may be suspicious of other children.

With Pets: Yes, if trained as a puppy to accept other pets.

Special Skills: Search and rescue dog, guide for the blind, sentry dog, police dog, scent dog and of course, family pet.

Care and Training: German Shepherds require daily brushing and bathing occasionally. They should receive long, daily walks. The German Shepherd needs a large open yard as well. Obedience training will help improve their social skills. German Shepherds should be given a job to do, big or small. They excel in agility and obedience.

Learning Rate: Very High. They are said to possess the intelligence of a 7 year old child! Obedience - High. Problem Solving - High. Training is not easy, as they are intelligent and will try to think of ways to avoid doing what you are asking.

Special Needs: Exercise, socialization and training.

Living Environment: Country or city living as long as adequate attention is paid and exercise is given. A fenced yard is essential. The owner of a German Shepherd should be strong and confident. The best owner for this breed would be an active family or individual providing exercise, a job, and affection towards the German Shepherd Dog in a city, suburban or rural setting.

Health Issues: This breed is usually quite hardy. They do have the potential to develop hip dysplasia (abnormal development of hip joints), elbow dysplasia, skin disease, congenital heart disease, Von Willebrand's disease (high bleeding tendency), exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, epilepsy, nervous condition, panosteitis (an inflammation of long bones in the legs), and bloat (gastric torsion; twisted stomach). Bloat is a health issue to most dogs, being the second largest killer of dogs other than cancer, but German Shepherds can be particularly susceptible to it because of their deep chests. German Shepherd Dogs have been so popular over the years that people sometimes inbreed them and do not check family lines simply to make a profit on puppies. Therefore, certain lines of German Shepherds are sometimes squirrelly, nervous, fearful, timid, or aggressive when they shouldn't be. Be sure to check the Dam and Sire's pedigree and watch for these symptoms in the parents when choosing a German Shepherd puppy.

History: The German Shepherd's roots are in the mountain sheepdog of Germany. German Shepherds date back to as early as the 7th Century, A.D. It is said that the breed descended from the Bronze Age wolf. In the 7th century, there was a German dog similar to the Shepherd, but lighter in coat. By the 16th century, however, the same breed had darkened in coat color. About 1880 the German army modified this breed for work as a military dog. The first German Shepherd exhibit was in 1882 in Hanover. Credit for the formation of the modern breed is given to fancier Rittmeister von Stephanitz. In 1899 German von Stephanitz began a breeding program to produce a stable, reliable shepherd dog. He combined long-haired, short-haired and wire-haired dogs from Wurtemberg, Thurginia, and Bavaria. His friend Herr Artur Meyer also helped in the breeding process, and from 1899 to 1935 Stephanitz oversaw the group that promoted the German Shepherd. Until 1915 the breed was split up into three separate versions: the long haired, the short haired, and the wire haired. Later, the wire haired became practically extinct, and these days the long haired is disqualified from the show ring. 48,000 of these dogs served in the First World War, and thus became hugely popular. They have been used for search and rescue, police, army and sentry, scent discrimination and as a guide dog. At the time, it was insulting to call anything by the name of "German", with the war and discrimination. But English sheep herders did not want to get rid of the useful dogs, therefore they called them Alsatians, because they originated in Alsace. Finally after 40 years, in 1971, the British Kennel Club allowed the name to be German Shepherd Dog again. Two German Shepherds named Rin Tin Tin and Strongheart acted in films and generated even more popularity. German Shepherds were popular for their agility, obedience, and friendly attitude. One German Shepherd was said to have scaled a wall 11 feet, 8 inches tall! Today they are still among the most popular dogs.

First Registered by the AKC: 1908

AKC Group: Herding

Class: Herding

Registries: AKC, ANKC, CKC, FCI (Group 1), KC (GB), UKC