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German Shepherd

A fantastic, even-tempered, loyal, intelligent family dog

German Shepherd

Personality And Temperament

It's no wonder that German Shepherds are consistently one of the most popular dogs. With their even-temperament, unwavering loyalty and extreme intelligence, they do make fantastic dogs to own.

Provided they are socialized properly from an early age, this breed will get on with other household cats and dogs although due to their herding roots, they can have a strong chase drive.

They make great family dogs and form a close bond with their owners especially those who are looking for a sensible, obedient dog.

A few decades ago they were rather unfairly portrayed as more aggressive than they really are and received a bit of bad press but thankfully people seem to be realizing that those images were not the true German Shepherd.

They require a great deal of exercise though so are not suitable for apartments or the frail and elderly who cannot get out to exercise much.

Due to their high intelligence, this breed needs to have mental as well as physical stimulation or they will become disruptive and will bark excessively. 

Definitely not a dog to be left shut indoors alone all day - that's just too unfair.

german shepherd

Flickr image courtesy of laura271GSD1

Breed History

German Shepherds Skye and IslaPhoto of Isla and Skye courtesy of Karen Steel

The German Shepherd originated in Germany as a herding dog and was used to herd and guard sheep but has since gone on to be one of the most recognisable breeds in the World. 

They date from around 1899 when they were first shown in the show ring and were introduced into the UK and the USA just after World War I.

Because of World War I and the immediate years afterwards, there were concerns that the dog's popularity would suffer due to having the word "German" in their name so a decision was taken by the UK Kennel Club to instead call them an "Alsatian Wolf Dog" and this name was soon adopted by other international kennel clubs although the "Wolf Dog" part eventually got dropped.

Lovers of the breed campaigned to have the name returned to "German Shepherd" and they finally got their wish in 1977. In 2010, the word "Alsatian" was finally removed completely from the formal breed's name in the UK.

At one point, most guide dogs for the blind were German Shepherd dogs due to their willingness, sense of loyalty and intelligence however this has now been overtaken by the Labrador and Golden Retriever although they are still used.

They are also still used a military dogs and have even been taught to parachute out of aircraft!

This breed has an excellent sense of smell and are frequently used in search and rescue missions, as drug sniffer dogs and as bomb/landmine detection dogs. What a dog!

Vital Statistics

  • Height: 56 - 66 cm (22 - 26 in)
  • Weight 34 - 43 kg ( 75 - 95 lb)
  • Life Expectancy: 12 - 13 yrs
  • Available as both long and short-haired but only short-haired are allowed in the show ring


  • All black
  • Black and Gold
  • Grey
  • Gold sable
  • Bi-Colour (mostly black with gold on legs)
  • White, Albino, Blues and Livers are not accepted breed standard in the UK
  • Whites are common in North America where they are recognised as a seperate distinct breed known as the White Shepherd
german shepherd

Flickr image courtesy of Mrs Logic

Ease Of Training

Scoring third in the "Intelligence Of Dogs" Test (behind Border Collies and Poodles), German Shepherds are highly intelligent and pick up new commends quickly.

They excel in competitive obedience trails and in agility. They are very responsive.

german shepherd

Flickr image thanks to pigsonthewinguk

This athletic companion requires a considerable amount of exercise and cannot be left indoors all day.

At least one long walk a day coupled with ample time to run safely off lead and play is what this beautiful dog requires.

Some people like to use a dog harness like the ones opposite as they feel it's more comfortable for their dog than having something around their necks.


If it's good enough for the Police Force and Military, then it's good enough for us!

These guys have been used for decades as guard dogs. They are courageous, protective and loyal without being overly aggressive although the all-white varieties tend to show a bit more aggression than the other colours.

german shepherd

Flickr image thanks to karooopa


German Shepherd dogs have a double coat. The outer layer is straight, harsh and waterproof and the undercoat is soft and dense. The outer coat sheds throughout the year.

Short haired dogs require little more than a weekly brush but long haired  varieties require daily brushing and grooming.

I recommend Furminators for grooming - I have one and they are truly amazing! 

The amount of hair they remove is astounding and your pet looks like they've been professionally groomed afterwards. A big thumbs up from me!

Health Considerations

  • Progressive retinal atrophy
  • Hip and Elbow Dysplasia
  • Degenerative spinal stenosis
  • Ear Infections
  • Bloat
  • Degenerative myelopathy
  • Von Willebrand Disease
german shepherd

Flickr image thanks to

Famous German Shepherds

Strongheart and Rin Tin Tin - Film Stars on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame

Ace the Bat-Hound - Batman's Dog

Charlie Barkin - All Dogs Go To Heaven

You could find out about other Dog Breeds in the A To Z List with photos or perhaps you'd like to check out the other 10 Most Popular Dog Breeds?

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What Other Owners Have Said

Click on the links below to see contributions from other visitors to this page. You can even rate their picture :)

Blaze Not rated yet
A six year old lad who is silent and proud. He is extremely loyal to his pack has a no bull approach to strangers. On the flip side Blaze is a wonderful …

Walter Not rated yet
Walter has been a really fun and entertaining pup that everyone loves to be around - except maybe our yellow Lab...sometimes :)

Bandit Reed The German Shepherd Not rated yet
Bandit is My German Shepherd, He is black and Tan. Bandit has been with me for about 10 Years now. I can tell he is getting a little slower then before. …

Kaiser The German Shepherd Not rated yet
We rescued Kaiser from an abusive home and never looked back! Although he took a bit longer to take to my partner he loved me from the start. (We believe …

Star The German Shepherd Not rated yet
German Shepherd Dogs are just the perfect family pet/pack member. Star is a rescue dog. She wasn't socialised or trained in anyway when I adopted her …

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