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› German Shepherd Dog > Created June 7, 2017

German Shepherd

The German Shepherd is an even-tempered, loyal, intelligent family dog

German Shepherd

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.

Personality And Temperament

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

Breed at a Glance

TraitsRating
Playfulness
Affection Level
Friendliness Towards Strangers
Good with Children
Good with Other Dogs
Exercise Needed
Ease of Training
Watch Dog Ability
Grooming
Shedding
Cold Tolerant
Heat Tolerant

Understanding the Breeds at a Glance
Dog Breed Ratings Got You a Little Confused?

Here's a little help in understanding them

  • Playfulness:   Most Playful = 5    Least Playful = 1
  • Affection:  Most Affectionate = 5   Least Affectionate = 1
  • Friendliness Towards Strangers: Most Friendly = 5  Least = 1
  • Good With Children:  Great= 5    Not Good = 1
  • Good With Dogs:  Great = 5   Not Good Around Dogs = 1
  • Exercise Required:  Extensive Daily Exercise = 1  Minimal = 1
  • Ease of Training:  Very Easy = 5     Difficult = 1
  • Watch Dog:  Excellent Watch Dog = 5  Minimal = 1
  • Grooming:  Time Consuming = 5   Minimal = 1
  • Shedding:  Heavy Shedder = 5     Minimal = 1
  • Cold Tolerance:  Well Tolerated = 5   Poor Tolerance = 1
  • Heat Tolerance:  Well Tolerated = 5  Poor Tolerance = 1

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


Colors

Colors:

  • 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 recognized as a separate distinct breed known as the White Shepherd

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.

Protection

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

Grooming

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!

But what happens when they blow their coat?  It is a term used by breeders and other enthusiasts to describe a dog who looses the entire undercoat in one fell swoop.  All the hair that makes up the undercoat comes out in large clumps and this all happens in less than a week.  It is basically a seasonal molt that happens in the Spring and Autumn.  

During this time, brushing must be done daily until the last of the undercoat has been shed.  This could take up to two weeks. All the dead hair is shed to make room for new.  If you don't brush or remove the hair, it will become matted and then you really have a big mess.

Beyond the coat care, these dogs need to have their nails clipped and their teeth brushed.  A bath once or twice a year may be all that is required assuming that you keep up with the brushing and your GSD does not decided to roll in something nasty.  If you bathe too frequently, you will rob the coat of the natural oils and dry out the coat.

These dogs are also prone to ear infections, so check the ears every time you brush and clean if necessary.

Health Considerations


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

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?


Do you have or have had a German Shepherd Dog?

We'd love to hear from you. Tell us all about your dog -- the good, the bad, and well anything else you'd love to share. Don't forget to submit a photo or two.

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Real Life Stories from GSD Owners

Blaze, a German Shepherd Dog from the UKThis is Blaze, from the UK

Blaze

by Stepha Toth
(UK)

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 family dog training is everyday he is so eager to learn and please. But we must understand that the GSD is a mindful dog and as such if he does not see a purpose to your request the chances of him acting out your request is slim. So with all training there must be a beginning a middle and an end. 

Yes the WGSD is a more prey driven dog than its different coloured stable mates. And as such in my opinion the best guard dog but is also the best family dog. As he will lay down his life for you.


Walter, an 8 week old German Shepherd PuppyWalter, an 8-weel-old puppy from AK

Walter at 8 weeks

by Sonny 
(Anchorage, AK)

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 Dog from NHBandit Reed, the German Shepherd Dog from NH

Bandit Reed

by Sharon Reed 
(Hooksett NH)

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. But the thought of putting him down one day is very hard.

Bandit is great with my five children and Carlos the cat.
Yes, Carlos, the two of them are the best of friends. They clean each others ears and body! It's funny to watch.

All put in a nut shell, Bandit, Takes very good care of us, and we take very good care of him. He makes sure that he lets us know when someone comes into our yard, that shouldn't be there.
(BY BARKING) loves his car rides, pool, and yes, He loves to run after the tree rats.


Kaiser, the German Shepherd Dog Rescued from an abusive situation.Kaiser, The German Shepherd Dog

Kaiser, the German Shepherd

by Shazz 
(United Kingdom)

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 it was a male that neglected him before)

He's a complete mummy's boy and loves nothing more than having kisses and cuddles! He plays with my 11 month old son and is very protective of him. 

Kaiser constantly makes sure he is in front of us and our child when out - We believe he likes to state "They are MY family!" He also plays with our cat! 

His best friend is our friend's border collie and will accept any other dog/person into our house as long as he sniffs them first haha! 

Kaiser is the best dog I have ever owned and he truly is amazing! He's my best friend and so smart :) He may be 5 but he still acts like a puppy :')

Star, the German Shepherd Dog From the UKStar, the German Shepherd Rescue Dog from the UK

STAR THE GERMAN SHEPHERD

by Danielle 
(Nottingham England)

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 9 months ago. But the breed is so eager to please and quick to learn she now walks to heel by my side without a lead. She has excellent call back. 

She loves to play with other dogs now and doesn't want to eat my cat! They're really good friends now! She is my best friend and companion. 

Star is brilliant with my two children and we wouldn't be without her. She has come out of her shell now and isn't skitty anymore. 

Star is proud and confident - the perfect balance for first and foremost pack member and part of the family and she is also a great deterrent to anyone who knocks at the door or peers through the window. 

She is so loyal and she is my shadow. Can be a bit annoying when I need the loo but I wouldn't change her for the world. :)




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