- Keona – I was told it means “gift from God”
- Kima (pronounced KEE-MAH). after a police dog that was killed in the line of duty
- Koa (It means strong and mighty in Hawaiian)
- Luggar (like the gun)
- Mr Squad, cause he was part of our Squad
Derived from the old breeds of herding and farm dogs, and associated for centuries with man as servant and companion, the German Shepherd Dog has been subject to intensive development. Sponsored by the Verein fur Deutsche Schaferhunde, the parent club of the breed founded in 1899 in Germany, the cult of the Shepherd spread rapidly from about 1914 onward in many parts of the world.
Interest in the breed has been fostered by specialty clubs in many lands as it has been in the United States by the German Shepherd Dog Club of America.
Thinking about adopting a German Shepherd puppy? Here are three reasons to adopt an adult instead:
Like most people, you’ve probably heard time and again that if you have kids, you should adopt a German Shepherd puppy (or, gasp! find a German Shepherd puppy for sale). The rationale is that an adult shelter dog is an unknown quantity, so buying or adopting a German Shepherd puppy is safer. Actually, the opposite is closer to the truth. Puppies are not usually a great choice with kids; they have very limited control over their biting/mouthing impulses, and when you mix that with lots of energy and unbelievably sharp little teeth, it’s a recipe for your small fry to be in tears. Puppies are tiny chewing machines and can destroy a favorite stuffed animal or security blanket in short order. Adult dogs, on the other hand, are generally calmer, and their personalities are already fully developed and on display. When you meet an adult dog, you can see how they are with kids and with other animals. This takes the guesswork out of wondering how a puppy will turn out as a full-grown dog.
Puppies teethe. They have a biological need to chew, they want to play constantly, and they can’t discriminate between appropriate chew toys and, say, your favorite pair of Manolos. Puppies eventually can be trained out of this behavior, of course, and there are exceptions to every rule, but generally speaking, an adult German Shepherd (or any adult dog) is much less likely to shred your drapes like coleslaw or function as a “helpful” canine document shredder.
Pop quiz: how often does a two-month-old puppy need to be taken out to do his business during the day? A) every six hours; B) every eight hours; or C) every two hours?
If you answered B, or even A, you’re an eternal optimist! The correct answer, though, is C: every two hours. When you’re housetraining a puppy, the general rule of thumb is that they can hold their bladder one hour for each month they’ve been alive (up to a max of about eight to ten hours). So a three-month-old German Shepherd puppy needs to go outside every three hours, a four-month-old needs to go every four hours, and so on. If you’re retired, or you work from home, or you’re taking the puppy to work with you or to a doggy daycare (make sure your puppy is up-to-date on all vaccines before considering that last option), great! But if you’re planning on leaving your dog alone during your workday, you’ll definitely want to adopt a full-grown dog, ideally from a German Shepherd rescue that can help you find the right dog for your lifestyle.
Let’s bust these myths about adopting a German Shepherd
Time to get real: when we ask people what reservations they have about German Shepherd adoption, we hear the same things over and over again. If you’re operating under any of these mistaken beliefs, you just might be missing out on meeting the best friend you’ll ever have. So it’s time for us to set the record straight:
- You CAN find purebred German Shepherds for adoption in an animal shelter or rescue group.
- German Shepherds and German Shepherd puppies for adoption are NOT in any way inferior to or different from those for sale.
- The dogs in the shelter are NOT there because they’re bad dogs.
- If you want a puppy, you DON’T have to buy a German Shepherd puppy. German Shepherd puppies ARE available for adoption.
- If you have children, adopting a dog is likely the SAFEST option.
Here’s the truth: you absolutely can find a German Shepherd, even a German Shepherd puppy, for adoption in an animal shelter or rescue group. And they don’t end up there because they’re bad dogs. In fact, often the only difference between the dog in the shelter and the one on your couch is a bit of bad luck. Think about it: let’s say you buy a German Shepherd puppy for sale by a breeder. Your new dog is great; you immediately enroll the two of you in obedience classes, and soon your best pal is housebroken and well trained. But what would happen to your wonderful German Shepherd if, tragically, something happened to you? What if he escaped from your home and ran away? Your best pal would very likely end up in an animal shelter. The lucky person who adopts your German Shepherd would be getting a great dog! Animal shelters are filled with wonderful, healthy, well-behaved dogs who have been in homes before, but whose owners have fallen on hard times. Many of them are housebroken and trained. German Shepherd rescue organizations often care for their adoptable dogs in foster homes, which means their foster families will be able to tell you if the German Shepherd you want to adopt is good with other animals or kids, and if he or she is housebroken and knows any basic commands. As you can see, adopting from a rescue organization is likely the very safest way for people with children to add a new German Shepherd to their family!
The German Shepherd Dog is one of America’s most popular dog breeds — for good reason. He’s an intelligent and capable working dog. His devotion and courage are unmatched. And he’s amazingly versatile, excelling at most anything he’s trained to do: guide and assistance work for the handicapped, police and military service, herding, search and rescue, drug detection, competitive obedience and, last but not least, faithful companion.
Dog Breed Group: Herding Dogs
Height: 1 foot, 10 inches to 2 feet, 2 inches tall at the shoulder
Weight: 75 to 95 pounds
Life Span: 10 to 14 years
The German Shepherd Dog, also known as the Alsatian in Great Britain and parts of Europe, is among the top 10 most popular dog breeds in the U.S., and probably one of the world’s most recognized breeds.
He owes part of his renown to a small puppy who was plucked from a bullet- and bomb-riddled breeding kennel in France during World War I by Corporal Lee Duncan. At the end of the war Duncan brought the puppy back to his hometown of Los Angeles, trained him, and turned him into one of the most famous dogs in show biz: Rin Tin Tin. Rin Tin Tin went on to appear in dozens of movies and, at the height of his stardom, got 10,000 fan letters a week.
The German Shepherd has held many jobs other than movie star: leading the blind, chasing down criminals, sniffing out illegal substances, serving in the military, visiting the sick, and herding stockare just some of the jobs held by this versatile breed.
The dog has even taken on the role of national hero. German Shepherds were the search and rescue dogs crawling through the ruins of the World Trade Center after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, looking for survivors and comforting rescue workers and families.
The German Shepherd may embody some of the best traits of dogs, but he’s not for everyone. Originally bred to herd flocks all day, this is a high-energy dog who needs a lot of activity and exercise. Without it, he’s likely to express his boredom and frustration in ways you don’t like, such as barking and chewing.
The breed also has an aloof and sometimes suspicious nature — great for a watchdog but not the sort of family dog who’ll make guests feel welcome. But if you expose a German Shepherd to many different situations and people starting in puppyhood, he can learn to take new people and circumstances in stride.
If you’re buying a puppy, you’ll get a slightly different kind of German Shepherd depending on whether you choose an American versus a German breeder. In general, American breeders are often aiming to create dog show champions, and they breed puppies more for that distinctive German Shepherd look than for those distinctive German Shepherd talents.
Fans say that American-bred German Shepherds are calmer than their German counterparts, but critics say these dogs have lost some of their talents for working traditional German Shepherd jobs, and are more prone to behavior problems such as separation anxiety.
German breeders, on the other hand, breed German Shepherds for their working abilities as well as to fit the breed’s traditional look. Before a German Shepherd is bred in Germany, he has to pass numerous tests to prove he measures up to the physical and mental benchmarks the breed is known for. German Shepherd Dogs from Germany tend to have a more energetic and driven personality.
- German Shepherds isn’t the breed for you if you’re away from home frequently or for long periods of time. When left alone they can become anxious or bored, and are likely to express their worry in ways you don’t like — barking, chewing, and digging.
- The German Shepherd is an active and intelligent dog. He must be kept busy learning, playing, and working. Daily exercise, both physical (such as jogging and Frisbee) and mental (such as training sessions), is a must.
- German Shepherds can be aloof and suspicious of strangers. To raise a social and well-behaved dog, expose your German Shepherd puppy to many experiences, places, and people. Obedience training, beginning with puppy classes, is important for getting him used to other people and dogs, as well as teaching him basic canine manners.
- These dogs shed, shed, shed — in fact, their nickname is the “German shedder.” Brush him several times a week and buy a good vacuum. You’ll need it.
- Crate training is not only a wonderful way to housetrain a puppy, it helps teach him to be calm and happy when separated from his owner. This is especially important for the German Shepherd, who sometimes suffers separation anxiety, or extreme anxiety when left alone.
- He’s got a reputation for being a great watchdog — and he is — but the German Shepherd should never be chained or tethered just to stand guard. No dog should; it leads to frustration and aggression. The German Shepherd is happiest living indoors with the family, but with access to a large, fenced yard, where he can burn off some of his natural energy.
- To get a healthy dog, never buy a puppy from an irresponsible breeder, puppy mill, or pet store. Look for a reputable breeder who tests her breeding dogs to make sure they’re free of genetic diseases that they might pass onto the puppies, and that they have sound temperaments.
The German Shepherd is a relatively new breed, dating back to 1899, and he owes his existence to one man: Captain Max von Stephanitz, a career captain in the German cavalry with a goal of creating a German breed that would be unmatched as a herding dog.
Centuries before von Stephanitz came along, farmers in Germany, as in the rest of Europe, relied on dogs to drive and protect their herds. Some dogs were legendary for their skill, and sheepherders would travel days to breed their female dogs to a notable sire. However, as von Stephanitz noted, no one had developed the herding dogs of the region into a distinct breed.
In 1898, von Stephanitz retired from military life and began his second career, and what would prove to be his passion: experimenting with dog breeding to create a superior German herding dog. Stephanitz studied the breeding techniques of the British, noted for their exceptional herding dogs, and traveled throughout Germany, attending dog shows and observing German-type herding dogs.
Von Stephanitz saw many fine herding dogs, dogs who were athletic, or intelligent, or capable. What he didn’t see was a dog who embodied all those traits.
One day, in 1899, von Stephanitz was visiting a dog show when a wolfish-looking dog caught his eye. He immediately bought the dog, named Hektor Linksrhein. Later renamed Horand v Grafeth, the dog’s powerful physique and intelligence so impressed von Stephanitz that he formed a society — the Verein fur deutsche Schaferhunde — to found a breed out of Horand’s descendents.
Although he had intended for his breed to work as herding dogs, as Germany became more and more industrialized, von Stephanitz saw the need for such dogs fading. He was determined that his breed would continue as a working dog, and he decided that the dog’s future was in police work and military service.
Making good use of his military connections, von Stephanitz convinced the German government to use the breed. During World War I the German Shepherd served as a Red Cross dog, messenger, rescuer, guard, supply carrier, and sentry.
Although German Shepherds made their way to the United States before the war, it wasn’t until the war that the breed became popular in the U.S. Allied servicemen noted the dog’s bravery and intelligence, and a number of dogs went home with these soldiers.
One such dog was a five-day-old puppy plucked from a bomb-riddled kennel in France by an American corporal from Los Angeles. The corporal took the puppy home, trained him, and turned him into one of Hollywood’s most recognizable four-legged stars: Rin Tin Tin, who appeared in 26 movies and helped popularize the breed in America.
Although the Allies were impressed by the German dogs, they weren’t so happy with the dog’s German roots. During wartime all things German were stigmatized, and in 1917, the American Kennel Club (AKC) changed the breed’s name to the Shepherd Dog.
In England, the dog was renamed the Alsatian Wolf Dog, after the German-French border area of Alsace-Lorraine. The AKC went back to using the original name of German Shepherd Dog in 1931; it took until 1977 for the British Kennel Club to do the same.
Von Stephanitz stayed closely involved with the development of the breed, and as early as 1922, he became alarmed by some of the traits that were turning up in the dogs, such as poor temperament and a tendency to tooth decay. He developed a system of tight quality control: Before any individual German Shepherd was bred, he needed to pass numerous tests of his intelligence, temperament, athleticism, and good health.
American breeding of German Shepherds, on the other hand, wasn’t nearly so regulated. In the United States, the dogs were bred to win dog shows, and breeders put more emphasis on looks and on the dogs’ gait, or way of moving.
After World War II, American- and German-bred German Shepherds began to diverge dramatically. At one point, the U.S. police departments and military began importing German Shepherd working dogs, because homegrown German Shepherds were failing performance tests and plagued by genetic health conditions.
In the past few decades, some American breeders have begun to put the emphasis back on the breed’s abilities rather than just appearance, importing working dogs from Germany to add to their breeding program. It’s now possible to buy American-bred German Shepherds that live up to the breed’s reputation as a capable working dog.
Males stand 24 to 26 inches; females stand 22 to 24 inches. Weight ranges from 75 to 95 pounds.
The German Shepherd personality is aloof but not usually aggressive. He’s a reserved dog; he doesn’t make friends immediately, but once he does, he’s extremely loyal. With his family he’s easy-going and approachable, but when threatened he can be strong and protective, making him an excellent watchdog.
This highly intelligent and trainable breed thrives on having a job to do — any job. The German Shepherd can be trained to do almost anything, from alerting a deaf person to a doorbell ring to sniffing out an avalanche victim.
One thing he’s not good at is being alone for long periods of time. Without the companionship he needs — as well as exercise and the chance to put his intelligence to work — he becomes bored and frustrated. A German Shepherd who’s under-exercised and ignored by his family is likely to express his pent-up energy in ways you don’t like, such as barking and chewing.
Like every dog, the German Shepherd needs early socialization — exposure to many different people, sights, sounds, and experiences — when they’re young. Socialization helps ensure that your German Shepherd puppy grows up to be a well-rounded dog.
German Shepherds are generally healthy, but like all breeds, they’re prone to certain health conditions. Not all German Shepherds will get any or all of these diseases, but it’s important to be aware of them if you’re considering this breed.
If you’re buying a puppy, find a good breeder who will show you health clearances for both your puppy’s parents. Health clearances prove that a dog has been tested for and cleared of a particular condition.
In German Shepherds, you should expect to see health clearances from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) for hip dysplasia (with a score of fair or better), elbow dysplasia, hypothyroidism, and von Willebrand’s disease; from Auburn University for thrombopathia; and from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation (CERF) certifying that eyes are normal. You can confirm health clearances by checking the OFA web site (offa.org).
Hip Dysplasia: Hip dyplasia is a heritable condition in which the femur doesn’t fit snugly into the pelvic socket of the hip joint. Hip dysplasia can exist with or without clinical signs. Some dogs exhibit pain and lameness on one or both rear legs. As the dog ages, arthritis can develop. X-ray screening for hip dysplasia is done by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals or the University of Pennsylvania Hip Improvement Program. Dogs with hip dysplasia should not be bred. Ask the breeder for proof that the parents have been tested for hip dysplasia and found to be free of problems.
Elbow Dysplasia: This is a heritable condition common to large-breed dogs. It’s thought to be caused by different growth rates of the three bones that make up the dog’s elbow, causing joint laxity. This can lead to painful lameness. Your vet may recommend surgery to correct the problem, or medication to control the pain.
Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus: Commonly called bloat, this is a life-threatening condition that affects large, deep-chested dogs like Golden Retrievers, especially if they are fed one large meal a day, eat rapidly, drink large volumes of water after eating, and exercise vigorously after eating. Bloat occurs when the stomach is distended with gas or air and then twists. The dog is unable to belch or vomit to rid itself of the excess air in its stomach, and the normal return of blood to the heart is impeded. Blood pressure drops and the dog goes into shock. Without immediate medical attention, the dog can die. Suspect bloat if your dog has a distended abdomen, is salivating excessively and retching without throwing up. He also may be restless, depressed, lethargic, and weak with a rapid heart rate. It’s important to get your dog to the vet as soon as possible.
Degenerative Myelopathy: Degenerative myelopathy is a progressive disease of the spinal cord, specifically the part of the cord that communicates information to the brain regarding the hind legs. Dogs with DM act as though they don’t know where their back legs are, and cannot move them properly. The disease progresses to the point the dog cannot walk. Most of the time, there is no treatment and the dog is put to sleep. However, in a few rare cases, the condition is related to a lack of vitamin-12 or vitamin E. If this is the case, vitamin supplements might stabilize the condition.
Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency: EPI is a genetic disease of the pancreas in which the cells that produce digestive enzymes are destroyed. As a result, the dog can no longer digest and absorb food. The first signs of the condition are gas, loss of appetite, weight loss, and change in stools. The dog becomes very thin, and very hungry. EPI is diagnosed with a simple blood test, and treatment is simple, too: pancreatic enzymes are added to the dog’s food. With proper medication supervision, most dogs recover.
Allergies: Some German Shepherds suffer from a variety of allergies, ranging from contact allergies to food allergies. Allergy symptoms in dogs are similar to those in people. If your German Shepherd is scratching, licking at his paws or rubbing his face a great deal, suspect that it has an allergy and have him checked by your vet.
Originally bred to herd flocks all day, German Shepherds are built for action. This means he’s got lots of energy that he needs to burn off with daily exercise.
If you leave him alone for long periods of time without exercise, expect trouble. Boredom and inactivity lead to behavior problems — chewing, digging, and barking. The German Shepherd desperately needs to exercise both his body (jogging, a romp at the dog park) and his mind (training exercises like agility or obedience competitions).
Like many herding breeds, German Shepherds are barkers. Barking isn’t necessarily a problem, but it can be if the dog is bored. Learning the “Quiet” command should be part of every German Shepherd’s obedience training.
German Shepherds like to chew, and their powerful jaws can destroy most materials. If they pick the wrong thing to gnaw on, they can damage their teeth, swallow something that makes them sick, or even choke. Save your dog, and your belongings, by giving him safe chew toys and bones so he can entertain himself when you’re not playing with him.
Recommended daily amount: 3 to 4 cups of high-quality dry food a day, divided into two meals.
NOTE: How much your adult dog eats depends on his size, age, build, metabolism, and activity level. Dogs are individuals, just like people, and they don’t all need the same amount of food. It almost goes without saying that a highly active dog will need more than a couch potato dog. The quality of dog food you buy also makes a difference — the better the dog food, the further it will go toward nourishing your dog and the less of it you’ll need to shake into your dog’s bowl.
If your dog starts to put on weight, cut back; if he looks too thin, add a little more. You can determine whether your German Shepherd is overweight by using the hands-on test. Place your hands on him, thumbs along the spine and fingers going down the sides. You should be able to feel his ribs beneath a layer of muscle. If you can see the ribs, he’s too thin. If they’re undetectable beneath rolls of fat, he needs to go on a diet.
You’ll need to take special care with feeding and exercising a German Shepherd puppy, however. German Shepherds grow very rapidly between the age of four and seven months, making them susceptible to bone disorders. They do well on a high-quality, low-calorie diet (22 to 24 percent protein and 12 to 15 percent fat) that keeps them from growing too fast.
And don’t let your German puppy run, jump, or play on hard surfaces like pavement until he’s at least two years old and his joints are fully formed. It’s fine for puppies to play on grass, though, and puppy agility, with its inch-high jumps, is okay.
Overfeeding your German Shepherd and letting him pack on the pounds can cause joint problems, as well as other health conditions. Limit treats, keep him active, and serve him regular meals rather than leaving food available at all times.
For more on feeding your German Shepherd, see our guidelines for buying the right food,feeding your puppy, and feeding your adult dog.
Coat Color And Grooming
The German Shepherd was originally bred to herd flocks in harsh climates, and his medium-length double coat fits the job perfectly, protecting the dog from rain and snow, and resistant to picking up burrs and dirt.
The coat types of the German Shepherd are as varied as his color; some German Shepherds are longhaired. However, the ideal German Shepherd has a double coat of medium length. The outer coat is dense with straight hair that lies close to the body, and is sometimes wavy and wiry.
The coat comes in variety of colors and patterns including black; black and cream; black and red; black and silver; black and tan; blue; gray; liver; sable; and white. The American Kennel Club doesn’t recognize white as a color for this breed, however, and won’t let white German Shepherds compete in conformation shows, although they’re allowed in other competitions.
Sometimes jokingly called “German shedders,” the breed sheds year-round, and generally “blows” — sheds a lot of hair at once, like a snowstorm — twice a year. If you want a German Shepherd, be prepared for hair on your black pants, on your white couch, and pretty much all over the house.
There’s no magic solution to shedding. Accept it. However, brushing two to three times a weekwill help more of the hair come out in a brush, rather than on your furnishings. And a sturdy vacuum cleaner doesn’t hurt either.
Bathing the dog too often strips the coat of oils that keep it healthy, so start running the bathwater only if your dog really needs it. It shouldn’t be that often; despite his notoriety as a shedder, the German Shepherd tends to be fairly clean and odorless.
The nails need to be trimmed once a month, and the ears checked once a week for dirt, redness, or a bad odor that can indicate an infection, then wiped out weekly with a cotton ball dampened with gentle, pH-balanced ear cleaner to prevent problems.
German Shepherds love to chew, and the habit helps keep their teeth clean. Give them sturdy, safe dental chew toys or bones, and they’ll be fighting tartar buildup as they gnaw, especially on the back molars. Brushing their teeth with a soft toothbrush and doggie toothpaste also helps keep gums and teeth in good shape.
Children And Other Pets
If he’s well trained and has had plenty of exposure to kids, especially as a puppy, a German Shepherd is a great companion for children. In fact, some say he’s a cross between a babysitter and a cop, both gentle with, and protective of, the children in his family.
This is a big dog, though, capable of mistakenly bumping a toddler or small child. True to his reserved nature, he’s not tail-wagging friendly with kids he doesn’t know, but he’s generally trustworthy.
The German Shepherd can also live peacefully with other dogs and pets, as long as he was taught to do so from puppyhood. Introducing an adult German Shepherd to a household with other pets can be more difficult if the dog isn’t used to getting along with other dogs or cats. You may need to hire a professional trainer to help, or get advice from the rescue organization if that’s where you acquired the adult German Shepherd.
German Shepherd Dog
Information and Pictures
Willow the German Shepherd Dog at 2 years old
The German Shepherd Dog is well proportioned and very strong. The GSD has a sturdy, muscular, slightly elongated body with a light, solid bone structure. The head should be in proportion to its body, and the forehead a little rounded. The nose is most often black, however, blue or liver still do sometimes occur, but are considered a fault and cannot be shown. The teeth meet in a strong scissors bite. The dark eyes are almond-shaped, and never protruding. The ears are wide at the base, pointed, upright and turned forward. The ears of puppies under six months may droop slightly. The bushy tail reaches below the hocks and hangs down when the dog is at rest. The front legs and shoulders are muscular and the thighs are thick and sturdy. The round feet have very hard soles. There are three varieties of the German Shepherd: double coat, plush coat and longhaired coat. The coat most often comes in black with tan, sable or all black, but also can come in white, blue and liver, but those colors are considered a fault according to most standards. The white GSD dogs are recognized as a separate breed by some clubs and are being called the American White Shepherd. A piebald color has also occurred in a single GSD bloodline that is now being called a Panda Shepherd. A Panda is 35% white the remainder of color is black and tan, and has no white German Shepherds in its ancestry.
Often used as working dogs, German Shepherds are courageous, keen, alert and fearless. Cheerful, obedient and eager to learn. Tranquil, confident, serious and clever. GSDs are extremely faithful, and brave. They will not think twice about giving their lives for their human pack. They have a high learning ability. German Shepherds love to be close to their families, but can be wary of strangers. This breed needs his people and should not be left isolated for long periods of time. They only bark when they feel it is necessary. Often used as police dogs, the German Shepherd has a very strong protective instinct, and is extremely loyal to its handler. Socialize this breed well starting at puppyhood. Aggression and attacks on people are due to poor handling and training. Problems arise when an owner allows the dog to believe he is pack leader over humans and/or does not give the dog the mental and physical daily exercise it needs to be stable. This breed needs owners who are naturally authoritative over the dog in a calm, but firm, confident and consistent way. A stable, well-adjusted, and trained dog is for the most part generally good with other pets and excellent with children in the family. They must be firmly trained in obedience from an early age. German Shepherds with passive owners and/or whose instincts are not being met can become timid, skittish and may be prone to fear biting and develop a guarding issue. They should betrained and socialized from an early age. German Shepherds will not listen if they sense that they are stronger minded than their owner, however they will also not respond well to harsh discipline. Owners need to have an air of natural authority to their demeanor. Do not treat this dog as if he were human. Learn canine instincts and treat the dog accordingly. German Shepherds are one of the smartest and most trainable breeds. With this highly skilled working dog comes a drive to have a job and a task in life and aconsistent pack leader to show them guidance. They need somewhere to channel their mental and physical energy. This is not a breed that will be happy simply lying around your living room or locked out in the backyard. The breed is so intelligent and learns so readily that it has been used as a sheepdog, guard dog, in police work, as a guide for the blind, in search and rescue service, and in the military. The German Shepherd also excels in many other dog activities including Schutzhund, tracking, obedience, agility, flyball and ring sport. His fine nose can sniff out drugs and intruders, and can alert handlers to the presence of underground mines in time to avoid detonation, or gas leaks in a pipe buried 15 feet underground. The German Shepherd is also a popular show and family companion.
Height: Males 24 – 26 inches (60 – 65 cm) Females 22 – 24 inches (55 – 60 cm)
Weight: 77 – 85 pounds (35 – 40 kg)
Indiscriminate breeding has led to hereditary diseases such as hip and elbow dysplasia, blood disorders, digestive problems, bloat, epilepsy, chronic eczema, keratitis (inflammation of the cornea), dwarfism and flea allergies. Also prone to splenic tumors (tumors on the spleen), DM (degenerative myelitis), EPI (exocrine pancreatic insufficiency), and perianal fistulas and Von Willebrand’s disease.
The German Shepherd will do okay in an apartment if sufficiently exercised. They are relatively inactive indoors and do best with at least a large yard.
German Shepherd Dogs love strenuous activity, preferably combined with training of some kind, for these dogs are very intelligent and crave a good challenge. They need to be taken on a daily, brisk, long walk, jog or run alongside you when you bicycle. While out on the walk the dog must be made to heel beside or behind the person holding the lead, as in a dog’s mind the leader leads the way, and that leader needs to be the human. Most shepherds love to play ball or Frisbee. Ten to fifteen minutes of fetching along with daily pack walks will tire your dog out quite nicely as well as give him a sense of purpose. Whether it is ball chasing, Frisbee catching, obedience training, participation in a canine playgroup or just taking long walks/jogs, you must be willing to provide some form of daily, constructive exercise. The daily exercise must always include daily walks/jogs to satisfy the dog’s migration instinct. If under-exercised and/or mentally challenged, this breed can become restless and destructive. Does best with a job to do.
Around 13 years.
About 6 to 10 puppies
This breed sheds bits of hair constantly and is a seasonally heavy shedder. They should be brushed daily or you will have hair all over your home. Bathe only when necessary; over bathing can cause skin irritation from oil depletion. Check ears and trim claws regularly.
In Karlsruhe, Germany, Captian Max von Stephanitz and other dedicated breeders produced a responsive, obedient and handsome German Shepherd using longhaired, shorthaired and wire-haired local herding and farm dogs from Wurtemberg, Thurginia and Bavaria. The dogs were presented at Hanover in 1882, and the shorthaired variety was first presented in Berlin in 1889. In April 1899, von Stephanitz registered a dog named Horan as the first Deutsche Schäferhunde, which means “German Shepherd Dog” in English. Until 1915, both longhaired and wire-haired varieties were shown. Today, in most countries, only the short coat is recognized for show purposes. The first GSD was shown in America in 1907 and the breed was recognized by the AKC in 1908. The German Shepherd Dogs used in movies Rin-Tin-Tin and Strongheart brought a lot of attention to the breed, making it very popular.
The first impression of a good German Shepherd Dog is that of a strong, agile, well muscled animal, alert and full of life. It is well balanced, with harmonious development of the forequarter and hindquarter. The dog is longer than tall, deep-bodied, and presents an outline of smooth curves rather than angles. It looks substantial and not spindly, giving the impression, both at rest and in motion, of muscular fitness and nimbleness without any look of clumsiness or soft living. The ideal dog is stamped with a look of quality and nobility – difficult to define, but unmistakable when present. Secondary sex characteristics are strongly marked, and every animal gives a definite impression of masculinity or femininity, according to its sex.
The head is noble, cleanly chiseled, strong without coarseness, but above all not fine, and in proportion to the body. The head of the male is distinctly masculine, and that of the bitch distinctly feminine. The expression keen, intelligent and composed. Eyes of medium size, almond shaped, set a little obliquely and not protruding. The color is as dark as possible. Ears are moderately pointed, in proportion to the skull, open toward the front, and carried erect when at attention, the ideal carriage being one in which the center lines of the ears, viewed from the front, are parallel to each other and perpendicular to the ground.
The neck is strong and muscular, clean-cut and relatively long, proportionate in size to the head and without loose folds of skin. When the dog is at attention or excited, the head is raised and the neck carried high; otherwise typical carriage of the head is forward rather than up and but little higher than the top of the shoulders, particularly in motion. Topline– The withers are higher than and sloping into the level back. The back is straight, very strongly developed without sag or roach, and relatively short. The whole structure of the body gives an impression of depth and solidity without bulkiness.
The shoulder blades are long and obliquely angled, laid on flat and not placed forward. The upper arm joins the shoulder blade at about a right angle. Both the upper arm and the shoulder blade are well muscled. The forelegs, viewed from all sides, are straight and the bone oval rather than round.
The ideal dog has a double coat of medium length. The outer coat should be as dense as possible, hair straight, harsh and lying close to the body. A slightly wavy outer coat, often of wiry texture, is permissible. The head, including the inner ear and foreface, and the legs and paws are covered with short hair, and the neck with longer and thicker hair. The rear of the forelegs and hind legs has somewhat longer hair extending to the pastern and hock, respectively.
The whole assembly of the thigh, viewed from the side, is broad, with both upper and lower thigh well muscled, forming as nearly as possible a right angle. The upper thigh bone parallels the shoulder blade while the lower thigh bone parallels the upper arm. The metatarsus (the unit between the hock joint and the foot) is short, strong and tightly articulated.