- Group – Herding
- Height – 22-26 inches at the shoulder
- Weight – 34-43 KG
- Life Span – 13-15 years
The German Shepherd is unmatched in character and courage. These dogs make great companions because they are loyal and have the heightened senses of an excellent watch dog. At the same time, they can be gentle and playful companions for children.
The German Shepherd was developed in Germany in the late 1800s, originally to manage large flocks of sheep. The forerunners of the GSD resulted from crosses of native dogs in northern and central Germany. The German Shepherd’s role was to move along the edges of the flock and usher stray sheep back into the fold – not by barking or heel-nipping, which could panic the sheep, but instead by silent, steady and stealthy movements. The modern German Shepherd apparently was first exhibited at a show in Hanover, Germany, in 1882. Founded in 1899, the German Shepherd Dog Club of Germany (the Verein fur Deutsche Schaferhunde) was the original parent club for the breed. The German Shepherd’s popularity grew rapidly in Germany and spread worldwide throughout the 1900s. There reportedly were more than 40,000 GSDs “enlisted” in the German Army during World War I. They were able assistants to the Army and the Royal Air Force during World War II. The German Shepherd Dog Club of America was founded in 1913.
Until 1915, there were three distinct coat types: smoothhaired, longhaired and wirehaired. The wirehaired variety has since disappeared. Longhaired GSDs are still born occasionally but are not accepted in the American show ring. Today’s dogs are preferred to have a medium-length, smooth coat.
German Shepherds were developed to be working dogs. As herding dogs, they are stable, courageous and protective. They have been used for police work, military work, narcotics detection and search-and-rescue, requiring those same qualities along with bravery, loyalty and keen scenting skills. They are excellent guide dogs for the disabled, due to their high intelligence, watchfulness and good judgment. They are used as therapy dogs, home guardians, show dogs and faithful companions. German Shepherds are among the most trainable of all dog breeds.
The original GSD was squarer and more temperamentally stable than today’s streamlined, thinner-boned and arguably more “spooky-shy” animal. Show breeders in the 20th century exaggerated the rear angulation of the breed and its downward-sloping back. Controversy continues to rage about the benefit or detriment of these conformational changes, so much so that some fanciers are breeding for a “reconstructed” version of the GSD in attempt to return it to its original structure and temperament. That dog is now called the Shiloh Shepherd, named after the Shiloh Kennels in New York which initially developed the new breed.
Personality and Temperament
German Shepherds are very intelligent, loyal, and obedient. These dogs are known for their bravery and protective nature.
This breed is very territorial, making them among the least likely of breeds to run away. They are also excellent watch dogs. This breed gets along fine with children and other animals, as long as proper socialization has taken place.
Hair, Care and Grooming
Dense, straight or slightly wavy, harsh, close lying of medium length. The German Shepherd requires grooming with a special comb to remove dead hairs.
This breed is prone to hereditary disease, such as hip and elbow dysplasia, blood disorders, digestive problems, epilepsy, chronic eczema, and keratitis.
Training and Activity
This breed is a well-known eager pupil. They respond well to your voice, so training can be quick and impressive.
German Shepherds need to keep busy, so they are very well suited to some type of work and a good amount of exercise.
If you decide to bring in a German Shepherd as a pet, what on earth will you feed it? They can, after all, grow to be quite large. German Shepherds can have a healthy appetite and can go through dog food quickly, so using meat to feed your Shepherd (as well as for training purposes) can go a long way in keeping the dog well-fed. Mixing in vegetables such as green beans is a great idea. Some people recommend constructing “pies” or “casseroles” of assorted ingredients using meats and vegetables together. When it comes to dry dog food, keep in mind that a healthy adult German Shepherd can go through some 40 pounds of it in a month.