German Shepherd Breed Guide

German Shepherds are strong, muscular dogs with double, medium-length coats. Their coat color can be most colors, but it is most commonly black and tan. The outer coat is dense, harsh, straight, and close lying. The head, legs, and paws are covered with short hair, while the neck is covered with thicker, longer hair. These dogs have medium, dark, and almond-shaped eyes, a black nose, and their ears are somewhat pointed and carried erect. German Shepherds measure 22 to 26 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh 50 to 90 pounds. They are longer than they are tall.

They get along well with other pets, and they make excellent therapy dogs and companions for children. They are affectionate and loving, although they don't often seek out physical attention from their family.

These dogs make excellent family companions and show competitors. They are loving, approachable, energetic, and fun loving, and they are fond of children. German Shepherds are ideal pet choices for most families, but they do require regular grooming and exercise.

Although these dogs resemble wolves, which leads many people to believe they are closely related, this is a newly developed breed that is no more related to wolves than any other breed of dog.

German Shepherds are one of the most intelligent dog breeds, and they are unsurpassed in working ability. These dogs are loyal and faithful and they become attached and protective of their human families. They get along well with other pets, and they make excellent therapy dogs and companions for children. They are affectionate and loving, although they don't often seek out physical attention from their family.

These dogs need daily mental and physical stimulation to remain healthy and happy. Regular exercise, daily walks, learning sessions, and puzzle toys are necessary to prevent boredom, depression, and destructive behavior. Without an outlet for their energy, these dogs may chew up the furniture, dig up the garden, or get into other trouble. They especially enjoy dog sports, such as tracking, agility, and obedience.

German Shepherds are highly adaptable and will do well just about anywhere, even in smaller apartments. The key to keeping them calm and happy is providing them with regular outdoor time and plenty of exercise. An unhappy German Shepherd will usually perk right up when given a job to do.

German Shepherds are prone to a number of health conditions that may negatively affect quality or length of life. Elbow dysplasia and congenital hip dysplasia are both fairly common in this breed, although breeders are currently working to decrease the incidence of hip dysplasia in these dogs. Panosteitis, von Willebrands Disease, cauda equina, progressive posterior paresis, pyotraumatic dermatitis, and skin allergies are also known to affect these dogs. Malignant neoplasms, gastric torsion, pancreatic insufficiency, pannus, cataracts, and perianal fistulas are other concerns.

Degenerative myelopathy, a neurological disease very similar to multiple sclerosis in humans, is one of the most devastating conditions seen in German Shepherds. It is untreatable and causes paralysis. This breed is also prone to a number of heart conditions, including murmurs, eheart enlargement, and valve diseases. Other conditions in German Shepherds include epilepsy, bleeding disorders, vision problems, immune mediated diseases, digestive problems, and hemangiosarcoma. Additionally, these dogs are susceptible to Aspergillus fungal infections, which are potentially fatal.

German Shepherds without serious genetic disease that receive routine veterinary care and timely vaccinations can live 10 to 12 years. Proper nutrition and regular exercise can help prolong life.

German Shepherds can be aloof and standoffish with strangers, and they have a tendency to bark excessively and "over-guard" without training and socialization. Anyone who shares a home with a German Shepherd must enforce the rules consistently and show authority in order to earn the respect of these dogs. Because they are highly intelligent, they must undergo early obedience training. Otherwise, they will put their sharp minds to use in destructive and inappropriate ways.

This is a highly trainable breed, but these dogs don't respond to harshness or inconsistency. German Shepherds need a trainer who is willing and able to put in the time and energy necessary to train them, not only early in life, but also during their adult years. Once respect and trust is earned, these dogs become extremely loyal and protective companions.

To prevent aggression toward unfamiliar animals, early socialization is important. German Shepherds should be exposed to a variety of sights, smells, sounds, and people starting very early in life. Walks around town, trips to the dog park, and time in doggy daycare are beneficial, and socialization should continue throughout life.

Although these dogs are fairly low-maintenance when it comes to daily grooming, they shed a considerable amount and this should be considered before purchasing or adopting one of these dogs. German Shepherds need brushing a couple times each week, and this is best done outside to prevent loose hair from landing on inside floors. During shedding seasons, their double coat should be brushed daily to keep shedding under control. Vacuuming frequently along baseboards and furniture will prevent hair from accumulating.

Bathing is helpful at controlling loose hair, but it is otherwise only necessary every couple of months. If these dogs roll around in something sticky, stinky, or harmful, a pH-balanced canine shampoo should take care of the problem without irritating the skin or causing dryness or itching. Any signs of hair loss should be reported to a veterinarian right away.

German Shepherds benefit from nail trimming every few weeks, and they need frequent ear cleanings to prevent wax accumulation. Their ears should be checked at least once weekly for redness, odor, discharge, or other signs of infection. Regular tooth brushing and the use of dental treats will help prevent tartar buildup and tooth decay.

As their name suggests, the German Shepherd breed originated in Germany. These dogs were developed primarily to be used as police and military dogs. They were created by Captain Max von Stephanitz in the late 19th century.

The breed made its way to the United States in the early 1900s, where it quickly became popular with American families. The breed's popularity declined during World War I, however, as these dogs became associated with the enemy. During the war, German Shepherds assisted the Germans by supplying soldiers with food and other necessities, braving land mines and gunfire to reach them. One of the most famous German Shepherds of all time, Rin Tin Tin, was found in a battle zone during World War I.

Today, German Shepherds are considered the world's leading guard, military, and police dogs. The breed is also consistently one of the most popular in the United States. These dogs are beloved for their loyalty, intelligence, protective natures, and attractive appearance.

The American Kennel Club officially recognized the German Shepherd in 1908.