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breed
breed

German Shepherd

avatarChristy McDowell, LVT, VTS (ECC)

Height22-26"
Weight50-90 lbs
TypeHerding
Life Expectancy9-13 years
Area of OriginGermany

Energy Level

Playfulness

Friendliness to dogs

Friendliness to strangers

exercise requirements

affection level

friendliness to other pets

watchfulness

Grooming Requirements

Vocality

The German Shepherd is a world-renowned herding dog that is popular with families, law enforcement, the military, and the disabled. German Shepherds are favored for their easy trainability and willingness to perform any task. They are extremely intelligent, adaptable, and loyal. They were ranked as the second most popular dog breed by the American Kennel Club in 2019.  

Energy Level

Playfulness

Friendliness to dogs

Friendliness to strangers

exercise requirements

affection level

friendliness to other pets

watchfulness

Grooming Requirements

Vocality

What Were German Shepherds Bred For?

The German Shepherd has always been a working dog and its temperament, trainability, and physical appearance have been strategically developed over the years through selective breeding and specialized training. Before the 1800s, sheep herding dogs were rarely bred and only those that worked well and were intelligent were chosen to breed. In 1899, a strict breeding program was undertaken in Germany by Captain Max von Stephanitz to develop the current shepherd dog into a more perfected herding dog with adaptability and intelligence. The popularity of the German Shepherd progressed rapidly throughout the world in the early 1900s. The breed became most popular among Americans because of film stars like Rin-Tin-Tin and Strongheart. As the need for herding dogs declined, von Stephanitz was determined to maintain the traits of the breed, and advocated for use of German Shepherds by law enforcement and the military. Today, the breed is employed for scent tracking of criminals, drugs, weapons, bombs, and missing persons.

What Were German Shepherds Bred For?

The German Shepherd has always been a working dog and its temperament, trainability, and physical appearance have been strategically developed over the years through selective breeding and specialized training. Before the 1800s, sheep herding dogs were rarely bred and only those that worked well and were intelligent were chosen to breed. In 1899, a strict breeding program was undertaken in Germany by Captain Max von Stephanitz to develop the current shepherd dog into a more perfected herding dog with adaptability and intelligence. The popularity of the German Shepherd progressed rapidly throughout the world in the early 1900s. The breed became most popular among Americans because of film stars like Rin-Tin-Tin and Strongheart. As the need for herding dogs declined, von Stephanitz was determined to maintain the traits of the breed, and advocated for use of German Shepherds by law enforcement and the military. Today, the breed is employed for scent tracking of criminals, drugs, weapons, bombs, and missing persons.

Care

What Kind of Diet Does a German Shepherd Need?

The German Shepherd was bred to be a working dog and to maintain a level of health and fitness. They require a higher calorie diet and exercise, which helps them maintain their strength and muscular build. As with most breeds, obesity is always a concern, especially if adequate exercise is not administered.

Caring for a German Shepherd

What Kind of Diet Does a German Shepherd Need?

How Often Should You Groom An German Shepherd?

What Kind of Health Problems Do German Shepherds Have?

Are German Shepherds Easy to Train?

How Much Exercise Does a German Shepherd Need?

What Kind of Diet Does a German Shepherd Need?

The German Shepherd was bred to be a working dog and to maintain a level of health and fitness. They require a higher calorie diet and exercise, which helps them maintain their strength and muscular build. As with most breeds, obesity is always a concern, especially if adequate exercise is not administered.

What Are the Physical Characteristics of a German Shepherd?

German Shepherds are a medium to large-sized, strong, well muscled, and alert dog. The desired height is 22 – 26 inches and weight is 50 – 90 pounds, depending on sex. The breed has an air of nobility, despite its considerable physical power.

The eyes are dark and intelligent. The head is well muscled and balanced with the rest of the body. The distinctive German Shepherd ears are upright and straight.

The body of a German Shepherd is well balanced, longer than tall, deep, and has an outline of smooth curves. The breed is fit and agile.

The tail is fluffy, long, and never docked. It has a slight curve and is held low rather than high.

The shoulders are long, slightly angled, and muscular. Dewclaws don’t need to be removed.

The German Shepherd has a two-layered coat of moderate length, which is relatively thick on its outer layer. The hair can be harsh and slightly wavy, and wiry coats are permissible for the breed standard. The German Shepherd varies in color with the most popular being black and tan or a mixture with a dark saddle. Solid white Shepherds will be disqualified from showing, but are popular as pets.

Thighs are broad and extremely muscular. Hind dewclaws need to be clipped, if present.

German Shepherd Facts

1

In the movie "I Am Legend," Will Smith's sidekick is a German Shepherd named Abbey.

2

Celebrities that own German Shepherds include Tom Hanks, Ben Affleck, and Reese Witherspoon.

3

In Great Britain, German Shepherds are known as Alsatian by the general public, due to a reluctance to link pets to German ancestry.

Other Breeds to Explore

Australian Shepherd
Choosing a Canaan Dog
Choosing a Belgian Sheepdog

References

  • Morris, Desmond. Dogs: The Ultimate Dictionary of Over 1,000 Dog Breeds. Trafalgar Square, 2002.
  • American Kennel Club. The Complete Dog Book. Random House Digital, Inc., 2006.
  • Wilcox, Bonnie and Chris Walkowicz. The Atlas of Dog Breeds of the World. T.F.H Publications, Inc., 1995.
  • Greenberg, Aurora. “German Shepherd Dog Dog Breed Information.” American Kennel Club, 6 Nov. 2017, www.akc.org/dog-breeds/german-shepherd-dog/.

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