There are solid reasons why the German Shepherd Dog is one of the most well-liked dog breeds in America. They are capable and intelligent working dogs. They are unsurpassed in their devotion and bravery. They are also incredibly versatile.
The breed is also known as an Alsatian. Despite being purebred, German Shepherds can still be found in shelters and breed-specific rescue organizations. So keep adoption in mind! If this breed is the one for you, don’t shop.
GSDs are excellent in almost everything they are trained to do, including being a faithful friend, guide for the disabled, a member of the military or police, a herder, a search and rescue dog, narcotics detector, and competitive obedience.
German Shepherd Dog Overview
The German Shepherd Dog, also known as the Alsatian in parts of Europe and Great Britain, ranks among the top 10 dog breeds in popularity in the United States and is arguably one of the most well-known breeds in the entire globe.
They owe a portion of their fame to a young puppy that Corporal Lee Duncan saved from a breeding facility in France that had been bombed and shot up during World War I. After the war, Duncan transported the pup back to Los Angeles, where he raised and trained him to become Rin Tin Tin, one of the most well-known canines in the entertainment industry. Rin Tin Tin continued to act in several films and, at the height of his fame, received 10,000 admirer letters each week.
Other than being a movie star, the German Shepherd has performed a variety of tasks, including herding livestock, guiding the blind, tracking down criminals, smelling out illegal substances, serving in the military, and visiting the sick.
Even now, the dog is regarded as a national hero. After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, German Shepherds served as the search and rescue canines that prowled through the rubble of the World Trade Center in search of survivors and to console the families and rescue personnel.
Although the German Shepherd embodies many of the best qualities of dogs, not everyone will like having one. Being a high-energy dog that was originally bred to herd flocks all day, they require a lot of activity and exercise. Without it, they could exhibit boredom and annoyance through undesirable behaviors like barking and chewing.
The breed is also aloof and somewhat suspicious, making it a terrific watchdog but not the kind of family pet that will make visitors feel welcome. A German Shepherd may learn to cope with new people and settings, though, if you expose them to a wide variety of situations and people from the time they are puppies.
Depending on whether a puppy you’re adopting is descended from dogs that came from American or German breeders, you’ll receive a slightly different kind of German Shepherd. Generally speaking, American breeders frequently strive to produce dog show champions, and they breed more for that distinguishing German Shepherd appearance than for distinct German Shepherd abilities.
Fans claim that American-bred German Shepherds are calmer than German-bred German Shepherds, while detractors claim that these dogs lack some of the skills needed to perform conventional German Shepherd tasks and are more likely to experience behavioral issues like separation anxiety.
German breeders, on the other hand, breed their dogs to fit the breed’s traditional appearance as well as for their working prowess. The physical and mental standards the breed is known for must be met in several exams before a German Shepherd can be produced there. German Shepherd Dogs have a reputation for being highly driven and vivacious.
However, spending time with them is the only way to be certain of the kind of dog you’ll get. So before you even bring your new best buddy home, get over to the shelter and introduce yourself!
German Shepherd Dog Size
Women stand 22 to 24 inches tall, while men stand 24 to 26 inches tall. weighs between 75 and 95 pounds.
German Shepherd Dog History
A career commander in the German cavalry, commander Max von Stephanitz set out to develop a German breed that would be unrivaled as a herding dog, and his efforts resulted in the creation of the German Shepherd, a relatively recent breed that dates back to 1899.
German and other European farmers used dogs to drive and guard their cattle for centuries before the arrival of von Stephanitz. Sheepherders would travel for days to breed their female dogs to a famous sire because some dogs were renowned for their prowess. Von Stephanitz observed that no one had, however, created a distinct breed from the local herding dogs.
After leaving the military in 1898, von Stephanitz started his second career—which would eventually become his passion—experimenting with dog breeding to produce a superior German herding dog. Stephanitz traveled around Germany, attending dog exhibitions and seeing German-style herding dogs. He also studied the breeding practices of the British, who are renowned for their superb herding dogs.
Von Stephanitz observed a lot of excellent herding dogs, including those that were talented, bright, or athletic. He missed the dog that has all those qualities.
A wolf-like dog drew von Stephanitz’s attention while he was at a dog show one day in 1899. Hektor Linksrhein, the dog, was acquired right away. The dog, later given the name Horand v Grafeth, pleased von Stephanitz so much that he established the Verein für Deutsche Schaferhunde to create a breed out of Horand’s offspring.
Von Stephanitz viewed the demand for such dogs dwindling as Germany got more and more industrialized, even though he had planned for his breed to serve as herding dogs. He decided that the dog’s future lay in law enforcement and the military since he was adamant that his breed would remain a working dog.
Utilizing his military contacts, von Stephanitz succeeded in persuading the German government to employ the breed. The German Shepherd performed a variety of roles during World War I, including sentry, messenger, savior, guard, and supply carrier.
German Shepherds arrived in the country before the war, but it wasn’t until then that the breed gained popularity in the country. Because of the dog’s bravery and intelligence, many Allied personnel brought German Shepherds home with them.
One such dog was a five-day-old puppy that a Los Angeles-based American corporal rescued from a French kennel that had been bombed. The corporal adopted the pup, raised him, and trained him. Rin Tin Tin, who starred in 26 films and promoted the breed in America, became one of Hollywood’s most recognizable four-legged stars.
The German canines impressed the Allies, but the pups’ German heritage didn’t sit well with them. Due to the stigmatization of all things German during the war, the American Kennel Club (AKC) changed the breed’s name to Shepherd Dog in 1917.
The canine was given the new name of Alsatian Wolf canine in England to honor the Alsace-Lorraine region of the German-French border. The British Kennel Club didn’t adopt the original name for the breed until 1977, but the AKC did so in 1931.
Von Stephanitz continued to play a significant role in the breed’s evolution, and as early as 1922, he was disturbed by some of the features that were emerging in the dogs, such as a bad temperament and a propensity for dental rot. He created a strict quality control system in which each German Shepherd had to complete a battery of tests to determine their intelligence, temperament, athleticism, and overall health before being allowed to breed.
On the other side, American German Shepherd breeding wasn’t nearly as controlled. Breeders in the United States focused more on the dogs’ appearance and stride, or method of movement because the dogs were bred to win dog shows.
German Shepherds reared in Germany and the United States developed very different characteristics after World War II. Because domestic German Shepherds were failing performance tests and suffering from genetic health issues, the U.S. police departments and military at one point started importing German Shepherd working dogs.
Some American breeders have started in recent decades to emphasize the breed’s talents once again rather than just its appearance, and they have included working dogs from Germany in their breeding program.
German Shepherd Dog Personality
The temperament of a German Shepherd is distant but not typically hostile. They are reticent dogs who take time to form relationships, but once they do, they are fiercely devoted. They are laid-back and personable around their family but may become fierce and protective when they feel threatened, making them excellent watchdogs.
This exceptionally sharp and teachable breed thrives on having a task to do, whatever it may be. The German Shepherd may be trained to do a wide range of tasks, including finding an avalanche victim and alerting a deaf person to a doorbell ring.
Being alone for extended periods is one thing they struggle with. They become bored and irritated without the companionship they require, exercise, and the opportunity to use their brains. German Shepherds who are neglected by their families and given insufficient exercise are more likely to display their pent-up energy through undesirable behaviors like barking and chewing.
The German Shepherd needs early socialization—exposure to a variety of people, sights, sounds, and experiences—when they are young, much like every other dog. To guarantee that your German Shepherd puppy develops into a well-rounded dog, socialization is important.
German Shepherd Dog Health
Although German Shepherds are generally in good health, they are susceptible to some health issues like all breeds. If you’re thinking about getting a German Shepherd, it’s vital to be aware of these diseases even though not all of them will affect your dog.
Hip dysplasia: The femur doesn’t fit tightly into the pelvic socket of the hip joint due to this heritable disorder. Hip dysplasia may or may not show any clinical symptoms. On one or both of their rear legs, some dogs are painful and lame. Arthritis may appear as the dog aged. The University of Pennsylvania Hip Improvement Program and the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals both provide X-ray screening for hip dysplasia. Hip dysplasia in dogs should prevent breeding.
Elbow dysplasia is a heritable disorder that affects large-breed dogs most frequently. The three bones that make up the dog’s elbow have three separate growth rates, which results in joint laxity. Painful lameness may result from this. Your veterinarian might advise either surgery to fix the issue or painkillers to lessen the discomfort.
Gastritis and volvulus: Large, deep-chested dogs like Golden Retrievers are especially susceptible to this life-threatening disease, which is also known as bloat, if they are served one large meal a day, eat quickly, drink a lot of water afterward, and then engage in strenuous activity. Bloat happens when the stomach twists after becoming inflated with gas or air. The regular flow of blood to the heart is hampered because the dog is unable to belch or vomit to get rid of the extra air in their stomach. The dog has a dip in blood pressure and shock. The dog could die if not given timely medical care. If your dog has an enlarged abdomen, increased salivation, and retching without vomiting up, you should suspect bloat. Additionally, they could be agitated, melancholy, listless, feeble, and have a fast heartbeat. You should take your dog to the vet as soon as you can.
Degenerative Myelopathy: The spinal cord’s degenerative myelopathy is a progressive condition that affects the area of the cord that transmits commands to the brain about the rear legs. Dogs with DM display behaviors that suggest they are unable to use their hind legs appropriately. The illness worsens to the point where the dog is unable to walk. In the majority of cases, there is no treatment and the dog is euthanized.
However, the illness can occasionally be brought on by a deficiency in vitamin E or vitamin-12. Vitamin supplements may help to stabilize the illness if this is the case.
Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency (EPI): EPI is a pancreatic hereditary condition in which the cells that make digesting enzymes are damaged. The dog is unable to digest and absorb food as a result. Gas, a loss of appetite, weight loss, and changes in feces are some of the initial symptoms of the illness. The dog gets extremely skinny and ravenous. A straightforward blood test can diagnose EPI, and pancreatic enzymes are a straightforward therapy for the condition. Most dogs recover when their medications are administered properly.
The allergies that some German Shepherds experience can range from contact allergies to food allergies. Dog allergy symptoms are comparable to human allergy symptoms. If your German Shepherd is frequently itching, licking their paws, or touching their face, assume an allergy and have your veterinarian examine them.
German Shepherd Dog Care
German Shepherds are geared for action because they were originally raised to herd flocks all day. This indicates that they have a lot of energy that they must expend through regular exercise.
Expect difficulty if you leave them unattended for an extended amount of time without exercising. Inactivity and boredom cause behavioral issues, including chewing, digging, and barking. The German Shepherd is in severe need of mental and physical exercise, such as agility or obedience competitions (or even just a lap around the dog park).
German Shepherds bark like many other herding animals do. Barking isn’t always a problem, but if the dog is bored, it may be. Every German Shepherd should go through the “Quiet” command in their obedience training.
German Shepherds enjoy chewing, and their strong jaws can crush most objects. If they choose the wrong item to bite on, they risk hurting their teeth, ingesting something unpleasant, or even choking. Give your dog safe chew toys and bones so they may amuse themselves when you’re not playing with them to protect your things and your dog.
German Shepherd Dog Feeding
A German Shepherd Dog diet needs to be designed for a large breed with lots of energy and activity requirements. For suggestions on what to feed your German Shepherd Dog and the proper portion quantities, speak with your veterinarian or a licensed nutritionist. As they transition from puppyhood through adulthood and senior age, their nutritional demands will change. Keep an eye on these nutritional needs.
However, feeding and exercising a German Shepherd puppy need special attention. Between the ages of four and seven months, German Shepherds grow quite quickly, which makes them prone to bone problems. They thrive on a high-quality, low-calorie diet that slows down their rapid growth.
Additionally, wait until your German puppy is at least two years old and has fully developed joints before letting them run, jump, or play on hard surfaces like pavement. However, playing on grass is OK for puppies, as is puppy agility with its inch-high jumps.
Overfeeding and allowing your German Shepherd to gain weight can result in joint issues as well as other health issues. Limit the goodies you give them, keep them moving, and provide them with regular meals instead of always having food available.
German Shepherd Dog Coat Color And Grooming
The medium-length double coat of the German Shepherd, which was specifically bred to protect the dog from rain and snow and to resist picking up burrs and dirt, is ideal for the job because it was initially developed to herd flocks in tough regions.
The German Shepherd’s coat varieties are as varied as its color. Longhaired German Shepherds do exist. The “ideal” German shepherd, however, has a double coat that is medium in length. The outer coat is thick with close-lying, straight hair that is occasionally wavy and wiry.
Black, black and cream, black and red, black and silver, black and tan, blue, gray, liver, sable, and white are just a few of the hues and patterns available for the coat. However, the American Kennel Club does not accept white as a color for this breed, thus white German Shepherds are not permitted to compete in conformation shows, although being permitted in other events.
The breed, which is sometimes disparagingly referred to as “German shedders,” sheds all year long and typically “blows” (sheds a lot of hair all at once, like a snowstorm) twice a year. Be ready for hair on your white couch, your black jeans, and pretty much everything else in the house if you decide you want a German Shepherd.
Shredding has no miracle cure, so we just have to accept that. But brushing two to three times a week will encourage more hair to exit the brush and not land on your furniture. A reliable vacuum cleaner is also helpful.
If you bathe your dog too frequently, the oils that make its coat healthy are removed, so only give it a bath when it truly needs one. Despite their reputation as shedders, German Shepherds often maintain a somewhat odor-free and clean appearance, so it shouldn’t happen frequently.
Once a month, the nails should be filed down, and the ears should be checked for dirt, redness, or an unpleasant odor that could be an infection. To avoid issues, the ears should also be cleaned out once a week using a cotton ball moistened with a mild, pH-balanced ear cleanser.
German Shepherds enjoy chewing, and it keeps their teeth healthy. They’ll be fighting tartar buildup while they nibble on strong, secure dental chew toys or bones, especially on the back molars, if you give them these. Gums and teeth are kept in good condition by brushing their teeth with a soft toothbrush and canine toothpaste.
German Shepherd Dog Children And Other Pets
German Shepherds make excellent companions for youngsters if they are well-trained and have spent a lot of time with kids, especially as puppies. Some even compare them to a cross between a babysitter and a police officer since they are both kind to and protective of the kids in their household.
However, because of its size, this dog could accidentally knock a toddler or young child. They are not overtly sociable with kids they don’t know, in keeping with their quiet character, but they are generally reliable.
If trained from a young age, the German Shepherd can also coexist happily with other dogs and animals. If an adult German Shepherd isn’t accustomed to getting along with other dogs or cats, introducing the dog to a home with other pets may be more challenging. If you purchased the adult German Shepherd from a rescue group, you might need to consult that organization for assistance or pay a professional trainer to assist you.
German Shepherd Dog Rescue Groups
Many times, people get German Shepherds without fully comprehending what it takes to own one. There are numerous breed-specific rescue organizations across the nation, and there are a lot of German Shepherds who need to be adopted or fostered.