Dog Breed Guide – German Shepherd

Dog Breed Guide : German Shepherd

Everything You Need To Know About German Shepherds

German shepherds are the second most popular dogs in America after Labradors. They are known for their intelligence and loyalty. They are also working dogs mostly used as police, guard and search and rescue dogs.

They originated from Germany in the 1890s.

They also go by the names Alsatian, GSD, Berger Atlemad and Deutscher Schoferhurder etc.

Physical Attributes

Male German shepherd dogs weigh approximately 35 to 45 kgs and stand at a height of 60 to 65 cm from the shoulder while female s weigh approximately 25 to 35 kgs and stand at a height of 55 to 60 cm tall. 

They have a dome shaped forehead with a long square cut muzzle and a black nose. These strong jaws have a scissor like cut essential for breaking bones.

They have medium sized dark eyes. Their large ears stand erect and open from the front which pulls back during movement.

Their necks are long and raised when alert and excited and lowered when moving at a fast pace.

They have bushy tails that drop to the hock joint.

Majority of German shepherd dogs are tan and black or red and black in color. The black markings usually spread over the saddle or give an impression of a blanket cover. 

Other variants also exist though rare such as sable, all black, all white, liver and blue.

They also have a double coat of hair which can either be medium or long. A recessive gene has been shown to be responsible for long coat German shepherd dogs making them pretty rare. The outer coat sheds almost all year round while the thick inner coat does so during fall and spring

They normally birth a litter of 5 to 10 puppies and have a life span of about 9 to 13 years.

Temperament and Personality

German shepherd dog are known for their intelligence and obedience. They are actually the 3rdmost intelligent dogs after Border collies and poodles. 

They can grasp commands very fast after approximately 5 repetitions. They keen to learn and very active making them ideal police / guard dogs.

They are aloof but not aggressive. They may be reserved and not friendly to strangers but once they get used to someone they are very loyal and protective. This makes them excellent guard dogs.

They are also very active and require regular exercise. When bored they can get very destructive around the house. They also do not do well alone and are prone to separation anxiety. They need the company of family members.

Like other dogs, they require early socialization and exposure to different people, sights and sounds so that they grow to be well rounded dogs. It will also help them to get along with other dogs.

Training

German shepherd dogs are easy to train as they are high intelligent and eager to learn. They require constant mental stimulation as they get bored very fast e.g. playing fetch or tricks. They also do well with agility tests and games.

They can be trained to do about any task but it requires consistency and patience.

Training and socialization should start at early age. 

Living Conditions

German shepherd dogs thrive outdoors. They have a lot of energy and big compound provides enough space for them to run around. They also can stay in a kennel without much disturbance.

If planning to have him in an apartment, always keep in mind their need for mental stimulation and physical exercise. They enjoy walks, hikes, chasing ball or any dog sport.

When bored they pick up bad habits such as chewing, digging and barking.

They are also very protective of their owners and you will find them within close range with their master. They will also follow you around the house whenever they get a chance to.

Health

German shepherd dogs are prone to a genetic health conditions.

When planning to adopt a German shepherd dog, always enquire about the health history of the parents and siblings. This will give a clear picture of what to expect. 

Do not trust breeders who tell you that the dog is not prone to any health issues. A legitimate breeder will be honest about one is likely to encounter throughout the dogs life as well as volunteer health records of the puppy as well as that of the mother.

Common health conditions affecting German shepherd dogs include:• Hip dysplasia: This occurs when the ball and socket of the hip joint do not fit well together.If not treated can lead to arthritis.• Degenerative myelopathy: This is a neurological disease that affects the spinal cord leading gradual paralysis. It is incurable.• Heart diseases e.g. congestive heart failure, murmurs, enlarged heart etc.• Cancers e.g. osteosarcoma, hemangiosarcoma• Epilepsy• Bloat/gastric dilatation and volvulus: This is the accumulation of gas in the stomach. In severe cases the stomach can twist on itself leading to a life threatening condition known as volvulus.

Grooming

German shepherd dogs have thick medium/ long double coats. The outer coat sheds throughout the year while the under coat does so during spring and fall.

German shepherd dogs should be brushed frequently especially when shedding to remove the loose hair. If you are prone to allergies this may not be a great pick.

Remember to also clip their nails every so often, brush their teeth as well as their ears.

Conclusion

German shepherd dogs are very popular family and guard dogs. They are alert, intelligent and active.

They are working dogs and very energetic. They need plenty of mental and physical stimulation to keep them from being destructive.

They do well in home with space to run around and play games. 

They love to their family and can very protective of them. They are however not known to aggressive dogs but can be reserved towards strangers.

They require socialization and obedience training early in life to enable them grow as well rounded dogs.

However they suffer various genetic conditions especially as they age. Always enquire about their mother’s health history before adopting or buying a puppy. 

Pet insurance can also help to lessen the burden of vet bills when these conditions arise.

Apart from frequent shedding, German shepherd dogs are easy to maintain.

Dr. Winnie
About Dr. Winnie 350 Articles
My name is Dr. Winnie. I earned a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Duke University, a Masters of Science in Biology from St Georges University, and graduated from the University of Pretoria Veterinary School in South Africa. I have been an animal lover and owners all my life having owned a Rottweiler named Duke, a Pekingese named Athena and now a Bull Mastiff named George, also known as big G! I'm also an amateur equestrian and love working with horses. I'm a full-time Veterinarian in South Africa specializing in internal medicine for large breed dogs. I enjoy spending time with my husband, 2 kids and Big G in my free time. Author and Contribturor at SeniorTailWaggers, A Love of Rottweilers, DogsCatsPets and TheDogsBone

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