Meet the Breed: German Shepherd

German Shepherd DogAfter watching the last video from Hope for Paws with Biggie, the German Shepherd who was rescued after being abandoned in the L.A. river, my daughter asked me not to post the blog because SHE wanted to adopt him. I confess, I normally gravitate towards smaller dogs, but Biggie was ready to reel us both in with those sweet, soulful eyes!

Let’s discover if the German Shepherd could be right for you.

This photo shows West Midlands Police new litter of German Shepherd puppies who need volunteers to help walk them.

The West Midlands Police showing a new litter of German Shepherd puppies.

Overview:

  • Height: 24-36″ (Male), 22-24″ (Female) at the withers.
  • Weight: 77-85 pounds
  • Historical function: herding sheep, military
  • Modern Function: police work, agility competition, watch dog, family dog.

AKC classification: Herding

Physical Characteristics: The German Shepherd is a large dog with large, erect ears, intelligent brown eyes, a long, square muzzle with a scissor bite. The most common color is black and tan, but they can be black, red and black, sable, liver, blue, and even white. The liver, blue and white varieties have been disqualified in the show ring, but the white color has been embraced by a few breeders who are calling for their own breed classification as the White Shepherd. German Shepherds are agile, hard-working dogs that are suitable for many situations.

History of the Breed: The German Shepherd was developed in Germany in the 1890s in an effort to standardize the ideal working dog. Max von Stephanitz, an ex-cavalry captain and former student of the Berlin Veterinary College is credited for creating the German Shepherd breed by selecting dogs of strength, intelligence, loyalty, and beauty. American soldiers coming back from the war in Germany in World War I were impressed with the dogs and imported them. They quickly became popular, even staring in television and movies.

Temperament: The German Shepherd was bred for intelligence and is very loyal. They may not trust strangers. They crave activity and mental challenges, though when sufficiently exercised, they can tolerate living in an apartment as they are not hyper. They require strong human leadership and good training as they have a powerful bite, which is one of the reasons they make great police/military dogs.

  • Best suited for: Families with a confident, calm human trainer who can provide adequate mental and physical exercise. Police and military work. Agility.
  • Preferred living conditions: Can adjust to a large apartment as long as adequate walks are provided due to mellow personality, but would do best in a home with a yard and plenty of space. These highly intelligent dogs love having active jobs. They make great running partners.

Care and Health:

  • Grooming requirements: Prolific shedding. Invest in a good brush and be diligent about daily brushing. Bathe rarely so as not to deplete natural oils.
  • Exercise needs: Daily walk or run is required.
  • Life expectancy: The average lifespan is 9-12 years.
  • Health concerns: Prone to hip dysplasia, bloat, cancer of the spleen, and can be susceptible to a host of other health problems due to indiscriminate breeding. Use an informed, careful breeder.

Breed Club Links: German Shepherd Dog Club of America.

BaxterBoo Perfect Pairings: Pet Naturals Hip & Joint Support for Dogs, FURminator for giant dogs, long or short coat, depending on your dog’s coat length.

Featured photo of four German Shepherds by Sarah Filipiak.

Do you have any stories about a German Shepherd that has impacted your life?

2 thoughts on “Meet the Breed: German Shepherd

    • I wish. I have a pretty demanding life keeping four kids active and educated, so I would have difficulty giving a smart dog the attention and activity he needs too. But I know they are great dogs!

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