The German Shepherd dog is a diligent, noble, highly intelligent and loving loyal companion owned all over the world. They are large and have athletic built bodies. The normal life span of a German Shepherd is 9-13 years. This breed is very popular and as of 2022 ranks number three on the list of most popular dog breeds in America.
This smart breed is a part of the herding group. They are very good at security, assistance and of course loving companionship. Some main jobs they are known for include disability assistance, military, police, and search and rescue.
German Shepherd Quick Stats:
- Breed Popularity: Very Popular
- Life Expectancy: 9 – 13 Years
- Group: Herding
- Height: Male 24 – 26 inches Female 22 – 24 inches
- Weight: Male 65 – 90 lbs Female 50 – 70 lbs
- Temperament: Diligent, Loyal, Noble, Intelligent
- Coat Colors: Tan with black saddle, Sable, Solid black, bi-color
- East European Shepherd
- King Shepherd
- Shiloh Shepherd
- White Shepherd
- White Swiss Shepherd
History of the German Shepherd:
Given the name German Shepherd, you might have already figured out this breed did originate in Germany in the late 1800s. The German Shepherd starting becoming popular around the start of World War I. It was given the name “Alsatian Wolf Dog” in the UK after WW1 because people feared having German in the name would decrease its popularity. It officially changed back to German Shepherd in 1977.
So who do we have to thank for discovering this great breed? Captain Max Von Stephanitz, a man who was once a career captain for the German Calgary. He had one big goal, to create a German dog breed that would be unparalleled as a herding dog.
In Europe during the 1850s people began to search for dogs that had the skills and traits to be great herding dogs and protection for their flocks. The kinds of traits and skills they were searching for were things like intelligence, speed, strength, and keen sense of smell. The German Shepherd was full of all of these. So this is how they began: they were used all over for herding and protecting farmers’ sheep and other animals.
Later on people began to notice the beautiful appearance of this breed. In 1891 there was conflict on whether this breed should be bred for work or bred for show and appearance. After a while the people settled on breeding the dog in the manner that they wish. Yet Max Von Stephanitz himself believed they should be bred for work.
Work that German Shepherds Do:
The German Shepherd dog has been used by the police for over 100 years. So what makes this breed so great at work? Well the breed stays calm under pressure. They are also highly intelligent, easy to train, and just enjoy work over all. That being said, this dog breed is well-suited for stressful situations. We have already stated the work these dogs do which includes police, military, search and rescue, and disability assistance but let’s go further in to how these dogs have saved lives.
German Shepherd Dogs on September 11th
Take 9/11 as an example. The attack of the twin towers. A moment in history remembered forever. It wasn’t just firefighters and police who went in after the collapse to save people. Many dogs were a part of this including German Shepherds. People don’t have the sense of smell like a dog to find people under layers of rubble, so they used trained search and rescue dogs.
A trained German Shepherd, Appollo who worked alongside the NYPD K-9 Urban search and rescue team, and his handler Peter Davis were the very first K-9 search and rescue team to respond to the site. They made it to the south tower only 15 minutes after the collapse. For weeks Appollo spent 18 hours a day searching for survivors. There are many more heroic German Shepherds who even gave up their lives saving people stuck in the remains of the towers.
German Shepherd Dog Breed Standards:
The dogs head is proportional to the body and has an overall noble and strong look, not fine. The muzzle is long and also strong and stable. It’s topline lines up with topline of the skull. The muzzle ends with a black nose and a firmly fitted mouth. Very good developed jaws that consist of 42 teeth. 20 upper teeth, and 22 lower. Meeting together in a scissors bite. The ears of the dog fairly pointed at the peaks and are proportional to the skull. Never cropped over bending over. The are opened towards the front, looking highly aware of their surroundings. The ears are comparable to one another and horizontal to the ground. The eyes are almond shaped, medium size, placed fairly diagonal but not bulging out.
Body, Neck, Topline:
The whole body look expresses depth, yet with no bulkiness. The neck is stable and muscular. Somewhat long and precise. Corresponding with the head, the neck should have no roles of loose skin. The dogs topline withers are high and slope into the back, making a leveled apparence. The back overall is stable and clean cut, relatively short in distance. The chest arises at the prosternum, with an impression of solidity as it carries down between the legs. With well sprung, long ribs reaching towards the elbows. The dogs bushy tails should at least reach down to the dogs hock. It is placed low and smooth against the croup. When the dog is at rest the tail should lay at a slight curve. Tail should not be docked.
The dogs shoulder blades should be placed flat, not forward, and diagonally long. The upper arm makes a right angle with the shoulder blade. Both upper arm and shoulder blade well muscled. The bones are the forelegs are oval, not round, and run straight down to the ground. The pasterns are stable and springy. The forefeet of the dog are short, equipped with well arched toes. The paw pads are thick and strong with short, dark nails. Dewclaws are normally left on, but they may be missing.
The dogs thigh is broad and well muscled. Forming nearly a right angle. The upper part of the thigh coordinates with the shoulder blade, while the lower thigh coordinates with the upper arm. The hind feet are as the forefeet, strong and compacted with well arched toes. Along with firm paw pads and short dark nails. Yet the hind feet dewclaws should be removed.
Caring for your German Shepherd:
The German Shepherd breed is easy to train over all but has high energy. Make sure to potty-train and handle your new puppy so that your German Shepherd dog doesn’t form aggression. Their desire to work should make this breed’s training easy.
Make sure to introduce your young pup to humans and other animals at a young age because if they don’t encounter these people and pets until older it can cause aggression towards any new people or animals.
Make sure to give your dog enough exercise daily. This is essential for this high energy level breed. Lack of walking daily will build up extra energy. This can cause trouble. Your dog can start ruining furniture, ripping things up, and braking things around your house. Don’t have enough time to walk your dog? Then throw the ball or play tug a war for a while. They need more exercise than you think.
German Shepherd dogs coats can vary from short-hair to long-hair coats. Their coats can get wiry and tangled from their thick under coats, so it is good to brush them every few days to keep it detangled.
Another reason to keep up with grooming your German Shepherd is because they highly shed. The one good thing you don’t have to worry about with the grooming is their coats are dirt resistant so you only need to bathe your dog about once a month. Make sure not to bathe your dog too much, as it can damage the fur.
Make sure not to forget to trim your German Shepherd’s nails. This can make walking uncomfortable. When clipping their nails you must be extremely careful though because if you cut too much and clip their nail bed this can cause severe pain to your dog and even make it bleed. I recommend using a special tool you put your dogs nail in that makes sure it doesn’t cut too far.
It’s also helpful to keep those teeth clean. You should brush them a few times a week and keep chew toys close by as they love to gnaw on things.
The German Shepherd dog is usually rather healthy, but like all breeds each dog is prone to some sort of health condition. For the German Shepherd the more common diseases are Degenerative Myelopathy (DM), Gastric Dilatation Volvulous (aka Torsion or Bloat), Epilepsy, Hip and/or Elbow Dysplasia, Panosteitis. These are some of the most common ones to look out for in your dog. The most dangerous ones to your German Shepherd dog are Cancer of the spleen or Bone Cancer. Causes of some diseases are lack of exercise and poor diet.
German Shepherds have such tight bonds with their owners that they are more prone to have separation anxiety than other breeds. With that being said, don’t leave them alone at home for too long. If you do have to go out for a couple hours I would put them in a crate, but make sure you have create trained them beforehand.
How do you know if your German Shepherd dog is sick?
Well here are some things to look out for. Some obvious signs are if your dog has diarrhea or is vomiting. Something you might not think about is change in behavior such as acting out or unexplained weight loss due to your dog refusing to eat or a loss of appetite.
Also if your dog is excessive or maybe having trouble urinating. Also if your dog is drinking water more than usual. Make sure your dog doesn’t have red or swollen gums or runny eyes or nose. These are all thing to look out for that could lead to worse things.
You need to make sure you are feeding your German Shepherd the right foods and amounts daily to keep them healthy and active. They are very athletic breeds, but if their feeding routine gets messed up in any sort of way it can form health problems and decrease their athleticism. “What Can German Shepherds Eat” has all the foods that are healthy for them and not so healthy for them.
The average cups for an adult German Shepherd is 2.5 – 3.5 cups per day, twice a day. Yet different dogs may have different feeding amounts, so to know exactly how much to feed your dog in specific you can base it off their weight, height, and age.
No stress needed for this section of the article. German Shepherds are so intelligent and one of the easiest to train breeds. As a puppy they always want a role around the house and pick up new things quickly. Our article “Training German Shepherd Puppy” has information about obedience training, potty training, socializing, and more!
Make sure when training your new Shepherd pup you use positive rewards like treats, pets, and different sorts of praise. Don’t want to give them negative feelings, leading them to thinking they may be doing things wrong.
Are German Shepherds Good Family Dogs?
Overall German Shepherds are super loyal and lovable. They are great guard dogs for families as they are breed for jobs like police, military, and search and rescue. They would make a great new addition to your family, especially big active families.
German shepherds do good with kids overall, but especially if the kid is a part of your family and lives in your household. If a kid is visiting your home make sure to slowly introduce your German shepherd to them. German shepherds tend to chase other tiny pets so make sure to introduce them slowly to any new pets. If they grow up around that pet they will get along fine with them.
10 Cool Facts About German Shepherds:
- First Bred By Max von Stephanitz
- The breed goes by many different names
- The German Shepherd was the first dog to ever aid the blind
- A sport was specifically invented for German Shepherds
- 2nd most popular breed in the US
- A GSD named Filax of Lewanno was a war hero
- The GSD was used in WW1 and WW2
- A German Shepherd named Strongheart was one of the earliest dogs of the breed to star in a movie
- Rin Tin Tin is one of the most famous German Shepherds of all time
- They actually have a club for senior German Shepherd dogs
German Shepherd Dogs make great family pets. They will protect and serve your loved ones. They are excellent companions and will love you unconditionally.
Contact a local breeder to purchase one of these amazing dogs if you are looking for a full breed German Shepherd with papers. Visit Adoptapet.com to find a sheltered dog. You can also find local German Shepherd Rescues in certain areas with adoptable dogs.
Please check out the rest of our site for more information on German Shepherd Dogs. We will be updating this blog weekly so stay tuned for more informative articles! Leave a comment below.