The German Shepherd is popular for numerous reasons. Aside from their beautiful furry coats and stunning facial profiles, they are highly sought after for their courage and loyalty. They will protect owner and family from threats or danger at the drop of a hat. They are incredibly intelligent and hard working dogs with a propensity for training. This is why they are employed by so many different types of occupations including the police and military. This article will discuss the top German Shepherd personality traits that make this breed so special.
- Hard Working
1. a : watchful and prompt to meet danger or emergencyMerriam-Webster
b : quick to perceive and act
German Shepherds were originally bred to be herding dogs in the 1800’s in Germany. Naturally alert, their work on farms guarding flocks of sheep further polished their already highly alert and keen sense of awareness.
They are exceptionally good at noticing potential threats to their territory. One of the reasons they are so alert is their amazing ability to hear. This is in part due to the size and shape of their ears which are naturally curved. This mimics a cupping effect that amplifies sounds.
Dogs can hear sounds at double the frequency and four times better than human beings. This makes them much more attentive to foreign noises. When a German Shepherd’s ears point forward it means that they are alert and hear something that has sparked their curiosity.
: removed or distant either physically or emotionallyMerriam-Webster
German Shepherds can be extremely affectionate and loving towards their owner and family. But they can also be aloof and distant around total strangers or other dogs. This of course depends on each dog and their own unique personality. Some are more comfortable around strangers than others.
Not every dog is naturally distant. There are several factors that can contribute to some dogs being more aloof than others. These include fear, illness, injury, mistreatment or an unhealthy diet. Failing to socialize a German Shepherd puppy when they are young could also be a big contributing factor.
Socialization should begin with a puppy as early as possible. Many experts say that the window closes at around 15 weeks. A good goal, recommended by Dr. Ian Dunbar, is to make sure that a new puppy is handled by at least 100 people by 8 weeks old.
1 : full of conviction : CERTAINMerriam-Webster
2 : having or showing assurance and self-reliance
3 : obsolete : TRUSTFUL, CONFIDING
German Shepherds can be very confident which is essential for certain jobs they perform that require a great sense of self-assurance. Organizations such as the military and police need to know that they can count on them for extremely important missions when the stakes are high.
However the level of confidence will depend on several different factors. This includes their bloodline and how they are raised and trained from a young age. Obviously if a dog has been through any abuse or physical trauma as a young puppy, he is much more likely to be lacking in the confidence department.
Time also plays a role in a German Shepherd’s confidence. It will grow over time as your dog matures and is around more and more people. A young puppy isn’t going to be near as confident as a German Shepherd that is a couple of years old.
There are also plenty of ways to improve their confidence over time. This includes basic obedience and socializing them from a young age. The more comfortable they are around lots of animals and humans, the more confident they will be in day to day life.
1 : having or showing mental or moral strength to face danger, fear, or difficulty : having or showing courageMerriam-Webster
German Shepherds are extremely brave animals. This is another reason they are chosen for such high risk jobs all over the world. As K9 police dogs, they will not shy away from a fight and won’t hesitate to chase down a suspect on the run.
Their braveness was commonly displayed in heroic acts during both World Wars. They completed numerous different tasks on the battlefield during World War I. They delivered messages for soldiers and even helped blind or injured troops off of the battlefield. German Shepherds performed similar duties during World War II including communications between soldiers. They also served as guard dogs and carried out search and rescue operations.
There are countless newsworthy stories that have taken place over the years involving German Shepherd’s saving human beings. One such story involved an eight year old German Shepherd police dog named Finn. Finn received a reward for saving the life of his handler during a police chase in Hertfordshire England. The dog was stabbed in the head and chest by the perpetrator.
1 : of, relating to, or befitting a friend: such asMerriam-Webster
a : showing kindly interest and goodwill
b : not hostile
c : CHEERFUL, COMFORTING
German Shepherds are wonderful companions and extremely friendly towards their owner or family. This is one of many personality traits that makes them so popular with families all over the world. They can be wonderful with children if raised properly with the correct training and socialization.
However certain dogs can be aggressive or dangerous if they are adopted and their background is unknown. They can also be aggressive towards strangers if they feel like they are a threat to their owner or family. This is due to their protective nature.
6. Hard Working
: constantly, regularly, or habitually engaged in earnest and energetic work : INDUSTRIOUS, DILIGENTMerriam-Webster
Originally herding dogs, German Shepherds are very hard working dogs that can accomplish a variety of tasks. Their athletic build lends itself to several occupations that require hard work and perseverance. This combined with their supreme intelligence and easy ability to train makes them a staple in the workforce.
Going back to the inception of the German Shepherd, creator Max von Stephanitz bred them specifically for the purpose of working. This was opposed to the movement of breeding them to have a certain visually pleasing look.
They can excel in a variety of jobs including guarding sheep, guiding the blind, the military, police, protection, search and rescue etc. They are an all purpose dog for any season. This work ethic means they require ample amounts of exercise and stimulation to stay active and sharp.
1 a : having or indicating a high or satisfactory degree of intelligence and mental capacityMerriam-Webster
b : revealing or reflecting good judgement or sound thought : SKILLFUL
German Shepherds are one of the smartest dog’s in the world and ranked third smartest dog breed out of 137 breeds. To make it in the top ten list, dogs had to understand new commands in less than five repetitions and obey the first command given to them ninety five percent of the time or better.
If you have ever met or owned one of these amazing dog’s, it is obvious to see why this is one of the most apparent German Shepherd personality traits. While the average canine is said to have the mental capacity of a two year old child, the German Shepherd is on par with the brain of a three year old.
This intelligence makes the breed extremely sharp and easy to train. This is one of the several reasons that they are in such high demand. It is also the reason they excel in sports such as German Shepherd Schutzhund Training.
1 : unswerving in allegiance: such asMerriam-Webster
a : faithful in allegiance to one’s lawful sovereign or government
b : faithful to a private person to whom faithfulness is due
c : faithful to a cause, ideal, custom, institution, or product
Loyalty is one of the top German Shepherd personality traits and this is well documented. There are several stories of this breed proving their loyalty to handler and owner alike. They are known for their heroism and have put their lives on the line countless times to save humans from harm.
One such example is a Czech German Shepherd named Ape. This amazingly loyal and heroic dog was shot in the chest and died after entering an abandoned bar searching for gunman Kurt Myers who had taken four lives. Ape was the first FBI agent to enter, armed with a camera allowing the other agents to find the subject. This afforded them the luxury of knowing his location upon entrance. He was subsequently shot and killed by police.
This loyalty stems from the herding dog days when they were required to work long hours herding sheep. Flock owners needed a dog breed they knew they could count on.
: submissive to the restraint or command of authority : willing to obeyMerriam-Webster
Generally speaking German Shepherds are very obedient dogs with the natural ability to listen and respond well to commands. This is what makes them so highly trainable and easy to teach. Because of their intelligence, they can remember up to 250 different words. This means that you could technically teach them this many separate commands.
Chaser a Border Collie, considered the world’s smartest dog, was trained by his owner John Pilley to remember the names of 1000 different toys. He could retrieve any of the toys in a huge pile based on their name. This is just one small example of just how obedient and smart dogs can be when trained.
Having an obedient dog that follows basic commands and listens to their owner makes training that much easier. Some owners opt for obedience training to further enhance their German Shepherd’s already heightened obedience.
1 a : to cover or shield from exposure, injury, damage, or destruction : GUARDMerriam-Webster
b : DEFEND
The German Shepherd’s ability to protect is another fundamental personality trait that derived from their herding background. They have a natural instinct to herd and protect their flock. This protective nature translates to the modern family home.
This desire to protect is one of the reasons that they make such good guard dogs. Some celebrities and moguls pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for a well trained German Shepherd guard dog. Julia, one of the most expensive ever sold, cost the owner two hundred and thirty thousand dollars.
Julia’s trainer, Harrison Prather, once supplied dogs to the Navy’s Seal Team 6 as well as the British special forces. With the one word command “Packen!” Julia would take off and attack any potential intruder or threat. The dog can instantly switch back to family pet and be calm in demeanor.
Overall the German Shepherd is one of the best protective dogs out there. When trained properly, they can make wonderful family pets while simultaneously playing the role of fierce protector.
German Shepherd personality traits can vary greatly from dog to dog. Many factors contribute to their development of several different traits. Some are natural and instinctive while others need to be taught when they are young. Most of their traits can be enhanced with diligent training starting when they are young puppies.
All of these qualities combined make them some of the most amazing dogs on the planet. The more you learn about these beautiful canines, the more you love them.
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What are some of your favorite German Shepherd personality traits? Let us know! We would love to hear about your experience with these fascinating creatures!