German Shepherd Dog

German Shepherd Dog

Country of origin: Germany
Registries: AKC, UKC, CKC
Occupation: Herder, versatile
working dog, companion
Size: 22 to 26 in tall; 70 to
90 lbs
Longevity: 9 to 11 years
Exercise: Vigorous daily
Training: Easy; difficult to
keep challenged
Grooming: Moderate
Colors: Black and tan, white, black, and sable

Probably the world’s most numerous breed of dog, all of today’s millions of German Shepherd Dogs descend from a small population of working shepherd dogs from northwest Germany. Only a hundred years ago, there was a great variety of coat types and body shapes among shepherd dogs in northern Germany. A retired German cavalry officer, Max von Stephanitz, was to change that. With a stockman’s keen eye and an entrepreneur’s confidence, he purchased a local shepherd dog, and, with the help of a colleague, set up the German Shepherd Club (Verein für Deutsche Schäferhunde, or SV), registering the world’s first German Shepherd. Von Stephanitz was a superb publicist. When the Great War broke out in 1914, he offered some of his dogs for military service, and by the end of the war, 48,000 had served in Germany’s armed forces. The success of these dogs as message carriers, telephone line layers, and scouts was noted by Allied troops, and soldiers returning to Britain and North America took German Shepherds with them. The reputation of the breed was enhanced further through Hollywood films such as Strongheart. Already the most popular breed in Germany, by the 1950s, the TV series The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin had made it one of the most prized dogs in North America and the UK.

By the early 1970s, there were well over a million German Shepherds in the United States alone, with over 100,000 registered there annually. However, breeding was no longer in the hands of dedicated people who bred for reliable character and sound health. The virtues and soundness of the breed started to decline, and so too did its numbers. In the press it became a “devil dog”. But the problem of aggression in the breed was never a genetic problem; it was a social phenomenon. Today, the German Shepherd is acknowledged as the world’s most successful police and military dog. This is a strong, agile, and ever-alert dog, friendly within a family, but often cautious with strangers. With its rhythmic gait, it is an all-round action dog that participates in herding and tracking and excels at agility and obedience. German Shepherds shed hair profusely. Sadly, they may also suffer from medical problems, including chronic degenerative radiculomyelopathy (CDRM) and hip dysplasia, causing incurable progressive loss of use of the hind limbs.

Breed name synonyms: Alsatian


As the name itself suggest, the German Shepherd, originated in Germany in the 19th century. The breed was primarily created by Captain Max von Stephaniz, by crossing several herding breeds. He wanted an intelligent and capable military and police dog.

During WWI the breed suffered severe decline in popularity, because it was associated with the enemy. After the war, fanciers of the breed started replacing the name German Shepherd with Alsatian.

One of the most famous dogs in the show business Stronghart and Rin Tin Tin were German Shepherds. Besides being show stars, members of this breed hold many other jobs such as leading the blind, chasing down criminals, sniffing out illegal substances, serving in the military, searching and rescuing victims.


German Shepherds are believed to be the strongest and most obedient breed among the canine family. They are intelligent, alert, curious, focused and tenacious.
They are very affectionate and loving companions. When it comes to strangers, German Shepherds tend to be indifferent and sometimes even aloof. They find it hard to make new friends, but once they do, they show extreme loyalty. They are watchful, courageous and confident and therefore make excellent guard dogs and protectors.
German Shepherds are very active, both physically and mentally and thrive on having a job to do. If bored, they become frustrated and start to behave destructively.


German Shepherds are well-proportioned, powerful and muscular dogs with broad heads, large, erected ears and dark, almond-shaped eyes. They have intelligent and fearless facial expression and smooth, athletic outline.
The German Shepherd’s constantly shedding double-coat may be black, tan, black and tan or grey. The inner coat is soft and short, but dense. The outer coat is harsh, dense, medium in length and straight to slightly wavy.
Female German Shepherds stand tall 22-24” (56-61cm) and males stand tall 24-26”
(61-66cm). They weight 75-95lb (34-43 kg).


Because of their unmatched intelligence and obedience, German Shepherds are considered to be extremely easy to train. They are famous for their trainability and can learn to do almost any task. However they need firm but gentle and consistent trainer.
Raising a well-rounded German Shepherd, requires early socialization and exposure to many different people, sounds, sights and experiences. If not properly trained and socialized, German Shepherds can become overprotective or even aggressive.


German Shepherds are prone to a large number of health conditions, such as cardiovascular conditions (aortic stenosis, mitral dysplasia, pericardial effusion), dermatological conditions (contact hypersensitivity, food hypersensitivity, pemphigus erythematosus, systemic and discoid lupus erythematosus, vitiligo, nasal depigmentation, acral lick dermatitis, zinc-responsive dermatosis, calcinosis circumscripta), endocrine conditions (pituitary dwarfism, hyperadrenocorticism), gastrointestinal conditions (megaoesophagus, gastro-oesophageal intussusceptions, gastric dilatation-volvulus, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, portosystemic shunt), haematological/immunological conditions (haemophilia A/B, immune-mediated thrombocytopaenia, Von Willebrand’s disease), musculoskeletal conditions (elbow dysplasia, hip dysplasia, lumbosacral disease, panosteitis, bone cyst, masticatory myopathy, canine idiopathic polyarthritis, myasthenia gravis), neoplastic conditions (trichoepithelioma, anal sac adenocarcinoma, cutaneous haemangiosarcoma, myxosarcoma, nasal cavity tumours, haemangiosarcoma, colorectal neoplasia, renal cystadenocarcinomas, testicular neoplasia, thymoma), neurological conditions (congenital vestibular disease, discospondylitis, true epilepsy, giant axonal neuropathy, lumbosacral stenosis, degenerative myelopathy, hyperaesthesia syndrome), ocular conditions (dermoid, chronic superficial keratitis, cataract, lens luxation, micropapilla, pseudopapilloedema), renal and urinary conditions (silica urolithiasis), reproductive conditions (vaginal hyperplasia) and respiratory conditions (spontaneous thymic haemorrhage, nasal dermoid sinus cyst).

The average lifespan of the German Shepherd is estimated to be 12-13 years.



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