German Shepherd

One of the most popular breeds in the world today, the German Shepherd Dog makes a loyal and affectionate family pet as well as an outstanding working dog. Highly intelligent, alert and very responsive, it is an extremely biddable dog and always a pleasure to own when it has been properly socialized and trained.

History

This breed was produced from an amalgam of North European herding breeds. The prototype has existed in Germany for many centuries – Tacitus, the Roman historian, mentioned the "wolf like dog of the Rhineland". In the nineteenth century, the German army officer Rittmeister von Stephanitz recognized the potential of this breed and he created the Verein fur Deutsche Schafehunde in order to control its development.

German Shepherd puppies need firm but kind handling and good socialization with people and other dogs, so they grow up into well-behaved, friendly adults.

Work

Arguably the greatest all-round working dog of all time, the German Shepherd Dog is an invaluable and fearless police dog worldwide, as well as a tracker dog, a guide dog for the blind, an assistance dog for the disabled and a patrol dog for security companies. It is extensively used as a search and rescue dog in mountains, avalanches, earthquakes and other emergencies.

must know

There are several genetic anomalies: hip dysplasia, haemophilia (males), elbow dysplasia and digestive problems. Only buy puppies from breeders who test their breeding stock.

Temperament

The German Shepherd Dog is intelligent, versatile and steady, whether as a pet in the home or as a working security dog. When properly socialized, no breed is more caring or loyal to its human family. It is easily trained to a high standard but it does need firm and kind handling.

Appearance

This is a big dog which is long in comparison to its height. Powerful and muscular, it has a deep chest and strong hindquarters. Its weather-resistant coat consists of harsh outer guard hairs about 5cm (2in) long with a thick undercoat. There is also a long-coated variety which, although popular, cannot be shown in the show ring. Colours include black with tan. or gold to light grey. All black or all grey dogs with light or brown markings are known as Sables. White dogs are becoming more popular but they cannot be shown and some are susceptible to health problems, including deafness.

The German Shepherd's conformation gives it a far-reaching, enduring movement and an elegant head carriage. The pricked ears and bright eyes create an alert and intelligent expression. Dogs are 63cm (25in) in height while bitches are slightly smaller at 58cm (23in).

Strangers 5/5

One of the best security dogs of all breeds

Temperament 4/5

Loyal and affectionate

Exercise 4/5

Must have plenty of walks and running

Grooming 2/5

Twice-weekly brush and comb

Other dogs 2/5

Take care as males can be dominant

Summary

With socialization and sympathetic training, a great companion

General care

This intelligent dog requires a lot of exercise and mental stimulation, especially games. It has a tendency to be quite vocal and to bark a lot as well as its natural instincts to herd and guard, so you must ensure that you control the games you play with your dog and prevent it getting over-excited. Your dog will be anxious to please and win your praise, so reward any good behaviour as this breed tends to be extremely sensitive to an owner's mood.

German Shepherd Dogs are one of the breeds that are susceptible to hip dysplasia. When you buy a puppy, check the score for both hips.

Socialization classes are essential for German Shepherd Dog puppies, so they can learn to play and interact with other dogs in a non-aggressive way as they have a tendency towards dominance.

This dog excels at Obedience and Agility training and will enjoy the exercise and mental stimulation involved, working as a team with its owner. Because it is so active, however, it does need a high-quality, nutritious diet in order to stay healthy. At the same time, be careful not to over-feed your dog as it is a natural athlete. Regular walks each day on a lead, free running and playing games will all help to keep your dog fit and slim in optimum health.

must know

Potential buyers must be aware of the pitfalls. Because of its extreme popularity, this dog is subject to over-breeding. Many are bred by puppy farmers whose sole concern is making money. The nett result is that genetic anomalies are maintained and can stay with the breed. Deal only with breeders who have a proven record of testing their breeding stock with the current KC/BVA schemes. Have a vet examine your choice as soon as possible.

Short-coated dogs need minimal grooming: just a good combing followed by a brushing twice weekly will rid the coat of dead hairs and keep it in good condition, especially in the moulting season. Finish the grooming session by shining the coat with a hound glove or a soft brush. Long-coated dogs will need to be groomed more regularly, especially after exercise if they get muddy or pick up dirt and debris. Pay special attention to the tail and paws.

Gallery of German Shepherd