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Family livestock, herding
Life Span 10-12 years
Avg Size of Male: Height: 24 - 26 inches, Weight: 75 - 95 pounds
Avg Size of Female: Height: 22 - 24 inches, Weight: 75 - 95 pounds
Original Function: police, contraband detection, assistance, herding trials, schutzhund
Overall Rating (out of 5)
Considered to be one of the most intelligent dog breeds, the German shepherd is famous for its loyalty and courage. This dog adores its family and is wary of strangers, making it an excellent watchdog and guard dog. It only barks when it feels it is necessary, alerting its family of something out of the ordinary. Early and extensive training will help to prevent the dog from becoming overly protective. It is generally good with other pets if trained at an early age, but it may be aggressive with other dogs..

The German Shepherd Dog or Alsatian, is a breed of dog. German Shepherds are highly intelligent, agile and well-suited to active working environments. They are often deployed in varied roles such as police work, guarding, Search and Rescue and in the military. They can also be found working as guide dogs for the blind. Despite their suitability for such work, German Shepherds can also make loyal and loving pets inside the home. They enjoy being around people (including children) and other animals. German Shepherds are well-suited to obedience, with advanced & prestigious titles available to test both the handler and dog in various schutzhund trials.

The German Shepherd Dog is a large, strong, and handsome dog. The fur is a double-coat and can be either short or long haired. It varies in color, coming in many different shades, mostly cream (tan) and brown, but also solid black, white, or silver. Dogs with coats that have tricolored hair (black and white with either brown or red) are called sable or agouti. Different kennel clubs have different standards for the breed according to size, weight, coat color, and structure.

The German shepherd is very good with children in its own family, but may not trust other children. Purchasing the dog from a reputable breeder is important as some German shepherds may exhibit timidity or skittishness which might make them prone to fear biting. The ability to learn is high in this breed, but coercive training is not a successful approach. A firm, loving hand is important to good training. Because this dog enjoys being with its family, it should not be left alone for long periods of time. The German shepherd can be a valuable addition to the family, offering protection and affection, and it loves to have a job to do.

The proper English name for the breed is German Shepherd Dog (a literal translation from the German "Deutscher Schäferhund") but they are usually informally referred to as GSDs or simply German Shepherds. In addition, the sobriquet police dog is used in many countries where the GSD is the predominant or exclusive breed used in the canine police force.

The name Alsatian is also commonly used in the United Kingdom and countries of the Commonwealth of Nations. After World War I, a few dogs were taken to England and the United States. In 1919, the English Kennel Club gave the breed a separate register. At that time, the English owners renamed the dog as the Alsatian Shepherd (based on the breed's origination from the German-French border area of Alsace-Lorraine); It was feared that the German Shepherd Dog name could be an impediment owing to anti-German feelings still present after the War. Only in 1977 did the British Kennel Club authorize the breed to be known again as the German Shepherd Dog


Well-bred GSDs have powerful jaws and strong teeth, can develop a strong sense of loyalty and obedience, and can be trained to attack and release on command. Poorly bred GSDs such as those from puppy mills can be fearful, overly aggressive, or both. GSDs (like Pit Bulls, Rottweilers and Dobermans), are often perceived as inherently dangerous, and are the target of Breed Specific Legislation in several countries. If a GSD is violent or aggressive, it is often due to the combination of poor breeding and the owner's lack of control or training. GSDs are often used as guard, attack and police dogs, which further contributes to the perception of being a dangerous breed. However, many GSDs function perfectly well as search dogs and family pets - roles where aggressive behavior is unsuitable.

GSDs' sense of loyalty and emotional bond with their owners is almost impossible to overstate. Separation trauma is one reason they are now used less often in guide dog roles, since guide dogs are typically trained from puppyhood by one owner prior to final placement with their employer.


The double coat of the German shepherd requires regular brushing because it sheds bits of hair all the time. Seasonally, it sheds heavily. The coat should be brushed once or twice a week unless dog hair in the home is a problem which then a quick daily brushing is suggested. Bathing should happen rarely, optimally only once or twice a year to avoid the depletion of essential skin oils. The German shepherd should be provided with mental and physical challenges on a daily basis, consisting of exercise and learning games or lessons. This breed is mainly inactive when inside, making it a good house dog. But time spent outside is important, and a large yard in which to run is ideal. Apartment dwelling is acceptable as long as sufficient exercise is provided, such as long daily walks or more strenuous play. This breed is normally quite hardy, but can be prone to hip problems.


As is common in many large breeds, German Shepherds are prone to elbow and hip dysplasia. Other health problems sometimes occurring in the breed are von Willebrand's disease and skin allergies. It is also prudent to check the eye and ear health as GSD can tend to have problems with these as well. German Shepherds are also prone to bloat. They have an average lifespan of 10-13 years.


The result of the effort to breed an ideal shepherd with many capabilities, the German Shepherd Dog has proved itself in many areas, including working as a police dog, as a guide for the blind, in the military and as a search and rescue dog. Some feel that this dog strikes a resemblance to a wolf, but it is not related to a wolf any more than any other breed. While the roots of this breed can be traced back as far as 7th century A.D., when it was considered a mountain sheepdog found in Germany, the true origination of the dog we know today can be credited to Captain Max von Stephanitz. Between the late 1800s and the early 1900s, he was the one to develop the German shepherd into an all-purpose working dog. It is said that von Stephanitz used local shepherd dogs of the long-haired, short-haired, and wire-haired varieties, found in such places as Bavaria, Thurginia, and Wurtemburg, to produce the modern-day German shepherd. The German army helped to modify the breed into a military dog around 1880. In 1882, Hanover hosted the first German shepherd exhibit. The success of the German shepherd is attributed to an organization called the Verein fur Deutsche Scharferhunde SV, which was formed in 1899 to oversee the breeding of the German shepherd. This group was interested in developing a herding dog that would also be courageous, athletic, and intelligent. It was in April of 1899 that von Stephanitz registered the first German shepherd, named Horan. Long-haired and wire-haired varieties of the breed were shown until 1915, but today, most countries only recognize the short-haired version at shows. The short-haired version was first presented in 1889 in Berlin. The German shepherd worked as a war sentry during World War I, and it was at this time that the name of the breed was changed from German sheepdog to shepherd dog by the AKC. In Britain, the name was changed to Alsatian wolf dog. The reason for the name changes was to separate the dog from its unpopular German heritage. Eventually the name wolf dog was dropped out of fear that people began to have of the breed. In 1931, the AKC added the "German" back to the name and the breed was known from that point on as the German shepherd. The dog became quite popular thanks to Hollywood's creation of Rin Tin Tin and Strongheart, and the German shepherd enjoyed status as the top ranked breed in America for several years. Although this breed has since lost popularity it is still viewed as a versatile and hard-working dog.






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