Santa Barbara, California
Apollo Beach, Florida
Dorset, United Kingdom
Central IL, Illinois
Breed group: Herding Group dogs
Other name(s): German Shepherd; GSD; Alsatian; Schäfer;
Berger Allemand; Deutscher Schäferhund; Schäferhund
Country / place of origin: Germany
History: The German Shepherd Dog we know today is the result of crossing many shepherd dog breeds with different coat types. The breed was developed in the 1890's by a German dog breeder, Max Emil Friedrich von Stephanitz. Von Stephanitz worked to produce an intelligent, reliable, steady shepherd dog. Though the GSD produced by von Stephanitz included long and short-haired varieties, only the short coated is recognized in the show ring in most countries today.
Details: The German Shepherd presents as a longer than tall, well proportioned, lithe and athletically muscular dog. His head is both rugged and royal, in proportion to the body, with a slightly convex forehead; muzzle is long; his nose should be black; his ears are triangular-shaped, wide at the base, open to the front and erect; his intelligent and expressive eyes are almond in shape and medium sized. His teeth should meet in a scissors bite. His tail is long and saber-shaped, bushy and should hang to his hock when at rest. His double coat is thick and lies straight and close to the skin.
Average height and weight (mature size and weight): 22-26 inches, 75-95 pounds
Color / coat variations: The coat of the GSD should be medium in length (occasionally slightly wavy) with a dense undercoat, straight and lie close to the skin. Acceptable colors are: solid black, black saddle with markings of gold to light gray or tan markings, solid gray, or gray with lighter gray or brown markings (known as “sables”). Colors of blue, albino, liver and white are considered undesirable. In some registries, the solid white GSD is being recognized as a breed called the “American White Shepherd” and is considered a separate breed from the German Shepherd Dog.
Lifespan: 12-15 years
Litter size: 2-11 puppies
Grooming and shedding: A good brushing performed daily will keep hair shed in the home to a minimum. Wet bathing should be limited to only once or twice per year in order to avoid depletion of skin oil. The GSD will "blow its coat" about 2 times a years and will shed moderately throughout the year.
Food habits: Can be food aggressive; work with him as a puppy to avoid this tendency.
Climate and environment: The GSD will do moderately alright as an apartment dweller if he is exercised sufficiently. He is not very active indoors and will do better in a home with a large, fenced yard or, preferably, fenced acreage.
Behavioral aspects: The GSD is an intelligent and responsive dog with a solid temperament that is known for his courage and loyalty. His behavior should be consistent, calm in his confidence, and non-aggressive. Though he is always warm and friendly with family, he will be initially reserved with strangers but will warm quickly to them once he no longer sees them as a potential threat. Because the GSD is always hyper-aware of their surroundings, he may sometimes see a threat where non exists; early and extensive socialization, particularly if it involves obedience training, will greatly improve his social skills and help him to more rapidly determine if a situation or person is a threat or not. This early socialization prevents him from becoming overly guarding as an adult. The GSD is said by many to have the intelligence of a 7 year old child; this makes him immensely trainable if he is properly trained and handled. His owners need to be confident in their abilities to be alpha in his world. The GSD is dependent upon his people for companionship and should never be isolated for long periods of time; in other words, he is an inside dog despite his size. The GSD will thrive as a member of an active family, particularly if given a job to do. The German Shepherd Dog is not recommended for the novice owner.
With children: The GSD loves the children of his family, but may be suspicious of other children and could possibly perceive them as a threat. Never leave your GSD unattended with any children that are not members of the immediate family.
With other dogs and animals: The GSD is generally accepting of other pets if properly and extensively socialized to other animals as a puppy.
Training and learning rate: The GSD is rated very high in learning rate and is ranked high in both obedience and problem solving skills. With proper handling and an informed trainer, the GSD can be easily trained with consistency and utilizing the positive reward system. However, due to his extreme intelligence, he will try to come up with ways to avoid what you want of him and try, instead, to train you.
Agility: An unbelievably agile dog, the GSD excels at agility trials, competitive obedience, Shutzhund, police work, search and rescue service, military work, police work (including detection of narcotics, noxious gasses and bombs), watch dogging, guarding, and as a guide dog for the vision impaired.
Affinity to water: Many GSDs, though not all, enjoy the water.
How noisy are they: Because they are a natural watch dog and guard dog, you can expect them to be barkers, though they typically do not bark unless they perceive a threat to their family. Appropriate socialization training that begins during puppyhood will help them to better judge which situations require their barking and which do not.
Exercise: An unexercised The German Shepherd dog is a destructive dog and can develop restless behavioral issues. She was bred to be a working dog and, at heart, she still is a working dog. She will enjoy vigorous activity, particularly when it involves some type of training.
Health issues: The GSD is another breed wherein popularity has created a lot of indiscriminate breeding. Indiscriminate breeding has lead to issues of:
Of Special Note: It is imperative that you purchase your GSD from a reputable breeder who is able to offer multiple references for you to check – this is important not only for the health and over-all quality of your potential GSD, but to enable you to check for issues of temperament in the breeder’s dogs. Reputable breeders will have their dams and sires OFA certified. Aggression in the GSD and resultant attacks on people are primarily the result of badly mismanaged breeding and improper handling and training by owners. Avoid choosing a skittish, timid GSD as they are very prone to later becoming fear biters.
|Barks a lot||3.2|
|With adult family members||4.8|
|With children below eight||4.1|
|With children above eight||4.4|
|With strange dogs||3.2|
|Watch dog ability||4.7|
|Guard dog ability||4.6|
|Low cost to own||2.7|
|Easy to groom||2.5|
Training (1 video)