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German Shepherd Dog Breed Profile

German Shepherd
Fact: The German Shepherd is the worlds most easily recognised dog.

Other Names:
Alsatian, Deutsche Schaferhund, GSD

Dog Breed Profile     Share this K9Obedience page

Highly Recommended Reading:
German Shepherd Handbook

Origin: Germany

Breed Purpose: German Shepherds were bred to herd and guard flocks of livestock in the mountains, protecting them from wolves, though the GSD was quickly acknowledged as a formidable protector of humans as well.

Kennel Club Dog Group: Pastoral

Height: Bitch 55-60cm., Dog 60-65cm.

Weight: Bitch 34-43kg., Dog 34-43kg.

Lifespan: 12-15 years

Exercise Needs: The German Shepherd requires strenuous exercise, with lots of play, training and mental stimulation. Care must be taken in exercising a puppy or young dog to prevent bone problems as an adult. This is a working dog that needs to be exercised outdoors regardless of the weather conditions.

Feeding Needs: These dogs fare well on a diet that is as natural as possible. Working dogs need more protein in the diet than non working animals. The German Shepherd can be a fussy eater that will sometimes become disinterested in food for a day or so. Tripe (if you can handle the smell!) makes a German Shepherd’s ideal food.

Common Ailments: Poor breeding has led to a number of health problems within the breed. These are hip dysplasia, heart problems, bone problems and cutaneous vasculopathy, (a health issue with GSD puppies causing crusty ears, tail, and sore cracked pads). The GSD is a deep chested dog that is prone to gastric torsion (bloat).

Physical Description: The overall appearance of the German Shepherd Dog is one of a magnificent, muscular dog that views its world with aloofness. The head is uniform and well chiselled with pointed, upright ears and dark, almond shaped eyes. They have a long, powerful muzzle with a scissor bite. The front legs accentuate the dog’s deep chest and muscular shoulders. The European dogs differ from the American ones in the angulations of the body but both should look well muscled and have depth without bulk. The tail is bushy and hangs to the hocks with a slight curve. The GSD has a double coat that can be short or long. The colours include solid black, black/tan, black/red, black/cream, and sables. White GSD’s are a controversial issue and are disqualified by many kennel clubs. However, the recessive white gene present in what are called ‘Black-to-Whites’ cause far more problems than are found in any pure white Shepherds. This dog excels at canine sports such as Schutzhund, Obedience trials, and Agility. When a German Shepherd moves it is poetry and beauty in motion! It moves with a smooth trot or a flowing gait, covering the ground in powerful strides that displays all the strength and nobility of this exceptional dog.

German Shepherd
Tuffy the most handsome German Shepherd!
Owned by Rajesh Tavakari

German Shepherd K9 Obedience Dog Breed Summary:

The German Shepherd is a highly intelligent dog that develops strong bonds with its family.

The dog has proved itself to be an invaluable, versatile, working dog in the military, the police, as a guide dog for the blind, as therapy dogs, and in many other roles in society.

Obedience training is paramount for this dog not only because of its strong guarding instincts but also because it has the brains and temperament to take the dominant role in the household.

The dog needs a confident owner that has knowledge of dog psychology and training methods. Any potential owner should evaluate their lifestyle and their personal capacity to be able to give this dog the training and attention it deserves. All in all, a loyal, devoted, protective, family dog that will suit a family that is active both physically and mentally to respect this dogs amazing abilities.

The German Shepherd used to be called the Alsatian. This was due to the ill-feeling towards Germany after the First World War, and the dogs Franco-German origins (Alsace region). In 1977 The Kennel Club did away with this misnomer and officially declared the dog, "The German Shepherd".

These dogs are often found in dog rescue shelters due to owners not realising what an impact it will make on their life to own one of these formidable animals. German Shepherds thrive on a bond, and if it is not able to bond fully through having as much time with its owner as possible, problems are guaranteed.

If you do consider a German Shepherd may be the right breed for you, please visit where you can see the plight these dogs are often subjected to, as well as a fantastic choice of German Shepherds badly in need of a home. We would also like to say a big thank you to Jayne who runs German Shepherd Rescue tirelessly and devotedly, regardless of how much work and cost is involved for herself and her family. The UK’s German Shepherd population owes Jayne a lot, and I for one am very pleased I contacted her myself when I wanted to rescue a GSD, as I have probably one of the most incredible bonds I have ever known with a dog, and he came from her shelters on an ‘interesting’ nine hour train journey where 'Troy' nearly got me a free ride owing to the fact that the ticket collector wasn't too keen on charging me whlie Troy was staring at growling at him!

We don’t like to publicly select a favourite from the breeds available, though as part of providing our experienced and above all, honest opinions to our readers we must make the point that the German Shepherd, in the RIGHT hands, makes for just about the most satisfying experience you can get with a dog. For those without the time, desire, energy or determination required, this will certainly not be the case however, so if you are unsure, do not get one. Visit our Free Dog Training Forum and ask some questions in there, we would be more than happy to advise you on our free public discussions so others can also gain the benefit of your questions and our replies.

A big dog with a big heart is a big decision whatever the breed, please make it wisely, and allow us to help you prepare for ownership of probably the most all-round faithful and reliable dog, The German Shepherd.

Highly Recommended Reading:
German Shepherd Handbook

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