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January 19, 2012 at 3:31 PMComments: 6 Faves: 0

German Shepherd

By Victoria Swanson More Blogs by This AuthorFrom the Purebred Star Blog Series

The German Shepherd is an active, loyal, and all-around wonderful dog. This breed can do it all, but remember, they need a lot of training and exercise.

Well, the name says it all! The German Shepherd is a herding breed from Germany. Also known as Deutscher Schaferhund, literally meaning German Shepherd Dog (GSD), the German Shepherd was listed as the second most popular purebred of 2011 despite only being recognized as a purebred since 1899. The breed's popularity really skyrocketed as a result of the TV series, Rin Tin Tin, and the German Shepherd's service in WWI.

Renaissance Dogs

Originally, the German Shepherd was bred specifically for herding and guarding sheep, but they're used for many other purposes today! German Shepherds make great police and military dogs, guide dogs, search and rescue dogs, and therapy dogs.

Smart as They Come

The German Shepherd is an EXTREMELY intelligent and highly trainable dog. In fact, in that regard, they are ranked third highest among all other breeds, with only the Border Collie and Poodle beating them out. In addition, they are extremely confident, affectionate, and playful with friends and family. However, having been bred to protect a herd, the German Shepherd does have a tendency to mistrust strangers. Luckily, with proper early socialization this can be overcome and the German Shepherd can be a fantastic companion - even with children and other animals!

Their intelligence is off the charts and they are great at picking up commands and hand signals. Not only are they exceptionally quick learners, but they're also eager people pleasers.

German Shepherds average a height of about 22 to 26" and can weigh anywhere from 60 to 140 lbs. Typically, they are large, muscular, powerful dogs!

Busy-Bodies

Their activity level is high, making them a breed that enjoys a lot of time playing and being outside. They also enjoy serving, so some form work or competitive sport would be a great way to keep your German Shepherd healthy and happy! At the very least, a 30-minute walk two to three times a day is a must for this breed. Without this, behavioral problems can develop. German Shepherds don't mix well with apartment living and will not be happy left home alone for many hours.

When they are not worked with, trained, or exercised properly, this breed can make life miserable for those around them, but this isn't the fault of the dog. They just weren't bred to lie around on the couch all day - they need lots of physical and intellectual stimulation. If denied this stimulation, Germans will entertain themselves, which can lead to destructive and aggressive behavior - especially if they are not properly socialized.

The Mask!

Large prick ears and a black "mask" on the face are trademarks of the German Shepherd. While they actually come in a variety of colors, they are best known for their tan/black or red/black markings.

White German Shepherds

While white German Shepherds do exist, they are considered by some to have faults in their gene line and may be disqualified for showing in some organizations. Regardless of color, they all have a thick double coat that is absolutely beautiful and sheds year round. To keep their coat (and your home) clean, daily brushings (sometimes a 2-3 times a day) will be required.

Health Issues

This breed has issues with hip and elbow dysplasia, epilepsy, exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (inability to properly digest food due to a lack of digestive enzymes made by the pancreas), and bloating (an abundance of air, fluid, or foam in the stomach). German Shepherds generally live between 9 and 13 years.

Adopt First

As you begin looking for an German Shepherd, please check with rescue organizations first. Every year, there are millions of dogs being euthanized - not because they are bad dogs, but because there is no home for them and insufficient resources to care for them at rescue agencies. By adopting a dog, you are truly saving a life!

At the very least, NEVER purchase any dog from a pet store. Unfortunately, those puppies almost always come from puppy mills. Instead, look for a reputable breeder to work with.

On a final note, it is important to spay and neuter your puppy by 6 months old to have a healthy and happy pet for many years to come!

Photo Credits:

Flick.com & Facebook.com

Source:

Dog Bible, Edited by Kristin Mehus-Roe, 2005

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6 Comments

  • I had a german shepherd growing up and he was a wonderful dog. I had some great times playing with him. He was completely black except for a white spot on his chest. I loved that dog so much. The only trouble was he did have some health issues and he died at 7. It was the most painful thing I had been through by that time, being 11 years old myself. But I have many fond memories and would tell anyone that has the time for this breed to make it. They are wonderful dogs.

  • i HONESTLY WOULD LIKE A GREAT DANE' GERMAN SHEPHERD I HAD 2 PUPPIES ONCE AND THEY WERE THE SMARTEST,EASYEST TO TRAIN,LOYAL DOGS I'VE EVER BEEN AROUND!! i TAUGHT ONE TO SIT- 2 TRIES HAD IT DOWN FOREVER...BUT HIS SISTER WHO WAS WATCHING,I TOLD HER SIT AND YES SHE DID,ALWAYS TO COMMAND FROM THEN ON!!! THE DANE MELLOWED OUT SOME OF THE GERMAN SHEPHERD. THEY WERE PRETTY FANTASTIC IN THE HOUSE. BELIEVE ME NOBODY WOULD SAFELY BREAK INTO MY HOUSE , AND LEAVE WITH ALL THEIR PARTS!! VERY PRETTY ANIMALS.

  • How are they with water? I really love water dogs.

  • GS are not "water" dogs. Meaning, they don't have a natural drive to jump right in and have fun. Not to say there are not some out there that love the water. I would encourage you to look in to a breed that has a "love" for water. The German Shepherd is not it.

  • Once you've owned a German Shepherd, you'll never want any other kind of dog. We have our fifth GS now and every one of them has been super intelligent, loyal, playful and beautiful. To someone who doesn't know them, German Shepherds can appear to be very menacing but, under it all, they can be just as soft as marshmallows. They do require a lot of attention and training but they repay you with so much love that the extra work and dedication is worth it all. We have four Shepherds waiting for us at the "Rainbow Bridge" and another is sitting on my feet as I write this. Our lives have been truly blessed by these wonderful dogs.

  • Hi Linda~ Thank you for sharing! I am currently reading the book by Susan Orlean "Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend" - it is a fantastic book and I think you would really enjoy this book as well. They are truly a fantastic breed!

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