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German Shepherds are extremely intelligent, loyal, hard-working, and confident. They make great guide dogs, police dogs, herding dogs, and family pets. Considered to be one of the best all-purpose workers, German Shepherds are large and muscular, Because they are so easily trained, German Shepherds are a fantastic choice for many dog-lovers. According to the American Kennel Club, German Shepherds are the second most popular breed in the United States, and it isn’t difficult to see why.

This article offers an in-depth look at the German Shepherd. Although German Shepherds are amazing dogs, and they make great pets, they might not be the best choice for you or your family. Be sure to do your research and get all of the information before making your decision.

Our comprehensive review will cover the history of the breed from their beginnings as herding dogs in Germany to their well-known place as police dogs and family pet today. We will also discuss their temperament, their physical characteristics, the pros and cons of the Lab, and who would be best suited for owning one.

At the end of this article you can find resources and information on how to find a reputable breeder or rescue operation near you.

The History of the German Shepherd

The German Shepherd Dog originated in Germany in 1899. As part of the herding group, German Shepherds were developed originally for herding and guarding sheep.

Max von Stephanitz, an ex-cavalry captain and former student of the Berlin Veterinary College, was trying to standardize dog breeds to be able to do certain jobs because he believed strongly that dogs should be bred for working.

In 1899, he was attending a dog show when he was shown a dog named Hektor Linksrhein. Hektor was the product of a few generations of selective breeding. THe dog was exactly what Von Stephanitz believed a working dog should be. Hektor was strong, intelligent, loyal, and beautiful. He purchased him immediately. After purchasing Hektor, he changed his name to Horand von Grafrath and Von Stephanitz founded the Verein für Deutsche Schäferhunde (Society for the German Shepherd Dog). Horand was declared the first German Shepherd Dog and was the first dog added to the society’s breed register.

Horand became the focal point of the breeding programs and was bred with dogs belonging to other society members that displayed desirable traits. Horand’s most successful pup was Hektor von Schwaben. Hektor was inbred with another of Horand’s offspring and produced Beowulf, who later fathered a total of eighty-four pups, mostly through being inbred with Hektor’s other offspring. Beowulf’s progeny also were inbred and from these pups, all German Sheperd’s draw a genetic link.

Because of his hard work and determination to create the perfect working dog, Von Stephanitz is credited with being the creator of the German Shepherd Dog.

The Temperament of the German Shepherd Dog

German Shepherds are very active dogs. They exude confidence and are very self-assured. They have a willingness to learn and be trained, and they are very obedient. German Shepherds can become over-protective of their family and territory, especially if not socialized properly. They do not become immediate friends with strangers, either.

German Shepherds are an active breed. They need a lot of exercise daily and without it, they can get into mischief or become high-strung. German Shepherds enjoy walking, running, playing fetch, hiking, and other activities that involve exercise and using up their energy.

German Shepherds are also very self-assured and confident. They will usually not hide behind their owners when put in new situations, but will be willing to explore and even make sure the situation is safe for their owners. They will not shy away from challenges and are easily trained, in part, because of this.

This breed has a willingness to learn and be trained, and once trained, will be very obedient. They will pick up on training much more quickly than other breeds and can be taught sophisticated things such as how to track people and how to find certain substances. They have a knack for following training processes and catching on quickly, but that doesn’t mean you won’t have to put in time, patience, and effort just like with other breeds.

German Shepherds need to be socialized properly because they can be very overprotective. When they spend time with other people who aren’t their owners and other pets who are and aren’t in the home with them, they learn to not be suspicious of all people. They make great guard dogs, of course, but you want to be sure that they aren’t so overprotective of you and your family that they are aggressive with people who visit your home or people and pets you encounter when you are out and about. As long as you socialize them from a very young age and even get advice from a certified, knowledgeable trainer, your German Shepherd will be both loving and protective in just the right proportions.

Overall, German Shepherds have a great temperament and can be a fantastic addition to your home and family as long as you are willing to put in the time and effort to train and socialize them to reach their potential.

Size

German Shepherds are strong and muscular large-sized dogs. Male German Shepherds are usually between 24 and 26 inches tall, while female German Shepherds are between 22 and 24 inches. Most German Shepherds weigh between 75 and 95 pounds.

They have a strong body with a long neck and bushy tail. Because they require so much physical activity, they can be prone to obesity when they do are not exercised properly.

Coat and Appearance

German Shepherds have a domed forehead, a long, rigid looking muzzle and a black nose. Their heads are often described as noble distinct. German Shepherds are clean-cut dogs.

Their jaws are strong, with an equally strong bite. German Shepherds have medium-sized, brown eyes that are a lively, intelligent, and confident. One of the more recognizable traits are their ears. They have large ears that stand erect, open at the front and parallel. Their ears are often pulled back when they are in motion.

German Shepherds have a long neck, which is raised when excited and lowered when moving quickly. They have a bushy tail, as well.

German Shepherds come in many colors. The most common colors are tan/black and red/black. Most German Shepherd varieties have black masks and black body markings. There is the classic “saddle” look to an over-all “blanket.” You might also find less common variations such as sable, all-black, all-white, liver, and blue. Some of these varieties might disqualify a German Shepherd from actually being considered purebred.

German Shepherds have a double coat. Their outer coats, which shed all year round, are close and dense and have a thick undercoat. The coats are medium and long, but the long hair variety is rarer. German Shepherds do shed a lot so if you are considering getting one, you willGr want to keep this in mind.

Health and Life Expectancy

German Shepherds generally live between 7 and 10 years which might seem like a relatively short life expectancy. Over the course of time, because of their growing popularity, they have been overbred and have since developed some chronic health problems. It is important to talk to the breeder about your German Shepherd and find out what health problems they have tested for.

One of the health problems that German Shepherds are most prone to are orthopedic issues. Orthopedic issues are one of the health problems that can be detected by the breeder via testing. German Shepherds are one of the breeds most likely to suffer from hip dysplasia. This issue arises mostly from genetic defects in the formation of the dog’s joints.

German Shepherds can also suffer from elbow dysplasia. Like hip dysplasia, this is a congenital condition that affects many large breeds but especially effects German Shepherds. Instead of being an issue with the hip joint, this issue is with the elbow joint. Hip dysplasia can be very severe, or it can be very mild, and it is usually caused by bad genetics. Over time elbow dysplasia (and hip dysplasia) can become very uncomfortable for your German Shepherd, eventually rendering them immobile.

German Shepherds can also suffer from a gastrointestinal issue called bloat. Bloat is a health problem that many different breeds suffer from, but especially high-energy dogs who are likely to eat their food too quickly and follow it up with too much physical activity. When bloat occurs and the dog cannot dispel the gas, the pressure of the bloat can make it hard to breathe and the body can go into shock.

German Shepherds have also been found to have epilepsy, which is a bit ironic since some German Shepherds are trained to help people with this same disorder. Epilepsy is genetic and incurable, but there are many medications that can help you manage your dog’s symptoms. If your German Shepherd has epilepsy but is kept out of stressful situations and is given a loving, comfortable, and calm home he may not even notice that he has the condition.

These are just a few of the common issues that German Shepherds might suffer from. Among the other health problems that you will want to be aware of or discuss with your breeder are hemophilia, diabetes, cataracts, degenerative disc disease, panosteitis, allergies, and pancreatitis.

The Pros and Cons of the German Shepherd

Pros:

  • Energetic and active
  • Confident
  • Easily trained
  • Very obedient
  • Protective/good guard dogs
  • Great working dogs
  • Very intelligent
  • Love to swim
  • Overall healthy dogs

Cons:

  • Shed a lot
  • Need a lot of activity
  • Can become too overprotective
  • Sometimes bark a lot
  • Large in size
  • Have a lot of energy

Is a German Shepherd Right For You?

Deciding if a German Shepherd is the right dog breed for you is a choice you have to make for yourself. We hope that the information you have read in our guide has helped you feel more prepared for what to expect.

If you lead an active lifestyle an enjoy being outside hiking, running, and walking, a German Shepherd might be a great fit. Also, if you have the time to dedicate to his training and you are willing to put forth the effort to socialize your German Shepherd properly, then you might want to consider adding this breed to your family.

A German Shepherd is a great choice if you are looking for a potential service dog. As we discussed, they are easily trained and very obedient. A German Shepherd would bring great peace of mind to your family if you are need of a service dog who can alert for low blood sugar, seizures, or other health issues.

If you are very busy or you are not home very often, you might not want to consider getting a German Shepherd. They can be very overprotective and you will want to socialize them a lot when they are puppies to prepare them for situations where they may encounter strangers. Because German Shepherds do sometimes shed a lot, you will want to consider your living space and the people you live with, as well.

Choosing any kind of dog for your family can be difficult because you want to weigh all the pros and cons and make sure that you are making the best choice. A German Shepherd can be a fantastic breed depending on your lifestyle and what you are looking for in a pet.

Where Can I Find A German Shepherd Near Me?

It’s really important that you find a reputable breeder or rescue operation before you purchase a German Shepherd. It’s imperative that the breeder has screened the dog’s parents for common health issues and that the puppies have been taken care of properly.

If you are rescuing the dog, you want to be aware of any health or behavioral problems the dog is experiencing, so that you can be sure that you are able to properly care for it and so that you are ready to seek out the right veterinary care upon bringing the dog home. If you are rescuing a dog with health or behavior issues, that is wonderful, but you also don’t want to end up having to bring the dog back because you weren’t prepared.

All over the country, there are many breeders are rescuers that are known for taking great care of their dogs and being sure to put them in the hands of new, loving owners who will ensure that they have a healthy and happy life.

The German Shepherd Dog Club of America is a great place to start if you are looking for a reputable breeder as well as more information about German Shepherds. They also have a list of rescue organizations where you may be able to find a German Shepherd, as well.

The American Kennel Club also has a marketplace where you are able to find a reputable breeder and a German Shepherd, as well.

We hope that you were able to learn a lot about German Shepherd dogs from our informational guide and that you feel more prepared to make the decision about whether or not this breed is right for you. German Shepherds are amazing, intelligent, confident, and obedient dogs. If a German Shepherd is the right fit for you, we know they will make a great pet and addition to your family.

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