German Shepherd

  • Temperament Watchful, Alert, Curious, Obedient, Loyal, Confident, Courageous, Intelligent
  • Family Friendly Yes
  • Trainability Difficult to Train
  • Shedding High
  • Group Herding
  • Color Black with Tan, Sable, All Black, White, Blue, Liver
  • Origin Germany (1800s)
  • Height 22-26 inches
  • Weight 77-85 lbs
  • Original Function Herding, Guardian
  • Current Function Police, Contraband Detection, Herding Trials, Schutzhung
  • Lifespan 9-13 years

Origin of the Breed

German Shepherds, as their name indicates, originated in Germany, as a result of breeder Captain Max von Stephanitz working to create an obedient working dog. This he accomplished through crossing numerous farming and herding dogs from different states in Germany. German Shepherds have also been described as descendants of the Alsatian Wolf Dogs of Great Britain. Compared to other breeds, the German Shepherd is fairly recent, having be first officially recognized in 1899. The first German Shepherd dog noted in America was in 1907, however the popularity of this breed as a house pet decreased during WWI and WWII, because of the cultural reference to Germany. Nevertheless, the Allied forces did use this breed for training, retrieval and special ops. German Shepherds were some of the founding breeds of to America's Dogs for Defense.

Coloring and Size Variations

This beautiful breed is usually known for having thick black and tan coats, with black masks and lighter underbellies. German Shepherds can also have entirely black, white (very rare), solid, sable, bi-colored, blanketed, saddled, or panda printed coat markings.

Behavioral Tendencies

German Shepherds are eager learners, ready to be given a purpose, and put their training to good use. They are natural guard dogs, protective in nature, with a keen sense of smell and strong intuitions. They must be socialized correctly, if expected to spend time with smaller children, or around other pets. They do tend to attack smaller dog breeds, and bite children if not kept under discipline. They do not quickly warm to strangers, but if made accustom to someone, can build trust and respect. Though German Shepherds are pleasant dogs for the most part, and can be well trained, they can grow restless or aggressive if they do not have some means of exercise, and a method to stimulate their mind with jobs and challenges to master. German Shepherds remain the second most preferred breed of American families, so most people find their pet to be a positive and reliable addition, if trained well.

Training Needs

German Shepherds have an unparalleled ability to accomplish difficult assignments. They have sharp minds, thriving under instruction, and are able to learn almost any action when given a command. German Shepherds have long been used by the military and police forces to track, retrieve, locate drugs or explosives, do search and rescue missions, and complete jobs of ranging physical difficulty and complicated instruction. They typically have a singular focus that is rarely deterred by distractions, weather conditions, or dangers etc. They can be taught to climb ladders, enter moving vehicles, walk thin rails, and swim distances. If given diligent training, taught to submit to authority, and rewarded with positive reinforcement, these dogs prove to be priceless allies.

Health Complications

Like many dogs, this breed fights joint and hip dysplasia as well as blood disorders created by interbreeding, epilepsy, digestive issues, and allergies. They can develop tumors, pancreatic complications, among other internal ailments.


These dogs are one of the most intelligent breeds, so they enjoy activities that involve the mind. They love playing catch with balls, frisbees, sticks, and being sent out on retrieval missions. Their energy, strength and stamina require brisk walking or running, or evening bike riding while the dog runs beside. It will be important to insist on the pet learns to heel, as German Shepherds can be extremely powerful if not well-trained.

Living Conditions

Because of a German Shepherd's herding and working instinct, apartment life and being likewise contained can prove to be a difficulty for these dogs. If they are kept in a limited space, they will need daily long and vigorous walking/running. While they do not tend to be overly active, by making messes and wrecking space indoors, inactivity may lead to bad behavior. They would do best with a yard or a running space.


German Shepherds tend to be heavy shedders, because of their thick, long haired coats. This will require daily brushing, and regular washing, though you will need to take care not to wash the breed too often, as stripping the oils from their skin can cause itching and irritation. A German Shepherd's claws will also need trimming from time to time, particularly if he is around children.

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