The dog breed known as Alsatian – a.k.a. a German Shepherd – happens to be one of the most popular breeds in America, and for a good reason. They are highly capable and very intelligent dogs. The courage and devotion these animals have are unparalleled. They are also remarkably versatile.
In spite of the purebred status they have, you’ll sometimes see German Shepherds inside of breed-specific shelters and rescues. That is what makes adopting so important! Do not purchase a German Shepherd if you are looking for one to take home.
German Shepherds excel just about anything that they are trained for: competitive obedience, drug detection, search/rescue, herding, military and police service, handicap assistance and guidance, and even being a faithful companion.
Keep reading to learn more about this dog breed’s facts and traits!
A German Shepherd is capable of standing as tall as 26 in. from the shoulder. When viewed as an outline, you’ll notice graceful and smooth curves, as opposed to angles. It is easy for these dogs to trot because of their natural gait. They are also capable of achieving great speeds when they need to. There are several reasons why these types of dogs are more capable than other canine royalty breeds. Experts believe that character is their most defining attribute: German Shepherds are willing to risk their lives defending loved ones, can learn certain commands to achieve tasks, exhibit confidence, display courage, and show loyalty. These family pets are gentle and steadfast protectors
GERMAN SHEPHERD CHARACTERISTICS
• Shedding amount: high.
• Barking tendencies: high.
• Intelligence levels: high.
• Trainability capacity: high.
• Energy levels: medium.
• Willingness to play: high.
• Exercise requirements: high.
• Pet friendliness: low.
• Kid friendliness: high.
• Overall friendliness: high.
• Affection levels: high.
• Life expectancy: between 7 and 10 years.
• Color and coat: medium length, coarse coat. Some of the colors these dogs exhibit include sable, gray, solid black, silver and black, red and black, cream and black, tan and black, and bicolor. Note – liver or blue is unfavorable as per breed standards. White isn’t a color that is acceptable as per breed standards, either.
• Weight: between 60 and 100 pounds.
• Height: between 22 and 26 inches.
• Group: herding.
CARING FOR A GERMAN SHEPHERD
German Shepherds come with course, medium-length (and sometimes wiry) hair. They also have thick undercoats. These coats must be brushed often – as frequently as every three days or so. German Shepherds tend to have a fairly high rate of shedding, though this can be minimized by regular grooming. You can expect to see hairs attached to your clothes and furniture (so make sure your vacuum is working properly). Thankfully, their coats are resistant to debris and dirt, so bathing your dog will only need to be done monthly. If anything, excessive bathing is capable of stripping away oils that retain the dog’s health. Don’t forget to keep their nails trimmed, as doing so can help the dog walk comfortably. Your dog will also need some help with their dental hygiene, so be sure to brush their teeth at least twice a week. German Shepherds have strong jaws and enjoy chewing things. As such, you should keep strong chewable toys nearby. German Shepherds sometimes get aggressive or anxious if they aren’t handled properly. They must be trained accordingly if they are expected to perform certain duties. When they are trained, they’ll take great pride in the tasks they are assigned to do. That is why it is important to train the German Shepherd comprehensively. Their desire to put in the work and their intelligence should make the training process fairly simple. Socialization will also be essential to ensure that the dog doesn’t get scared or stressed out when encountering other animals or people, or when they are exposed to unfamiliar environments. They tend to be quite aloof around strangers (and even a little suspicious). Because their energy levels are always fairly high, regular exercise will be essential. The German Shepherd will actually need a lot of exercise, much more than other breeds will. One walk will not be sufficient. They actually make great running companions for joggers. Your dog will need to explore, play, and run around in an effort to prevent boredom, frustration, and also to release energy.
Dogs that get bored are prone to developing problems like chewing, barking, and digging. These dogs can be quite gentle companions. They will protect the family that adopts them if properly socialized and trained, making them the perfect breed for fairly active households. Families with kids would do well to adopt a German Shepherd because of their protective demeanor and intelligence, but again, the dog must be correctly trained before becoming part of a family. Single German Shepherds are prone to chasing small pets, including cats. As such, they won’t be a great fit for households with multiple pets unless the animals are raised together. You’ll need to socialize with the dog much more than you would with other pets. Further, they might not be able to coexist with unfamiliar dogs – particularly if they are both male or female. This could be problematic when visiting dog parks. German Shepherds will flourish in homes with fenced yards, as they will have plenty of room to play and release energy. By comparison, an apartment would not be an ideal setting for the dog. They shouldn’t be left alone for long periods of time, either.
COMMON HEALTH ISSUES
Responsible breeders endeavor to maintain high-quality breeding standards, which are established by the AKC and other kennel clubs. In doing so, they won’t be as inclined to inherit negative health conditions. With that said, some health problems that are hereditary can come about for the breed. Here are several conditions you should be mindful of:
- Degenerative myelopathy.
- Gastric dilation–volvulus.
- Elbow hygroma.
- Elbow dysplasia.
- Hip dysplasia.
NUTRITION AND DIET
A couple of meals will be needed each day for the German Shepherd. The dog food that is dry should be given to the German Shepherd (a maximum of 2 cups), though this will be contingent on the size of the dog, their activity levels, how old they are, among other factors. This breed is susceptible to bloating, as well as stomach torsion. As such, refrain from giving the animal one big meal per day, as the dog will end up wolfing it down. The dog should be able to easily access fresh and clean water when they need it.
The dog’s weight must be monitored, and any overweight concerns must be addressed early. That is because obesity is capable of shortening their lives. Go over the nutritional needs of the breed with a veterinarian, as they will be able to give you recommendations for dog food and feeding schedules throughout the animal’s life.
German Shepherd EXERCISE
German Shepherds are active and quite athletic. They need plenty of exercise to nurture their mental and physical well-being. Dogs who don’t get enough exercise will get frustrated, which will only result in undesirable behavior. Puppies can be taken for short walks each day at first, in addition to playing sessions within an area that is safely fenced up. The dog shouldn’t be let off their leash, no matter how well-trained they are, as they may end up getting distracted. When this happens, they may lose the ability to follow the commands they have been trained to adhere to. Engaging in various canine activities like dock diving, tracking, and herding will provide them with excellent mental and physical exercises that are rewarding and fun.
German Shepherds are incredibly biddable, smart, and loyal. With that said, they are also very strong-willed and stubborn.
Online German Shepherd training will warrant a clear-minded approach. You need to show the dog what they are expected to do. You also need to help them understand how they should do whatever you want them to. You’ll find these breeds to be as no-nonsense as it gets.
There are several German Shepherd “types” to pick from – show lines and working lines. Those lines get split up even further through German and American show lines.
Show lines stray from their original purpose. These types of dogs are way too bulky and big. Some people prefer German Shepherds that are medium-sized, as well as working line breeds.
German Shepherds happen to be amazing animals because of their dedication. They enjoy the training structure that they are put through, and genuinely like interacting with people they are familiar with.
• Clear communication is strongly needed.
• The animals have a specific job to accomplish.
• A solid and fair leader is needed.
• Disaster can ensue without structure.
One issue involved with large dog breeds like German Shepherds involves musculoskeletal problems. German Shepherds are at great risk of developing this issue. In some instances, dogs with musculoskeletal problems grow way too quickly.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to stop the animal from getting this disease. To start with, make sure that they are fed large-breed food formulas when they are puppies. This will be necessary up until they reach approximately 80% of their adult size.
From there, the product can be substituted with adult formulas for large breeds. Such formulas will contain protein that supports the lean muscle mass of the animal. Secondly, the diet should be supplemented with chondroitin and glucosamine. Such ingredients provide dogs with the extra joint and bone support they need.
PUPPIESGerman Shepherds are one of the most popular dog breeds in the USA, and it isn’t hard to understand why. These puppies are smart and capable. They are also eager to get to work for their owners. If you’ve been thinking about introducing this breed to your home, you’ll find that they are ready to snuggle, play, and instill happiness because of their goofy demeanor. Don’t forget – any type of dog can be adopted from a rescue or shelter, so don’t shop for one!
BREEDERSBreeders of German Shepherds endeavor to produce stable and sound animals with good health, drives, and orthopedics. These breeders also instill strong pedigrees and great temperaments. Breeders are very cautious when it comes to choosing breeding stock. They only want healthy dogs for their programs. Puppy buyers are carefully screened by breeders, and they will be pleased to answer questions that adopters may have. Health testing is performed by the breeders, and some of the dogs are even titled in certain dog sports!
German Shepherds have a double coat of medium length. Their harsh, close-lying, and dense exterior coat is paired with a soft undercoat. This breed is simple to maintain, as they usually require simple brushing every three days, give or take, in an effort to remove any loose hair. Granted, these dogs shed profusely a couple of times each year. When this happens, ongoing brushing will be necessary to regulate the quantity of hair lingering around your home. German Shepherds don’t need to be bathed that often, either. Their nails must be trimmed each month to prevent them from naturally wearing down. Nails that are overly long can result in structural and pain issues for the animal.
GERMAN SHEPHERD HISTORY
Historically speaking, German Shepherds served as companions and servants to humans. They were developed from both old farm and shepherd dogs. The breed that we are familiar with today was introduced first in 1899. Germany’s Max von Stephanitz happens to be credited with this breed’s origins.
During the first two world wars, the “German” word was dropped from the dog’s breed title. The dog was subsequently named “Shepherd Dog” and later “Alsatian,” the latter of which still remains in certain regions to this day.
International interest in this breed started to rise in the 1900s. By 1908, German Shepherds were recognized officially by the AKC. Today, it is the second most popular breed of dogs, ranking currently as the second most popular one, according to the AKC’s listings. Sometimes, German Shepherds are crossbreed with Shiloh Shepherds, which produces King Shepherds.
Some controversy exists over show dog-breeding, as these types of dogs seem to develop a sloping-shaped back (as opposed to straight backs that are seen on working dogs). Criticism of this breeding practice is justified, as it is believed that poor gait naturally comes about because of it.