The German Shepherd dog is sometimes also known as the Alsatian. Its is one of the most beloved and versatile of all dog breeds and was ranked as the 3rd most popular dog of 2008 by the American Kennel Club. A saying among fans of this breed is ‘there are two kinds of dogs in the world, German Shepherds and the rest’.
This breed was developed by a captain Max von Stephanitz of Germany in the early 1900’s. The German Shepherd was originally bred to be the most versatile of herding and working dogs. A well bred German Shepherd excels at any task it is put to and is used extensively as a work dog around the world.
Male German Shepherds typically weigh 30 to 40 kg (66 – 88 pounds) while females are slightly smaller at 22 – 32 kg (48 – 70 pounds). Standard height for females is 21 – 23 inches while males are taller at 23 – 25 inches.
German Shepherds are categorized as a large-breed. This breed has an intelligent face with a domed forehead, black nose and brown medium size eyes. They are longer then they are tall and have powerful jaws with a scissor like bite. German Shepherds are a strong breed and very agile for its size.
This breed comes in a variety of colors. The red/black and tan/black coats are most common with rare occurrences of solid black, liver, blue and all white. Blue and liver colors are considered as faults in show dogs while white Alsatians are completely unacceptable.
German Shepherds are a self assured and active breed. They are renowned for their intelligence and were ranked third (behind Border Collies and Poodles) by Stanley Coren in his book ‘The intelligence of Dogs’. This breed bonds well with the people they know and are very protective of their family and homes. Obedience training is a must for this dog as they have a reputation for aggression. They are not likely to befriend strangers but they still remain approachable.
3. Exercise requirements
German Shepherds are a highly active breed and intelligent breed that requires a lot of exercise to keep in good shape. Their high level of intelligence demands lot of mental stimulation to keep happy. This is not a breed to be kept on leash or at home for long periods as they can become aggressive and/or destructive if not properly cared for.
4. Use as work dogs
German Shepherds excel as working dogs like few other breeds. Their intelligence, strength and character have made them an ideal choice for almost any job. German Shepherds are consistently used in military for detection of booby traps and alerting soldiers to the presence of enemies. They are also renowned for their prowess in police work in the capacity of tracking and holding suspects along with patrolling.
Their keen sense of smell is used for search and rescue operations explosives detection, narcotics detection and mine detection. German Shepherds are ideal as a guard dog with proper training.
German Shepherds have a double coat. They shed profusely twice a year while shed moderately rest of the time. A daily regular brushing (preferably that begins with the head) is required for this breed to keep hair on the furniture to a minimal.
6. General Health
The average life expectancy of a German Shepherd is approximately 7 – 10 years. This breed is susceptible to several health genetic and viral health problems. Some common problems with this breed are listed below,
– Hip & Elbow Dysplasia
– Osteochondrosis Dissecans (OCD)
– von Willebrand’s Disease
– Bloat or Gastric Torsion (Gastric Dilatation Volvulus (GDV))
7. Recommended For
The German Shepherd was primarily created as a working dog and is ideal for police, military, herding, detection and guarding responsibilities. This breed is not just for anyone as it requires constant human attention, obedience training and plenty of physical and mental stimulation. If cared for properly this dog becomes a highly rewarding companion. If neglected it can become a nuisance for the home and a danger to others.