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German Shepherd Dog

The German Shepherd Dog is an enthusiastic herding breed that requires plenty of exercise. This native of Germany makes a good family dog but does require regular grooming.

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Physical Characteristics
  • Sturdy, medium-sized, muscular body
  • Solid bone structure, but agile
  • Black nose
  • Almond-shaped eyes
  • Medium-sized ears, wide at base
  • Comes in all colors
  • Long, bushy tail
  • Height: 22-26 inches
  • Weight: 75-95 pounds
  • Average lifespan: 13 years
  • Direct, fearless, eager, alert, responsive, obedient, devoted, confident, very smart
  • Interaction with people: Good family dog; wary of strangers
  • Interaction with animals: Good with other pets
  • Level of attention needed: Should not be isolated for long periods of time
  • Training: Highly capable learners; can work in a number of specialized capacities; need a special task. Firm obedience training needed as a puppy
  • Bark: Moderately vocal
  • Protection: Good guard dog; very protective
Medical Conditions
  • Acquired cardiac disease (including cardiomyopathy)
  • Bloat
  • Cancers (including hemangiosarcoma)
  • Degenerative myelopathy (spinal cord disease)
  • Hip and elbow dysplasia
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Ophthalmic disorders (including chronic superficial keratitis)
  • Perianal fistulas (disease effecting the rectum and connecting internal organs)
While the listed ailments may be common in this breed, not all members of the breed suffer from these conditions. Responsible breeders screen for orthopedic and genetic diseases.
At Home
  • OK for apartments if sufficiently exercised
  • Needs challenges and daily activity
  • Sheds lightly but continuously, with heavy seasonal shedding
  • Brush daily
  • Bathe once or twice monthly
Other Facts
  • TV star Rin Tin Tin and other canine celebrities catapulted the breed to American popularity
  • All-white shepherds are now called the American white shepherd
  • Used for herding, guarding, policing, guiding, search and rescue
  • Excels in tracking, obedience, agility, flyball and ring sport
  • Can sniff out drugs and intruders; can alert handlers to underground mines; can detect gas leaks buried 15 feet underground
  • One of the most versatile and popular dog breeds of all time
Breed History
  • Developed in late 19th century by Max von Stephanitz and other breeders, from long-haired, short-haired and wire-haired shepherd dogs from Wurtemberg, Thurginia and Bavaria
  • Bred to create the ideal herding dog
  • Used during World War I as a war sentry
  • Negative associations with Germany resulted in alternate breed names, including Alsation wolf dog; name restored to German shepherd in 1931
For more information about this breed and breeder referral contacts, please visit the German Shepherd Dog Club of America For breed rescue opportunities, visit GSDCA Rescue
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