During the long history of the domestication of dogs by humans, many strong, loyal, and beautiful dog breeds have filled the role of guard dog both admirably and gracefully. One such breed is the DDR German Shepherd, also known as the East German Shepherd. These animals are known as outstanding police dogs, wonderful guardians, and intelligent protectors.
Here, we will discuss the merits of this noble breed, their origins, what roles and duties they can fill, how well they adjust to human families, tips on raising them, and more.
The Origins & Characteristics of the DDR German Shepherd Breed
This unique variation on the German Shepherd breed was developed in specific circumstances for specific needs. Due to the politicization of their origins and the harsh conditions in which they were bred to flourish, the world nearly lost the DDR German Shepherd in the early to mid-90s.
Fortunately, the dedication of breeders and the imagination of dog lovers have enabled the DDR Shepherd to persist to this day and make fine working dogs and family pets for people all over the world.
DDR German Shepherd Origins
The DDR German Shepherd is known as the Deutsches Demokratic Republik German Shepherd in the part of the world where the breed originally hails from, what was once known as East Germany. During the Cold War between the United States and the USSR, the East German Communist Party began a breeding program to create dogs for use by the German military.
During this uncertain and tumultuous time, these dogs were bred to be exceptionally hardy, strong, and resilient to the bitter cold. They are known for their ability to climb high walls and to remain resolute in even the harshest conditions.
Like all German Shepherds, the DDR Shepherd has a genetic connection to the oldest animals from which the category of German Shepherd descends. When Germany was reformed in 1990, demand for these dogs declined.
Many were put down or abandoned, sadly. Fortunately, some dedicated breeders sold their animals discerningly, with the intention that the breed should be preserved. It is due to their efforts that we still have DDR German Shepherds alive today.
The Personality of the DDR German Shepherd
With all due caution, there is no reason to fear these animals if they are raised by kind and dutiful owners. Many would-be DDR German Shepherd owners shy away from them because of their fearsome reputation. But like any good dog, the DDR German Shepherd is exceedingly loyal to and protective of those they see as their family.
The DDR German Shepherd is as loyal as any Shepherd. They are also known for their high intelligence, even compared to other types of Shepherd. Though they were bred for war, they can adapt to any lifestyle well. However, due to their high energy levels and great size, they require plenty of living space and lots of daily exercises.
They love to play fetch, as do most dogs in the Shepherd category. If you have a large yard, simply fetching and throwing a ball or toy will be great fun for the animal and for you. They are very playful and will benefit from gentle rough-housing from a young age. It is wise to teach them how to play by gently wrestling them as puppies. This gives them the much-needed chance to know their own strengths and learn not to be too rough with their owners and family.
Of course, the DDR German Shepherd also makes an excellent service dog. To act as an aid for a disabled person or to do any service-dog task, they must be trained from a young age to do so. Unless you are a trained and experienced service dog trainer, your DDR German Shepherd should only be taught what he needs to be a good protector and companion.
How to Train DDR German Shepherds
For most dogs, an experienced non-professional trainer may be sufficient. For larger dogs, any dog with temperamental issues, and especially dogs bred for more serious use-cases such as the DDR German Shepherd; it is advisable to work with a professional dog trainer.
The DDR German Shepherd, as stated, is very intelligent. They are fast learners, and they are eager to please their masters. If you have the indoor room to accommodate them, the outdoor room to exercise them, and have the physical strength to deal with them when they become overly excited, you may be able to train your DDR German Shepherd on your own. If you can match their strength and the space needed, you may be able to train your DDR German Shepherd well by watching tutorials online and reading about the breed.
During training, be sure to only use puppy treats, and do not give the dog human food. Your DDR German Shepherd will learn quickly by being given treats and praised for good behavior. They should be trained to walk with you in an orderly fashion as early as possible since their size and strength could make a failure to heel very embarrassing.
Do not use corporal punishment to train your DDR German Shepherd as any aggression will breed more aggression from them in response, and that is something you DO NOT want. It is more than sufficient to give them a stern “no.” There is no need to shout or show anger. Simply using a tone of stern displeasure will be enough for them to learn.
Remember, these dogs are some of the most intelligent dogs in the world, and that’s saying something. They want to please you very much. Therefore, using treats and/or praise to reward desired behavior will be enough to shape the behavior you want from your German Shepherd. Likewise, ignoring undesired behavior or giving a stern “no” will also be enough to show the animal what is not acceptable.
If you have any doubt that you will be able to follow these simple points of advice to train your DDR Shepherd, you deserve credit for recognizing the fact and for having your Shepherd trained by an experienced and credentialed professional.
If you do have what it takes to train your Shepherd well, and you choose to train him yourself, it will create a strong bond between you and the dog. Such a bond between a human and a dog like these dogs is a thing of beauty and a wonderful asset. It is a thing of which you will be rightfully proud, and it will be the beginning of a marvelous friendship.
How DDR German Shepherds Behave With Children & Strangers
Your DDR German Shepherd will be a great friend and protector if you raise him well and treat him with both kindness and discipline. They must be socialized by meeting friendly strangers. The idea is that they should learn as early as possible that just because someone they don’t know is near, it does not mean they should respond with hostility.
The best way to do this is to take them to public places where strangers will be. Many people will be eager to meet your dog, and if you feel he is ready to be touched by friendly strangers who ask first, there is no problem. Letting your DDR German Shepherd have this experience early in life will teach him to remain calm in the presence of strangers.
You should not need to train your DDR German Shepherd specifically to guard you. These animals will sense hostility, and they will instinctively do what nature and their breeding have ingrained in them, and God helps anyone who chooses to threaten you in the presence of your DDR German Shepherd.
If your DDR German Shepherd will live with children, you should socialize them to be accustomed to children as early in the dog’s life as possible. These dogs are extremely playful, and like most playful dogs, they love children. That being the case, they can be easily socialized by being around children at the earliest possible age. You would be hard-pressed to find a better companion/protector for children.
Feeding Your DDR German Shepherd
Because of their size and their high energy requirements, a DDR German Shepherd should receive high-quality, nutrient-dense food. You can expect a dog this strong and energetic to cost more to feed than the average family pet. To be happy and well, they need rigorous daily activity and sufficient nutrients to fuel that activity.
Your German Shepherd’s dietary needs will change drastically between the ages of 0 and 4 years. They will also change drastically during the final five or so years of his life. It is best to consult a veterinarian to learn the dietary needs of these dogs. If they are not getting the nutrition they need, their coat will begin to lose its luster rather quickly.
Most specialty foods for German Shepherds are likely to be good enough for your DDR German Shepherd. Just be sure to keep an eye on his coat and consult your veterinarian before health problems arise.