German Shepherd Dog Breed Information: Full Profile, History, and Care

How well do you know your dog? Dogs are known to be man’s best friend. Did you know German Shepherds can live up to 14 years? The German shepherd is a popular breed that is recognized for its tough physique and high intelligence. German Shepherds are big dogs with their height ranging from 55 Cm to 65 Cm with varying weights of between 20kg to 40 kg. Keep intact and read below to learn facts you are unaware of regarding the German shepherd.

I remember the first time when I saw a German shepherd closely; it just captured my attention from its well-structured posture. Ideally, German shepherds are magnificent. Are you fond of falling in love with a wonderful dog companion? I can guarantee you that the German shepherd has some excellent characteristics. To keep you informed, below are some quick facts about the breed.

German Shepherd dog breed information
CharacteristicRate
FriendlinessHigh
TrainabilityHigh
IntelligenceHigh
Energy levelActive
Pet friendlyLow
Exercise needsHigh
Affection levelHigh
SizeLarge
Litter size6-10 puppies

History regarding the breed

The German Shepherd is also known as the Alsatian wolf dog, Berger Allemand, or Deutscher Schaferhund. The German Shepherd dog breed originated from Germany in 1899, having been bred by Max von Stephanitz. Von Stephanitz had attended a dog show when he noticed a wolfish-looking dog. He bought a dog named Hektor Linksrhein.

Due to its intelligence and strong physique, He decided to breed the dog for herding and work. Captain Max Von spent 35 years trying to develop the breed to a better version. Later he was determined to introduce his breed for military service, and he formed a Deutsche Schäferhunde society.

The breed was introduced in the US in 1907. Originally, these dogs were trained for herding sheep and patrolling borders during wars. During World War I, the German Shepherd served as sentry, rescuer, massager, and guard. 

Do you know the name of the most famous German shepherd dog? Well, it was known as Rin Tin Tin. The German shepherd puppy dog was plucked from a bomb-riddled kennel in France by an American corporal. Corporal Lee Duncan took the puppy and trained it to feature in the most famous dog shows and movies.

Later stigmatization rooted in as Americans were not impressed by the dog’s German originality. They changed the breed’s name to shepherd dog, while in England, it was called Alsatian wolf dog. It was until 1977 when American Kennel Association upheld the initial name of the German Shepherd Dog.

Breed definition

German shepherds are considered to be the third most intelligent dog breed. They are usually easy-going, approachable, and reserved dogs with aloof personaly. They are extremely loyal once they bond to new friends. They are not typically aggressive but, when threatened, can be protective and strong.

They are highly trainable to carry out specific tasks. German Shepherds can become frustrated and bored if you under-exercise it or fail to engage their intelligence to work.

Appearance

Generally, German Shepherds are beautiful, well proportioned with harmonious development of the forequarter and hindquarter and muscular looking. A German shepherd is built with a long, deep-bodied outline of smooth curves with a domed forehead and square-cut muzzle. 

Initially, the traditional German Shepherds featured two-layer coats with common black and brown color. Due to modifications in breeding, other breeds owe different color patterns such as liver, sable, black and silver, grey, red, and tan. 

The outer coat has medium-length hair in most breeds, with the medium-length double coat acting as a barrier from snow and rain. The German shepherd sheds a lot of hair twice a year.

They have large stand-up, trademark pointed ears. German shepherd males can grow to around 26 inches tall at the shoulders while females stand 22 to24 inches. Generally, they can grow to weigh between 50 to 90 pounds.

Temperament

Focused, courageous, and fearless. 

German shepherds are known to be working dogs just as originally, where they were bred to herd sheep against wolves. In the modern world, they make excellent guard dogs. They have a well-developed sense of smell and focus on targets. They aid in rescue missions and explosive detection.

Well-built, energetic, and strong. 

The breed has a proven record of excelling in physical and mental situations. Their bodies are athletically strong, and they enjoy physical activities.

Protective and loyal. 

The German Shepherd poses threats and danger to strangers as it portrays protective instincts.

Trainable, intelligent, and alert. 

German shepherds are highly responsive to stimulation. They are easy to train when trained in the right way. You can train adult German Shepherds faster than the younger ones. At prime, a German shepherd can run close to 50 km/hr.

Breeding comparison

There are five types of German shepherd breed;

  • American Show Lines German Shepherds/ AKC Lines German shepherd: This type is generally taller and longer owing to distinct colors of solid white, saddle sable, solid black, black, and tan saddle. They are laid-back with a low drive and less energy. Because of their obedience, tracking, and good hearing nature, they are great for pets and herding.
  • West Show Line German Shepherds: They are considered the most beautiful breed. They are highly trainable due to their intelligence and very gracious in movement. GSDs have a slopped body with distinctive pigmentation of black and red saddles, black and tan, sable, and bi-colors. This type of breed acts as a pet or a great protector in a family. They enjoy engaging in lots of training and exercise. The breed has better health and drive.
  • West Working Line German Shepherds: They have a very stable and cool temperament with stunning looks. The breed has a strong drive, calm attitude, excellent working ability, and perfect colors. The West lines GSDs have a sloppier body with pigmentation of sable, black, bi-color, black and tan color. The breed is more affected by health issues. They are great at sports, guarding protection, and rescue operations.
  • East Working Line DDR German Shepherds: They are long-coated, defensive, sturdy, and graceful dogs. They are well built with solid bones, expanded shoulders, sloppy backs, and large heads. They are ideal for military and search rescue operations. They are excellent in tracking and attacking hence mainly used to patrol territory borders. The breed has the darkest color coats with mostly black sable or sable pigmentation. They are stuffy in nature and can resist extremely harsh weather conditions for the long haul.
  • Czech Working Line German Shepherds: They are very loyal, agile, graceful, and most powerful. They have slightly small ears, extremely strong jaws, and well-built broad shoulders. Their bodies are less sloppy with dark-colored coats. They have the best behavioral problems hence best fit for chasing down criminals, protection, rescue operations, border patrols, and search missions.

Feeding and exercise

German Shepherds have powerful jaws and like to chew. The dog owner should formulate their diet to fit exercise needs and provide high energy. The portioning sizes and dietary needs alternate from puppyhood to adulthood to old age. 

Typically, the GSD eats about 3 1/2 to 5 cups of food a day. Avoid cooked bones, foods, and table scraps as they can cause digestive upset. Provide vitamin and mineral supplement requirements as per professional nutritionist advice, for instance, by adding small amounts of yogurt, cooked vegetables, and eggs.

Puppies do well on low-calorie, high-quality diets that keep them from growing too fast. Feed regular meals and do not overfeed to mitigate health complications and joint problems. During obedience training, you can give a small piece of biscuit or the dog kibble.

German Shepherds need exposure and socialization as early as possible. They are built with lots of energy hence the need to engage in daily exercises like a romp at the park, jogging, obedience competitions, and mind/ agility training. To ensure your German Shepherd puppy grows into a well-rounded dog, expose it to different sounds, people, sights, and experiences.

Puppies should not play, run, or jump on hard surfaces to ensure the joints are fully formed. They should play on grass until about two years. Failing to exercise the German shepherd dog leads to behavior problems such as digging, barking, and chewing. Provide safe chew toys and bones to entertain themselves and to play around.

Health problems

German Shepherds are healthy breeds but can be prone to health conditions such as:

Hip Dysplasia: This is a heritable condition that affects the femur whereby it doesn’t fit snugly into the pelvic socket of the hip joint. The condition can exhibit lameness and pain in either one or both rear legs. Due to age, the joints may also develop arthritis. Dogs with such conditions should not be bred.

Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency: It is a disease in which cells that produce digestive enzymes are destroyed. This results in the dog being unable to digest or absorb food. 

The problem can be signed by weight loss, loss of appetite, change in stools, and gas. The condition can be diagnosed with a simple blood test and is treatable with proper medication.

Elbow Dysplasia: This is a condition that is caused by different growth rates in elbow bones, causing laxity. The condition is heritable and common to large breeds of German shepherd dogs.

Elbow dysplasia may lead to painful lameness. Vet professionals can correct the problem via surgery and medications to ease the pain.

Degenerative Myelopathy: It is a progressive disease of the spinal cord. The condition interferes with the cord that communicates information to the brain regarding the hind legs. 

With this condition, the dog fails to move properly. Prolonged myelopathy problem results in no movement at all in the dog. To stabilize the condition, use vitamin supplements as the condition may develop due to insufficient vitamin E/12 in the body.

Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus/bloat: This is likely to develop, especially when you feed the dog one large meal a day. The condition arises after the dog eats rapidly, drink large volumes of water, and exercises vigorously after eating.

The stomach is filled with distended gas and twists. With the dog unable to vomit or belch to eliminate excess air in the stomach, the return of blood to the heart is impeded, leading to shock. 

The condition requires immediate vet services. Signs to portray your German shepherd dog have a distended abdomen include restlessness, drooling excessively, depression, rapid heart rate, retching without throwing up, and body weakness.

Allergies: German shepherds may experience food and contact allergies. Allergies may be signed through scratching, licking at paws, or rubbing the face.

Average cost

The German shepherd is the second most popular dog breed. Raising a German Shepherd puppy is quite an expensive stage. Hence buying an adult GSD be ready for a hefty price tag ranging between $2,000-$9,500.

A simple and inexpensive way to own a German shepherd pet is through adoption, which usually costs approximately $125-$500. For show-quality dogs with an impressive lineage, the price rises to range from $2,300 to $10,000. In addition to initial expenses, consider food and vet bills.

German Shepherd Breed Guide

Comparison with Other Breeds

German Shepherd Questions

Buyer’s Guide