Other Names: GSD, Alsatian
Dog Group Kennel Club: Herding (AKC) Pastoral (KC)
German Shepherds are one of the most easily recognised breeds in the world. They have a well muscled body which is very athletic and agile.
They have a double coat of medium length. Their outer coat should be as dense as possible, hair straight, harsh and lying close to the body. German Shepherds vary in colour, with most colours acceptable. Strong rich colours are preferred. Black and tan are the most common, with sable, gold and black coloration also seen frequently.
Weight: 75 – 95 lbs
Average Life Span: 12 – 13 yrs
German Shepherds are intelligent, energetic, loyal, protective, and affectionate. A well trained german shepherd is good with children. They get along with other animals if properly socialised from an early age. This dog is not suitable for everyone, and they will demand a lot of your time. If treated with kindness and trained responsibly they make wonderful family pets who build up a loyal bond with their owners. However if these dogs are not trained and not socialised they can become dominant and badly behaved. In summary a german shepherd will be a loyal and dedicated dog if they have a loyal and dedicated owners. They make excellent watch and guard dogs. They love to be involved in family life, and do not respond well if left alone for long periods of time. This breed is known to suffer from separation anxiety. If you are out at work all day this is not the breed for you.
The German Shepherd is exceptionally trainable. Training should be positive and consistents and begin in early puppy hood. They are a highly intelligent breed and as such, needs a great deal of mental stimulation. From basic obedience, the GSD can go onto learn agility, tracking, rescue work or personal protection workSocialisation with people and animals is a must for this breed.
German Shepherds shed alot and so require daily brushing to remove dead hairs. This is a shedding dog but the more you groom it, the less it will shed. Checking the ears and nails should be carried out regularly.
Though relatively calm and quiet indoors, the German Shepherd needs lots of outdoor exercise to maintain condition. Long daily walks are essential as are physical activities such as retrieval. If you don’t have time to commit to lots of exercise to fulfill this breeds needs this is not the breed for you. Care should be taken not to over exercise this breed when in puppy hood, time is needed for them to build strong joints and muscle tone.
German Shepherd Health Issues
Hip dysplasia, a malformation of the hip joint resulting in a poor fit between the head of the femur bone and the hip socket. This condition can be alleviated by surgery, at some cost to dog and owner. Because dysplastic dogs often produce dysplastic puppies, buyers should ask if both the sire and the dam of the puppy in which they are interested have been rated clear of hip dysplasia. Do not take yes for an answer without seeing a certificate, and ask for a copy to take to your veterinarian.
Elbow Dysplasia– may be due to different growth rates of the three bones making up the elbow. In affected dogs, the joint is lax or loose and, in mildly affected dogs, leads to painful arthritis.
Bloat (gastric torsion), though not a hereditary condition, frequently affects many breed including the german shepherd. This is a very serious condition. When a dog bloats, the stomach can turn and block, causing a build up of gas. Unless treated quickly, bloat can be fatal. Signs of bloat include futile attempts to vomit and to salivate. Bloat, which may lead to cardiovascular collapse, usually occurs when exercise too closely follows eating. The incidence of bloat may be lessened by feeding adult dogs twice a day and, of course, by allowing a dog time to digest before taking him for a run in the park. Click Here for more information
Von Willebrand’s Disease(vWD) – is an autosomally (not sex-linked) inherited bleeding disorder with a prolonged bleeding time (somewhat similar to haemophilia in humans) and a mild to severe factor IX deficiency. A DNA test for vWD is now available. Carrier-to-carrier breedings, in theory, will produce puppies that are 25% clear, 50% carriers, and 25% affected. Ideally, only clear-to-clear or clear-to-carrier should occur, so that no puppies will be affected. Not all dogs that are vWD affected will have severe bleeding problems, but they ARE at risk whenever they need to have surgery or have an accident. Some unlucky affected dogs will actually bleed out from a needle stick or minor wound.
Panosteitis (Also known as “long bone disease,” “wandering lameness,” or “pano.”) Most commonly seen between the ages of five to 12 months, and for unknown reasons, is common in the GSD breed. Pano is caused by excessive bone production on the long bones. Normally, a dog affected by this condition will grow out of the problem, but it is painful.
German Shepherd History
The early shepherd dogs of Germany were of several types suited to their environments. Coat length and texture, color, and build all varied but these types all possessed ruggedness, intelligence, soundness, and the ability to do specialized work. Captain Max Von Stephanitz, is this man who is acclaimed as the father of the breed. It all started in 1889 when he visited a dog show in Karlsruhe in western Germany with a friend. He saw a dog that impressed him greatly to all accounts so much that then and there he purchased the dog. This dog, named Hektor Linksrhein, then renamed Horand von Grafrath, became the first registered German Shepherd Dog. Von Stephanitz also formed a society, the Verein fur deutsche Schaferhunde or SV as it is called.This was a milestone in the breed’s history and marked the beginning of a new era for it. From this date the German Shepherd as a specific breed had arrived. The captain’s motto was “Utility and intelligence”.
As Germany became increasingly industrialized and the pastoral era declined, von Stephanitz realized the breed might also decline. With the co-operation of police and working dog clubs a set of specific tests was developed in tracking, formal obedience, and protection work.
He persuaded the authorities to utilize the German shepherd dog in various branches of government service. The dog served during the war as Red Cross dogs, messenger dogs, supply carriers, sentinel, tracking and guard dogs.