Although we doubt anyone hasn’t heard about the German Shepherd dog (or GSD), we will use this opportunity to lay out some interesting facts about this beautiful breed. German Shepherds are smart, confident, courageous, and one of the most famous dog breeds in the world.
These dogs excel in everything they are trained to do – guide, assistance work, police and military work, search, herding, rescue, drug detection, obedience, etc. They are very intelligent and great working dogs. You will be surprised by how devoted and courageous they are.
Other breed names are GSD, Berger Allemand, and Alsatian wolf dog. Although he is one of the best working dog breeds, they are great companions. If you are thinking of searching through German Shepherd breeders to find your new companion, you will not make a mistake. With this dog, you will get both guardians and companions for life.
They have strong protective instincts, and to prevent over-guarding and aggressive behavior, German shepherd dogs should have socialization and obedience training at a young age. These are dogs of action - they need a lot of exercise. Otherwise, they might misbehave. They go along well with children and other pets if raised with them. German shepherd dogs are very devoted to their family.
22-26 in (55-65 cm)
49-88 lb (22-40 kg)
Dog Breed Characteristics
Their imposing size, erect ears, and dark eyes are characteristics by which they are known all over the world. They are muscular and very active dogs.
GSD - coat and grooming
Because these dogs were originally bred to herd flocks in harsh climates, their medium-length coat served the purpose. The coat acted as a protection for the dog from the rain, snow, and dirt. There are two variants of the coat: longhaired and double coat of medium length.
Their ideal coat is the second one – the outer coat lies close to the body, and it is dense with straight hair. Their coat comes in variants of color, including black, black, and cream, black and silver, black and red, liver, and sable. Small white markings on the chest are permissible but not desirable. German Shepherd dogs are easy to maintain, but the bad news is that they shed a lot. During the shedding season (twice a year), they will blow a lot of hair at once, so if you want this dog, be prepared to see his hair everywhere.
Weekly brushing will keep his hair under control, and during shedding season, you will need to brush your dog every day to control the amount the hair that ends up on your furniture and around the house. These dogs will need only an occasional bath to keep them clean.
It is not advised to bathe your dog too often because that will strip the coat of oils that keep the coat healthy, so you don’t need to wash him more than your dog needs it. Trim his nails when needed (if you hear them clicking on the floor) and check his ears for any signs of redness, wax build-up, or a bad odor which can indicate an infection.
Wipe their ears with the cotton ball soaked with the ph balanced ear cleaner. Because these dogs love to chew, you can give them a bone or a dental chew toy, and they will clean their teeth by themselves.
You will need proper tools for grooming your German Shepherd, and the Furminator deShedding Tool will do the job perfectly.
FUN FACT: The first guide dogs were German shepherd dogs.
This is a very active dog breed. If you are thinking about getting this dog, you need to be sure that you have enough time to fully exercise your dog. They require daily exercise to keep them healthy, happy, and in good condition.
If you don’t provide them with enough exercise, they will become bored and destructive. They need training for both body and mind. You can start exercising your dog while he is a puppy but don’t over-exercise your dog. Start with a few daily walks, and from time to time, allow him playtime with other dogs.
Because their joints and bones are still developing, if you over-exercise them while they are young, they can have problems later in life. They are an excellent dog breed to participate in canine sports such as agility, tracking, herding, and dock diving.
FUN FACT: German Shepherd dogs were searching for survivors and comforting rescue workers after the 9/11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center.
Most German Shepherds love playing Fetch, so getting them rigid tennis balls they would chew through would be a good idea. The 12-pack Hyper Pet Tennis Balls for Dogs will make sure you have your dog's favorite toy always in stock.
Socialization and training
These dogs are extremely smart and intelligent, but they need early socialization like any other dog breed. During training, you need to be consistent and use positive training methods with rewards to get the best results. Because these dogs are bonded to people, they are most happy when they are with their family.
They trive to have a job, and they can learn almost anything. These dogs are alert and reserved, but usually, they are not aggressive. They will not make friends with strangers immediately, but once they do, they will be extremely loyal. Early socialization is a must. Expose your dog to many different people, sights, sounds, and dogs while he is young.
This way your dog will learn many different new situations and will grow up to be a well-rounded dog. The only thing that they don’t like is being left alone for a longer period. If you leave them alone without any companion, you can expect them to become bored and frustrated. In those cases, they could start chewing things and bark constantly.
FUN FACT: They excel the most at guide and assistance work for the handicapped, police and military service, herding, search and rescue, drug detection, etc.
Why not make your German Shepherd stand out with this cool dog harness? Check out this military-styled Rabbitgoo Tactical Dog Harness.
Because their main purpose was to herd and guard, they could be very vocal if people were walking beside the house. Barking will vary from dog to dog, but if your dog is an excessive barker and you don’t like it, we recommend seeking professional help.
German Shepherds and kids
If you train your dog and expose him to kids while he is young, you can expect a good dog who will enjoy kids' company when he grows up. Germans Shepherds are great companions for the kids, and they will be both gentle and protective. He will babysit your kid and protect him from any signs of trouble.
Regarding that, you will need to watch the interaction between the dog and the kids because of his size; he could easily bump into a kid while playing. Generally, they are trustworthy around other kids they don’t know, but you need to be careful.
GSD and other pets
This dog can live with other dogs and animals if they are raised with them from the puppy age. If you bring an adult German Shepherd into a home where there are other pets, it could be a bit difficult for him to get used to it, but it's not impossible.
In that case, you might wanna seek professional help and hire a professional trainer to help you with the adaptation.
They live about 10-12 years. However, they are prone to some serious health conditions, such as
- hip and elbow dysplasia,
- degenerative myelopathy,
- exocrine pancreatic insufficiency,
Because of these susceptibilities, and because German shepherd dogs are large and powerful and have strong guarding instincts, great care should be taken to purchase German shepherds from reputable breeders. Before purchasing a German shepherd dog, explore all the GSD breeders carefully and make sure to get one from a responsible breeder that can guarantee you a dog that comes from a line of healthy GSD dogs with the characteristics that are significant for the breed.
To ensure your dog is healthy, you can perform a hip and elbow evaluation.
The German Shepherd is an amazing family dog. They are active and playful. If you raise them right, they will be vigilant protectors of you, your family, and your property. They are also highly intelligent and enjoy various games.
No. They are not naturally aggressive, but that part of their character can be trained for attack/defense purposes. That is why they are such amazing police dogs. You need to understand their needs and treat these dogs accordingly. They will never attack anyone if they are unprovoked.
German Shepherds can be prone to certain health problems. Dogs that are poorly bred can have hip issues, myelopathy, allergies, and exocrine pancreatic insufficiency. They are also fairly energetic, and some owners fail to take that into consideration.
Only if they are mistreated. German Shepherds are usually very loyal and devoted to their owners, but only if their owners treat them right, work with them, and socialize them.
German Shepherds are medium barkers. They can be vocal, and they love to express their feelings through barking. But they won’t bark if there is no reason for it.
Yes. Most German Shepherds are cuddly. They enjoy human interaction, and if you treated them right from an early age, they will love cuddling with their owners.
That is completely up to the owner’s preference. Both sexes have the same characteristics and energy, so whatever an owner chooses, they will make the right choice.
German Shepherd is a breed with a full breed standard. If a dog looks and acts according to that standard, it is most likely purebred. You can look at the pedigree of a dog you bought, or if you adopted the dog, you could take a DNA test that can confirm that. Embark DNA test is an easy tool to use.
German Shepherds are one of the most trainable dog breeds in the world. They are intelligent and can quickly pick up new tricks and commands. Their trainability makes them such a good choice for military, police, and service dogs.
Yes, they can. Especially in neutral territory, they do not feel protective of. German Shepherds are friendly, and if properly socialized, they will be friendly even towards strangers.
There is a chance a German Shepherd will protect their family members if they feel threatened. These dogs are capable of assessing situations, and if they feel their family is in danger, they will stop at nothing to protect them. However, that sort of behavior should be trained and developed.
The best way to earn trust from any dog is to work and care for them. As a general rule, dogs trust those that take care of them, walk them, train them, and feed them. That is the best way to earn a dog’s trust.
German Shepherd breeders
The German Shepherd Dog is, as already said, a large, agile, muscular dog of noble character and high intelligence. The German Shepherd Dog has amazing character; loyalty, courage, the ability to learn commands, and being a gentle family pet but also a fierce protector are the breed's best qualities.
We advise you to only search GSD breeders on the World Dog Finder website or at the national cynological association of your country. Because this dog breed is so popular many “bad” breeders will try and trick you into buying a dog who is not pureblooded or who will have serious health problems later in life.
That is why it is advised to only buy dogs from official and responsible German Shepherd breeders. Most of the good breeders will welcome your questions if you have any and will try to find the best puppy for you and your lifestyle.
If you are not interested in buying and you would like to adopt a German Shepherd dog (which we highly recommend), you can search your local shelters because there is a chance that GSD dog is waiting to be adopted. If you are decided to get this dog (either buying or adopting), you will not make a mistake. These dogs are great companions who will make your life interesting.
German Shepherd dog quiz
Dog breed quiz - German Shepherd Edition
German Shepherds are one of the most popular dog breeds in the world. They have an incredible history and there are many things even German Shepherd owners don't know about their dogs. How many of these things do you know about one of the world's most popular working dog breeds?
World Dog Finder team
German shepherd dogs are, as their name implies, a breed that originated in Germany. Their development started in the late 1800s by crossing various herding breeds. They owe their existence to one man – Captain Max von Stephanitz. Von Stephanitz retired from military life in 1898 and began experimenting with dog breeding to create a superior German herding dog.
He studied breeding techniques from the British, and he traveled through Germany to attend many dog shows so he could observe German-type herding dogs.
He noticed many different types of dogs – one was a great herding dog, the other was athletic, and the third was intelligent. But he noticed that none of these dogs had all those traits together. While attending one dog show, he saw a wolfish-looking dog, and he immediately fell in love and immediately bought the dog.
He wanted this breed to work as herding dogs, but the need for such dogs started to fade because Germany became more industrialized. He then decided that this breed would continue as a working breed. He used his connections in the military and convinced the German government that these dogs should be used for military purposes. During World War I, these dogs served as Red Cross dogs, rescuers, messengers, supply carriers, and guardians.
Although this dog found their way to the US before the war, this breed became popular after the war. A lot of soldiers took these dogs home. One of these dogs was a puppy who went home with the American corporal who trained him, and this dog became one of Hollywood's most recognizable stars: Rin Tin Tin, who started in 27 Holywood movies. Americans were impressed with these dogs, but because of their German roots, they weren’t exactly happy with their name.
AKC changed its name to Shepherd dog in 1917, and in England, this dog was renamed to Alsatian Wolf Dog. AKC returned the original breed name in 1931, while the British did the same in 1977.
Von Stephanitz was closely involved in this breed and its development, and he was alarmed that some dogs were losing their original characteristics, so he developed a system for quality control. Before any breeding, dogs needed to pass numerous tests of intelligence, athleticism, temperament, and health. This was not regulated in the US, and many breeders cared only about dogs looking only to win at dog shows.
After World War II, American and German dogs started to diverge. At one point, Americans started to import these dogs from Germany for police and military purposes because homegrown dogs were failing all tests. In the modern era, American breeders started to breed dogs according to their abilities rather than just looks.
FUN FACT: Many people say that American-bred dogs are calmer than German dogs, but critics noted that these dogs lost their traditional working talents and that they are prone to behavior problems.