German Shepherd Info & German Shepherd Breeders
One of the most popular and recognizable dog breeds, the German Shepherd Dog (GSD) is renowned as a police, protection, military and guide dog, and a loyal family member. The GSD was developed from the herding breeds of Germany in the late 1800’s.
Alert, strong and agile, the GSD is recognized for its unmistakable appearance, intelligence, unfailing stamina, physical resilience and willingness to work.
German Shepherd Temperament
A well balanced GSD is alert, courageous, self-assured, versatile and willing. Owners will describe their GSDs as loyal, protective, smart and sensible with more than a hint of goofy. Protective and affectionate with their owners, the GSD can be aloof and standoffish with strangers. The GSD will form a strong bond with their handler and want to be with them.
Their strong minds are matched with a strong athletic body. The GSD has stamina and is designed to trot all day. They can have an eager prey drive that needs to be managed through clear expectations and training. A well balanced, well trained GSD can be trusted with small birds and animals. A bored, unbalanced or untrained GSD can become quick to attack and kill.
The ideal home for a German Shepherd Dog
A German Shepherd might be for you if you:
A German Shepherd Dog isn’t for you if you:
German Shepherd training and socialization
GSDs are clever and quick to learn. They are ranked as the third most intelligent dog breed after Border Collies and Poodles. They do best with a calm and consistent training approach and will rise to your expectations. German Shepherds love to please and love to know what is expected of them.
GSDs need to be well socialised when young to ensure they have exposure to a variety of situations and people including children. They also need plenty of mental and physical activity to thrive. You absolutely must be prepared to invest significant time and energy into your GSD now and forever.
An unbalanced GSD can be overly timid, anxious or aggressive, easily bored, over excited, destructive and loud. The combination of physical strength and high intelligence is a recipe for disaster in the wrong hands.
How much space and exercise do German Shepherds need?
The German Shepherd is a high energy dog. They need significant physical and mental stimulation to be well balanced. This might include walking, jogging, bushwalking or cycling, agility, hide and seek, search and rescue, herding, tracking, obedience, agility or endurance.
As long as their requirements for physical and mental stimulation are met, they can live in a small to medium living environment but room to run and play is ideal. If bored or left alone for too long, a young dog especially will become destructive. GSDs are renowned fence jumpers and escape artists if their needs are not being met.
German Shepherds and grooming
Whether a short or long hair variety, German Shepherd Dogs have a double coat. The undercoat sheds prodigiously once a year and consistently for the rest of the year. Be prepared to brush!
German Shepherd colour variations
There are three main color variations:
Black and Tan (Black with reddish tan, black with tan, black with gold to light grey markings).
Sable (Grey with dark shadings; black saddle and mask).
Life Expectancy: Average life expectancy is 9 – 12 years.
Average weight: Males: 30-40 kg ; Females: 20-30 kg
Average height (at withers): Males: Height at withers 60-65 cm; Females: Height at withers 56-60 cm
The length of the body is a little longer than the height at the withers.
A German Shepherd parent's perspective
"I have had 6 GSDs over 24 years. They take time to train and spend time with and they are a challenge until one year of age. I am retired, love my 2 GSDs. I buy from breeders who have done all the genetic health tests to get a healthy dog." Michele Royalty
"I have had german shepherds all my life. I currently have 2 czech sables. I can honestly say I do not have one negative word. They are smart, loyal and protective. I love all dogs but in my home, it's only a GSD." Valerie Lister
Potential Health Issues in German Shepherds
The original German Shepherd Dogs were square and strong with horizontal backs and strong hips. The modern GSD looks very different with low hips, often curved or even roach backs and hocks that stick way out the back.
Poor breeding and fashion has resulted in widespread back and hip problems. It is common to see German Shepherd Dogs with wobbly hips and underdeveloped rear ends and their weight on the front legs. Hip dysplasia and roached (curved) backs are having a terrible painful impact on the health, wellbeing and integrity of the GSD.
Work is being done though to correct these mistakes and improve the integrity and health of the breed.
For example the German Shepherd Dog Council of Australia Hip and Elbow Dysplasia Scheme tests and scores breeding dogs to help reduce the incidence and severity of hip and elbow dysplasia.
Knowing that the breed is beset with crippling muscular skeletal problems, talk to the breeders. Educate yourself on the history of the breed, the problems of poor breeding and study the standard. Insist on seeing the parents and other mature dogs the breeders have bred. Look for straight backs and good strong hips and knees. Find breeders who breed for soundness, utility, and a literal interpretation of the standard rather than fashion or what might be fashionable in the show ring.
The original German Shepherd is not that sad slinky wedge shape that is all too common today. The German Shepherd Breed Standard states that the position of the hind legs should be only slightly set back and the thighs should be strong, well-muscled and capable of powerful drive. The hocks should be well developed and firm with the rear pastern perpendicular under the hock joint (p11).
The breed standard also states the back should be “straight, tight, firm and strong” (p9) and further, “A curvature of the spine clearly diminishes reach, drive and the GSD’s most important characteristic, outside temperament, its power of endurance”.
The GSDCA and the ANKC have provided a very detailed Extended Version of the Current Breed Standard.
German Shepherd Breed Information References
Coren, Dr Stanley. 1994, (University of British Columbia), "The Intelligence of Dogs", Vancouver.
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