The German Shepherd is a loyal and adorable large dog that originated from Germany, just like his name suggests.
They are one of the most popular dog breeds on the planet.
German Shepherds are well-rounded working dogs that can make great family companions.
The courage and devotion that this pooch has are unlike any other dog.
So, if you are a dog lover what else should you know about this canine friend. Is he suitable for the kind of lifestyle that you have?
In this guide, we are going to cover all that you need to know about the GSD. We will also give you some tips on how you can best take care of him from feeding, grooming, exercise, and training.
Let us get right into it.
About the German Shepherd
Ever wondered why German Shepherds are used in so many parts of our society such as;
- To guide and assist.
- Search and rescue
- Drug detection
- Police and military service
Over the years these dogs have diversified from the role that they were originally bred for and have developed a strong bond to humans. It is for this reason that this pooch is not right for you if you are away from home most of the time.
These doggies are not for everyone because of their high energy they will require you to be with them most of the time and meet their activity needs.
What many people may not know is that they are several variations of the German Shepherd. From the white to the panda German Shepherd.
Learn more about the German Shepherd types and color variations.
The American Kennel Club officially recognized the German Shepherd in 1908 as a herding group dog.
UKC is another major club that recognizes the GSD and they officially registred this dog in 1919 as a herding dog.
General characteristics and appearance of the German Shepherd
|German Shepherd summary table|
|Height||GSDs can reach a height of between 24 to 26 inches for the males and 22 to 24 inches for the females|
|Weight||These dogs can weigh between 77 to 95 pounds for the males and 55 to 73 pounds for the females|
|Lifespan||9 to 13 years|
|Breed Type||Herding group|
|Purpose||Herding and companion dog|
|Suitable For||owners that have experience with large dogs|
|Color Variations||black, white, black and cream, black and tan, steel blue, liver, silver, red and black, black and silver, sable, bi-color or gray|
|Health concerns||hip and elbow dysplasia, pannus, and allergies|
|Temperament||intelligent, loyal, loving, friendly, Energetic, Affectionate and can also be destructive when neglected.|
German Shepherds are classified as medium to large-sized dogs.
Male GSDs can reach a height of anywhere between 24 to 26 inches and weigh between 77 to 95 pounds.
Their female counterparts can reach heights of between 22 to 24 inches and have weights of between 55 to 73 pounds.
This may not apply for the Miniature German Shepherd.
Click on this link to learn more about the Mini German Shepherd.
These dogs have a muscular and athletic appearance that is unique to them.
GSDs are longer than they are tall, slightly, and are also lean but sturdy.
Their posture is strong and they should have a straight back of they are bred correctly.
They have bushy tails, almond-shaped eyes, and long muzzles. These are some of the features that you can expect to see in a German Shepherd.
However, these features may not appear in all German Shepherds. There are several types of GSDs and they all have features that are unique to them.
Coat and Shedding
The typical German Shepherd has a thick double coat which helps them to withstand colder weather conditions.
But this also means that they shed more. These dogs shed throughout the years and blow their coats twice every year.
For their coat colors, there are 13 recognized colors and they are;
- Black and silver
- Black and tan
- Cream and black
- red and Black
- Red Sable
- Steel Blue
Personality traits and temperament of the German Shepherd
German Shepherds do not make friends immediately but to their family, they are extremely affectionate and protective. This is one of the reasons that these dogs have become so popular.
Once a GSD becomes your friend he also becomes your companion.
They may be aloof towards strangers but this does not mean that they are aggressive.
He is a great watchdog that will alert you in case something is not going right or when they spot an unfamiliar face.
However, these dogs may have a prey drive and you may see them from time to time chasing other small animals such as cats. However, when you introduce them to other animals and socialize them early you should be able to reduce this prey drive.
Some people may be convinced that this pooch is aggressive and dangerous which is completely ill-informed.
There is however one thing that this doggo dislikes and that is being left alone for long periods. Because of their intelligence and human attention-craving, they may end up looking for places to channel their energy. They may end up being destructive and even noisy.
Compatibility with families
German Shepherds make great family dogs. But if you are a first-time dog owner you should refrain from this dog because he is a little hands-on.
However, they are still great with children because of their playful demeanor. You still need to supervise their play despite this.
Their large size may not make them very suitable for very young kids too.
With the correct training, socialization, and care, you GSD should grow up to be a well rounded and well-behaved dog that you are going to love as part of your family.
Frequently asked questions
Are German Shepherds dangerous dogs?
German Shepherds were not bred to be aggressive dogs. They may be protective towards their family and people that they have a bond with but it would not be accurate to call them dangerous.
Do German Shepherds bark a lot?
German Shepherd is not an excessive barker. However, he may bark as a way to express himself or when he wants to alert you of intruders or even when bored. If your GSD barks a lot you can train him to control his level of barking.
At what age does a German Shepherd calm down?
Each pooch is different from the other and they may calm down at different times. However, German Shepherds typically calm down when they are about 7 months old. This may happen later or earlier depending on the personality but over time it is bound to happen.
German Shepherd History
Deutsche Schäferhund or the German Shepherd is a Herding dog that originated from Germany.
A man by the name Von Stephanitz was in search of the perfect working dog as he believed that dogs were capable of more.
In 1899 he came across a dog that was named Hektor and he got impressed by him because of his working-dog characteristics.
Von then purchased Hektor and renamed him Horand von Grafrath.
This dog then became the father of 84 puppies. These were the original German Shepherd lines.
He was brought to the US in the early 1900s as a female dog that was named Queen of Switzerland.
This pooch suffered a lot of complications during breeding that led to the decline of this doggie’s popularity.
During the World wars, the German Shepherds were renamed to Alsatians by the Brits in a bid to prevent their popularity from dwindling. The name was reverted to German Shepherd in 1977.
Today there are one of the most popular dog breeds and are still used as working dogs.
They have featured in films such as Rin Tin Tin, Bullet the Wonder dog and Maximilian.
German Shepherd puppies are simply balls of fluff that look more like teddy bears.
When they are pups, their ears droop down and are not yet erect and their paws are large. They are simply adorable puppies.
GSD pups reach maturity when they are about 12 months old.
Generally, the litter size of GSDs is about 8 puppies.
For a single puppy, you should expect to pay anywhere between $600 to $1000 depending on the location and the breeder where you get the pup from.
You should make sure that you get your pup from a responsible and reputable breeder.
Buying a German Shepherd puppy from show lines if going to cost you significantly more as a single pup could cost as high as $6000.
Adoption is your best bet if you are looking to cut the price and it will cost you around $150.
Grooming a German Shepherd
These canine friends have moderate to high grooming requirements.
Brushing their coat regularly about twice a week could easily make sure that the coat stays shiny and healthy throughout and will also get rid of mats and tangles.
This also helps to minimize shedding.
Every once or twice a month you may be required to bath the doggo using a shampoo that is formulated for dogs. You should note that over bathing the dog could strip him of essential oils causing the skin to dry out.
Visiting a professional groomer two or three times every year may come in very handy for some tasks that you may not be able to undertake all by yourself.
a professional groomer will also advise you on the best grooming schedule for the adorable doggie.
Apart from taking care of the coat check and clean their ears from time to time to prevent the dog from getting infections.
The nails will also need to be trimmed when they get long and brush their teeth.
Some German Shepherds do not like their teeth being touched. In such cases using dental treats could prove extremely helpful.
Make sure that your dog gets a high-quality and nutritional diet. These dogs burn a lot of calories because of their large size.
Several factors affect how much your dog eats and they are:
- The size of the dog.
- Level of activity
- Rate of metabolism
The dog’s daily requirements should be met. A good way to know how much your dog needs is by taking his weight in pounds and multiplying it by 30 calories.
Taking the average weight of the German Shepherd which is around 80 pounds this will be about 1600 calories every day.
To make simpler for you to understand this is about 4 cups of dry food per day. These dogs thrive on high-quality kibble that is formulated for large dogs.
The meals should be divided into 3 portions, one in the morning, during the day and another one in the evening. Dividing the meals is important to make sure that the dog’s stomach does not suffer from bloat which can be lethal.
The diet should have a least 25% proteins and 18% fats and should have fewer fillers.
Proteins help in the development of muscles while fats provide the dog with energy and make the coat healthy and shiny.
A meat-based diet is a great way to ensure that your German Shepherd gets the protein that he needs.
Follow the feeding guidelines while checking the doggo’s weight. In case you notice any weight concerns you should give your vet a visit.
German Shepherd exercise requirements
These are high energy dogs and it would be best if you kept them active.
On average they need about 90 minutes of daily exercise.
They excel in swimming, playing, speed, and agility exercises.
You can go for a swim with this dog, go for mountain hikes, play in the yard, or even play with other dogs in the park. Just find something that can keep him healthy and active.
It is recommended that your German Shepherd exercises twice a day.
When you are taking this dog for a walk always make sure that you carry a leash with you so that you can have control over him.
If your doggo is going to play in the yard, you should make sure it is well fenced.
Some mental stimulation will also come in handy in making sure that he does not get bored and destructive.
Treasure hunt, hide and go seek and ring stackers are some good mind games that you can play with your Shepherd.
How to train a GSD
Training your German Shepherd is the best way to make sure that he is well-rounded and a way to spend some quality time with him.
He is a dog that is eager to please and ready to learn new commands and tricks.
Reward-based training and positive reinforcement is the best way to go around training.
You should also be persistent and patient with him if you want to get the best results.
These dogs are generally healthy but may also suffer from some health conditions.
One of the biggest health issues that affect the German shepherd is hip and elbow dysplasia. This is a musculoskeletal condition that is also hereditary.
Hip dysplasia is where the hip fails to develop correctly and results in its deterioration and weakening. This is can eventually become arthritis which is painful for the dog.
Lower the risk of Dysplasia:
- Do not ever exercise your pup especially when he is in his rapid development stages.
- Always check for the elbow and hip scores of the parent dogs and make sure that they are not high.
Osteoarthritis is also another condition that your GSD could suffer from. This is a joint condition that is painful for the dog and can even hinder joint movements.
It can be treated through medication and surgery in severe conditions.
Despite all these, with the proper care and diet your dog should be able to live for 9 to 13 years which is great for such a large dog.
German Shepherd is a large and active dog breed that is popularly known as a working dog and a great family dog.
Generally, these dogs are known to be affectionate, loyal, and protective of their family.
They are especially good for active families and individuals who can take care of their needs.
Do you own a German Shepherd or have you had any experiences with this breed?
Give your response in the comment section telling us how it has been for you.
There you go WOOF!!
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