German Shepherd Dog Breed Profile

All About the GSD

Steaming breath of a German shepherd dog in cold sunny morning.
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German Shepherd Dogs are noble, diligent, loyal and highly intelligent dogs. They are large in size and have very streamlined, athletic builds which make them both strong and agile. Though they are excellent herding dogs, German Shepherds are very well suited to work as service animals, such as guide dogs for the blind. GSDs are excellent as working dogs, especially in police and military operations.

They also make highly effective guard dogs. Of course, the GSD also makes a wonderful companion in the right home.

German Shepherd Details

Group: Herding

Size: 60-100 pounds

Colors: Most colors are acceptable, such as bicolor, black and tan, black and cream, black and red, black and silver, solid black, gray, sable. Note that blue or liver is unfavorable based on breed standard. White is not an acceptable color based on breed standard.

German Shepherd History

The ancestors of German Shepherd Dogs have acted as both servants and companions to humans for hundreds of years. Developed from old shepherd and farm dogs, the GSD we know today was first introduced in Germany in 1899. Captain Max von Stephanitz is credited with the breed's beginnings.

During World Wars I and II, the word "German" was dropped, and the breed was referred to as the Shepherd Dog or the Alsatian (a name that stuck in some regions).

Worldwide interest in the breed began rising in the early 1900s and the GSD was recognized by the AKC in 1908. In modern times it remains as one of the most popular dog breeds.

Caring for Your German Shepherd

German Shepherds have coarse, sometimes wiry, medium length hair with thick undercoats. Their coats should be brushed every few days.

German Shepherds have a relatively high shedding rate which can be lessened by routine grooming. Remember to keep the nails trimmed to help your GSD walk around comfortably.

German Shepherds may sometimes become anxious or even aggressive if not properly trained and handled. These dogs will ideally be trained to perform a duty and will take pride in such. Be sure to thoroughly train your GSD. The breed's intelligence and desire to work should make training fairly easy. Proper socialization is also necessary to make sure your GSD does not become stressed or scared when meeting new people or animals and seeing new environments.

Due to the high energy level of GSDs, plenty of regular exercise is absolutely essential for the breed. Your GSD probably needs more exercise than you think. A daily walk is not enough. GSDs need to run, play, and explore to prevent frustrations, boredom, and pent-up energy.

German Shepherd Health Problems

Responsible breeders strive to maintain the highest breed standards as established by kennel clubs like the AKC. Dogs bred by these standards are less likely to inherit health conditions. However, some hereditary health problems can occur in the breed. The following are some conditions to be aware of:

Is the German Shepherd the Right Dog For You?

German Shepherds can be very gentle companions and family protectors with proper training and socialization. The GSD has a very high energy level, so it is an ideal breed for active households. The intelligence and protective demeanor of this breed can make it a good choice for families with children as long as the dog is properly trained.

As with any breed, if you think the German Shepherd Dog is right for you, be sure to do plenty of research before you get one. Talk to other GSD owners, reputable breeders and GSD rescue groups to learn more.