Intelligent, Confident, Courageous, Loyal
- Height22-26 in
- Weight50-90 lbs
- Lifespan7-10 years
As the name suggests, German Shepherds originated in Germany back in the late 1800s. The breed was developed by a German cavalry officer, Captain Max von Stephanitz, who was determined to create the ideal German herder. Von Stephanitz used various traditional German herding dogs he believed had the necessary traits of a working dog such as intelligence, speed, strength, obedience and a keen sense of smell.
As part of the herding group, German Shepherds were responsible for herding sheep and protecting flocks from predators. German Shepherds continue to be used for a variety of different work including law enforcement, military, dog sports, disability assistance and in active family homes. German Shepherds are known as one of the most popular dog breeds in the world. The German Shepherd was recognized as a breed by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1908.
German Shepherd Appearance
German Shepherds are fit and agile with a signature square muzzle, pointed ears, piercing dark eyes and a bushy tail that reaches to the hock. These medium to large-sized dogs are longer than they are tall. German Shepherds weigh around 75 - 95 pounds with a standard height between 22 and 25 inches.
German Shepherd Temperament
German Shepherds are highly active dogs with an aura of authority and nobility. German Shepherds tend to be aloof and cautious around strangers at first. But once you’ve gained their trust they are devoted, diligent and have an unwavering loyalty to their family. German Shepherds have natural guarding tendencies and make great watch dogs.
Grooming Your German Shepherd
German Shepherds sport a double-layered coat. Its dense coat consists of coarse, close-lying hairs and a soft inner coat. German Shepherds come in a variety of different colours, with the most common being tan/black and red/black. German Shepherds shed all year round but have two heavy shedding periods in the spring and fall. Weekly brushing is required to combat the frequent shedding. German Shepherds also need regular nail trimming, ear cleaning and dental care.
Training & Exercise for Your German Shepherd
German Shepherds are eager to please and quick to learn. To ensure their protective tendencies are not misdirected, German Shepherds need to be well socialized from a young age with consistent training and positive reinforcement. As long as they receive proper obedience training, German Shepherds can make for great family dogs.
German Shepherds are highly active and need ample exercise to maintain their health and happiness. German Shepherds can adapt to various living situations but are best fit for a home with a physically fenced-in yard. It’s recommended that you dedicate 2-3 hours focused on physical and mental activity. This is a great way to keep your German Shepherd healthy and mentally stimulated.
Health Considerations for German Shepherds
German Shepherds have a life expectancy of 7-10 years. Many common ailments found in German Shepherds are a result of early inbreeding. Some of these include bloat, degenerative myelopathy, elbow & hip dysplasia, epilepsy and von Willebrand disease. It’s important to be aware of these health problems to provide the best care for your German Shepherd.
Food and skin allergies are a common problem amongst German Shepherds. Canine atopic dermatitis (CAD) in German Shepherds can be triggered by environmental factors or food-based allergens. Some common symptoms of allergies in German Shepherds include excessive scratching, chewing, rubbing the face and sneezing. German Shepherds who consume dog food full of artificial flavours, byproducts and other harmful ingredients are more likely to encounter health issues. Therefore, it’s important to feed your German Shepherd a healthy, well-balanced diet, so they can develop a strong immune system. Being able to recognize the signs of allergies in your German Shepherd and treat them accordingly will ensure they enjoy a healthy and comfortable life.
Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus Syndrome (GDV or Bloat)
Bloat, also known as gastric dilatation and volvulus syndrome, is a life-threatening disorder most commonly seen in large, deep-chested breeds. including the German Shepherd. This condition is caused when the dog’s stomach fills with air and twists. This cuts off the circulation of blood and can be deadly if not corrected. Some of the signs of bloat to be aware of in your German Shepherd include salivation, obvious pain, a distended abdomen and retching. Ways to prevent this condition from happening to your German Shepherd include encouraging slower eating, providing easy to digest dog food and refraining from exercise immediately after eating. If you suspect that your German Shepherd has bloat, immediate veterinary attention is required.
Another common health issue German Shepherds are prone to is a condition called degenerative myelopathy. This neurological disorder affects the spinal cord and can lead to paralysis in your German Shepherd’s hind legs. Some early signs to look for in your German Shepherd include difficulty standing up, stumbling, knuckling of the toes and progressive weakness of the hind legs. Although there’s no cure, physical therapy can help manage the symptoms and prolong the use of the hind legs.
Elbow & Hip Dysplasia
Canine hip dysplasia (CHD) is one of the most common canine ailments. It’s a genetic condition that causes an abnormal formation of the hip socket, which can eventually lead to lameness and arthritis of the joints. Elbow dysplasia occurs when a German Shepherd's elbow does not fuse properly during their development.
Dysplasia is typically hereditary that can be magnified by factors including excessive growth rate, age, types of exercise and improper weight and nutrition. While mild conditions can be managed with prescription medication and physical therapy, more severe cases could require surgery. To prevent or reduce the severity of elbow and hip dysplasia, it’s important to ensure your German Shepherd gets a proper diet and the right amount of exercise.
Epilepsy is a neurological disease that’s often, but not always, inherited. Commonly found in German Shepherds, this disorder affects the brain’s electric activity and can cause your German Shepherd to suffer from epileptic seizures, which are brief bursts of abnormal electrical activity in the brain. An epileptic episode can typically last between one and several minutes. It's important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of seizures to get your German Shepherd medical help as quickly as possible. Some common signs to look for include twitching, tremors, shaking and convulsions. Treatment might involve lifelong anti-seizure medication; however, this will help your German Shepherd maintain a good quality of life. If your German Shepherd is having a seizure, call an emergency vet and make sure they can’t injure themselves.
von Willebrand Disease (vWD)
Von Willebrand Disease is the most common inherited bleeding disorder found in dogs, particularly in German Shepherds. This disease is a clotting disorder that causes excessive bleeding. It happens when there’s a deficiency of the protein von Willebrand factor. When an injury occurs, this protein is needed to help the platelets form blood clots to seal broken blood vessels. Symptoms can include nosebleeds, bloody urine or stool and prolonged or excessive bleeding during or after surgery. German Shepherds often develop the mild form of the disease and if managed correctly the symptoms are rarely fatal.
What Makes a German Shepherd Unique?
It’s a well-known fact that German Shepherds are a highly intelligent breed. These dogs are easy to train and eager to please their humans. 95% of the time, German Shepherds will obey the first command given to them. Due to their intelligence, versatility and obedience, German Shepherds are widely trained as police and service dogs. German Shepherds are scientifically proven to be one of the smartest breeds in the world!
Rin Tin Tin
Near the end of WWI, U.S. Army corporal Lee Duncan rescued a German Shepherd and her litter of five from a badly damaged kennel outside of Lorraine, France. Corporal Duncan kept two of the German Shepherd pups naming them Rin Tin Tin and Nanette.
Duncan took Rin Tin Tin with him to several dog shows and trained him to work in silent films. Rin Tin Tin got his first starring role in the film Where the North Begins. The film was such a success that he went on to perform in 27 more Hollywood films. This famous dog forever left an indelible mark on the art of cinema and film.
German Shepherds played a significant role in World War I and II serving with the military. As a result of their strength, intelligence and trainability, German Shepherds were used in a variety of different working capacities. They served as sentries, messengers and ammunition carriers. In 1917, a German Shepherd named Filax of Lewanno was honoured at Westminster for bringing 54 wounded soldiers back to safety during his service. The Americans were so impressed by what the German Shepherd dogs could do that they brought some back home and also started deploying them.
First service dogs
In 1928, a German Shepherd named Buddy became the first guide dog to a man named Morris Frank. Buddy had been trained by an American expat named American Dorothy Harrison Eustis, at a school she operated in Switzerland. Frank’s success with Buddy soon sparked the popularization of seeing eye dogs in the U.S. Soon after, Dorothy Harrison Eustis and Morris Frank co-founded The Seeing Eye, which was the first guide-dog school in the U.S.
Top dog breed in Canada
For many years, German Shepherds have been one of the most popular dog breeds in Canada. German Shepherds first came to Canada back in the early 1900s. After the war, German Shepherds continued to grow in popularity as a result of their impressive skill set. Some traits people really value in a German Shepherd include their loyalty, courage, intelligence and versatility.
Why NutriCanine Is Great For German Shepherds
Top 10 Facts About German Shepherds
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