The German Shepherd: 5 Things To Know

The German Shepherd: 5 Things To Know

German Shepherd Dog (Alsatian) is probably the most recognized dog worldwide and one of the top ten popular breeds in Europe and the US. The most deserving of that reputation was Corporal Lee Duncan. He rescued a puppy in France during World War I and brought it to Los Angeles. After training, this dog became famous Rin Tin Tin, the real movie star in show biz.

Very soon, people recognized the value of this breed, and these dogs were given a role in chasing criminals, leading the blind, drug detection, and herd keeping. Recently, German Shepherds became the US national heroes after rescuing people from the World Trade Center ruins.

Here’s what you need to know about the German Shepherd:

1. History

Germans farmers relied on dogs to protect herds for centuries. Then, Captain Max von Stephanitz decided to create a distinct domestic breed ideal for that job.

In 1899, he saw a wolfish-looking dog named Hektor Linksrhein at a local dog show. After renamed it Horand von Grafrath, Captain formed a society of new breed got from Horand’s descendants. They were excellent working dogs with a prosperous career in police and military service.

German Shepherd training

During World War I, the military used these dogs as guards, sentries, messengers, and rescuers, plus they were an invaluable help for a Red Cross. In that time, the breed gained popularity in the US, since allied servicemen noticed how brave and intelligent that dog was.

In 1908, the AKC (American Kennel Club) recognized this breed but changed its name to the Shepherd Dog in 1917. In England, it was known as Alsatian Wolf Dog. Americans accepted the breed’s original name in 1931 while the British Kennel Club did the same in 1977.

Nowadays, German breeders strive to preserve the German Shepherd’s working abilities. Therefore, each dog must pass tests to prove its physical and mental abilities before taking it into account for breeding.

On the other hand, American breeders tend to breed a superior dog for exhibitions. Therefore, it lost some of the recognizable traits and is prone to behavior problems.

2. Breed Characteristics


This confident, smart, and courageous watchdog is an excellent choice for the family with kids. You won’t have any problem to train either your new intelligent puppy or adopted adult animal.

German Shepherd adult with puppy

It is prone to mouthiness, prey drive, shed, and bark. Since its energy level is extremely high, you should allow your dog to exercise and jog.


German Shepherds are bred for action and taking care of the herd, so they are full of energy. If this dog spends time alone without exercise, it will solve boredom by barking, chewing your shoes, and digging.

Keep in mind that this breed is not for everyone, even though it is a dog model with the best traits, including dedication, loyalty, and courage.

German Shepherd cute puppy playing

Don’t expect your new puppy to accept strangers or even your friends quickly and offers them welcome on the territory it protects. A well-trained dog can get used to new people, but it will always defend its family with its life.

It won’t like living with small pets, including cats and other dogs, especially of the same gender.

Size and Look

German Shepherds Dogs are usually 22 to 26 inches (55.9 – 66 cm) high, depending on gender. Their average weight ranges from approximately 50 to 90 pounds (22.7 – 40.8 kg). Some males can weigh up to 100 pounds (45.4 kg).

German Shepherd appearance
German ShepherdMaleFemale
Height24 to 26 inches (61 – 66 cm)22 to 24 inches (55.9 – 61 cm)
Weight65 to 90 pounds (29.5 – 40.8 kg)50 to 70 pounds (22.7 – 31.7 kg)

The coarse double coat of this dog is often bicolor:

  • Black and silver.
  • Black and cream.
  • Black and tan.
  • Black and red.

However, you can also find solid black, brown, and gray animals. Unfortunately, the breed standards dismiss white, liver, and blue coat color as unfavorable.

3. Care

Its popular nickname is the German Shedder, so you should groom its rough, medium-length coat every few days. Otherwise, you will have an issue with high shedding and hairs all around the house.

German Shepherd closeup

On the other hand, the coat is highly resistant to dirt, so there is no need to bathe your dog too often. Be careful since frequent bathing may remove the necessary oils.

Provide regular workout and long walks to your German Shepherd, and it will stay healthy and in good shape.

4. Diet and Nutrition

The formula for high energy, large-sized dogs, is the best option for your German Shepherd. Keep in mind that its dietary needs will change over time and depend on gender and a workout level during a day. If your dog exercises enough, it won’t have any problem with excessive weight.

In most cases, the adult dog will need two cups of dry dog food for each of the two meals. Avoid feeding it once a day since they are prone to bloating. Since this breed grows rapidly in the first seven months, you should offer your puppy a quality, low-calorie food to prevent bone disorders.

5. Possible Health Problems

German Shepherds bred to the highest breed standards have fewer chances to inherit problematic health conditions. Unfortunately, even these healthy dogs can have problems with allergies and hereditary diseases, including:

  • Bloat
  • Diabetes
  • Digestive and bleeding disorders
  • Pancreatic insufficiency
  • Bone and joint problems
  • Elbow dysplasia
  • Heart and neurological disease
  • Anal gland and eye problems
  • Epilepsy.

In most cases, you can expect this breed to live from 8 to 12 years, but it is not uncommon for them to live longer. The leading cause of death in older animals is cancer.

In a Nutshell

German Shepherd Dogs are often in military and police forces, and many families gladly choose this breed as a pet. However, there are still abandoned dogs that need a home.

If you look for a new furry friend, you can inquire about your options at national or local rescue groups that care about this breed’s well-being. If you have already had this faithful and devoted dog, you can exchange experiences with other owners and admirers in a local breed club.