German Shepherd Dog
(aka: Alsatian, Deutscher Schaferhund)
The German Shepherd Dog is a handsome and powerful creature, with a well built, athletic body, an alert expression, and tall, erect ears. His coat is straight, hard, and medium in length, and he also has a dense undercoat. The coloring of the German Shepherd Dog can vary and includes black and tan, sable, and black. The German Shepherd Dog weighs in at 60-80 pounds for females, and 75-100 pounds for males.
German Shepherd Temperament
The German Shepherd Dog is a very popular breed as reflected by his position on the AKC popularity list. This is an alert, lively, loyal, and very intelligent breed. He is often used as a military, police or search and rescue dog. These dogs are obedient and very quick to learn. He is one of the easiest of all breeds to train due to his high intelligence. The German Shepherd is active, full of energy, courageous, confident, and independent. In fact, The high intelligence and responsive nature of the breed makes this one of the easiest dogs to train. Some German Shepherd Dogs can be quite aloof and serious, and some can be dominant and sharp. However, these are very capable dogs, and are eager to please their owners, although their personality makes them best suited to those with some experience of dog ownership. You will need to ensure that you provide your German Shepherd with physical and mental stimulation, and these dogs do not fare well when isolated or neglected. The German Shepherd will need regular exercise, including daily walks and regular runs, although this should obviously be either in a safe and secured area or on the leash.
The German Shepherd is known to get along very well with children, although you should bear in mind his size if you have younger children. Early socialization is important if you have other pets, as these dogs may chase smaller animals such as cats, and can also be aggressive or dominant with other dogs of the same sex. Whining can be a problem with the German Shepherd, as some will whine a lot. The German Shepherd is known for its protectiveness too, and therefore makes a very affective watchdog and will not back down if he feels that he or his loved ones are being threatened.
The grooming requirements for the German Shepherd Dog are not excessive, and brushing his coat every couple of days should help to control shedding, although you will need to step up the grooming at certain times of the year when he is shedding more heavily. That said, the German Shepherd Dog is a heavy shedder all year round, and is therefore not well suited to allergy sufferers.
The German Shepherd Dog breed is an adaptation of the mountain sheepdog of Germany, altered for work as a military dog around 1880. Three regions of Germany became famous for breeding these dogs; Wurtemberg, Thurginia and Bavaria. The dogs from these areas, including long hair, short hair and wire haired herding dogs were used to produce the German shepherd we know today.
Captain Max Von Stephanitz is often referred to as the "Father of the German Shepherd". In April 1899, he registered a dog named Horan as the first Deutsche Schaferhunde, which means German Shepherd Dog, so the word "dog" is actually part of the breed's name. In 1925 he wrote a book, "The German Shepherd Dog in Word and Picture", which immortalized the breed. Von Stephanitz was a noted disciplinarian and headed the Society for the Promotion of the Breeding of German Shepherd dogs from its founding in 1899 until 1935. He guided and directed an intensive-breeding program to fix type and was adamant in his demands for utility and intelligence. Even today, this breed of dog is known for being one that is very reliable in terms of behaving and performing to type. After WWII, the popularity waned due to their association with Hitler and his reign of terror. It was during these post WWII years that the British changed the dog's name to Alsatian, and then later to Alsatian Wolf Dog, to remove the stigma of having the word German in their name.
In America the breed was well established before World War I. The German Shepherd Dog Club of America came into being in 1913 with 26 members. Today local clubs together with the Parent Club continue to guide the breeding of this dog. Until 1915, both long-haired and wire-haired varieties were exhibited. Today, in most countries, only the short coat is recognized for show purposes.
When you choose your own German Shepherd Dog, choosing a reputable breeder is paramount. These dogs have been consistently popular for many years, and there have been many suspect breeding programs created as a result. When dogs are poorly bred, they are subject to health problems like hip dysplasia and are often not representative of the true nature of the breed. For example, German Shepherd Dogs are occasionally prone to skittishness. This behavior is far from the norm of this typically steady and calm breed. Reputable breeders, if they had a skittish puppy, would never breed it, in an attempt to breed this behavior out, rather than in. Breeders looking just to make a quick buck, however, are not so careful about how their dogs are bred.
The German Shepherd Dog is one of the most intelligent breeds of dog and one of the easiest to train. Training should begin at a young age, and should be handled with patience and consistency. Because they are so intelligent, it's important to train them firmly from the very beginning. However, overly harsh correction will only make the dog stubborn and willful, so it's best that you be patient and praise his good efforts. He will likely house train very quickly, particularly if you crate train him.
This breed is so intelligent and so enjoys a mental challenge that they can be trained to do nearly anything; a fact that is proven by the many jobs they've had over the years. Many people associate German Shepherd Dogs with being aggressive watchdogs, but this behavior is the result of training. A German Shepherd Dog will always be protective of his family and will always be wary of strangers, but they are not aggressive by nature.
Because they are wary of strangers, socialization should begin at an early age. It is important for your German Shepherd Dog to be intuitive about your reactions to people who come into your home. Once your dog learns your reactions, he will gauge his own, and your friends will be his friends. However, if he senses that you're concerned, he'll be concerned and as protective as he believes is required. This is one dog that will consistently take cues from his owner. So, over time, the two of you will become fast friends and you'll be able to rely on your German Shepherd Dog's behavior.
Playing games and participating in activities is an important part of bonding with your German Shepherd Dog. He will want to be active, and will enjoy participating in activities with you. Because of his great sense of smell, "find" is a perfect game for this breed. But, he'll also love to fetch and play ball and Frisbee. German Shepherd Dogs have a great sense of humor, so you'll both get lots of enjoyment out of simply having fun together. The German Shepherd Dog is a very fast runner and also has great endurance. If you're a runner, this dog will be your best running companion ever.
The life expectancy of the German Shepherd Dog is around 12 years, and there are a number of health problems that are associated with this breed. This includes spinal problems, bloat and torsion, HD and elbow dysplasia, OCD, epilepsy, pancreas problems, and eye problems. The parents of the German Shepherd Dog puppy should have OFA and CERF certificates.