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German Shepherd

German-Shepherd

A Confident & Dependable Leader

Loyal, protective, devoted

German Shepherds are athletic, trusting, and versatile, large dogs. These alert and protective dogs are one of the preferred breeds for law enforcement dogs. Most German Shepherds are suspicious of strangers, but generally do well with other pets if they’re introduced as puppies. These dogs make great companions for active families, energetic individuals, and experienced dog handlers. This breed loves strenuous physical and mental challenges. These shepherds should play fetch and go for a long walk or jog every day.

Understanding their unique needs will help keep them healthy and create a strong bond between the two of you. Explore this page to learn more about the breed’s history, health concerns, characteristics, and care needs.

Breed Details

Height:22-26 in. Weight:75-95 lb Lifespan:12-13 years

Size
4

1=small 5=large

Grooming requirements
2

1 = little grooming - 5 = much grooming

Energy level
3

1 = low energy - 5 = high energy

Ease of training
5

1 = difficult - 5 = easy

Affection toward owners
3

1 = independent - 5 = very affectionate

Friendliness toward strangers
2

1 = shy - 5 = very friendly

Routine Care: The German Shepherd has a high prey drive, so they need to be leash walked and a fenced yard is a must. These large smart dogs have lots of energy, so keep their mind and body active, or they'll get bored. That's when the naughty stuff starts. Naturally a bit wary, they can be distrustful of strangers; bond them to children early to trigger protective behaviors.

Grooming: They need a thorough brushing at least weekly most of the year. Twice a year they blow their coat and lose crazy amounts of hair; daily brushing is recommended during this time.  

Dental: German Shepherds generally have good teeth, and you can keep them perfect by brushing them at least twice a week!  

Ear Care: Clean their ears weekly, even as a puppy. Don’t worry—your veterinarian  can show you how!

  

The German Shepherd is a faithful companion that can excel at most anything. With early socialization and confident leadership they are a cheerful and dependable addition to any family.

Positive Traits: 

  • Well suited as a companion, family dog, or working dog 

  • Energetic, active, and athletic 

  • Above average intelligence and trainability when positive reinforcement training methods are used 

  • Devoted, loyal, and protective 

  • Sweet, playful, and friendly 

  • Trusting and affectionate 

Negative Traits: 

  • Easily bored if not given something to do, which leads to barking and chewing 

  • Can be rambunctious and rowdy, especially as a younger dog 

  • Overprotective of family and territory if not socialized properly 

  • Can have an unstable temperament if not bred properly, including excessive barking, hyperactivity, or aggression 

  • Suspicious of strangers 

  • Prone to a number of health problems 


Whether you are considering adding a new German Shepherd Dog to your family or you already have one as a companion, it is important for you to know about the genetically linked diseases known to occur more often in this breed. Of course not every German Shepherd Dog will have these problems, but research shows your pal is more at risk than other breeds. 

By exploring the health concerns specific to the German Shepherd Dog you will become a knowledgeable and confident pet parent. Be sure to speak with your veterinarian about breed risks every time you visit and educate yourself on the most important signs to watch for at home. They are counting on you to be their health expert.

Some health issues a German Shepherd could encounter:

The German Shepherd originated in Germany in 1899 and was initially bred as a herding dog, but has since become the world’s leading police, guard, and military working dog. The German Shepherd has consistently been one of the most popular breeds in the United States since the early 1920s with their rise in fame attributed to canine film stars Rin-Tin-Tin and Strongheart. German Shepherds are favored working dogs because of their strength, intelligence, versatility, and obedient nature. This breed is unmatched in their devotion and courage. They are eager to serve a greater cause with her human companions. The German Shepherd is a generally healthy breed with an average lifespan of 12-13 years.

Consult with a veterinarian if your German Shepherd shows signs of the following:

  • Dry heaving or a large, tight, painful abdomen 

  • Greasy poops, weight loss, dry flaking coat 

  • General reluctance to run or play 

  • Any abnormal shaking, trembling, or excessive involuntary tremors 

  • Coughing, exercise intolerance, rapid breathing at rest 

  • Blinking, redness, pain or itchiness around the eyes 

  • Cloudiness to eye lens 

  • Small blood vessels extending onto the clear cornea 

  • Drinks and urinates more, eats more, potbelly, poor haircoat 

  • Dragging the hind toes and hind limb weakness 

  • Increased hunger and thirst, weight loss 

  • Straining to defecate, bleeding, licking of the area around the rectum, or smelly discharge 

  • Excessive licking or chewing, pawing at face and/or ears, head shaking, face rubbing 

  • On-going vomiting, weight loss, and/or diarrhea 



  • Care

    Routine Care: The German Shepherd has a high prey drive, so they need to be leash walked and a fenced yard is a must. These large smart dogs have lots of energy, so keep their mind and body active, or they'll get bored. That's when the naughty stuff starts. Naturally a bit wary, they can be distrustful of strangers; bond them to children early to trigger protective behaviors.

    Grooming: They need a thorough brushing at least weekly most of the year. Twice a year they blow their coat and lose crazy amounts of hair; daily brushing is recommended during this time.  

    Dental: German Shepherds generally have good teeth, and you can keep them perfect by brushing them at least twice a week!  

    Ear Care: Clean their ears weekly, even as a puppy. Don’t worry—your veterinarian  can show you how!

      

  • Characteristics

    The German Shepherd is a faithful companion that can excel at most anything. With early socialization and confident leadership they are a cheerful and dependable addition to any family.

    Positive Traits: 

    • Well suited as a companion, family dog, or working dog 

    • Energetic, active, and athletic 

    • Above average intelligence and trainability when positive reinforcement training methods are used 

    • Devoted, loyal, and protective 

    • Sweet, playful, and friendly 

    • Trusting and affectionate 

    Negative Traits: 

    • Easily bored if not given something to do, which leads to barking and chewing 

    • Can be rambunctious and rowdy, especially as a younger dog 

    • Overprotective of family and territory if not socialized properly 

    • Can have an unstable temperament if not bred properly, including excessive barking, hyperactivity, or aggression 

    • Suspicious of strangers 

    • Prone to a number of health problems 


  • Health Concerns

    Whether you are considering adding a new German Shepherd Dog to your family or you already have one as a companion, it is important for you to know about the genetically linked diseases known to occur more often in this breed. Of course not every German Shepherd Dog will have these problems, but research shows your pal is more at risk than other breeds. 

    By exploring the health concerns specific to the German Shepherd Dog you will become a knowledgeable and confident pet parent. Be sure to speak with your veterinarian about breed risks every time you visit and educate yourself on the most important signs to watch for at home. They are counting on you to be their health expert.

    Some health issues a German Shepherd could encounter:

  • History

    The German Shepherd originated in Germany in 1899 and was initially bred as a herding dog, but has since become the world’s leading police, guard, and military working dog. The German Shepherd has consistently been one of the most popular breeds in the United States since the early 1920s with their rise in fame attributed to canine film stars Rin-Tin-Tin and Strongheart. German Shepherds are favored working dogs because of their strength, intelligence, versatility, and obedient nature. This breed is unmatched in their devotion and courage. They are eager to serve a greater cause with her human companions. The German Shepherd is a generally healthy breed with an average lifespan of 12-13 years.

  • Watch Out For

    Consult with a veterinarian if your German Shepherd shows signs of the following:

    • Dry heaving or a large, tight, painful abdomen 

    • Greasy poops, weight loss, dry flaking coat 

    • General reluctance to run or play 

    • Any abnormal shaking, trembling, or excessive involuntary tremors 

    • Coughing, exercise intolerance, rapid breathing at rest 

    • Blinking, redness, pain or itchiness around the eyes 

    • Cloudiness to eye lens 

    • Small blood vessels extending onto the clear cornea 

    • Drinks and urinates more, eats more, potbelly, poor haircoat 

    • Dragging the hind toes and hind limb weakness 

    • Increased hunger and thirst, weight loss 

    • Straining to defecate, bleeding, licking of the area around the rectum, or smelly discharge 

    • Excessive licking or chewing, pawing at face and/or ears, head shaking, face rubbing 

    • On-going vomiting, weight loss, and/or diarrhea 



German Shepherd Discussions

Share your thoughts and experiences, ask questions, or just show your love for the German Shepherd breed here!

Select Another Breed

To view the sources for the information listed on this page, see our Dog Breed Guide Reference page.

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