German Shepherd Dog (German: Deutscher Schäferhund), also known as an Alsatian or just the German Shepherd, is a breed of large-sized dog. In the late 1800s, Captain Max von Stephanitz wanted a superior working dog. He used several old farm and herding breeds to produce the German Shepherd Dog. In 1899, the parent club for the breed, the Verein fur Deutsche Scheferhunde, was formed. Under the guidance of the club and Captain Stephanitz, the breed rapidly gained popularity as a versatile and superior working dog. Today, German Shepherd Dog is one of the most recognizable breeds in the world.
German Shepherds were bred specifically for their intelligence.
German Shepherds were bred specifically for their intelligence, a trait for which they are now famous. The German Shepherd dog breed is third most intelligent dog, behind Border Collies and Poodles. They have the ability to learn simple tasks after only few repetitions and obey the first command given most of the time. Coupled with their strength, this trait makes the breed desirable as police, guard, and search and rescue dogs, as they are able to quickly learn various tasks and interpret instructions better than other large breeds.
Photo: A show Bloodline German Shepherd – SG1 (USA SIEGER) Solo von der Waterkant
Photo: A Working Bloodline German Shepherd
There are many differences between the two types of German Shepherds seen above – but the most noticeable one is their physical conformation. The physical conformation of German Shepherd dogs from Show Bloodlines is much closer to the ideal described in the breed standard, while German Shepherds from Working Bloodlines are bred with emphasis in their aptitude for the job, rather than in their physical conformation.
The German Shepherd Dog (GSD or, in Great Britain, the Alsatian) is first and foremost a working dog; his temperament and character are his most important traits. German Shepherds are loyal and courageous, and their ability to learn and retain their training is legendary. The German Shepherd’s head is classic, with large upright ears; the eyes are almond-shaped, dark, and alert. Longer than tall, the body is strong and muscular. The front legs are straight, the back legs well angled. The tail is bushy and hangs in a sickle shape. The coat has a straight outer coat and a dense undercoat.
The most recognizable color pattern is the tan to rust base color with a black saddle, black muzzle, and black on the ears. Grooming a German Shepherd Dog is not difficult but does require time. The coat is not prone to matting but sheds year-round, with the heaviest shedding in the spring and fall. During shedding seasons, the undercoat comes out in handfuls, and, if not brushed daily, the interior of your home will be covered in puffs of soft undercoat. The German Shepherd Dog’s large upright ears work like radar, catching every sound, but also seem to scoop up dirt, so the ears need to be cleaned twice a week.
The German Shepherd Dog needs vigorous daily exercise. The German Shepherd Dog breed is known for its effortless flying trot, so running alongside your bicycle is great natural exercise. The breed is usually a natural retriever, so games of tennis ball, catch, or flying disc are also great ways to burn off excess energy. German Shepherd Dogs are naturally watchful, protective, and reserved with strangers. Early socialization is very important for German Shepherd puppies.
German Shepherd Dogs need to meet people of all ages, sizes, and ethnic backgrounds. An undersocialized German Shepherd Dog can be worried, fearful, and shy. Training should also begin early. An intelligent breed, the German Shepherd Dog needs the mental challenge of training long past basic obedience.
German Shepherd Dogs are loyal, dedicated, and will give their all to protect their owner. They are very responsive to training. Their owner must structure the training, provide guidelines for the dog, and then enforce them. A German Shepherd Dog is intelligent enough to get into trouble and can be entirely too much dog for a first-time dog owner.
This breed’s owner must keep the dog active and busy, maintain ongoing training, and be able to channel the dog’s desire to work. A well-trained German Shepherd Dog can be very good with children, although German Shepherd Dog puppies can be quite rambunctious. These dogs are also good with other pets. The breed does, however, have some major health concerns, including bloat, torsion, hip and elbow dysplasia, panosteitis, problems with the pancreas, and allergies.
Note: The modern German Shepherd is criticized for straying away from von Stephanitz’s original ideology for the breed: that German Shepherds should be bred primarily as working dogs, and that breeding should be strictly controlled to eliminate defects quickly. Critics believe that careless breeding has promoted disease and other defects. Under the breeding programs overseen by von Stephanitz, defects were quickly bred out; however, in modern times without regulation on breeding, genetic problems such as color-paling, hip dysplasia, monorchidism, weakness of temperament, and missing teeth are common, as well as bent or folded ears which never fully turn up when reaching adulthood.
German Shepherd Dog Videos
8 replies on “German Shepherd Dog”
This is Quincy she was rescued 3 days before she was to be euthanised at an animal control in Michigan.
The AKC Standard says the German Shepherd “has a distinct personality marked by direct and fearless, but not hostile, expression, self-confidence, and a certain aloofness that does not lend itself to immediate and indiscriminate friendships. The dog must be approachable, quietly standing its ground and showing confidence and willingness to meet overtures without itself making them.”
That’s a great description of an ideal German Shepherd.
Unfortunately, it’s very difficult to find an ideal German Shepherd today. Nowadays, this breed is all over the map in temperament. Lines that are bred for protection work and the sport of schutzhund tend to be “hard-tempered” and businesslike. Show lines range from mild and mellow, to hyperactive and skittish, to downright dumb and dopey. And many German Shepherds bred by backyard breeders have risky temperaments and suffer from a host of health problems.
Energy levels vary from vigorous to laid-back, but all German Shepherds, to maintain their athletic shape, need brisk walking every day and all-out running in a safe, enclosed area as often as possible.
Mental exercise (advanced obedience classes, agility classes, schutzhund, tracking, herding) is even more important for German Shepherds. This is a smart, thinking breed (at least the good ones are!) and his intelligence is often wasted in a home that simply wants a casual pet.
Finally, early and ongoing socialization is a must to develop a stable, confident temperament.
Most German Shepherds are fine with other family pets, if introduced when young. However, some individuals are cat chasers, and many individuals are dominant or even aggressive with strange dogs of the same sex.
One of the most capable and trainable breeds in all of dogdom, exceedingly eager to learn and work, an ideal German Shepherd, when well-trained by a confident owner, is a magnificent companion.
Brooklyn, Newfoundland. Bruno, a nine-month-old alsatian saved the life of eleven-year-old Donnie Skiffington when he was thrown from his bicycle into a ditch, where he lay unconscious and bleeding severely. Bruno licked Donnie’s face until he regained consciousness, and began to pull him by the shirt collar towards home.
Vienna, Ontario. Nellie, a six-year-old alsatian traveled three kilometres back to her home to get help for 78-year-old Ken Emerson, who lay injured after his tractor had overturned and crushed his pelvis. When Nellie returned home, Mrs. Emerson realized that the strip of her husband’s shirt wrapped around Nellie’s collar was an S.O.S. message, and immediately sent for help.
Mississauga, Ontario. Sam, an eight-year-old alsatian saved her owner, Phyllis McLeod, from drowning when she fell through a frozen river. As Phyllis fought the swift current, she grabbed Sam’s collar and hung on until she was pulled far enough out of the water to scramble to safety.
Mirror, Alberta. Hustler, a three-year-old alsatian is credited with saving the life of his owner, Debbie Inions. After a fall from her horse left Debbie seriously injured and unable to move, Hustler repeatedly fought against vicious attacks by two preying coyotes until they were discovered nine hours later.
Pictou County, Nova Scotia. Maude, an alsatian, owned by Deborah Johnston and Bernard Chisholm, saved a three-year-old girl from drowning in the frigid waters of Pictou Harbour. Gripping the child’s overalls in her teeth, Maude pulled the child out of the deep water.
Kitchener, Ontario. Lance, an alsatian police dog with the Ontario Provincial Police, tracked a missing Kitchener woman in a swampy conservation area for three hours, and led her safely through the dark woods to safety.
Revelstoke, British Columbia. Mr. Baggins, a female alsatian with absolutely no tracking experience, tracked and located a six-year-old boy who had been missing for hours after having been buried under a snowbank.
Following a robbery suspect across a frozen river, the ice gave way and Deputy Stanley Wontor slipped backwards under the ice. He called out “pull” (a command Thunder, a police dog, had not been trained to use) and Thunder pulled him out of the freezing waters to safety.
Formula 1 star Jenson Button likes his dogs to look like dogs! We spotted him walking his gorgeous, and frankly rather stocky, Alsatian around London.
Noyon is the owner and master of this GSD. She says.. ” my doggy likes to bath.d pic is after her bath and she is playing hide and seek with me.d pic reflects d jolly mood of my dog.”
This is Victoria, a German Shepherd Dog I rescued from the county animal control. She lives with me in Tampa, FL, and keeps me company while I study away in medical school. Victoria lives with me in a condo with no backyard, but she has a LOT of neighborhood friends and really enjoys the dog park and our long walks and hikes.
I took this picture when she was just under 2 years old. As you can tell from the picture, she’s a great companion and loves going anywhere with me. Even though she doesn’t like to swim, she loves the beach. In this picture she was at the dog beach in Tampa, FL. All day cruise ships pass along the beach on their way out to sea and at night we see Devil Rays swim into the bay in a line.
Victoria is so smart she knows what the rules are and I’ve had VERY few problems with her. She gets to walk with me off leash wherever we are allowed and does great. Even though she sheds more than I would like, I can see myself staying with this breed for a long time!
Victoria gets along great with other dogs, even though she loves to be the center of attention. She will walk up to strangers as they give commands to their dogs, force her way to the front, and obey all the commands to show what a great dog she is, completely ignoring the other dogs!
Even though she is pretty small for her breed (65 lbs. on a bad day), she has great guarding instincts and loves being with friends and family.
One odd quirk is she just LOVES visiting the vet. She has an amazing tolerance for pain (she thinks a shot is a way of petting), and thinks the whole visit is some reward where she gets to meet new people and be the center of attention, and she doesn’t get what the fuss from the other dogs is about.
This is Mike, my purebred German Shepherd from India at about 18 months. His father and mother are imports from Germany. When he came to my house at 5 months, he considered himself to be top dog. But I started reading from DBI and Cesar Millan and now I’ve established my alpha position in the pack. He always heels by my side and listens to all MY commands. I take him on long walks—about 30 mins daily in the morning and a short stroll in the evening. He welcomes strangers but he is a little aggressive with other dogs. He loves to go in the car, sitting in the backseat. He hates having a bath though I bathe him only once a month. He is considered to be one of the most purebred GSDs in the city because of his lineage. He is never aggressive when you take his food bowl, even when he is eating. He is very loyal to me because I heard him growling at a guy who was shouting at me one day. I think he is a very balanced canine.
Hey there.. you all might already be knowing about German Shepherds from Mendon, Massachusetts(MA). I live there and live with Rock my German Shepherd..
A loyal and protective dog.. German Shepherd can risk his own life to save you.. they are that fearless and intelligent.. A few months back there was a fire in our neighbourhood and their German Shepherd rescued a nine month old baby, well before everyone else knew that the house has caught fire.. you will hear such stories about GSDs everywhere every now and then.. that’s the reason I guess they are chosen to work for police..
Before you go to a breeder with a decision to bring home a GSD you must read the breed standards.. Do not forget that this breed sheds a lot so, you might also want to buy a dog house or a crate for him.. keep him away from your kitchen.. as you may not like chicken soup with GSD hair