German Shepherd Dog

Other names/Nicknames:
  • Alsatian
  • Deutscher Schaferhund
  • Police Dog
Country/Date of origin:
  • Germany
  • 1800′s
  • Females:  22 to 24 inches
  • Males:  24 to 26 inches
  • 75 to 95 pounds
  • The intelligence of the breed is legendary.
  • Wants to please and is sensitive to the moods of its owner.
  • Natural protective instincts.
  • Easy to train.

Although it has a long and distinguished line of sheep-working ancestors, the modern incarnation of the German Shepherd Dog begins in 1882 (the first time it was exhibited at a dog show).  From the moment it was first seen, the world knew it was looking at a super dog.  Championed by Herr von Stepanitz and rigorously controlled by the German Breed Club, the German Shepherd Dog came to full flower in the 20th century.  Concern that the dogs be of sound mind and body, culminated in the result that championships were only granted if both qualities were judged to be superior.   It is unparalleled as a working dog and companion.  It was the original Seeing Eye Guide, the standard by which other military and police dogs were judged, and a star of movies and television.   Originally smooth, wired and long-haired varieties were shown.  The wire was eliminated in preference to the other two varieties.  The smooth is the dog we know today, although a long haired one pops up from time to time.  The first German Shepherd Dog was registered in the United States in 1912.  To protect the dog from anti-German sentiment during the First World War, the Kennel Club dropped the “German” from its name.  It was restored in 1932, just in time for World War II.

Body Type:
  • Has a slightly elongated body and a strong muscular build.
  • Ears are high set and carried erect.  They are not altered.
  • The tail is long and bushy.  It is carried low and is never altered.
  • The harsh, short, straight coat is dense and lies close to the body.
  • The most common color is black and tan.  Also allowed are solid black or tan.
  • Although the current German Shepherd Dog Club of America breed standard currently lists white as a disqualifying color, white is the second most common color registered for German Shepherds by the American Kennel Club (AKC).  The AKC permits competition of White German Shepherds in all of the performance events open to German Shepherds.
  • Has a tendency to shed.
  • Needs regular brushing.
Health and Wellness:
  • The enormous popularity of this breed has resulted in careless breeding that has crippled the German Shepherd Dog with a whole catalog of genetic diseases.
  • Elbow dysplasia.
  • Hip dysplasia.
  • Autoimmune thyroid disease.
  • Gastric dilatation and volvulus syndrome (GDV, or commonly called bloat)
  • Calcinosis circumscripta.
  • Patent ductus arteriosis.
  • Subaortic stenosis.
  • Persistent right aortic arch (PRAA).
  • Ventricular ectopy.
  • Pituitary dwarfism.
  • Hemophilia A.
  • von Willebrand’s disease.
  • Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency.
  • Immunoglobulin A (IgA) deficiency.
  • Protective aggression.
  • Fear-elicited aggression.
  • Congenital deafness.
  • Metabolic bone disease.
  • Cataracts.
  • Lymphoma.
  • Addison’s disease.
  • Megaesophagus.
  • Lupoid onychodystrophy.
  • Metatarsal fistula.
  • Perianal fistulae.
  • Atopy.
  • Food allergy.
  • Pyoderma.
  • Discoid lupus erythematosis.
  • Inflammatory bowel disease.
  • Idiopathic epileps.
  • Keratitis.
  • Nodular dermatofibrosis.
  • Splenic torsion.
  • Acral lick granuloma.
  • Sialocele.
  • Cushing’s syndrome (PDH & AT)
  • Hemangiosarcoma.
  • Degenerative myelopathy.
  • Cauda equina syndrome.
  • Osteosarcoma.
  • Nodular dermatofibrosis and renal cystadenocarcinomas.
  • Keratoconjuncitivitis sicca.
  • Nasal tumors.
What you should know:
  • Ranks third in AKC registrations behind the Labrador and the Rottweiler.
  • The German Shepherd Dog came to symbolize everything German.  Adolf Hitler bred German Shepherds, and while he was Chancellor he would exhibit them in shows.  Imagine what the judges felt when they were presented with his less-than-perfect pets!
  • To protect American dogs from anti-German sentiment they were often referred to as Alsatians, an attempt to give the dogs a less inflammatory name.
  • The American White Shepherd Association is working toward recognition of the White Shepherd as a separate breed with the AKC, as it is in much of Europe already.  The United Kennel Club (UKC) will be recognizing the White Shepherd as a separate breed starting in 1998.  The White Shepherd Club of Canada has received the support of the Canadian Kennel Club to begin their efforts to obtain separate breed status in Canada.
  • As superior as the Shepherd is, health and temperament problems should be taken into consideration before selecting this breed.
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