One of the worlds most recognised breeds, German Shepherds have held jobs as movie stars, leading the blind, chasing down criminals, sniffing out illegal substances, serving in military, visiting the sick and herding stock. Boasting unmatached devotion, they need a lot of exercise and get anxious when left alone.
Height: 55cms – 66cms at the shoulder
Weight: 34kgs – 43kgs
Lifespan: 10 - 14 years
Country of Origin: Germany
Breed Type: Herding Dogs
A relatively new breed, planned breeding commenced in the year 1899 after Captain Ma von Stephanits, a career captain in the German cavalry, set out to create a German breed that would be unmatched as a herding dog.
Personality Traits and Behaviour
- Family: Develops a very close bond with their handler and wants to be with the as much as possible. They will accept children if treated with care and respect. Happiest living indoors with the family with access to a large, fenced yard to burn off energy.
- Personality: An active, capable and intelligent dog who must be kept busy learning, playing and working both physically and mentally. Devotion and courage are unmatched and are amazingly versatile.
- Temperament: Highly intelligent, requires a lot of attention but will return one hundred fold with loyalty ad incorruptible guarding skills.
- Trainability: Highly responsive to training and eager to learn, especially to voice commands given with the appropriate intonation. Reward-method training works best.
- Crate training is a wonderful way to housetrain a puppy as well as teaching them to be calm and happy when separated from their owner, especially as some German Shepherds suffer from separation anxiety. Read more on "How long can you leave your dog alone?"
- Sociability (other pets): Low tendency to get along with other dogs or pets in the home.
- Barking: High tendency, make for excellent guard dogs.
Grooming Needs of German Shepherds
- Grooming Needs: Nicknamed the German Shedder, grooming should be daily with a vigorous brushing to remove any dead or loose hairs and bathing as needed.
- Coat Type: Short medium coat.
- Moulting: Heavy shedding, but it will shed less the more you groom it.
Health and Physical Needs
- Exercise Needs: Daily exercise, both physical (jogging or playing Frisbee) and mental (training sessions and enrichment activities) is a must. Without it, they will express their boredom or frustration by barking or chewing.
- Diet: A highly active dog will need more than a couch potato. As a guide, place your hands on him, thumbs along the spine and fingers going down the sides and their ribs are undetectable, cut back. If they look too thin and you can see the ribs they’re too thin, so add a little more.
- Average Life Span: 10 – 14 years
- Special Considerations: Can be prone to hip dysplasia. Young pup should be exercised with some discretion to avoid long-term damage to still soft and forming joints. As the dog ages, Enrichment toys and activities, plus regular exercise are recommended, as well as a dog sitter, doggy day care or dog walker if you’re away for longer periods of time.
- To get a healthy dog, never buy a puppy from an irresponsible breeder, puppy mill or pet store. Why not adopt from your local RSPCA.
Excels at agility, tracking, rescue work or personal protection work.
DID YOU KNOW?
- Military Dog – Soldiers saw what the dogs were capable of while fighting the Germans in WW1 and many brought dogs back home with them.
- Strongheart, a German Shepherd, was one of the earliest canine stars and even has a start on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
- There are 250,000 purebred German Shepherds in Germany alone, with about 15,000 puppies born a year.
- A German Shepherd’s bite has 108 kilograms of force – a humans bite has just 39!
- When formal guide dog training began in Switzerland in the 1920’s, all the dogs trained were German Shepherds.
- Incredibly smart - they can learn simple tasks after only five repetitions and will obey the first given command 95 of the time.
Are German Shepherds the same as Alsatians?
Yes. The breed's officially name is German Shepherd Dog (GSD) but was known as "Alsatian" in the United Kingdom. It was not until after the First World War in 1977 when the breed's name was changed back to "German Shepherd".
Advice about Owning a German Shepherd Dog - from the Owner of one.
Meet Se Min and her dog Dimi. Se Min is a Pet Owner on PetCloud who lives in Rochedale, Queensland shares how watching Inspector Rex when she was a kid led her to fall in love with German Shepherds. Se Min says her favourite things about German Shepherd their intelligence, but it can be a double edged sword, “They are so smart, protective and their alertness is amazing. [They are] so aware of their surroundings, other people, dogs and…their owner. Dimi used to chew through underwear… and once she chewed my $160 shoe but she was so cute!”
Training and exercise has been a challenge, Se Min explains, “Because she is so intelligent I always wonder if I’m teaching her the right things to complement her ability to learn, and also if what I teaching her is intellectually stimulating enough.”
Dimi has had some health issues and Se Min says it’s been heartbreaking, “Dimi has both [hip and elbow dysplasia] as well as joint arthritis since she was 6-7months and often gets inflamed joints. It’s a really hard thing to see you pet go through that. We love our Dimi so much and she is worth every penny we spend on her.”
Se Min recommends getting your puppy with papers and full medical history of the parents, “Pay a bit extra for a healthy puppy because in the long run it will save you tens of thousands of dollars in vet bills.”
Want to trial owning a German Shepherd? Why not pet sit for one to see if it fits your lifestyle!