The German Shepherd Dog has an outline of smooth curves on a longer than tall body that’s strong, agile, substantial, and an exceptionally outreaching and elastic gait, covering the ground in great strides. The breed’s dense, straight or slightly wavy double coat comprises harsh, close lying medium length hair.
Perhaps never in the history of any breed has such concerted effort been put into improving a dog, mostly due to the formation in 1899 of the Verein fur Deutsche Scharferhunde SV, an organization in Germany devoted to overseeing the breeding of the German Shepherd.
Breeders sought to develop not only a herding dog but also one that could excel at jobs requiring courage, athleticism, and intelligence.
During World War I, they were the obvious choice for a war sentry. At the same time, the AKC changed the breed’s name from German Sheepdog to Shepherd Dog, and Britain changed it to Alsatian Wolfdog, both attempts to dissociate the dog from its unpopular German roots.
The Wolfdog was later dropped as it caused many people to fear the dogs. In 1931, the AKC restored the breed’s name to German Shepherd Dog.
Shepherds are considered a medium-to-large- sized dog, reaching a between 22” and 26” and weighing up to 95 lbs. fully grown
The double-coat, with a thick undercoat that sheds twice annually, loses hair continuously but can be maintained with regular brushing one or two times weekly.
Black, tan, solid black and solid sable.
Lifespan: 10–12 years
German Shepherds are best known for:
Despite an outward appearance slightly resembling a wolf, the German Shepherd Dog is a fairly recently developed breed and, contrary to naíve beliefs, it is no more closely related to the wolf than any other breed of dog.
The greatest boon to the Shepherd’s popularity came in the form of two dogs, both movie stars: Strongheart and Rin Tin Tin. The German Shepherd held the number one spot in American popularity for many years.
Although presently it has dropped from the top spot, the German Shepherd remains as one of the most versatile dogs ever created, serving as a police dog, war dog, guide dog, search-and-rescue dog, narcotics- or explosives-detecting dog, show dog, pet—and even shepherd.
Among the most intelligent of breeds, the German Shepherd Dog is so intent on their mission—whatever that may be— that they are virtually unsurpassed in working versatility. They are utterly devoted and faithful.
They may be aloof and suspicious toward strangers, and protective of their home and family. They can be domineering. They can be assertive toward other dogs, but they are usually good with other pets.
Note: GSDs are especially susceptible to a potentially fatal systemic fungal infection from Aspergillus.