German Shepherd dogs, also known as Alsatians in Europe, are some of the most famous canines in the world – and for a good reason. They have the right combination of personality: hardworking, intelligent, and reliable. If you’re planning to raise one, read these German Shepherd facts. Get all the information you need to raise them happy and healthy.
German Shepherd Dogs The Hardworking Canines
German Shepherd Dog Personality
- Strong and Muscular
- Wary of strangers
There are plenty of reasons why the police and rescue teams love to work with German Shepherd dogs. One, they are one of the most intelligent canines. In fact, they are in the top three, along with Poodles and Border Collies. They have a sharp mind that allows them to learn very quickly. They could already follow commands after five repetitions.
This also means they are very easy to train. They can be taught how to sniff bombs, look for certain people, and identify drugs. You should also know, though, they are eager to please their owners.
Many people think these dogs are aggressive, but the real German Shepherd temperament is that of calmness and self-confidence. However, they can be fiercely protective and loyal. They can bark very loudly if they feel a threat. They can be cautious around strangers and tend to be dominant over other dog breeds, especially of the same sex.
As high-energy canines, German Shepherd dogs require plenty of activity. Thus, it’s best not to leave them by themselves all day doing nothing. They can get bored and anxious then start nipping, biting, and destroying your furniture or harassing your other animals.
These dogs need socialization very early. Pups should already undergo both crate training and German shepherd training on obedience to reduce the chances of biting. They’re great with children, but you need to teach them how to behave around children, especially since their size can quickly knock down a small child easily.
Size & Color
There are different breed types of German Shepherd dogs, but all of them are classified as medium-large ones. The ideal height and appearance depending on the kennel club you’re trying to follow. Under the standards of SV (Verein far Deutsche Schaferhunde), the original one based in Germany, these dogs have a height at the withers between 23.6 inches and 25.5 inches for males. Females are significantly shorter at 21.6 inches to 23.6 inches. American standards, on the other hand, place the height at 24 to 26 inches for males and 22 to 24 inches for females.
German Shepherd dogs are heavy. They can weigh up to 70 pounds for females and 88 pounds for males. Puppies from healthy moms could increase their birth weight twice within the first 7 days. Then they can gain as much as 10 percent as they mature. It may take up to 36 months before they reach full maturity. Overall, many factors can affect their overall weight and size including diet, genetics, and level of activity.
German Shepherd colors are varied. The most popular combination is the black and tan where the black is the saddle, which runs along the back. Some may have a lighter shade of tan (black and cream). You can also find German Shepherd dogs that have rusty red or silver (black and gray combination). In some cases, you can come across all-black and all-white pooches. If you’re buying this dog for show competitions, though, white isn’t for you. Standards suggest German Shepherd dogs must not have white markings.
German Shepherd dogs are healthy, but potential owners should watch out for the following conditions:
- Hip Dysplasia – One of the most common health problems affecting the German Shepherds is hip dysplasia, which is the abnormal development of the hip joint. Unfortunately, its prevalence is linked to inbreeding where breeders continue to use dogs sick with the condition. It can increase the risk of osteoarthritis and can be very painful for the dog.
- Hemophilia – It is a hereditary blood disorder characterized by a deficiency in factor VIII, which plays a role in blood clotting. Thus, the dog has the increased risk of bruising easily and bleeding out even with the smallest injury.
- Diabetes Mellitus – Because German Shepherd dogs tend to overeat, they are prone to diabetes. It is a metabolic disorder caused by excessive levels of glucose in the blood and can lead to the insufficient production of insulin. This condition can result in several complications including hypertension, damage to the kidneys, and cataracts, but it is manageable especially with early intervention.
- Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (GDV) – Also known as bloat, it is common for dogs that have broad chests such as German Shepherds. It occurs when there’s an abnormal presence of air and sometimes fluid in the stomach that causes it to twist, obstructing the veins and damaging the internal organs. Hence, it is considered life-threatening and an emergency.
- Seizures – German Shepherd dogs can be trained to detect seizures before they occur, but they are also susceptible to them. While there are many possible causes such as injury or disease to the brain, as well as consumption of a toxic substance, they are usually idiopathic, which means the cause is unknown. It can begin as early as a year old.
- Degenerative Myelopathy – It is the canine’s version of multiple sclerosis. Affecting the spinal cord, it can destroy muscle coordination. The degenerative disease will eventually disable German Shepherd dogs, but the progression can be delayed with proper care including rehabilitation.
The German Shepherd dogs have an average lifespan of 9 to 13 years. They are more likely to die earlier than Siberian Huskies or Labrador Retrievers but outlive the Great Danes. Besides the right diet, exercise can help improve the dog’s quality of life and longevity.
Exercise can contribute to maintain their muscular form as well as serve as an outlet for their excess energy. While walking for 30 to 40 minutes is great, they can also benefit from hikes and jogging. You can also let them play in obstacle courses, which also enhance their alertness and intelligence.
Food & Diet
Another great update about Caesar! The Missouri German Shepherd Rescue says he has gained another 1/2 pound and as you can see loves to eat! pic.twitter.com/YiFECBCAKz
— Ellen McNamara (@EllenKCTV5) January 3, 2017
The amount of diet and number of servings per meal depend on many factors including age, weight, and physical activity. Ideally, German Shepherd dogs should get at least 22 percent of its protein from the food (e.g., 50 to 70 percent meat) while fat should be as small as 8 percent. Some excellent sources of dog protein include boiled meat, eggs, and cooked fish. If you’re feeding dry dog food, they can consume 40 pounds a month.
Puppies eat more often than adults. Mature ones can eat once or twice a day, with each serving equals to one full bowl. Because these dogs are energetic and active, they need to have easy and quick access to fresh, clean water at all times.
- Brush the hair and coat at least three times a week
- Bathe once a month or only when necessary
- Check and trim nails once a week
- Brush teeth regularly
- Clean ears once a week
One of the biggest challenges with German Shepherd dogs when it comes to grooming is shedding. They shed a lot and do so throughout the year. Besides having a vacuum cleaner ready, you need to brush their hair and coat (they have two) at least three times a week.
Bathing is your least priority. You can limit that to once a month only or when necessary such as when they become dirty after playing for long hours. It is also advantageous to you since bathing a German Shepherd is both time-consuming and meticulous.
Because of the diet, they maintain, brushing their teeth regularly is a must. If you can, do it daily. You also need to check their ears and nails once a week and take care of them if necessary.
Price Of A German Shepherd Puppy
If the German Shepherd is a companion or a working dog, it can cost you a little below $1,000. Expect to spend more if you want AKC or any kennel standard that is perfect for show competitions. Prices can go as high as $6,000. If you’re planning to adopt, animal shelters can charge fees, which may range from $50 to $300. The large amount is usually to discourage any non-committed dog owner.
The history of German Shepherd dogs is an example of the influence of breeding as a way to maintain or combine typical traits. Their existence is largely credited to one man named Max von Stephanitz. He was a former cavalry captain who studied in a veterinary college. Although he admired the native sheepdogs, he wanted to create the perfect working or herding dog.
He eventually found Horand von Grafrath (formerly Hektor Linksrhein) while checking out a dog show. The dog was a product of selective breeding and possessed speed and beauty, which impressed von Stephanitz. He established the Society for the German Shepherd Dog and began the program of reproduction to create a canine that is not only beautiful and fast but also intelligent, agile, and attentive.
One of the cool German Shepherd points is about Rin Tin Tin. Rescued by an American soldier Lee Duncan during the height of World War I, he became a movie star, appearing in 27 silent motion pictures. His contribution to films was impressive and influential he received an honor from the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Dogs that came from his bloodline continue to make personal appearances and work as service dogs.
Even if they’re working canines, German Shepherd dogs still know how to have fun. Just watch how they cuddle and play with kids:
German Shepherd dogs may look big and frightening, but they are affectionate, loyal, and playful. Their high energy is contagious, and they’re ready to follow your commands and make you happy as long as you give them the right training.
How is it to own a German Shepherd? We’d lot to hear your comments by leaving them below!