German Shepherd Dog Dog Breed Information

The German Shepherd is the most common working dog in the world, while the studious affectionate dog is also suitable as a versatile dog for a family.

Characteristics of the German Shepherd

Hardly any other purebred dog can be used as versatile as the German Shepherd. The dog was originally bred as a protection dog to herd and guard the sheep. Today, the sheepdog is used by the police and the army as a service dog. It is also used as a rescue dog, therapy dog, avalanche dog, and guide dog for the blind. Not only in Germany, its country of origin, but worldwide, the German Shepherd is used as a service dog.

Confident, robust, and obedient

No man and no machine can replace the brave, reliable dog with stamina on the job. His instinctive behavior, his strength, and his confidence are legendary. Thanks to his high intelligence, his good learning ability, and his enormous will to work, he takes on challenges immediately. This makes it suitable for almost any task. In addition, the German Shepherd is very human-oriented. He is very faithful, loyal, and reliable and is always by the side of his owner. It is therefore above all the combination of robustness, drive, reliability, and obedience that makes him so popular and which allows him to be used in various fields.

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German Shepherd, a working dog as a family dog?

Because the dog is very loyal and reliable, it is also a popular family dog. The four-legged friend – if properly trained and sufficiently challenged – is a great partner and companion well-suited to family life. Well, socialized sheepdogs are very sweet with children and get along well with other pets. A requirement for life as a family dog ​​is that the active dog is physically and mentally challenged. If his urge to move and will to work is not taken into account, the dog becomes mischievous. This trait actually does not suit this breed. It is therefore important to challenge the dog sufficiently and to ensure that it has sufficient exercise. Otherwise, they become nervous and vigilant and are difficult to control in everyday life.

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Appearance

With a height of between 60 and 65 cm in males and 55 to 60 in females, the German Shepherd belongs to the medium to large dog breeds. His well-proportioned body reflects his life as a working dog. He is strong and has a powerful muscle mass, but still makes an athletic and agile impression. Obesity is rejected. He has an elegant and bouncy gait.

The dog has a wedge-shaped head in harmonious proportion to the body, a straight bridge of the nose, and always a black nose. Due to its complete scissor bite with 42 teeth, the dog is an impressive appearance. Its ears that are raised and pointing forward together with the slanting eyes ensure that the sheepdog always looks alert.

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Coat and color variants

The German Shepherd falls under the number 166 in the group of sheepdogs and cattle dogs. For a long time, the FCI breed standard allowed only dogs with rough coats. The stock hair should be straight and firm and reinforced by a dense undercoat. As a result, the dog is reliably protected against snow, rain, and cold.

Long stick hair was not included in the FCI standard until 2008. The long soft top hair forms tufts at the ears, legs and tail. The hairy neck has a characteristic mane. The stock hair colors are black with tan, yellow, or light gray markings, black or unicolor wolf gray or gray with brown markings.

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White Sheepdogs

Although white sheepdog puppies are common in the litter, the FCI standard has considered white as a false color since 1933. In 1968 the “Shepherd Dog Club of America” ​​joined. An exception is the “Canadian Kennel Club”, which still accepts white sheepdogs. Since 2011, the FCI has considered the white sheepdog as an independent breed of dog under the name “Berger Blanc Suisse” (white Swiss sheepdog). White sheepdog puppies cannot be crossed with Swiss dogs and cannot be registered as such.

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Pedigree breeding, beauty breeding, and performance breeding

In principle, in the course of breeding, the German Shepherd Dog became increasingly larger and more massive. Critics believe that this shape has nothing to do with the original type anymore. This type was a lot lighter, less muscular, and therefore more maneuverable and agile. The dispute between the breeders eventually led to the distinction being made between two types today: on the one hand, the studbook breeding or beauty breeding with a slightly more massive physique and a sloping back. And on the other hand, performance breeding, which emphasizes good service dog traits.

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History of the German Shepherd

The ancestors of the German shepherd lived probably already in the 7 e century in Germany. The dogs already had different tasks back then. Their main job was to herd and herd the sheep. At the same time, they had to guard the shepherds’ property. The history of the German Shepherd, as we know him today, officially begins at the end of the 19 e century. In 1871, the Prussian courtier Max von Stephanitz, who today is considered the founder of the breed, started breeding these versatile dogs with a purpose.

Stephanitz had a resounding success with the male “Hektor von Linksrhein”, which he gave a new name after purchase; Horand von Grafrath. Horand was the first dog to be registered in the studbook of the newly established “Association for German Shepherd Dogs” (SV). Stephanitz focused his entire breeding on him and his brother “Luchs von Sparwasser”. Horand von Grafrath and Luchs von Sparwasser and the bitch “Mari von Grafrath” are today considered ancestors of the German Shepherd Dog. Most German Shepherd dogs are descended from them.

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Symbol of “German virtues”

The goal of Stephanitz’s breeder was clearly defined. He was a versatile working dog. The breeder had clear ideas about the nature and working qualities of the dog. The virtues of courage, loyalty, and obedience, endurance, and robustness make the sheepdog world famous. The breed is a beloved police and military service dog in many countries. During the First and Second World Wars, these qualities were called “German virtues”. The German Shepherd Dog became the symbol of National Socialist sentiment. In anti-German sentiment, the British Kennel Club, therefore, changed the breed name to “Alsatian Wolf Dog” (Alsatian Wolf Dog) and later to “Alsatian Dog” to avoid the word “German” in the name. It was not until 1977 that the name change was reversed.

Nevertheless, the German Shepherd Dog was not only a popular war dog in Germany but also among the Allies. However, the dog got sad fame mainly through its deployment in the concentration camps and as a faithful companion of Adolf Hitler. Numerous photos of the NS propaganda depict Hitler with his sheepdog bitch “Blondi”. Despite this instrumentalization and a strong decimation by World War II, the breed survived after the war and quickly became one of the most in-demand dog breeds in the world again. Since dogs are also used as family dogs, the German Shepherd is also popular as a family dog.

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Breeding and health

Unfortunately, with the increasing spread of the breed, the number of breed-typical diseases also increased. Today, “hip dysplasia” (HD) is found in many breeds. This was first diagnosed in a German Shepherd. Another type of joint disease that the breed suffers from is “elbow dysplasia” (ED) and degenerative “lumbosacral stenosis” (DLSS) or “cauda equina syndrome”, which leads to paralysis symptoms. In addition, there are more eye diseases and allergies in German Shepherds.

 

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Healthy puppies cannot be found at a bargain price

Genetic testing of the breeding stock should reduce such diseases. Meanwhile, there is a so-called breeding value that indicates to what extent the puppy has a predisposition to a disease. Dogs that have a high genetic predisposition are excluded from breeding. If you are interested in a sheepdog, you need to be sure that all the recommended tests have been done and “passed” by the breeder. If you want to make sure you buy your puppy from a serious breeder, you need to buy it from a breeder who invests a lot of time and money in the health of their dogs and is willing to give you information. It goes without saying that a completely healthy and checked puppy cannot be bought at a bargain price.

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Which breeder is right for me?

Before you choose a breeder, you need to know for what purpose you want to buy a sheepdog. Most breeders today specialize in different types and promote certain traits in their breeding stock. The drive to work and the protective instinct depend on the breeding. Check-in advance whether the breeder is a beauty breeder or a performance breeder and choose a breeder that best suits your needs. Even if you want to keep the dog as a family dog, you should keep in mind that also sheepdogs from beauty breeding are still very eager to learn and like to be kept busy. Small walks and a block around are not enough for them.

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Nutrition

The activity level also determines which food is most suitable for your dog. It is clear that dogs that are exercised and exercised for several hours a day have a different energy requirement than family dogs who generally have long rest periods. In principle, all dogs – no matter what tasks they pursue – should not be deficient in proteins, minerals, and vitamins for healthy development. The dog’s main source of protein is meat. About 70% of the feed should consist of meat. You can feed it to your dog in the form of ready-made food, cooked yourself, or raw (“BARF” ). A fruit and vegetable percentage of about 20-30% is recommended to provide your dog with other important vitamins and minerals. Too much grain or even sugar does not belong on a healthy menu of a dog at home.

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Preventing too rapid growth

Because sheepdogs, like many large dog breeds, are predisposed to joint problems, it is important to prevent too rapid growth during the first months. As studies show, a disease of hip dysplasia is not only related to genetic predisposition, but also to the type of feed. Foods that are too high in energy and too much fat accelerate the already rapid growth of puppies and can cause joint problems even at a late age. So make sure that your breeder gives you feeding guidelines and pay attention to the right puppy food. The breeder will also advise you not to give your puppy too much exercise. You should absolutely avoid climbing stairs in the beginning. Natural rest breaks support the healthy development of bones and joints.

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Care

In addition to the right food, a healthy dog’s life also includes the right care. The sheepdog’s wiry coat is easy to care for. Regularly combing or brushing is necessary for a healthy coat structure. It is also essential to regularly deworming and vaccination at the vet. You should also keep an eye on your dog’s ears, eyes, and nails. They also need to be cleaned or trimmed from time to time. If there is any change, they should be checked by a vet.

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Keeping a German Shepherd

If you have decided to take a German Shepherd into your family, you should think in advance not only about the care and food but also about keeping it. German Shepherds are primarily working dogs and want to be used in that way within the family. For harmonious coexistence, it is important that your dog is sufficiently challenged, both physically and mentally. As a German Shepherd owner, you should not only have the time and inclination to take long walks but also strive for sufficient activity for this dog that does not like to sit still. Think of dog sports or training.

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Sporty family dog

Sheepdogs find almost every dog sports fun – both agility like Dog Dance and Obedience. The dog has an excellent nose and is therefore also suitable for searching for tracks. We recommend – also for family dogs – training as a rescue dog and protection dog. Whatever sporting and mental activity you choose, you will quickly notice the positive consequences for your dog and the mutual relationship. Dogs that are sufficiently trained physically and mentally can not only enjoy moments of rest better but are also more sensitive to training actions. Those who have enough time for training or fitness will be rewarded with a very sweet, sporty, and loyal family dog.

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