German Shepherd dog picturesFlickr/pwcorgigirl

Name: German Shepherd

Personality: German shepherds are highly intelligent, highly active, eager to learn and loyal to their owners, while also being approachable around strangers. However, all these traits can take a turn for the worse, resulting in wary, aggressive or destructive behavior if the German shepherd is not well trained. As a working dog, they needs lots of activity and stimulation, both physical and mental, to keep them happy.

Grooming: Nicknamed "German Shedder," the German shepherd sports a double coat that should be brushed a few times a week to keep the downy undercoat from matting (which can lead to skin problems) and to promote healthy shedding of the coarse tophairs. A shedding rake is the best tool for the job. Note that while the topcoat sheds throughout the year, the undercoat sheds, or "blows," twice yearly. Beyond that, German shepherds only requires an occasional bath.

Common Health Issues: Due to the dog's large size, hip and elbow dysplasia, arthritis and bloat are common later in life. The breed is also genetically predisposed to Von Willebrand disease, a disorder that leads to improper blood coagulating, and especially degenerative myelopathy, a progressive disease of the spinal cord that can cause difficulties in walking, getting up and even going to the bathroom.

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