Dog Breed Detail - German shepherd - PawNation

German Shepherd 2

Size (Height/Weight)
22-26 in/49-88 lbs
Black, White, Dark Brown and Blue
Protective and Loyal
Ideal Parents
Active Singles, Police Officers, Military
Kid Friendly
Less Allergenic
10-12 years

Breed Description

The German Shepherd Dog is a large-sized breed belonging to the herding group of working dogs. Intelligent as it is versatile, this breed was originally developed in Germany to guard and herd a shepherd's flocks. The German Shepherd requires an active lifestyle, and makes for an ideal companion and protector.

Physical Characteristics

The German Shepherd has a double coat, which is comprised of a thick undercoat and a dense, slightly wavy or straight outer coat. Its hair, usually tan and black, or red and black in color, is medium in length and is shed all year round. Other rarer color variations include all-Black, all-White, liver and blue.

The German Shepherd's body is long -- generally between 22 and 26 inches -- in proportion to its height. This gives the dog strength, agility, elasticity and long, elegant strides.

Personality and Temperament

The German Shepherd is very protective and devoted to its family and home, maintaining a suspicious and aloof demeanor around strangers. It can be dominating and assertive towards dogs, though it is normally friendly with other pets in the home. The German Shepherd is an immensely versatile dog, displaying a keen intelligence while dutifully performing its tasks.


The German Shepherd can live outdoors in cool or temperate climates, but enjoys living indoors too. Frequent training or exercise sessions are essential for keeping its mind and body active, and because the German Shepherd sheds throughout the year, its coat should be brushed once or twice a week to encourage turnover as well as to minimize buildup in the home.


The German Shepherd has an average lifespan of between 10 to 12 years. It is, however, susceptible to some serious health conditions like elbow dysplasia and canine hip dysplasia (CHD), as well as minor problems like cardiomyopathy, hemangiosarcoma, panosteitis, von Willebrand's Disease (vWD), degenerative myelopathy, cauda equina, malignant neoplasms, pannus, hot spots, skin allergies, gastric torsion, cataract, and perianal fistulas. This breed is also prone to a fatal fungal infection due to the Aspergillus mold. Because of these susceptibilities German Shepherds, like most other dogs, need to be seen by a veterinarian for routine checkups. There they will undergo hip, elbow blood, eye and other tests.

History and Background

The German Shepherd over the years has served in many different capacities: police dog, guide dog, guard dog, war dog, explosives- and narcotics-detecting dog, search-and-rescue dog, show dog, and most notably as a shepherd. Although it slightly resembles a wolf, it is actually a recently developed breed and no more related to the wolf than any other dog breed. Developed primarily for the purpose of guarding and herding a shepherd's flocks, there have been few other breeds with such a versatile repertoire.

In 1899, the Verein für Deutsche Schäferhunde (or roughly translated into the Society for the German Shepherd Dog) was formed to advance the German Shepherd Dog's breed standard. They sought a herding dog that could perform a variety of chores which required intelligence, athleticism, and courage. Of course, the German Shepherd proved to be just what they needed, and with subsequent breeding, its abilities as a fearless and astute companion and guardian were perfected.

During World War I, the breed was selected as a war sentry by various countries. At the same time, the American Kennel Club (AKC) chose to alter the name of the breed from German Sheepdog to Shepherd Dog, while Britain renamed it the Alsatian Wolfdog -- both in an attempt to separate the breed from its German roots.

In 1931, the AKC reverted the dog back to its original name: the German Shepherd Dog. Since then, popular German Shepherds have been on the silver screen, including movie stars Rin Tin Tin and Strongheart. The Shepherd has become a mainstay in the American home -- maintaining a position as one of the ten most popular dogs in the U.S., and even ranking at number one in many American cities.