Breed of the Month–German Shepherd

1November 2014

German Shepherd Dog

Color:  Black, reddish-tan, tan, gold to light gray markings, solid black, solid gray,
(white is not accepted by the AKC)
Height:  Males:  23.5-26 inches/  Females:  21.5-24 inches
Weight:  Males:  66-88 lbs/  Females:  48.5-70.5 lbs
Life Span:  10-14 years

Breed health concerns:  Allergies, bloat, elbow dysplasia, Cushing’s syndrome, epilepsy, glycogen storage disease, hip dysplasia, hypothyroidism and exocrine pancreatic insufficiency.

Coat:  Medium-length double coat with dense, straight, harsh, outer coat and thick undercoat.
Country of Origin:  Germany

Visit the American Kennel Club for breed standards and more information.

One of the most recognized breeds in the world is the German Shepherd Dog and is well known for its adaptability, intelligence, and trainability.  The “father of the breed” was Rittmeister Max von Stephanitz.  Von Stephanitz promoted German Shepherds in the German Shepherd Dogs club (founded in April 1899), from 1899-1935.  He encouraged the breed’s use in the military and for police during World War I.

Today the German Shepherd dog severs in many ways including:  police work, army work, search and rescue, scent discrimination, and as guide and assistance dogs.  German Shepherds are very loyal dogs, intelligent, and brave.  Shepherds are great with children of all ages and instinctually tuned into their people family members.  

This is one of my favorite breeds.  Our dog, Caravaggio, is part German Shepherd (along with Great Dane and Black Lab).  Knowing a lot about a breed allows you to pick out certain characteristics of that breed in your own dog.  For example, Caravaggio requires a lot of physical and mental activity.  He is also extremely owner oriented.  Caravaggio is a baby for his daddy.

German Shepherds are very energetic and intelligent dogs that require daily vigorous exercise.  Shepherds must be mentally and physically challenged each and every day to remain healthy and happy.  
I consider the Shepherd to be a “Powerful Breed.”  Therefore, this is not a breed a would necessarily recommend for a first time owner.  However if the person is ready and willing to put in the extra work and training that the breed requires, this is one of the best breeds out there!

The Shepherd requires regular brushing to keep its dense undercoat under control.  The Shepherd is a heavy seasonal shedder.  It is not recommended to bath Shepherds too often because it will deplete the essential oils of the skin and coat.

Shepherds thrive on training.  Shepherds have been used as service and police dogs for many years.  They also excel in sports like herding, agility, and obedience.  Shepherds are very quick learners and appreciate people that keep them challenged.

Again this is a breed that requires a LOT of daily physical and mental activity.  Shepherds are considered working dogs and really need some sort of “job” to thrive.  This does not necessary mean they need to be a service dog.  A “job” for a dog can be accompanying you on a few vigorous walks throughout the day, or playing fetch for awhile, or even playing hide and seek with their toys.  They key for the German Shepherd and other working breeds is to continuously keep their minds working.  Sometimes something as simple as carrying a backpack on their daily walks will do the trick.