The German Shepherd Dog (GSD) is a working dog which belongs to the herding dogs category.
Initially developed for herding and guarding purposes, the GSDs are intelligent, large-sized, obedient, courageous, smart, protective, cheerful, and are capable of learning. This makes them one of the most popular breeds across the world.
Given their temperament, today’s GSDs are often used as military dogs, pets for families, guide dogs for the blind, police dogs, guard dogs as well as rescue and search dogs.
History of the German Shepherd Dog
German shepherd dogs were first developed in Germany in the late 1800s.
Considered the first breeder and with the help of other breeders, Max von Stephanitz was interested in a standard shepherd dog therefore breeding three local herding dogs.
In 1889, a dog named Horand met his interests; where he planned to use it as the genetic footing of a new standard breed. In the same year, the dog was registered as the first Deutsche Schäferhunde (German Shepherd Dog).
The public became more interested on the breed during the early 1900s, and in the year 1908 the American Kennel Club (AKC) recognized the GSD. The breed was used both in World War Ι and World War ΙΙ, with the name changed to Shepherd dogs or Alsatians in some parts of the world like Britain where the name stuck.
Later, the name GSD was brought back and being an excellent dog breed, it is one of the most popular dogs up to date.
Key Facts about German Shepherd Dog
- Height: GSDs are 22 to 24 inches tall for females and 24 to 26 inches tall for males.
- Weight: GSDs weigh up to 85 pounds (40kgs)
- They have a life expectancy of around 13 years.
- GSDs are considered as large-sized dogs and belongs to the herding group.
- They have pointed ears that stand erect.
- GSDs have a long bushy tail.
- Most GSDs are black and tan in color but white, black and cream, liver, black and silver, gray, black and red, sable, bi-color and blue are also recognized color variations by AKC.
- They are easy to train and are highly intelligent. They are ranked as the third smartest dog breed worldwide, below Poodles and Border Collies.
- GSDs like being active and have a good ability to learn. This makes them trainable for various tasks, the common one being used as police dogs.
Personality of GSDs
The GSD is obedient and likes to have a duty to do. It is protective in nature, and a merciful dog, which makes it suitable for rescue purposes.
When used as a pet in a family, it gets along with kids if properly trained. Also, in a house with multiple pets, a German shepherd can live well with other pets if they are well socialized with them.
Due to their strong guarding instincts, they can act aggressively towards strangers but this can be avoided by proper handling and training from a young age.
GSDs love company and exercises, as this helps them feel purposeful. They are powerful, cheerful, smart and ready to learn, which makes them an excellent breed of dog.
How to Care for a German Shepherd Dog
From a young age, the GSD needs training on how to perform different tasks and be obedient. Being a smart breed, training your dog new commands and tricks as they grow makes it easier and more interesting to live with them.
Also, beginning from its puppyhood, socializing the dog with new people and other pets will help calm any possible aggression or attacks. Since this breed loves companion, the dog should be given attention and shown some love and in return the dog stays loyal. Avoid leaving the dog alone most of the time.
This breed is energetic, powerful and loves challenges. Therefore, they need consistent and plenty of exercises and activities. Engaging the dog in walking, jogging, fetching, swimming, hiking and other activities, helps kill boredom thus saving the dog from behavioral problems such us digging and unnecessary barking.
At least 45 minutes of exercise in a day is good for the GSD. However, the owner should avoid over exercising the dog.
Providing the dog with ample space to run around helps it stay physically alive. This breed can do better in spacious houses where they can move freely. A yard is also an additional advantage for this breed as it gives the dog enough space to run around.
GSDs should be kept healthy and free from possible complications. This can be achieved by regular preventive health care and checkups, maintaining a good nutrition for the dog, proper grooming and keeping a hazard free environment.
Are German Shepherd Dogs Good with Kids?
GSDs are patient, gentle and calm in nature. With proper training this breed can be of good companion to kids at any age.
Moreover, the bond is stronger and better if the dog is well socialized or both have been brought up together. Kids and GSDs are both energetic and ready to learn new things thus making them a perfect match. As it is necessary to train the GSD on how to handle children, kids should also be taught how to properly treat the dog.
However, this breed can be a threat to kids if inadequately trained or socialized with them. Also, due to their guarding instincts, GSDs are likely not to get along with children from other households.
Grooming a German Shepherd Dog
Since this breed shed loose hairs, brushing the dog severally in a week helps avoid build up hair all over the house.
Over bathing the dog minimizes the natural oil on their skin, leaving it with dry and irritating skin. Therefore, bathing the dog once in two months is enough and helps it retain a healthy skin.
GSDs have shorter nails but trimming them regularly helps the dog walk and run around comfortably.
Further, cleaning the dog’s ears several times a week will help prevent possible infections and wax build up. Without forgetting the dog’s teeth, they require regular brushing as you do with your own.
How to Feed a German Shepherd Dog
The German shepherd breed is large in size, and they are active working dogs that they require standard and quality diets.
Good nutrition and exercise are key to preventing obesity and any hereditable complication. All dogs are not feed the same; the factors to be considered in choosing a high-quality diet for the GSD includes: age, level of activities, size, and health status of the dog.
We found the best dog food for German Shepherds that you can buy today.
Health & Diseases Linked to German Shepherds
GSDs are prone to hereditable health problems mostly due to indiscriminate breeding. With Hip Dysplasia being the common condition, other diseases include: Perianal Fistula, Osteoarthritis, Degenerative Myelopathy and Mega esophagus.
To maintain good health, the dog should be frequently exercised, fed quality diet and receive regular health checkups. Additionally, responsible breeding should be practiced to minimize genetic complications
GSD’s high intelligence, energy and ability to learn makes them an adorable and smart breed of dogs. With proper training GSDs can perform some amazing and helpful tasks. GSDs not only make good working dogs, but also make great companion for many families as pets