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German Shepherd

The German Shepherd was single-handedly advanced by the efforts of Captain Max von Stephanitz in the late 1800s. Recognizing the shift away from herding, his ultimate plan was to breed an all purpose working dog. He bred the first dogs and set up the breed's governing body, the Verein Deutsche Sch'ferhunde, which, in turn, created the schutzhund trials. The trials were a breed test for the German Shepherd; any dog which did not pass the test was prohibited to breed. These trials are responsible for how quickly the German Shepherd's working abilities were advanced. After World War I, many British and American soldiers, who were impressed by the breed's abilities, brought home specimens to breed.

Other Names Body Type Personality Coat Health Concerns

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AKC Group: Miscellaneous

Breed Club: German Shepherd Dog Club of America

Rescue Club: The American German Shepherd Rescue Association, Inc.

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Body Type:

  • In general, German Shepherds are a large breed, with males and females weighing in between 75 and 85 pounds
  • Over time, a few different types of German Shepherds have evolved. The three major lines are FCI recognized international working lines, the FCI recognized international show lines, and the North American show lines; these groups are distinguished by their body types and abilities
  • The working lines are bred for ability over appearance, the international show lines are bred for appearance over ability, and the North American show lines, while bred for looks, have developed into a much different type, with sloped backs and angular hocks. Overall, they have strong, well proportioned bodies


  • Intelligent, loyal, loving and obedient, German Shepherds can make wonderful pets, if they are well bred and proper research is done by potential owners
  • A person looking for a loving pet probably does not want a working-bred dog, just as someone looking for a search, rescue or guard dog wouldn't want a companion-bred dog. Whichever type is chosen, most German Shepherds form a very strong emotional bond with their owners
  • They tend to be high energy and need to be exercised regularly
  • When properly trained, they will become a loving, protective, essential part of any family


  • They have a rough double coat that sheds year round
  • The predominate color is black and tan/brown, however, some people breed specifically for silver and black, white or blue coats, which are considered to be a fault by most standards

Health Concerns:

  • The average life expectancy of a German Shepherd is 10 to 13 years
  • Because of indiscriminate breeding by people interested solely in profit, certain German Shepherds have become predisposed to certain disorders
  • They are: Hip and Elbow Dysplasia - for this reason, hip scores are strongly recommended before breeding or purchasing a German Shepherd. Bloat: a usually fatal condition where the stomach becomes overstretched by gas and twists within the abdomen. Von Willebrand's Disease - a hereditary blood clotting disorder. Skin Allergies - seasonal or year round; can be treated topically, with medication or allergy desensitization injections
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Tasty Tidbits:
  • The German shepherd's unique guarding and tracking abilities which makes it ideal for police and security work did not happen by accident but occurred through careful breeding from dogs used for herding sheep in Germany for many years
  • The breed developed fast and attracted people who needed dogs as a brave and intelligent working partner
  • This dog's versatility has been tested in many situations, from the last two World Wars to areas stricken by natural disasters
  • To the notorious criminal, it can act as a ruthless guard but to the visually impaired, it can serve as a loyal and affectionate companion. German shepherds have proved to be great pets and strongly devoted to their owners including their families and children

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