The German Shepherd – A loyal and versatile dog

Narrated from: Dog Breeds

Recognized by the AKC in 1908, German Shepherds starred in movies such as Rin Tin Tin. This brought the breed to the attention of the American people and made them very popular, but they are much more than great actors!

What are these dogs?
German Shepherds are active, loyal and versatile. Intelligent dogs that adore demanding activity and training, they have been utilized as guide dogs, police dogs, guard dogs, in the military and as search and rescue dogs.

All dogs are beautiful – you just need to find the right one for you!
German Shepherds are a large bundle of intelligence, strength and loyalty. They are well proportioned; strong and sturdy with a somewhat elongated muscular body and solid, light bone structure. The ears are upright and pointed forward but may droop on puppies less than six months.

The coat comes in three varieties. There is the double coat, the plush coat and the long hair coat. The most commonly accepted colors are tan and black, all black or sable. While the breed may also have a blue or liver and white coat, these do not meet the breed standards.

Strong, brave and obedient, the German Shepherd is both courageous and distant but once he forms a bond he is devoted for life. They have a bushy tail that hangs down below the hocks when they are relaxed.

If one thinks dogs are dumb animals, then one has never tried to negotiate with a dog.
The German Shepherd is reservedly friendly. Once bonded with their family they are exceptional and loving family members, good with other pets generally and excellent with children, yet are always on their guard with strangers. They need to be close to their family and don’t deal well with being alone for long periods.

Since first appearing in the late 1800s in Hanover and Berlin, they have served humans in many roles. They are primarily a working breed but are also excellent family dogs. They are a very confident breed that requires handling and training at a young age. They have a fearless personality and only bark if they feel it is required. Owners must never let the German Shepherd feel he is the pack leader over any human and need to provide daily mental and physical activity. A calm, confident, firm and consistent attitude of authority is necessary.

Though they are working dogs and watchdogs they are very social in their own family unit. Providing they have enough daily stimulation, they are able to comfortably settle indoors without getting overly excited. They enjoy just hanging out with the family!

The fact that they are natural leaders can be a problem if they aren’t properly taught their place and given firm training and sufficient stimulation. If not, there can be behavioral aggression issues.

Your dog you train well, young Padawan, or otherwise the dog it will be who does the training.
Firm obedience training is necessary from a young age. German Shepherds with timid owners or who aren’t getting their needs met can become nervous, fearful and edgy which may result in fear biting or being overprotective of their people.

A German Shepherd who senses they are more determined than their owner will not listen and they also don’t respond well to harsh or cruel punishment. One if the smartest and eager to be trained breeds, they require a reliable pack leader to teach them their tasks and guide them. Consistent, positive reinforcement along with plenty of daily work and play is necessary for the breed to be happily well adjusted. They are not a breed that will be content lying around the house all day or locked outside away from their people.

When walking, the dog must heel behind or beside the person with the leash, never in front. In the German Shepherd’s mind, the leader leads; however, that should always be the human. Daily walks are necessary to satisfy their migrating instinct. They also love a good game of fetch or Frisbee.

Inbreeding has led to common health issues such as hip dysplasia, digestive and skin issues, Von Willebrand’s disease, eye issues and perianal fistulas in some dogs. They are an intelligent and strong breed that, with proper care, will be outstanding and loyal companions for, on average, 12-14 years.

Hair… there was hair everywhere…
Seasonally heavy shedders, the German Shepherd sheds to some degree all year round. They require daily brushing in order to avoid having hair all over the house. Only bathe when needed as too much bathing removes the necessary skin oils and results in irritated skin. Regular ear checks and nail trimming are also necessary.

One needs to know where one is coming from in order to know where one is going… or where one should find the bouncy ball!
The breed was developed in Germany as an obedient, responsive and fine looking dog from a combination of long, short and wire haired farm and herding dogs.

Nation of the dog
For are dogs not a nation of their own? Are they fewer than humans? Is there a place where humans live without dogs?
They were first offered in 1882 in Hanover with the short haired variety appearing in 1889 in Berlin. The name came from the registration in April of 1889 of a dog named Horan, as the initial Deutsche Schäferhunde, which translated to English as meaning German Shepherd Dog.

Both the long and wire hair varieties of the breed were shown until 1915. Currently only the short coat is recognized for showing with the first of the breed shown in the US in 1907 and recognized in 1908 as a breed by the AKC. They have served man in many ways as, including, but not limited to, police dogs, sheep herders, search and rescue missions, mine detection and gas leaks in underground pipes.

And they are the perfect match for…
A dog! A dog! My apartment for a dog!
The German Shepherd will manage pretty well in an apartment if sufficient exercise is provided daily. When indoors they are relatively inactive and really thrive best with not less than a large yard. Brisk, lengthy and daily walks with 15 minutes of vigorous play will tire your German Shepherd and satisfy his need to have a purpose.

When serving as guide dogs, police dogs or in any other service they are happy and content. They live to serve and it is what they do best and what makes them happiest! They thrive if they have a job, even if it’s a fun job such as agility. They do equally well as military dogs or drug dogs and learn quickly. Their excellent olfactory system helps them excel in these jobs.

They are loyal to their handler whether they are serving as service dogs, the family pet or a show dog.

Professional CV
Soldiers, firefighters, guards, hunters… and you think all they are good for is lazing on the couch?
These are alert and fearless dogs full of cheer that are willing and eager to learn. Calm, confident and smart, they are tremendously faithful and brave and don’t hesitate to sacrifice themselves for the humans in their lives.

The German Shepherd police dog is very loyal to the handler and very protective. They are also gifted and quick learners who have worked as sheepdogs to help the herd survive, guard dogs, police dogs, seeing eye dogs, military and search and rescue dogs.

German Shepherds are equally delighted to work as trackers, in agility and fly ball trials and detecting explosives. The breed is very devoted, a lovely show dog and dedicated family friend who will defend their people to the death.

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