The German Shepherd is a great dog for many reasons. In the United States, they are one of the most popular breeds to own. Today, we are going to provide all the details you need to know about the German Shepherd, including physical traits, personality, and training tips.
History and Physical Traits
The German Shepherd comes from a long bloodline of working dogs. In the 1800s, they were bred to herd sheep. Their breed-specific functions consist of herding, guarding, searching, and sniffing. Therefore, they are often used as “Police Dogs”.
German Shepherds are generally considered a medium to large breed. On average, they grow to a height of 24-26 inches for a male and 22-24 inches for a female. The weight of a German Shepherd ranges from 65-90 pounds for a male and 50-70 pounds for a female.
Although black and tan is the most common coat color for the German Shepherd, they come in many other colors, such as white, sable, gray, and silver amongst others.
It’s important to note that this breed is known to have a lot of hair and sheds frequently. Owning a German Shepherd comes with the responsibility of grooming and cleaning up hair. But they require less maintenance than many other breeds. There are techniques that can be used to help with de-shedding. It is recommended to brush a German Shepherd every other day. This will get rid of the loose dead hairs and promote a shiny coat.
As far as professional grooming, a German Shepherd will not need frequent haircuts or baths. If you are frequently brushing as suggested, baths can be taken only once every 3 months. Bathing a dog too frequently can strip natural oils from their hair, which leads to skin problems.
Teeth and nails should be treated as you would any other breed. Each of these should be done on a regular basis to promote proper health and can be done professionally or at home. If you are not comfortable cutting a dog’s nails, it is best to leave this to the professionals. Cutting the nail too short could lead to bleeding and infection.
The life expectancy of a German Shepherd is between 7-10 years. They are relatively healthy dogs. However, German Shepherds can be prone to a few health conditions such as degenerative myelopathy and elbow and hip dysplasia. If you are getting a German Shepherd from a breeder, they will usually screen their breeding stock for these conditions to limit the continuation of these ailments.
Another health condition to be aware of when it comes to German Shepherds is Gastric Dilatation Volvulus (GDV) or bloat. Bloat is a sudden and life-threatening swelling of the abdomen. The first signs of bloat may include a distended stomach, retching, or dry heaving. It is important for owners to educate themselves about the remaining symptoms and what to do to prevent this occurrence.
Temperament and Personality
German Shepherds are notorious for their amazing personalities. Loyal, courageous, loving, and protective are just a few keywords to describe this breed. Because of their intelligence and protective nature, they make great guard dogs. They love their humans and would do anything to keep them safe.
This breed, although fierce in protection, can also be very gentle when it comes to children and families. You can trust this breed around babies and other pets in the home. Having a German Shepherd and young kids together is great, as they both have high energy to keep each other occupied.
Because of their people-pleasing nature, German Shepherds are easy to train. It is important to train them from a young age. Exposing your dog to rules and training at a young age will help them grow into a polite canine citizen. We’ll discuss training a German Shepherd in the next section.
Tips for Training
An important topic for German Shepherd owners is training. Typically, a German Shepherd wants to be busy and active. If not properly trained, this can come out as mischievous or difficult to handle. Training this breed can be an important and rewarding part of owning one. Many places offer “K-9 Training” which aims to replicate the teachings of those that true police dogs go through.
If you are interested in training your dog at home, consistency will be key. This task may seem daunting but is possible. You can find several helpful resources online that dive deep into training. For now, here are a few of the best tips to keep in mind:
- Use reward-based encouragement (treats, happy reactions, pets)
- Socialize or expose your puppy to new things
- Keep training sessions short and exciting
- Don’t be discouraged if your dog does not grasp a concept in one training session