GERMAN SHEPHERD - THE BREED
The German Shepherd Dog is a strong, agile, well-muscled dog, alert and full of life. They are extremely intelligent and make a wonderful companion, show or obedience dog. The German Shepherd is exceptionally trainable and works well as a police, guide, or search and rescue dog. German Shepherds are one breed that becomes truly bonded to their family and may suffer from separation anxiety when apart from their people. They are lively, intelligent and very strong. They are excellent in agility and obedience tests. They excel in serving their masters, and they are continually responsive. Well-mannered German Shepherds should be calm, consistent in attitude, obedient and alert. Some lines of of the Alsatian have become nervous and aggressive due to poor breeding tactics and the popularity of the breed. Overall and generally though, the German Shepherd is an ideal breed. They are large and alert enough to protect, and are loving and friendly towards friends and family. Knowledgeable training and handling are required, however, due to the German Shepherd's natural instinct to protect their owners. Alsatians are large, powerful dogs that are lean enough to have great agility. They have a handsome look, with prick ears and an evenly dispersed weight. They have perpendicular hocks when they stand, rather than angled, which makes them look as if they are posing for a photo. Some have long hair and some have short, and either can be black, gray, tan, gold or white, although whites and golds are not accepted by some associations. German Shepherds make an ideal pet--fun, friendly, and desiring to serve.
Other Names: Alsatian, Deutscher Schäferhund, German Shepherd
Males: 24 - 26 inches, Females: 22 - 24 inches.
60 - 140 lbs.
Colors: Solid black or grey; black saddle with tan or gold to light grey markings; grey with lighter or brown markings (sables). Blues, livers, albinos and whites highly undesirable, although white is recognized by the CKC.
Coat: Length is medium, straight and hard and close lying with a dense undercoat, and a full outer coat which may be slightly wavy.
Temperament: German Shepherd Dogs are intelligent, responsive, and with solid temperament. They should have consistent behavior, be calm and without aggression. They are friendly towards family, and a little reserved with strangers, although they do warm up to them quickly once they perceive to be friendly. They are protective and good guard dogs as well as watch dogs. They are alert, full of life and can be playful. They have proven their trainability in an innumerable amount of ways. They are reliable, good with children, and is said to have the intelligence of a 7 year old child!
With Children: Yes, loves their owner's children, but may be suspicious of other children.
With Pets: Yes, if trained as a puppy to accept other pets.
Special Skills: Search and rescue dog, guide for the blind, sentry dog, police dog, scent dog and of course, family pet.
Watch-dog: Very High. German Shepherds are very aware of their surroundings, and may occasionally even perceive a threat where it looks like there is, but may be none.
Guard-dog: Very High. They are extremely protective of their family and will stand up to an adversary, but will remain friendly to non-threatening people if trained and bred correctly.
Learning Rate: Very High. They are said to possess the intelligence of a 7 year old child! Obedience - High. Problem Solving - High. Training is not easy, as they are intelligent and will try to think of ways to avoid doing what you are asking.
Activity: High. Inside and outside.
Care and Training: German Shepherds require daily brushing and bathing occasionally. They should receive long, daily walks. The German Shepherd needs a large open yard as well. Obedience training will help improve their social skills. German Shepherds should be given a job to do, big or small. They excel in agility and obedience.
Special Needs: Exercise, socialization and training.
Living Environment: Country or city living as long as adequate attention is paid and exercise is given. A fenced yard is essential. The owner of a German Shepherd should be strong and confident. The best owner for this breed would be an active family or individual providing exercise, a job, and affection towards the German Shepherd Dog in a city, suburban or rural setting.
Health Issues: This breed is usually quite hardy. They do have the potential to develop hip dysplasia (abnormal development of hip joints), elbow dysplasia, skin disease, congenital heart disease, Von Willebrand's disease (high bleeding tendency), exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, epilepsy, nervous condition, panosteitis (an inflammation of long bones in the legs), and bloat (gastric torsion; twisted stomach). Bloat is a health issue to most dogs, being the second largest killer of dogs other than cancer, but German Shepherds can be particularly susceptible to it because of their deep chests. German Shepherd Dogs have been so popular over the years that people sometimes inbreed them and do not check family lines simply to make a profit on puppies. Therefore, certain lines of German Shepherds are sometimes squirrelly, nervous, fearful, timid, or aggressive when they shouldn't be. Be sure to check the Dam and Sire's pedigree and watch for these symptoms in the parents when choosing a German Shepherd puppy.
Life Span: 10 - 13 years.
Litter Size: 5 - 10 puppies. German Shepherds produce large litters.
Country of Origin: Germany
History: The German Shepherd's roots are in the mountain sheepdog of Germany. German Shepherds date back to as early as the 7th Century, A.D. It is said that the breed descended from the Bronze Age wolf. In the 7th century, there was a German dog similar to the Shepherd, but lighter in coat. By the 16th century, however, the same breed had darkened in coat color. About 1880 the German army modified this breed for work as a military dog. The first German Shepherd exhibit was in 1882 in Hanover. Credit for the formation of the modern breed is given to fancier Rittmeister von Stephanitz. In 1899 German von Stephanitz began a breeding program to produce a stable, reliable shepherd dog. He combined long-haired, short-haired and wire-haired dogs from Wurtemberg, Thurginia, and Bavaria. His friend Herr Artur Meyer also helped in the breeding process, and from 1899 to 1935 Stephanitz oversaw the group that promoted the German Shepherd. Until 1915 the breed was split up into three separate versions: the long haired, the short haired, and the wire haired. Later, the wire haired became practically extinct, and these days the long haired is disqualified from the show ring. 48,000 of these dogs served in the First World War, and thus became hugely popular. They have been used for search and rescue, police, army and sentry, scent discrimination and as a guide dog. At the time, it was insulting to call anything by the name of "German", with the war and discrimination. But English sheep herders did not want to get rid of the useful dogs, therefore they called them Alsatians, because they originated in Alsace. Finally after 40 years, in 1971, the British Kennel Club allowed the name to be German Shepherd Dog again. Two German Shepherds named Rin Tin Tin and Strongheart acted in films and generated even more popularity. German Shepherds were popular for their agility, obedience, and friendly attitude. One German Shepherd was said to have scaled a wall 11 feet, 8 inches tall! Today they are still among the most popular dogs.
First Registered by the AKC: 1908
AKC Group: Herding
The name of the color and/or markings
Type: Standard or alternate. This is the classification of the color for show purposes. Please refer to the breed standard for specifics regarding this breed.
Black & Cream
Black & Red
Black & Silver
Black & Tan
Size, Proportion, Substance
The desired height for males at the top of the highest point of the shoulder blade is 24 to 26 inches; and for bitches, 22 to 24 inches.
The German Shepherd Dog is longer than tall, with the most desirable proportion as 10 to 8½. The length is measured from the point of the prosternum or breastbone to the rear edge of the pelvis, the ischial tuberosity. The desirable long proportion is not derived from a long back, but from overall length with relation to height, which is achieved by length of forequarter and length of withers and hindquarter, viewed from the side.
The head is noble, cleanly chiseled, strong without coarseness, but above all not fine, and in proportion to the body. The head of the male is distinctly masculine, and that of the bitch distinctly feminine.
The expression keen, intelligent and composed. Eyes of medium size, almond shaped, set a little obliquely and not protruding. The color is as dark as possible. Ears are moderately pointed, in proportion to the skull, open toward the front, and carried erect when at attention, the ideal carriage being one in which the center lines of the ears, viewed from the front, are parallel to each other and perpendicular to the ground. A dog with cropped or hanging ears must be disqualified.
Seen from the front the forehead is only moderately arched, and the skull slopes into the long, wedge-shaped muzzle without abrupt stop. The muzzle is long and strong, and its topline is parallel to the topline of the skull. Nose black. A dog with a nose that is not predominantly black must be disqualified. The lips are firmly fitted. Jaws are strongly developed. Teeth --42 in number--20 upper and 22 lower--are strongly developed and meet in a scissors bite in which part of the inner surface of the upper incisors meet and engage part of the outer surface of the lower incisors. An overshot jaw or a level bite is undesirable. An undershot jaw is a disqualifying fault. Complete dentition is to be preferred. Any missing teeth other than first premolars is a serious fault.
Neck, Topline, Body
The neck is strong and muscular, clean-cut and relatively long, proportionate in size to the head and without loose folds of skin. When the dog is at attention or excited, the head is raised and the neck carried high; otherwise typical carriage of the head is forward rather than up and but little higher than the top of the shoulders, particularly in motion.
Topline-- The withers are higher than and sloping into the level back. The back is straight, very strongly developed without sag or roach, and relatively short.
The whole structure of the body gives an impression of depth and solidity without bulkiness.
Commencing at the prosternum, it is well filled and carried well down between the legs. It is deep and capacious, never shallow, with ample room for lungs and heart, carried well forward, with the prosternum showing ahead of the shoulder in profile. Ribs well sprung and long, neither barrel-shaped nor too flat, and carried down to a sternum which reaches to the elbows. Correct ribbing allows the elbows to move back freely when the dog is at a trot. Too round causes interference and throws the elbows out; too flat or short causes pinched elbows. Ribbing is carried well back so that the loin is relatively short. Abdomen firmly held and not paunchy. The bottom line is only moderately tucked up in the loin.
Viewed from the top, broad and strong. Undue length between the last rib and the thigh, when viewed from the side, is undesirable. Croup long and gradually sloping.
Bushy, with the last vertebra extended at least to the hock joint. It is set smoothly into the croup and low rather than high. At rest, the tail hangs in a slight curve like a saber. A slight hook- sometimes carried to one side-is faulty only to the extent that it mars general appearance. When the dog is excited or in motion, the curve is accentuated and the tail raised, but it should never be curled forward beyond a vertical line. Tails too short, or with clumpy ends due to ankylosis, are serious faults. A dog with a docked tail must be disqualified.
The shoulder blades are long and obliquely angled, laid on flat and not placed forward. The upper arm joins the shoulder blade at about a right angle. Both the upper arm and the shoulder blade are well muscled. The forelegs, viewed from all sides, are straight and the bone oval rather than round. The pasterns are strong and springy and angulated at approximately a 25-degree angle from the vertical. Dewclaws on the forelegs may be removed, but are normally left on. The feet are short, compact with toes well arched, pads thick and firm, nails short and dark.
The whole assembly of the thigh, viewed from the side, is broad, with both upper and lower thigh well muscled, forming as nearly as possible a right angle. The upper thigh bone parallels the shoulder blade while the lower thigh bone parallels the upper arm. The metatarsus (the unit between the hock joint and the foot) is short, strong and tightly articulated. The dewclaws, if any, should be removed from the hind legs. Feet as in front.
The ideal dog has a double coat of medium length. The outer coat should be as dense as possible, hair straight, harsh and lying close to the body. A slightly wavy outer coat, often of wiry texture, is permissible. The head, including the inner ear and foreface, and the legs and paws are covered with short hair, and the neck with longer and thicker hair. The rear of the forelegs and hind legs has somewhat longer hair extending to the pastern and hock, respectively. Faults in coat include soft, silky, too long outer coat, woolly, curly, and open coat.
The German Shepherd Dog varies in color, and most colors are permissible. Strong rich colors are preferred. Pale, washed-out colors and blues or livers are serious faults. A white dog must be disqualified.
A German Shepherd Dog is a trotting dog, and its structure has been developed to meet the requirements of its work. General Impression-- The gait is outreaching, elastic, seemingly without effort, smooth and rhythmic, covering the maximum amount of ground with the minimum number of steps. At a walk it covers a great deal of ground, with long stride of both hind legs and forelegs. At a trot the dog covers still more ground with even longer stride, and moves powerfully but easily, with coordination and balance so that the gait appears to be the steady motion of a well-lubricated machine. The feet travel close to the ground on both forward reach and backward push. In order to achieve ideal movement of this kind, there must be good muscular development and ligamentation. The hindquarters deliver, through the back, a powerful forward thrust which slightly lifts the whole animal and drives the body forward. Reaching far under, and passing the imprint left by the front foot, the hind foot takes hold of the ground; then hock, stifle and upper thigh come into play and sweep back, the stroke of the hind leg finishing with the foot still close to the ground in a smooth follow-through. The overreach of the hindquarter usually necessitates one hind foot passing outside and the other hind foot passing inside the track of the forefeet, and such action is not faulty unless the locomotion is crabwise with the dog’s body sideways out of the normal straight line.
The typical smooth, flowing gait is maintained with great strength and firmness of back. The whole effort of the hindquarter is transmitted to the forequarter through the loin, back and withers. At full trot, the back must remain firm and level without sway, roll, whip or roach. Unlevel topline with withers lower than the hip is a fault. To compensate for the forward motion imparted by the hindquarters, the shoulder should open to its full extent. The forelegs should reach out close to the ground in a long stride in harmony with that of the hindquarters. The dog does not track on widely separated parallel lines, but brings the feet inward toward the middle line of the body when trotting, in order to maintain balance. The feet track closely but do not strike or cross over. Viewed from the front, the front legs function from the shoulder joint to the pad in a straight line. Viewed from the rear, the hind legs function from the hip joint to the pad in a straight line. Faults of gait, whether from front, rear or side, are to be considered very serious faults.