German Shepherd dogs were developed to assist shepherds with herding and protecting their sheep. Today they are used for a variety of jobs including but not limited to drug and bomb sniffing dogs, service dogs and guard dogs.
Originating in Germany during the 1800’s, the breed developed from herding and farm dogs for the purpose of helping shepherds with protecting and herding their sheep.
Because of their bravery and intelligence, they were soon after used as police and military dogs. German Shepherds were used during wars for various jobs including messenger dogs, Red Cross dogs, rescue dogs and guard dogs.
The German Shepherd is a member of the American Kennel Club’s herding group. Their original purpose was to help shepherds to protect and herd their sheep, although today they are used for a variety of jobs.
German Shepherds are large dogs that measure 22 to 26 inches to the shoulder and they weigh 75 to 85 pounds. With their high energy, intelligence and large size they need to have an experienced owner.
There are many standard colors for the German Shepherd including black, black and cream, black and red, black and silver, black and tan, blue, gray, liver, sable, and white.
German Shepherds are faithful, smart, alert and fearless dogs that will give their life to protect their family. They need a firm confident owner that is consistent with training.
When properly trained they are good with children and other animals. Socialization is very important with this breed as they can be suspicious of strangers.
The German Shepherd is a high energy dog that needs to be exercised physically and mentally every day. A large fenced in yard can provide a place to run free but proper exercise with their owner will be necessary.
Excessive barking, chewing destructively and digging can occur with a lack of exercise and having training sessions to release their mental energy. They will need consistent training and exercise every day.
The German Shepherd dog breed has a lifespan of 10 to 14 years. They can develop hip and elbow dysplasia and degenerative myelopathy which causes an increasing loss of control of the legs.
Some are prone to problems with circulation, digestion, a weakened immune system, cancer, and certain parasites depending on hereditary factors.
Get ready for the shedding. They will shed hair daily, with heavier shedding in the fall and spring. Brushing several times a week and daily during heavier shedding periods will keep the hair under control.
A good deshedding tool such as the Furminator will really help with the shedding. My dog sheds daily and I use a Furminator to remove the loose hair. I don’t have to vacuum as often as I did before.
The German Shepherd has no other special grooming needs. Don’t forget to brush their teeth, clean their ears and keep their nails trimmed.
As a highly intelligent breed, they learn quickly but will need a firm leader and consistent training. Training is very important for this dog breed.
Today they have jobs such as service dogs, K-9 officers, military dogs, drug and bomb sniffing dogs, search and rescue dogs, and herding dogs.
A German Shepherd can become anxious when left alone for long periods of time although do well with short periods of time. They may express their anxiousness with excessive barking, destructive chewing or digging.
If you are going to be away from home for a while, exercise your dog before you leave. You can also have a friend, family member or a dog walker stop by your home to take your dog for a walk and play with them to release their energy.
If a German Shepherd is the dog for you, consider adoption. There are many bred specific rescues with purebred dogs available for adoption.
For more information on German Shepherd rescue groups, enter “German Shepherd Rescues” into a search engine such as Google. You can also search including your zip code, enter “German Shepherd Rescues + zip code”, replacing zip code with your actual zip code.
What do you think about the German Shepherd dog breed? Leave a comment below or share a story about your dog. The information on this website is not intended to replace the advice of your own veterinarian, dog trainer, or dog behavioral specialist.