The German Shepherd Dog

A Natural Aptitude for Training

German Shepard picture

Breed History

This breed, often referred to as the GSD for short, has existed for many centuries, and was referred to, by an early Roman historian, Tacitus as, "the wolf-like dog of the country, around the Rhine." These early dogs were however, a mixed lot of varying sizes and coats. It was thanks to the efforts of a German cavalry officer, Captain Max von Stephanitz, in the 1890s, that the GSD breed owes its existence. From select specimens, possessing strong bodies, sound minds, and the instincts to herd and protect, Stephanitz began his dream of breeding the perfect working dog. In 1899 a group of 11 founded the "Society for German Shepherd Dogs." It is now the world's largest breed club, and referred to, as "SV". They drafted a breed standard, a registration system, and set up breeding regulations. That same year, they sponsored the first Sieger show. They transformed the heretofore nondescript collection of dogs into a uniform breed, recognized throughout the world for its intelligence, loyalty, superb working, search and rescue and guard dog protection abilities. For a several decades, because of the wars, and anti-German sentiment, it was known in Britain as the Alsatian dog until the late 1970s.
Dog: 24-26 in. (61-66 cm) at withers.
Bitch: 22-24 in. (56-61 cm) at withers.
Activity: Very active.
Shedding: A lot.
Watchdog: Excellent.
Protection: Excellent.
Trainability: High.
Other names: Alsatian dog; Deutscher Schaferhund.
Bonding: Bonds to the entire family.
Children: Excellent.
Life Expectancy:   10 - 12 years.
The dog has a distinct personality, a fearless, but not hostile, expression, a self-confidence, and an aloofness towards strangers. It is friendly however, a definite requirement at conformation shows, where it does so well. Excellent with children, German Shepherd puppies as they mature, bond to the whole family. As an adult, it will stand its ground, confident and willing to meet threats, without itself, making them. It is poised, and when necessary, eager, alert, fit for all duties, from companion watchdog, guard dog, guiding the blind, search and rescue, or guardian. Highly active, it needs lots of outdoor exercise. As for grooming conditions, its dense double coat requires frequent brushing and combing to control shedding. Obedience training, a natural for this intelligent, willing breed, is recommended for every young German Shepherd puppy. If you want to get your Shepherd on an early start obedience training, check out your local pet food store's bulletin board for names of local puppy training classes. They often post notices there. As with many purebreds, there are health issues with this breed. That is why conscientious GSD breeders are ever mindful in selecting good conformation breed stock, and faithfully testing them for genetic weaknesses, before they are bred, in order to protect the health of the breed.

Additional German Shepherd Information

Do you want information on this herding dog, and breeders who have German Shepherd puppies for sale?  See the breeders section. If there are no breeders nearby, see the Canadian German Shepherd dog club, German Shepherd rescue. See also, the US GSD club, German Shepherd rescue, for breeders in your area.

GSD Health Issues

The German Shepherd Dog can have some serious health concerns, from ranging from hip dysplasia, to elbow dysplasia, and some minor concerns such as Panosteitis, von Willebrand's Disease, pyotraumatic dermatitis, skin allergies, malignant neoplasms, pannus cataract, dreaded gastric torsion, and occasionally seen, Pancreatic enzyme insufficiency.  See the GSD Health Issues page for more breed information.