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Breed of the Month: German Shepherd Dog

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German Shepherd Dog

Country of Origin: Germany
Height: 21.5–26 inches
Weight: 48.5–88 pounds
Coat: Double coat with medium-length, straight, dense, harsh, close-lying outercoat and thick undercoat; may have neck ruff
Colors: Most colors allowed except white
Registries (with Group): AKC (Herding); UKC (Herding)


The German Shepherd Dog (“GSD”) is one of the most widely recognized breeds in the world, known and favored in many countries for its intelligence, trainability, adaptability and fortitude. The foundation of this breed can be traced to the work of Rittmeister Max von Stephanitz (known as the father of the breed) who, while attending a dog show, bought a working dog who possessed all the qualities he believed essential for a strong, capable German herder. In April 1899, von Stephanitz registered a dog named Horand von Grafrath with the Verein für Deutsche Schäferhunde, the club for German Shepherd Dogs that he cofounded. Von Stephanitz controlled and directed this club that promoted German Shepherds from 1899 to 1935. As demand for herding decreased, von Stephanitz was determined not to let his Shepherds decline. He encouraged the breed’s use by the police and the military—during World War I, there were 48,000 Shepherds “enlisted” in the German Army. Today, the GSD serves perhaps in more ways than any other breed—they excel at search and rescue, police work, army and sentry work, scent discrimination, as guide and assistance dogs, and of course, as companions.


The accolades of the German Shepherd Dog include exceptional loyalty, bravery, and intelligence. As a dog who performs many special services and a host of tasks, he is by nature poised and unexcitable, with well-controlled nerves. He must be patient, quick thinking, discriminating, and keenly observant. The well-bred German Shepherd Dog is capable of excelling at any number of things, including family companion and protector. He is gentle and kind with children of all ages and amazingly tuned in to the people around him.


  • Exercise: The athletic, intelligent, and sensitive German Shepherd Dog does best with regular and vigorous exercise. He has been trained to do just about everything and anything, and performing work or engaging in sports and activities with people is what he is all about. As adaptable as he is, the GSD is not a dog who can sit inside all day waiting for the occasional outing. He must be stimulated physically and mentally to reach his potential.
  • Grooming: The dense undercoat of the German Shepherd Dog requires regular brushing to keep it under control. He is a seasonally heavy shedder. Otherwise, the coat serves its protective and insulating purposes and takes care of itself. He should not be bathed frequently because it depletes the skin and coat of essential oils.
  • Life Span: 10 to 14 years.
  • Training: German Shepherd Dogs thrive with training. Used for years as service dogs, they also excel in sports such as competitive obedience, herding, agility, flyball, and many others. GSDs are quick learners who don’t bore easily, although they do appreciate a quick-thinking trainer who will keep them challenged.

Find a Nylabone chew, treat, or toy for your German Shepherd Dog or large dog!

Excerpted from World Atlas of Dog Breeds, 6th Edition. © 2009 T.F.H. Publications, Inc. Used by Permission.

World Atlas of Dog Breeds

6 Responses to Breed of the Month: German Shepherd Dog

  1. danamy December 20, 2011 @ 5:58 am

    they are the best dogs…great with grandkids and excellent protection for the home…wish all breeders were ethical and not breed their dog if they have bad hips…their mind is so sharp and it’s so sad when having to put down because of their hips. Bless the ethical breeders!

  2. Opinion01211 December 20, 2011 @ 7:14 am

    I have to laugh when I read these. I have had GSD for almost 40 years and only one was ELSE than 100 lbs. They are fantastic pets, but, in my experience, are quite a bit bigger than advertised! They are GREAT companions and family pets! My absolute favorite breed.

  3. Mari-Jonn Ruskowsky December 20, 2011 @ 7:53 pm

    Our Josie is a 4 yr old(?) rescue, smart as a whip, AKC Good Citizen and training to sit for the therapy dog test. Amazing and an added blessing to our lives

  4. Melissa December 30, 2011 @ 12:39 am

    This if for Opinion01211. An ethical breeder trying to keep within the standard does not typically have 100+ Lb GSD. Ours are 3 Females between 59-63 lbs and 2 Males between 78 and 89lbs. They are Czech, WG working lines, Belgian lines and old DDR lines. I’m asked constantly why my female “puppy” is so small and are astounded when I tell them she is 7 yrs old. In real work, weight is thought of like this: How are you going to carry this dog if it gets hurt or how am I going to hoist it over a fence etc… They should be kept lean to help avoid hip problems.

  5. Priscilla Dorgan December 30, 2011 @ 1:06 am

    We have a long haired german sheppard, she is 16 months old and the sweetest, smartest dog we have ever had. I would get another in a heartbeat. we just love her.

  6. laurie December 30, 2011 @ 5:25 pm

    i have a german shepherd and i was wondering the best way to combat a very scared dog who is afraid of her own shadow and anything that moves i just got her three weeks ago and i am at my wits end with the constant fear she has of everything

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