German Shepherd

Other names: Alsatian

German Shepherd

As majestic as he is intelligent, the German Shepherd has many qualities that make him both the ideal pet and working dog. The Alsatian can wear many hats, ranging from a guide dog for the blind, a police dog, a guard dog and even a herding dog. This versatility has made him one of the most represented dogs across the world, and has given him a consistently high spot in the UK’s most popular dog rankings for decades. 

Key facts about the German Shepherd

Life expectancy :

5

18

10

13

Temperament :

Affectionate Playful Intelligent

Size :

Origins and history

At the end of the 19th century in Germany, when industrialisation was bringing sheep farming to an end, a group of dog lovers decided to come to the rescue of sheepdogs, a precious genetic heritage: they used them to create a multi-talented, beautiful, eclectic and docile dog who was easy to breed and train. It was only upon the cross-breeding of the Württemberg and Thuringe sheepdogs that these dog enthusiasts got this new breed which, thanks to colonel Von Stephanitz and his canine passion, quickly became one of the most loved and widespread dogs in the world. The German Shepherd was officially recognised in 1898.

FCI breed nomenclature

FCI Group

Group 1 - Sheepdogs and Cattledogs (except Swiss Cattledogs)

Section

Section 1 : Sheepdogs

Physical characteristics of the German Shepherd

    Adult size

    Female : Between 22 and 24 in

    Male : Between 24 and 26 in

    Weight

    Female : Between 49 and 71 lb

    Male : Between 66 and 88 lb

    Coat colour

    Black
    Brown
    Blue
    Red

    Type of coat

    Short
    Long

    Eye colour

    Brown

    Description

    Also known as the Alsatian, this medium-sized dog is slightly longer than he is tall. He is strong, has a well-proportioned stature and is lean and solid. His back bows in the middle, which is a classic trait of this breed.

    Good to know

    The German Shepherd family has grown over the years due to the recognition of the breed’s official standards of traits previously considered as flaws. Here are two concrete examples:

    The White Swiss Shepherd that was initially a German Shepherd with a white coat. This trait was considered a flaw until 2003, when this breed was officially recognised by the FCI.

    The long-haired German Shepherd was also excluded from the breed’s official standards for a number of years. Only in 2011 did the FCI officially recognise this long-haired dog, which was necessary for the breed to participate in competitions and other canine exhibitions.

    Temperament

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      Affectionate

      The German Shepherd’s tenderness is equal to his beauty; he is very attached to his owners and knows how to prove his loyalty to them through courage and affection. He gets on particularly well with children, and will know how to treat them with care.

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      Playful

      This dog is particularly happy and playful, appreciating spending time with both young and old to spend up his energy. He also enjoys playing as a means to learn.

      Playtime should always be initiated by his master in a controlled manner, as to not over excite this incredibly playful pup.

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      Calm

      Naturally well-balanced, the Alsatian can be quiet and calm in the house, as long as his needs for exercise are properly met.

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      Intelligent

      This shepherd dog is talented in a number of areas: he can serve as a good service, guard, rescue and herding dog. His array of skills demonstrates his remarkable ability to adapt and therefore his intelligence.

      The speed at which the German Shepherd can understand and process a diverse range of situations is a clear sign of his advanced intelligence.

      His versatility has made him one of the most represented dogs across the world.

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      Hunter

      This dog can have a predatory instinct, especially if it has been reinforced through play. However, this instinct only comes from a desire to protect his loved ones.

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      Fearful / wary of strangers

      Never fearful of or aggressive towards strangers, this dog will be able to assess the proper level of danger in a situation. As long as his first experience with a stranger is normal and healthy, the Alsatian will consider unfamiliar people as members of his social group.

      Shy and reserved German Shepherds are considered deviant from the breed’s official standards.

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      Independent

      Very attached to his social group, the Alsatian has not inherited independence from his ancestors. He favours the presence of his owners to solitude and his daily objective is always to please them.

      Behaviour of the German Shepherd

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        Tolerates solitude

        Getting the German Shepherd used to being alone will allow him to tolerate solitude, but he should never be left for long days.

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        Easy to train / obedience

        Equipped with a remarkable intelligence and attention span, educating this dog won’t be a challenge, as long as his training methods are respectful of the principles of positive education. 

        Patience, gentleness and determination will be the keys to the results you want with this strong-willed dog. 

        Training must start early so as not to wait until he has reached his adult size and weight.

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        Barking

        Since he is a natural protector, the German Shepherd can sometimes be vocal to warn off the presence of strangers. However, receiving proper training and experiencing a relationship with his owner that is based on trust can help to keep barking at bay.

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        Tendency to run away

        An excellent guard dog, this pet much prefers to stay close to his loved ones in his familiar environment rather than exploring unknown territories. 

        However, be aware that if your dog is not walked enough, he might decide to wander beyond your four walls in order to satisfy his social and sensory needs.

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