German Shepherd: A Breed Guide
The Loyal German Shepherd: A Breed Guide
German Shepherds, affectionately referred to as GSDs, have a long history of human companionship. They are fiercely loyal, often referred to as one-person dogs. Get to know this intelligent and loveable breed to determine if a German Shepherd is right for you.
A History of Hard Work
While some dogs have a murky past, this breed has a well-documented history. The German Shepherd made its entrance into the canine world in Germany in the 1889, credited to Captain Max von Stephanitz. The captain was looking to create a strong herding dog, and the German Shepherd was the result, according to Figo.
While initially used for that very purpose, German Shepherds grew to take on many more roles. They were put to work during World War I and World War II, helping soldiers communicate and performing search and rescue duties. These dogs were often referred to Alsatians during the war, and that name is still sometimes used to refer to the breed today.
Now, German Shepherds continue to work alongside humans. They often work as police dogs and service dogs, according to the American Kennel Club (AKC).
German Shepherd Characteristics
German Shepherds are easily recognizable thanks to their thick black and tan coats. The exact pattern of the coloring will vary from dog to dog, but the luxuriant fur is unmistakable. This breed is on the larger side, with males weighing up to 90 pounds and females weighing up to 70 pounds, according to the AKC. The lifespan of these herding dogs is typically seven to 10 years.
German Shepherds as Pets
German Shepherds may have been initially bred to work, but their loyalty to human companions also makes them wonderful pets. Some commonly asked question about possible German Shepherd owners, include:
- What is the breed’s personality like? German Shepherds are an intelligent breed of dog. They require regular mental stimulation, in addition to rigorous physical exercise. Don’t be surprised if your pup tries to herd you or your other pets. These dogs tend to be very attached to their owners, but they are bold and curious, eager to explore their environment.
- How much exercise does a German Shepherd need? Like many other large breeds, exercise is essential for the health of a German Shepherd. A lack of exercise will lead to an unhappy dog, poor obedience, and possibly destructive behavior. A German Shepherd will need exercise every day. Off-leash running (in a safe, fenced area), fetch, and agility training are all good options for this active breed.
- How much work goes into grooming? That beautiful German Shepherd coat means you can expect regular shedding. Brushing every few days can help minimize the amount of dog fur you find around the house, according to the AKC. A couple times of year the shedding may increase, which means more frequent brushing sessions. You may also need to bathe your pup when she gets dirty during playtime.
- Is the German Shepherd a family dog? With a reputation as a one-person dog, some people may wonder if it is a good idea to bring a GSD home to the family. The answer to this question depends on socialization. If a German Shepherd is properly socialized with people and other dogs at a young age, he can be a wonderful addition to the family, according to the Canine Journal.
If you are adopting an older dog that has not been properly socialized, it will take a lot of work and time to ensure he is comfortable with the family.
- Can I have a German Shepherd if I work fulltime? A busy life does not mean you have to give up the joy of dog ownership, but you do need to take into account the high energy levels of a dog like the German Shepherd. Crating this dog for a full workday is not ideal. Consider hiring a dog walker or doggy daycare to keep your pup happy and healthy while you bring home the bacon.
If you have decided a German Shepherd is right for you, there is a rescue organization for the breed that operates out of the Chicago suburbs.
Written by Carrie Pallardy