10 Facts You Should Know About German Shepherds (with Pictures)

Taylor A Ritz

The breed of dog officially recognized as the German Shepherd also goes by the name Alsatian Wolf Dog and the Schaferhund. The German Shepherd, a medium to large-sized dog, originated in Germany as a working dog.

1. Where Does The German Shepherd Come From?

It comes as no surprise that the German Shepherd originated in Germany. What may come as a surprise to many is that the breed is relatively modern when it comes to dog breeds; the German Shepherd was first bred in the late 1800s.

Recent genetic studies have shown that German Shepherds were bred from a widely-distributed European herding dog sometime after 1860. Around 1890, this “continental shepherd dog” was selectively bred until three distinct breeds emerged: the Belgian Shepherd, the Dutch Shepherd, and the German Shepherd.

German Shepherds were originally bred to work as a herding dog; more specifically, their task was a sheep-herding. Due to their intelligence, strength, and trainability, German Shepherds have gone on to work in many jobs across a diverse array of fields. These dogs have been used in police, military, and search-and-rescue fields, as well as in disability assistance, to name a few.

The German Shepherd is the second-most-popular breed registered with the American Kennel Club behind the Labrador Retriever.

2. What Does A German Shepherd Look Like?

A German Shepherd’s body should be gracefully balanced and curved as opposed to angled. They should appear strong, agile, and muscular. Males and females differ in appearance, as the male appears more masculine while the female German Shepherd has more delicate features.

German Shepherds can exhibit a wide variety of coat colors. The most commonly seen pattern is a tan base with a black saddle across the back, as well as black on the face, ears, tail, and feet.

These dogs can also display coats of black and cream, black and red, and black and silver. In addition to the traditional markings, German Shepherds can also appear in solid coat colors. These include black, blue, gray, liver, sable, and white.

3. When Do German Shepherds Stop Growing?

Male German Shepherds can reach up to 25 inches in height at the shoulder and weigh 65 to 90 pounds. Females usually reach between 22 and 24 inches tall and weigh 50 to 70 pounds. Like most larger dogs, German Shepherds usually stop growing at 2.5 to 3 years of age.

4. What Is The Temperament Of A German Shepherd?

German Shepherds are watchdogs through and through; they are aloof, but not normally aggressive. They are reserved and do not make friends immediately. German Shepherds assess new people before deciding whether they are friend or foe. With their families, German Shepherds are easygoing, loving, and loyal; however, when threatened, they can be strong, protective, and intimidating.

German Shepherds are highly intelligent and driven. As a result, these dogs need a job to do. They can get along with children and other pets if they are exposed to these environments from an early age.

5. What Are The Exercise Requirements For A German Shepherd?

German Shepherds are an active, athletic breed by nature. They require substantial, rigorous physical and mental exercise that engages their bodies as well as their minds.

Their intelligence requires them to be regularly challenged; otherwise, they will find ways to entertain themselves. A tired dog is a well-behaved dog; dogs that do not get enough exercise can become bored and resort to undesirable or destructive behaviors. 

Owners of German Shepherds commonly have them participate in activities such as agility, herding, tracking, and dock diving competitions. 

6. How Do You Train A German Shepherd?

In addition to plenty of physical exercise, German Shepherds need mental stimulation too. One way to get those brain gears turning is with training.

Training and socialization are vital from an early age for any dog, especially one as strong and intelligent as the German Shepherd. These dogs are loyal and eager to please their people, so establish your relationship early on and your German Shepherd will do anything for you. 

Training them to obey commands such as sit, stay, and come are essential. The more time you put into training your German Shepherd, the better it will pay off in the long run. Training is not only a time for learning but a time for bonding with your dog as well.

7. How Healthy Is A German Shepherd?

Like many purebreds, German Shepherds experience their fair share of health issues. Here are a few common health concerns German Shepherd owners should be aware of:

  • Hip/elbow dysplasia (bones of the hip joint/elbow don’t fit together correctly)
  • Degenerative myelopathy (a degenerative disease of the spinal cord)
  • Bloat (life-threatening twisting of the gastrointestinal tract)

The German Shepherd has a life expectancy of 7 to 10 years.

8. How Do You Properly Groom a German Shepherd?

The hair is a medium-length double coat consisting of a dense outercoat and a softer undercoat. They require a quick brushing 1 to 2 times a week to remove loose hairs and minimize shedding. Once or twice a year, a German Shepherd will go through a more intense shed, where they will need to be thoroughly brushed 3 to 4 times a week. They only need to be bathed occasionally as needed, but nails should be trimmed or ground down regularly.

9. Who Was Rin Tin Tin?

Arguably the most famous German Shepherd of all time, Rin Tin Tin was an international movie star in the 1920s. Rin Tin Tin was rescued by an American soldier, Lee Duncan, from a battlefield during World War I.

Duncan named the dog “Rinty,” took him home to the United States, trained him, and obtained silent film work for the dog. Rin Tin Tin went on to appear in 27 Hollywood Films and increased the popularity of the German Shepherd as a family pet.

10. Does German Shepherd Make A Good Pet For A Family?

A German Shepherd is a loyal, protective, and loving dog. They bond quite strongly with their human companions and love nothing more than to be with their people. They get along well with other members of the household, including children and other pets, as long as they are properly conditioned from a young age.

If you are looking for an energetic and intelligent working dog who will be devoted to your family, look no further than the German Shepherd.

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Taylor Ritz

Taylor has a Bachelor of Science in Animal Science. She is a former zookeeper and animal trainer. She has her own dog, Dobby, with whom she has bicycled across the U.S. and thru-hiked the Long Trail.

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