Dog Breed

German Shepherd

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Primary image of German Shepherd dog breed
Full Name
German Shepherd
Alternate Names
Alsatian, Berger Allemand, Deutscher Schäferhund, Schäferhund
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Life Span
10 - 13 years
Weight
50 - 90 pounds
Description

The German Shepherd is known for being a family dog, but who can also serve as an excellent guard dog. They are intelligent and alert and are a dog that you and your family can feel safe with. They are courageous, loyal, and obedient. They also have moderate energy and shed a lot. Despite their protective nature, they are still friendly with other dogs and children. The German Shepherd is eager to please, and wants a "job" to do- all of these characteristics add up to make them excellent police and service dogs.

Origin
Germany
Bred For
Herding, Guard dog
Attachments
Family Considerations
Child Friendly

Is the German Shepherd good with children? Nearly all dogs enjoy playing with small children, but some can play too rough, or be a bit careless. In some cases dogs can get jealous of small children, or try and "herd" them due to their natural instincts.

Stranger Friendly

Is the German Shepherd friendly with strangers? Getting a dog that is friendly with people really depends on what your lifestyle is. Dogs who are more cautious with strangers oftentimes make good guard dogs, which can be a great fit for some owners. If you are social, live in the city, or frequently have guests over, you may want to consider getting a stranger friendly dog.

Dog Friendly

Is the German Shepherd friendly with other dogs? Of course this is particularly important if you already have another dog at home. However, it's an important factor to consider as well if you plan on frequently going to the dog park. Otherwise, even a dog who is not automatically friendly with other dogs can be an excellent fit, as they can still be affectionate with their human family.

Likes to Cuddle

Does the German Shepherd like to cuddle? All dogs want love, but they have different boundaries when it comes to physical affection. If you plan on frequently having a dog on your lap or pushed up against you, then you should consider whether this breed enjoys that.

Playfulness

Does the German Shepherd like to play? All puppies are playful, but as adults certain dogs are more playful. If you have children, or otherwise want to keep your dog active with plenty of play, there are plenty of options of breeds who will be happy to play all day.

Service Dog Ability

Does the German Shepherd make a good service dog? When looking to train a service dog it's important to consider how they were historically bred, and if their personality makes a good fit. A service dog must be smart, patient, and obsessed with pleasing their owner. Working dogs are a good fits since service dog 'work' gives them a feeling of accomplishment from doing a job.

Overall Ease of Breed
Ease for Novice

Is the German Shepherd good for first time owners? Dogs that are good for first time owners are ones who are easy to train, and are eager to please their owner. Very large dogs, or dogs with very high energy may also not be the best for first time owners since it adds a layer of complexity.

Training Potential

How well can the German Shepherd be trained? This rating is about the training potential of the German Shepherd. Dogs with high training potential oftentimes are good service dogs, police dogs, and dog show competition dogs. This does not necessarily mean they are the easiest to train, since many will be very intelligent and demanding.

Amount of Shedding

Does the German Shepherd shed a lot?

Ease of Grooming

Is the German Shepherd easy to groom?

Exercise Need

Does the German Shepherd need a lot of exercise?

Personality
Intelligence

How smart is the German Shepherd?

Amount of Barking

How much does the German Shepherd bark? Does the German Shepherd bark too much? It depends on your lifestyle, and where you live. Dogs use barking to communicate, keep guard, and alert. A strong bark can be a good characteristic for guard dogs, or flock guardian dogs who need to be vocal.In apartment living you should consider getting a dog who is less vocal.

Guard Dog Ability

Is the German Shepherd a good guard dog?

Tolerates Being Alone

Is the German Shepherd good at staying alone? Is the German Shepherd independent?

Home and Environment Considerations
Good for Apartment Living

Is the German Shepherd a good apartment dog? Can the German Shepherd live in an apartment without becoming frustrated or destructive? Typically people immediately consider the size of the dog, but energy level and historical habitat are also factors.

Size

How big is the German Shepherd?

Tolerates Heat

How much does the German Shepherd tolerate hot weather? When is it too hot for a German Shepherd?

Tolerates Cold

How much does the German Shepherd tolerate cold weather? When is it too cold for a German Shepherd?

Potential to Run Away

Does the German Shepherd try to run away? Some dogs have natural wanderlust and are escape artists... they will do everything to get out and explore.

Physical Characteristics
General Health

Is the German Shepherd a healthy dog? The general health of a German Shepherd should be measured not just by how many years they live, but how often they have health issues during their lives. It is important to know which health conditions your breed is prone to- hip problems, eye problems, bloating, and arthritis are all common dog health problems.

Energy Level

How energetic is the German Shepherd? Is the German Shepherd too energetic for your lifestyle?

Amount of Drooling

How much does the German Shepherd drool?

Prey Drive

Does the German Shepherd have a large prey drive? Does the German Shepherd like to chase birds, cats, and other small animals? Prey drive can be bothersome at the park, but really an issue at home if you have small animals, since this comes as a natural instinct for dogs with high prey drive, to chase cats, birds, etc.

Athleticism

Is the German Shepherd atheltic? Is the German Shepherd fast and strong?

Breed Variations

The German Shepherd is a purebred dog that belongs to the Shepherd / Sheepdog sub group, which falls under the larger Herding dog breed group.
Herding group: The Herding group dogs all share an instinctual ability to control the movement of other animals. They have traditionally been raised on farms to help herd and protect valuable livestock. They are intelligent, and have been bred to treat each day like they have a "job" they must do. Their innate herding ability is such a big part of who they are, that they are known to even "herd" their owners, children, or other small dogs. Some can seem stubborn and even obsessed with their herding, since they take it seriously! They have high expectations, and must be stimulated mentally just as much as physically. The reward to these "high expectations" is that they can be trained very well, and are oftentimes used in competitions. Certain breeds such as the well known German Shepard are also used by Police forces, because of their discipline, intelligence, and ability to be trained.
Shepherd / Sheepdog sub-group: Shepherd dogs are the super performers of the dog world. For many generations they have served their owners by performing their job of helping in the farm- guarding, protecting, and herding. Shepherds were bred based off intelligence and temperament, and willingness to serve their families. Today they are excellent family dogs, but also excel as military service animals, emotional therapy dogs, and in competitive obedience competitions. They are highly trainable and intelligent, but that does not necessarily mean they are an easy dog or optimal for first time owners. With this potential comes greater responsibility from the owner. They need a firm owner who is willing to stimulate them both physically and mentally from an early age. They need a leader. If they have one, you will be rewarded with one of the friendliest and most intelligent dogs in the World.

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