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German Shepherd: an intelligent dog fit for varied work

German shepherd breed

The German Shepherd wins hearts as a highly adaptable dog. It excels in roles ranging from guardian and military helper to tracker and companion, even dabbling succefully in acting. This smart dog can switch roles with ease.But be warned! This strong-willed dog needs consistent and firm training to become obedient and balanced. Let’s explore the main traits and essential needs of a German Shepherd.

The origin of the German Shepherd

In Germany, farmers employed various types of sheepdogs to herd and protect livestock. Captain Max Von Stephanitz had a vision in the late 19th century. He yearned for a breed embodying the skills of these diverse sheepdogs.

Armed with determination, he set a precise breeding and selection program in motion. His goal was to breed a versatile dog that can both guard flocks and its family while being a top-tier pet. He led breeders with a systematic approach. He made sure the breeding dogs possessed a sound temperament, a keen working instinct, and a robust constitution, making them suited for a variety of tasks.

The German Shepherd made its first show appearance in 1892. The breed’s club was established in 1899, and in the same year, they published the first standard.

Main physical characteristics

German shepherd sizeHeight at the withers:

  • 23 to 25 inches (60 to 65 cm) for the male.
  • 21 to 23 inches (55 to 60 cm) for the female.


  • 66 to 88 pounds for the male ( (30 to 40 kilos).
  • 48 to 70 pounds for the female. for the male (22 to 32 kilos).

Coat: short, dense, harsh, and straight with a very thick undercoat. Neck hair and trimmings (under the body, legs, and tail) are longer.

Color: black and tan. Black with shades of brown, red, cream, and light gray.

Life expectancy: 10 to 12 years.

Character and behavior

  • Self-assured, courageous with a developed fighting instinct, the German shepherd has a strong temperament that often makes him suspicious or dominant with strangers and other animals.
  • German shepherd behaviorLoyal, lively, and of exceptional intelligence, he needs a reference master. This person must educate him rigorously and consistently to build a trusting relationship. When properly socialized and well-educated, the German shepherd is a fantastic life companion. He is a single-owner dog, always looking to please his master.
  • Active and sporty, he needs daily outings. Efforts should be moderate during the first year to take care of his joints.
  • A working and utility dog, he doesn’t tolerate solitude and separation well, forming a real duo with his master. Hence, it’s crucial to get him used to being alone from a young age to avoid over-attachment. Otherwise, he will resort to destructive behavior, self-harm, and barking to express his discomfort.
  • More suited for a house, he can adapt to apartment life if he gets enough daily exercise.
  • He lives well with children whom he tends to protect, taking the usual precautions.
  • Often, he is the only pet in the house (depending on his personal personality and primary socialization).
  • As a territorial and guard dog, it is a breed that barks.

Health, grooming and feeding a German shepherd

German shepherd health:

Though the German shepherd boasts of a robust health, it’s predisposed to certain illnesses:

  • Hip and elbow dysplasia,
  • Congenital heart anomalies,
  • Glaucoma,
  • Degenerative myelopathy,
  • Stomach dilation,
  • Skin problems.

Coat care:

During the two seasonal shedding periods, daily brushing becomes a must to remove dead hair. Outside these times, a weekly brushing will do. As with all dogs, it’s crucial to maintain their ears, eyes, teeth, and keep those nails at just the right length.

Feeding the German shepherd:

  • TGerman shepherd foodhere are specific kibbles for the German shepherd, tailored to meet the needs of this large breed dog.
  • Predisposed to bone issues, their food during the first year needs to be low in calories and balanced in proteins, to prevent their growth from racing away.
  • It’s wise to give them a single meal in the evening, in a quiet, secluded spot to prevent stomach torsion. Tailor the quantity to their activity level, as they tend to gain weight.

Budget planning:

The average price for a German shepherd ranges between 700 and 1500 dollars/euros. Sturdy as they are, their main monthly expense will be food, about 60 dollars/euros for specific German shepherd kibbles.

Smart tip

Keep a special eye on the length of the dewclaw in German shepherds. Since it doesn’t touch the ground when the dog walks, it won’t wear down naturally.

Images: Pixabay: Anja, Ralph, Yama Zsuzsanna Márkus, Yama Zsuzsanna Márkus

Written by Lydie Dronet | With over 20 years in the field of animal care, Lydie shares her paws-on expertise and experience. Other topics she loves delving into are nutrition and the medicinal uses of plants.
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