The German Shepherd Dog is a natural protector and so adaptable and intelligent that he has performed just about every job known to dog. If he had opposable thumbs, he would be unstoppable.
The German Shepherd Dog is one of America’s most popular dog breeds — for good reason. He’s an intelligent and capable working dog. His devotion and courage are unmatched. And he’s amazingly versatile, excelling at most anything he’s trained to do: guide and assistance work for the handicapped, police and military service, herding, search and rescue, drug detection, competitive obedience and, last but not least, faithful companion.
Rin Tin Tin, a pup found in a World War I battle zone, became the world’s first canine movie star, forever marking the German Shepherd Dog as one of the most easily recognized breeds. From his imposing size to his erect ears and dark, intelligent eyes, he has achieved legendary status as the ideal canine. A versatile, athletic and fearless working dog, the Shepherd has done just about every job a dog can do, from leading the blind and detecting illicit drugs to bringing down fleeing criminals and serving in the armed forces. An energetic, loyal and devoted companion, the German Shepherd isn’t a breed but a lifestyle.
The abilities of this breed go far beyond its origin as a herding dog. The German Shepherd has made a name for himself as a police and military dog, guide and assistance dog, search and rescue dog, and detector dog. He has excelled in every canine sport, including agility, obedience, rally, tracking and, of course, herding. German Shepherds still work livestock on farms and ranches around the world, including the United States. If you have horses, they will trot alongside you while you ride and help you put the horses back in the barn when you’re done.
It takes some dedication to live with a German Shepherd. Be prepared to provide plenty of exercise and mental stimulation. A half-hour walk twice a day, plus a vigorous play or training session, is a good start.
The protective but loving German Shepherd is a great choice for families with children, but singles and couples who love the outdoors also match up well with this breed. With sufficient exercise and opportunities to use their considerable athleticism and brains, these versatile companions can handle anything from a small city apartment to a vast ranch. They’re not suited for life in the backyard or a doghouse, but need to live indoors as a member of the family.
- German Shepherds isn’t the breed for you if you’re away from home frequently or for long periods of time. When left alone they can become anxious or bored, and are likely to express their worry in ways you don’t like — barking, chewing, and digging.
- The German Shepherd is an active and intelligent dog. He must be kept busy learning, playing, and working. Daily exercise, both physical and mental, is a must.
- German Shepherds can be aloof and suspicious of strangers. To raise a social and well-behaved dog, expose your German Shepherd puppy to many experiences, places, and people. Obedience training, beginning with puppy classes, is important for getting him used to other people and dogs, as well as teaching him basic canine manners.
- These dogs shed, shed, shed — in fact, their nickname is the “German shedder.” Brush him several times a week and buy a good vacuum. You’ll need it.
- Crate training is not only a wonderful way to housetrain a puppy, it helps teach him to be calm and happy when separated from his owner. This is especially important for the German Shepherd, who sometimes suffers separation anxiety, or extreme anxiety when left alone.
- He’s got a reputation for being a great watchdog — and he is — but the German Shepherd should never be chained or tethered just to stand guard. No dog should; it leads to frustration and aggression. The German Shepherd is happiest living indoors with the family, but with access to a large, fenced yard, where he can burn off some of his natural energy.
- To get a healthy dog, never buy a puppy from an irresponsible breeder, puppy mill, or pet store. Look for a reputable breeder who tests her breeding dogs to make sure they’re free of genetic diseases that they might pass onto the puppies, and that they have sound temperaments.
- The German Shepherd is highly intelligent and will not be content to live life as a couch potato. He’s a dog of action, and he needs to live with an active person who will give him a job worthy of his talents.
- German Shepherds love children and make great family dogs when they are given early socialization and training.
- Most of us think of the German Shepherd as a black and tan dog, but they can also be sable and solid black. Dogs with white, blue or liver-colored coats are frowned upon by breeders, so don’t fall for marketing claims that those colors are “rare” and command a higher price.
- A German Shepherd should never be shy, nervous or aggressive.
- Comparable Breeds: Doberman Pinscher, Rottweiler