The German Shepherd Breed
The most loved breed of dog in the world, the German Shepherd, can be a wonderful addition to any family. This diverse dog is noble, protective and needs lots of attention.
The German Shepherd is one of the most popular breed of dogs in the world. Known and admired for their focused temperament and fierce loyalty, the German Shepherd has come a long way from their early working days.
THE EARLY HISTORY
The German Shepherd has been in existence as a distinct breed for the last 90 years. The breed's ancestors are traced back as early as the 19th century, where informal breeding groups of Shepherd owners banded together to try and produce the perfect dog: a rare breed of German Shepherd that would work as hard as he would play. The initial group disbanded and disappeared as quickly as they had arrived. In 1899 however, a german breeding group known as "Der Verein fur Deutsche Schaeferhunde" formed and would hold the key to breeding what we now know as "the common German Shepherd."
THE GERMAN SHEPHERD COMES TO THE U.S.
The German Shepherd dog first came to the United States in 1908 by way of Germany. The popularity of the breed increased during and after World War I, when returning soldiers told of the dog's bravery and work with the Red Cross during the war. If that wasn't enough to seal the fate of the fast rising breed, Rin Tin Tin and Strongheart, two of the most beloved dogs in silent film history, would capture the hearts of Americans and make this the dog to own for many years to come.
Upon their arrival to the United States, the Shepherd was quickly thrown into the working world. An excellent guard dog and hard worker, the Shepherd worked farms, rounding cattle and watching over livestock.
Temperament in dogs is inherited. The general rule of thumb when it comes to German Shepherds is to assume that if both sets of parents had good temperament, so too will their offspring. Poor temperament in any animal is considered to be the product of poor breeding.
German Shepherds exude confidence and nobility. Sound German Shepherds are naturally obedient protectors. A German Shepherd should never lunge or attack strangers. A sound dog will be instinctively protective of its owner and household.
While there are several different breeds of German Shepherds, all with their own unique qualities, the most commonly known and recognized Shepherd is black, grey, tan and white in color. The classic shepherd wears a mask-like face and has distinctive black markings around both eyes.
A male German Shepherd generally weighs between 75-95 pounds when full grown, and the female weighs in just slightly lower on the scale. Male Shepherds are 24-26-inches at the shoulder blades and females 20-22-inches. Shepherds' ears stand upright and erect at all times. The posture of the shepherd is also very strong and upright as well, giving its noble appearance.
The shepherd can have a wide variety of coats with the most common being short to medium in length. The typical shepherd has two separate coats, which it sheds twice a year as the seasons change from cold to warm and visa versa. The Shepherd's outer coat is coarse and waterproof and its inner coat is soft and wooly.
STRENGTH AND AGILITY
The German Shepherd is a strong working dog that appears to move with much ease. Shepherds can easily climb, jump and maneuver themselves gracefully in situations which leave other dogs behind. The Shepherd is just as comfortable swimming and playing with humans as it is rounding up cattle on a farm. Known for its diverse nature, this dog adapts well to almost any situation.
German Shepherd puppies are sociable, loveable dogs that can be trained easily to conform to the rules of a household or work environment. With an extremely high level of intelligence, this dog will work tirelessly to gain your approval and push you to teach him new tricks and behavioral guidelines.
German Shepherds must be socialized regularly, if you plan on making this a family pet. Shepherds that go through their early life with minimal interaction are likely to be far more aggressive than dogs who have been introduced to new environments and people. Shepherds are not a breed of dog that function well on their own. When removed from the company of owners or other companion animals, the Shepherd acts out out of fear, boredom and lack of attention. Contrary to their brave exterior, the Shepherd requires much more attention and interaction than other dogs.
The German Shepherd does not mature quickly and stays in the arms of puppyhood much longer than other breeds. Firm discipline and a secure environment will help define guidelines for your dog and give him a better understanding of his rules, even though he may not always be inclined to follow them.
The Shepherd is considered fully grown (physically) between 2 1/2-3 years. Mental and emotional intelligence reaches its peak between 3-4 years.
The Shepherd is an active dog and requires much room to play and run, especially during its early formative years. The Shepherd is equipped with a strong sense of smell, and loves nothing more than running through a field and encountering new sights, sounds and smells.
The Shepherd also needs companionship. Shepherd puppies and adults do not function well when left to their own devices. Lots of attention and plenty of exercise make this dog's job of fitting into the family much easier.
Hip Dysplacia, a common hip disease in large breed dogs, runs high in the Shepherd family. Though not life threatening, this disease can seriously slow your dog later in life and cause significant pain. Any good breeder will inform you of your dog's medical history and whether or not this debilitating disease is likely to be inherited in your new pup.
The Shepherd is remarkably easy to care for. Meticulously clean with their coat and body, the Shepherd requires a bath only once every few months. Shepherds are heavy shedders though, so regular brushings are a must!
Lots of exercise, entertainment and training make this an easy dog to care for!
Today, the German Shepherd is America's most popular and loved breed of dog. Shepherds are often found working search and rescue missions with local police departments and also enjoying a spot in a family home. Shepherds have made excellent candidates as police dogs, arson investigators, airport and classroom drug sniffers and family pets.