German Shepherd History
German Shepherds have been around since the start of the 20th century, when the Society for German Shepherds was started by Max von Stephanitz, a dog breeder in Germany. He is credited with the creation of the breed, which he bred with the intention of developing the best possible dog for herding, particularly prizing intelligence and loyalty. These traits have led to their famous use as seeing eye dogs, as well as police or military animals, or guard dogs. The breed quickly became popular all over the world, and today is the second most common family dog in America. Of course, they also excel at their original purpose of herding livestock.
German Shepherd Personality Traits
The German Shepherd’s alertness and bravery make them excellent at almost any job they are assigned. Despite their fierce attitude and bold reputation, they are not overly aggressive by nature. However, they still require training, as does any breed, depending upon the needs of their owenrs. For families, they can learn to be gentle and quiet, and then are often excellent babysitters! A well-trained German Shepherd are often more than happy watching after young children and playing with them. They can also be taught to guard people or places, or to help their owners with certain tasks (like seeing eye dogs). Some shepherds may not make good family dogs. Former police or military animals usually fall into this category, although sometimes they can change. Fortunately, they are incredibly smart and adaptable dogs. However, if possible and practical, obtaining a young German Shepherd who is still learning and easily trainable will be preferable, so that he or she can more readily adapt to your home. Regardless of your intended use of the dog, your German Shepherd should receive proper training from a young age.
Part of this responsibility comes from their size. An untrained dog of their size could pose a danger to owners, neighbors, or other dogs. But not to worry, remember they are great learners! At about two feet from shoulder to ground, 30 inches long, and between 65-90 pounds (for males), German Shepherds are medium to large dogs. These sizes are the desirable measruements of a German Shepherd according to the American Kennel Club.
German Shepherd Appearance
German Shepherds are double-coat dogs, meaning they have an outer coat of hair and a thicker undercoat. This also means that they tend to shed considerably when the seasons change, particularly in the spring and fall. They should be groomed year round, but brushing and de-shedding is especially important during these seasons, as failing to do so could lead to matted and tangled hair, or clogged vacuum cleaners! Their notable shedding should also be taken into account for people with allergy problems, as being in a home where a German Shepherd lives (and sheds) could become unpleasant for them. German Shepherds should be bathed periodically if they smell, but not too often. They actually have layers of oils on their skin that are good for them, and removing these through constant baths could lead to skin problems.
Choosing the Right German Shepherd
When choosing a German Shepherd puppy, prioritize a dog that comes from a quality breeder and shows promise for training and socializing. Specifically, look for one which appears trustful, attentive, and willing to learn. When interacting with you, they should explore and be curious, but they should focus a lot on you as well. Being able to pick them up or roll them over without them struggling too much shows submission and obedience.
German Shepherds’ intelligence and inquisitiveness means that they require consistent training. If not given proper instruction, they will often get into trouble when left alone. A fenced yard is ideal to give them room to exercise without as many opportunities to cause trouble. Strictly teach them what is and is not allowed; they actually crave this, and if you do not show them the rules, they will start to assign their own order to their life. Training is easy with German Shepherds because they form close connections with their handlers and have a strong desire to please. Being so adaptable makes German Shepherds excellent for any role. From their numerous jobs in the armed forces or police forces to a simple family dog who loves kids, they can learn to fit into almost any role.