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You are here: myPetSmart.com > Breeds > German Shepherd Dog

German Shepherd Dog

Origin: Germany

AKC Group: Herding

Height: 22-26 inches (56-66 cm) (Male)

Weight: 77-85 pounds (35-39 kg) (Male)

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Male height: 
22-26 inches (56-66 cm)
Male weight: 
77-85 pounds (35-39 kg)
Moderately short and fine, with a dense undercoat.
Colors are varied, and can include back with tan, sable, and all black. White coats are not accepted by the AKC for showing

Considering the popularity of the German Shepherd Dog (GSD), the foundation of this breed is amazingly recent. His beginnings can be traced to the work of Rittmeister Max von Stephanitz, considered the father of the breed. Determined to develop a highly efficient herding dog, von Stephanitz took what he considered the "perfect dog" - a herding dog named Horand von Grafrath - and began to breed for utility and intelligence. Eventually he standardized the breed, and von Stephanitz led the group that promoted German Shepherds from 1899 to 1935. As demand for herding decreased, von Stephanitz was determined not to let the GSD decline. He encouraged the breed's use by the police and the military. During World War I, there were 48,000 German Shepherds "enlisted" in the German Army. Today, the GSD serves perhaps in more ways than any other breed: search and rescue (S&R), police, army and sentry, scent discrimination, and of course, companion. German Shepherd Dogs are superb dog guides for the blind and helpers for the disabled.

GSDs are known for their exceptional loyalty, bravery and intelligence. As a dog who performs many special services and a host of tasks, he is by nature poised and unexcitable, with well-controlled nerves. The ideal German Shepherd is patient, quick-thinking, discriminating and keenly observant.
At home: 
The GSD is an extremely active dog who does best in a living situation with plenty of room. This doesn’t mean that he can't be an apartment dog, as long as his owner is extra conscientious about exercise. GSDs shed all year, so be prepared for some extra housework. They are not crazy about being left alone for long periods and thrive from close contact with their owners.
The athletic, intelligent and sensitive the German Shepherd Dog does best with regular and vigorous exercise. He has been trained to do just about everything and anything, and performing work or doing sports and activities with people is what he is all about. As adaptable as he is, the GSD is not a dog who can sit inside all day waiting for the occasional outing. He needs to be stimulated physically and mentally to reach his potential.
Feed a high-quality diet twice a day. Avoid artificial preservatives, flavors and colors when possible. The body of a GSD is a highly efficient machine, so a very good commercial or homemade diet is best.
German Shepherd Dogs thrive with training. It's their aptitude for learning that makes them universally admired as police and army dogs, guide dogs, service dogs, and search and rescue dogs. GSDs are quick learners who don't bore easily, although they do appreciate a quick-thinking trainer who will keep them challenged.
The GSD is sensible and has a devout loyalty to his family. With proper socialization, you'll find the GSD gentle and kind with children of all ages, although his herding background may mean that the kids are occasionally "herded." GSDs are usually tolerant of other pets.
The average life span of the German Shepherd Dog is 10 to 14 years. Common health problems of the German Shepherd Dog include hip and elbow dysplasia, epilepsy, chronic eczema, inflammation of the cornea (keratitis), dwarfism, blood disorders, digestive problems, and flea allergies.
Fun fact: 

German Shepherd Dogs also come in a white coat, but in the U.S., White German Shepherds are considered a separate breed.

Grooming blurb: 
The dense undercoat of the German Shepherd Dog needs regular brushing to keep it under control. He is a seasonally heavy shedder. He should not be bathed too frequently because this depletes the skin and coat of essential oils.
Copyright by T.F.H. Publications, Inc. This document has been published with the intent to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter within. While every reasonable precaution has been taken in preparation of this document, the author and publisher expressly disclaim responsibility for any errors, omissions, or adverse effects arising from the use or application of the information contained herein. The techniques and suggestions are used at the reader's discretion.