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German Shepherd

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

German Shepherd

German Shepherd Dog

Other names

Alsatian (UK)
Alsatian Wolf Dog (UK)
Berger Allemand
Deutscher Schferhund
German Shepherd


Country of origin

Litter size
Life span


3040 kg (6688 lb)[1]
2232 kg (4971 lb)[1]
6065 cm (2426 in)[1]
5560 cm (2224 in)[1]

Double coat
Most commonly tan with black saddle
913 years[3]
[show]Classification and standards

Dog (Canis lupus familiaris)

The German Shepherd (German: Deutscher Schferhund, German pronunciation: [fhnt]) is a

breed of large-sized working dog that originated in Germany. The breed's officially recognized
name is German Shepherd Dog in the English language, sometimes abbreviated as "GSD", and
was also formerly known as the Alsatian and Alsatian Wolf Dog in Britain.[4] The German
Shepherd is a relatively new breed of dog, with their origin dating to 1899. As part of the Herding
Group, German Shepherds are working dogs developed originally for herding sheep. Since that
time, however, because of their strength, intelligence, trainability and obedience, German
Shepherds around the world are often the preferred breed for many types of work, including
search-and-rescue, police and military roles and even acting.[5] The German Shepherd is the
second-most popular breed of dog in the United States[6] and fourth-most popular in the United

1 Description
o 1.1 Intelligence
2 Temperament
o 2.1 Aggression and biting
3 Modern breed
o 3.1 Controversy
4 Use as working dog
5 History
6 Etymology
7 Popularity
8 Health
9 In popular culture
10 See also
11 References
12 Further reading
13 External links


German Shepherds have black masks and black body markings.

German Shepherds are large sized dogs. The breed standard height at the withers is 6065 cm
(2426 in) for males and 5560 cm (2224 in) for females.[1][8][9] The weight standard is 3040
kilograms (6688 lb) for males and 2232 kilograms (4971 lb) for females.[1] They have a domed

forehead, a long square-cut muzzle and a black nose. The jaws are strong, with a scissor-like
bite. The eyes are medium-sized and brown with a lively, intelligent and self-assured look. The
ears are large and stand erect, open at the front and parallel, but they often are pulled back
during movement. They have a long neck, which is raised when excited and lowered when
moving at a fast pace. The tail is bushy and reaches to the hock.[8]
German Shepherds have a variety of colors, the most common of which are tan/black and
red/black. Most color varieties have black masks and black body markings which can range from
a classic "saddle" to an over-all "blanket." Rarer colour variations include the sable, pureblack, pure-white, liver and blue varieties. The all-black and sable varieties are acceptable
according to most standards; however, the blue and liver are considered to be serious faults and
the all-white is grounds for instant disqualification in some standards.[10]
German Shepherds sport a double coat. The outer coat, which sheds all year round, is close and
dense with a thick undercoat. The coat is accepted in two variants; medium and long. The longhair gene is recessive, making the long-hair variety rarer. Treatment of the long-hair variation
differs across standards; they are accepted but not competed with standard coated dogs under
the German and UK Kennel Clubs while they can compete with standard coated dogs but are
considered a fault in the American Kennel Club.[8][10][11]The FCI accepted the long-haired type in
2010, listing it as the variety b - while short-haired type is listed as the variety a.[12]

German Shepherds are large sized dogs.

Close-up of a German Shepherd's face showing the long muzzle, black nose and brown, mediumsized eyes

The adult German Shepherd's ears are large and stand erect, but 14-week-old puppies' ears are
often not completely erect yet.

A 2 year old black German Shepherd

German Shepherds were bred specifically for their intelligence,[13] a trait for which they are now
famous.[5] In the book The Intelligence of Dogs, author Stanley Coren ranked the breed third for
intelligence, behind Border Collies and Poodles.[14][15] He found that they had the ability to learn
simple tasks after only five repetitions and obeyed the first command given 95% of the
time.[5] Coupled with their strength, this trait makes the breed desirable
as police, guard and search and rescue dogs, as they are able to quickly learn various tasks and
interpret instructions better than other large breeds.[16] There is evidence that Hitler (who loved
German Shepherds for their loyalty) undertook efforts to train the German Shepherd and other
dogs during WW2 to talk and read. [17]


A German Shepherd with a baby

German Shepherds are highly active dogs and described in breed standards as selfassured.[10] The breed is marked by a willingness to learn and an eagerness to have a purpose.
They are curious which makes them excellent guard dogs and suitable for search missions. They
can become over-protective of their family and territory, especially if not socialized correctly. They
are not inclined to become immediate friends with strangers.[18] German Shepherds are highly
intelligent and obedient.[19]

Aggression and biting[edit]

Well-trained and socialized German Shepherds have a reputation as being very safe. However, in
the United States, one 1996 source suggests that German Shepherds are responsible for more
reported bitings than any other breed and suggests a tendency to attack smaller breeds of
dogs.[20] An Australian report from 1999 provides statistics showing that German Shepherds are
the third breed most likely to attack a person in some Australian locales.[21]
According to the National Geographic Channel television show Dangerous Encounters, the bite of
a German Shepherd has a force of over 1,060 newtons (238 lbf) (compared with that of
a Rottweiler, over 1,1801,460 newtons (265328 lbf), a Pit bull, 1,050 newtons (235 lbf),
a Labrador Retriever, of approximately 1,000 newtons (230 lbf), or a human, of approximately
380 newtons (86 lbf)).[22]

Modern breed[edit]
The modern German Shepherd breed is criticized by some for straying away from von
Stephanitz's original ideology for the breed:[23] that German Shepherds should be bred primarily
as working dogs and that breeding should be strictly controlled to eliminate defects quickly.[24] He
believed that, above all else, German Shepherds should be bred for intelligence and working
Some critics believe that careless breeding has promoted disease and other defects.[23] Under the
breeding programs overseen by von Stephanitz, defects were quickly bred out. However, In the
United States, the Orthopedic Foundation For Animals currently ranks the German Shepherd
40th in incidence of hip dysplasia as the percentage of those affected continues to drop.[26]


The show-line dogs usually have an extremely sloping topline

The Kennel Club, in the United Kingdom, is involved in a dispute with German Shepherd breed
clubs about the issue of soundness in the show-strain breed.[27] The show-strains have been bred
with an extremely sloping topline (back) that causes poor gait in the hind legs. Working-pedigree
lines, such as those in common use as service dogs, generally retain the traditional straight back
of the breed.
The debate was catalyzed when the issue was raised in the BBC documentary, Pedigree Dogs
Exposed, which said that critics of the breed describe it as "half dog, half frog". An orthopedic vet
remarked on footage of dogs in a show ring that they were "not normal".
The Kennel Club's position is that "this issue of soundness is not a simple difference of opinion, it
is the fundamental issue of the breed's essential conformation and movement."[27] The Kennel
Club has decided to retrain judges to penalize dogs suffering these problems.[28]
It is also insisting on more testing for hemophilia and hip dysplasia, other common problems with
the breed.

Use as working dog[edit]