It probably comes as no surprise that the German Shepherd dog does in fact originate from Germany.
German Shepherd puppies were bred in the late 1800’s for herding sheep and protecting their flock from predators. A man named Max von Stephanitz wanted to create a working dog for herding and so cross bred other working dogs around the country, eventually ending with the German Shepherd. They were known as “servants” for farmers and strictly kept as workers and now have a life expectancy of 10-14 years.
In the UK, German Shepherds were known as Alsatians during the world war as the word “German” had a negative connotation at the time. To this day, many Britons still know them as Alsatians.
They attained a reputation for being a courageous breed of dog and very easy to train. This is part of the reason they became the perfect match as police dogs and sight dogs. Their sense of smell and observation skills were essential skills for these types of work.
Besides their hard-working nature, German Shepherds are well known as a domestic companion, protector and most importantly – friend.
What do German Shepherds look like?
This medium sized dog breed is a strong and muscley one! Their body length is greater than their height with their deep chests making them stand proud. You’ll recognise them for their erect ears, almond eyes and their trot when they walk.
Males stand between 60cm and 65cm and a healthy weight falls between 30-40kg. Female German Shepherds however stand around 55cm-60cm with a healthy weight falling between 22kg and 32kg.
German Shepherds hold both a short and long-haired double coat, depending on which you opt for. They appear in the colours black with red tan, black and tan, black with gold or grey, all black and all grey, (which we call sable and they often have dark shadings). Watch out though, this breed are high shedders!
What is a German Shepherd’s personality like?
This breed of dog is known for its high intelligence and watchfulness. In fact, they are often used as a watch dog due to their protective, confident and suspicious nature. They have a reputation for being an excellent police dog but they are wonderful family dogs too. They are easy to train and love to be mentally stimulated – they are working dogs after all.
It may also surprise you that this task driven dog breed is incredibly affectionate. They are loyal and courageous and often go above and beyond to protect their family or owners. You’ll often catch them on the news with a heroic story to be told!
They are obedient and curious, making them open to learning new things. You’ll always catch them on alert and ready to act when they need to.
Their high energy requires them to be exercised often and as if left alone for too long may become destructive – as with many other dog breeds. Boredom is no companion for a German Shepherd!
Which health problems affect German Shepherds the most?
Being a deep chested dog breed, German Shepherds are one of those that are prone to bloating. This can be a fatal problem if not addressed quickly when it occurs. It involves the stomach filling with gas to a point where it flips, causing a twisted stomach. Tips to prevent bloating include resting after each meal, using a bowl lower down and not elevated and even a procedure to staple the stomach to the abdominal wall.
Hip and elbow dysplasia are amongst the common joint diseases that German Shepherds may experience. If left untreated can develop into arthritis in dogs. Dysplasia in joints is where the joint doesn’t form correctly, causing pain at the site. Joint supplements are often recommended as an affordable and effective way to relieve symptoms of dysplasia and arthritis.
Degenerative myelopathy is a disease of the spinal cord which over time switches off the communication to the brain. This leaves a dog unable to use his or her hind legs as a result of progressive paralysis. There is no current cure for this problem.
Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI) affects the pancreas, stunting its ability to digest fat, carbohydrates and proteins as well as other important nutrients. This can lead to malnutrition if not addressed properly. Supplementing with powder is often more effective than using tablets or other form of help.
German Shepherds are amongst the breeds of dog that suffer with many environmental allergies. Whilst other breeds may show these in other ways, Germans Shepherds almost always show them in atopic dermatitis (CAD). Belly, ears and folds of the skin are generally the most affected. Signs that your dog may have an allergy are flaky skin, hotspots, hair loss, dandruff, sores and dry skin.
This beautiful dog breed has become increasingly popular amongst many households across the world – 10 million to be precise! Our furry German friends are perfect for you if you live an active lifestyle and want a lifelong protector and friend!