German Shepherd dogs are regularly near the top of the list of popular breeds in the United States and many other countries. It is no wonder that this large versatile dog is such a popular breed.
They are used as police, herding, army, guide, hearing, rescue dogs for all types of disasters, drug and explosive sniffer dogs, guard, tracker, gas leak sniffer, protector, and of course the family dog. Naturally brave and courageous they will give their lives for their masters. Many a German Shepherd Training has been decorated for its valor in service and for competitive excellence in rally, tracking, show, and obedience.
The breed standard for the GSD (German Shepherd Dog) has eleven colors that are permitted for the breed; they are solid black, blue, gray, liver, sable, white, black and tan/silver/red and cream or bi-color. German Shepherd Dogs are a large agile breed that require regular physical and mental exercise, but can live in apartments or large expanses. The key is daily vigorous exercise. They are relatively calm and relaxed when indoors. If properly socialized and trained they make great family dogs because they adore children, are naturally protective and in most cases tolerate other pets. They are best suited to active families that can commit to the daily exercise requirements.
German Shepherds love being close to their family units and being included in their daily activities, so keep this in mind because they are not mentally healthy when isolated. They are protective and loyal to their handler, master, and family. Be aware when your GSD is issuing a warning bark, because they only bark when it is necessary. These dogs make a great family member that expects to sleep indoors with their families. When seeking a puppy for your family, find a breeder that temper tests their dogs and has a history of producing stable non-aggressive dogs.
For proper integration, begin socializing from the moment you procure your puppy. Problems occur when German Shepherds believe that they are the pack leader. Aggression and attacks on humans can occur when poor handling and training occurs. These dogs must have daily physical and mental exercise; they need to be kept engaged. Owners must be calm, possess natural authority, firmness, confidence, and remain consistent. If properly trained and socialized they are normally good with children and other pets. Their obedience training must be firm and begin early in puppyhood.
If they do not have a strong handler, they can become shy, edgy, and possibly prone to fear biting or guarding issues. As mentioned above, before purchasing a German Shepherd puppy you need to discern that you can be the strong trainer and owner this breed deserves. If you are, and train them well, you will have yourself one amazing dog.
Congratulations on choosing a German Shepherd Dog. It’s the perfectly versatile companion for you and your family.
German Shepherd History
The German Shepherd only dates back a little over a hundred years. The origin of the German Shepherd begins in 1899 when Max Von Stephanitz saw the realization of his dream. His dream was to make a standardized herding dog from the existing pool of many German farm dogs. He standardized an assemblage of German farm dogs into one strong, sturdy, smart, amicable working dog, which has become known as the German Shepherd. This dog became known worldwide for its ability to serve man in a variety of vocations, conditions, climates, and has done this through world wars and natural disasters.
During WWI, reports were received about a German wonder dog that was used as a courier, silent patrol dog, and to locate and recover wounded. After the war ended, other militaries adopted the German Shepherd for similar duties and more. Then in 1923, Rin Tin Tin, a German Shepherd brought back form WWI became a film star in American cinema and the GSD popularity skyrocketed.
When WWII broke out, Duncan, the founder and owner of Rin Tin Tin, began the American military’s K-9 division. Eventually, he and Rin Tin Tin III over saw the deployment of over five thousand dogs and handlers into military service.
After WWII, the German Shepherd population of Germany had been severely depleted and it took some time and diligence for the German breed to recover, but by nineteen forty-nine, quality dogs began to reappear in Germany. However, in America breeding thrived and produced many fine specimens.
In the 20th century, German Shepherds became one of the world’s most popular working breeds. The downside to its popularity was that it drove over-breeding that muddled the gene pool and caused some issues inherent to the breed that would otherwise not exist. Demand drove the market to produce masses of puppies for the awaiting new owners. Lack of proper over-sight in breeding selection has led to health issues such as hip and eye problems. This had previously happened in America following the years after WWI and experts from Germany had to be brought in to rectify the problem. Many kennel clubs and breeders work hard to continue furthering the health of the breed and producing quality healthy puppies.
The German Shepherd was officially recognized by the American Kennel Club in nineteen hundred and eight. As of 2015, the German Shepherd popularity is holding steady and they are ranked as the second most popular breed registered with the American Kennel Club.
Health and Your German Shepherd
Like humans, and most dogs the German Shepherd dog also can have the potential to develop ailments and diseases. Many of these ailments and diseases vary in type and prevalence, from breed to breed. Consider this fact when picking out your new puppy, and beware of any breeder that makes a claim that the puppies of their particular breed are “100% healthy.” A reputable and honest breeder should know and share any health related issues that the breed you are purchasing or inquiring about might have, or that could potentially surface.
For the German Shepherd these are some of the inherited diseases that can potentially surface. Hip and elbow dysplasia, digestive problems, blood disorders, epilepsy, chronic eczema, keratitis, and flea allergies. Other possible problems are tumors on the spleen, DM (degenerative myelitis spinal cord disease), EPI (pancreatic insufficiency), and perianal fistulas, and Von Willebrand’s disease. Please consult the German Shepherd Club of America website and the CHIC site for more health and testing information.
Bloat and possible gastric torsion is a potentially fatal condition that can occur in GSD’s and owners should learn and thoroughly understand how to identify the signs and symptoms so that lifesaving help can be quickly administered to the affected dog.
Prior to acquiring your dog of choice, I recommend reading about canine health related issues and common breed specific ailments. By familiarizing yourself with the signs and symptoms of a potential disease or sickness, you will be empowered to be the first line of defense in support of your dog’s health and wellbeing. By completing routine physical examinations of your dog, frequent fecal inspections, as well as recognizing any gastrointestinal problems, all helps to assure optimal health of your companion. By observing and understanding your dog’s healthy behaviors and regular patterns, you will easily be able to identify when your dog is not feeling well, and to deduce if medical attention is needed.
In your role as a German Shepherd Alpha Leader, you are responsible for providing the best possible care for your dog, assuring his or her wellbeing and comfort. Do not hesitate to consult your veterinarian if you observe your dog displaying peculiar behaviors or showing any signs of discomfort. It is very important to maintain your dog’s scheduled exams, mandatory check up’s and vaccination appointments. Uphold this duty, so that your dog can enjoy the vitality of good health that he or she deserves, and is entitled to.
Exercise Your German Shepherd
Long daily walks are recommended for maintaining a healthy dog. Walks can be opportunities to practice leash training, socialization, and aid to the over-all mental and physical wellbeing of your dog.
Besides two thirty minute long, brisk daily walks, German Shepherds require at least an hour per day of varied types of exercise, whether this is achieved through play, games or sport. After each walk, a rigorous session of fetch, tracking games or other sport will deplete their energy reserves, mentally stimulate, and calm them. This dog is not lazy nor suited to lying idly around as an ornament waiting to be fed and become fat. German Shepherds love cardio based activity. A long run, sport, hiking, or bicycling must be included in their daily routine. Additionally, regularly challenging their intellect with games that require problem solving will add to the vigor of your dog.
Remember that loneliness and boredom are enemies of the GSD. I advise that you always provide your new puppy with plenty of toys to keep boredom at bay and to reduce the chance of potential destructive negative behaviors from overtaking their naturally sweet disposition.
Feeding Your German Shepherd
Age, weight, and activity levels are a few of the factors that can change the food requirements of your German Shepherd. Once you have determined the appropriate amount to provide, feed an accurately measured portion, at regular times, to help maintain their optimal weight. If you wish to feed your dog a raw food diet or a mix, please do your research and consult your veterinarian prior to any adjustments to their meals. Be sure to keep plenty of fresh, clean water available for your dog, and it is considered a good hygienic practice to clean your dog’s bowl after each feeding. Keeping your GSD at the proper weight level will assist in preventing many potential ailments from surfacing.
Proactive Measures for German Shepherd Puppy Selection
If you want to buy a German Shepherd puppy, be sure to find a reputable German Shepherd breeder who will provide proof of health clearances for both of the puppy’s parents. Health clearances are official documents that prove a dog has been tested for, and cleared of any, or all breed specific conditions, however a clearance does not guarantee against acquired diseases or congenital abnormalities. Remember, even under the best breeding practices and proactive care measures, puppies can still develop diseases.
Any breeder that does not have knowledge, will not provide genetic testing or states that testing is unnecessary, should be considered an inappropriate provider of German Shepherds. Beware of any breeder that refuses or does not know the answers to questions about their breeding practices and health of their dogs. Avoid Puppy Mill breeders that are only breeding dogs to make money and are unconcerned with the health of their dogs and the puppies they produce. Unfortunately, many of these dogs end up in pet stores, so be diligent when searching for your new puppy. The best practice is to deal directly with breeders, find referrals, and if possible visit their establishment.
A breeder that takes pride in producing healthy and attractive dogs will perform genetic testing and additional testing on its dogs. Any breeder performing these tests is potentially a conscientious breeder worth considering as a provider of your new puppy. Furthermore, good breeders will remove aggressive animals from their breeding program. Breeders should welcome questions and be able to answer easily all questions that you have about their breeding stock, housing, genetics, German Shepherd specific ailments, breed standard, and number of litters per year that they produce.
Explain to the breeder the type of dog that you are seeking so that they can match the appropriate type of GSD to your family. Tell them whether you are seeking a companion, competitive, or show type of dog. Working lines are more energetic and expect to have daily tasks to perform, where as a breeder producing show dogs will generally have more docile GSD’s. Avoid shy or nervous puppies; look for an alert outgoing happy puppy. Quality breeders take pride in matching their dogs to appropriate families. It is of great importance to them because they are responsible for returns, the health issues of their puppies, and must keep records of where they are.
If German Shepherd popularity wanes, it will turn out to be good news for the breed, because less puppy demand can allow the purebred dog line to be more selective. Sub-par breeders that only concentrate on profit and not producing quality dogs that further the breed will switch to breeds that are more profitable. If this happens, it will allow the breed to remedy some of the health issues. Because of their popularity, it is very important to find a reputable breeder with a history of producing high-quality puppies.
German Shepherd Puppy Training Book
For the German Shepherd breed, you should expect to see health clearances for the parents from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) for hip and elbow dysplasia, and a temperament test, as well as a clearance from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation (CERF), certifying that the eyes are healthy. Other optional tests are cardiac, autoimmune thyroiditis, and a degenerative myelopathy DNA based test performed by the UFL or University of Missouri. You can also confirm health clearances by checking the OFA web site. For more information, refer to the club website, breeder, or veterinarian. Consult the CHIC database for all tests and their schedules.
Additionally do not hesitate to consult your breeder regarding the temperament of the dogs that they are producing. The American Temperament Test Society and German Shepherd Dog Club of America can test the temperaments of dogs and provide a certificate of the test results. GSD’s are strong agile dogs that can be difficult to control if aggressive or unstable. Any breeder performing these tests is usually a conscientious breeder that takes pride in producing fine specimens.
The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA www.offa.org) maintains an open registry with evaluations of hips, elbows, eyes, thyroid, cardio, and additional canine health issues. They also provide clear definitions of the test categories to help you understand the grading system. PennHIP (www.pennhip.org) is another registry that tests and evaluates dog’s hips.
The American Kennel Club (AKC) conducts large canine research studies on diseases that affect purebred dogs. Their health program is under the direction of the Canine Health Foundation (CHF), and is in partnership with OFA, and additionally does breed testing and provides a centralized canine health database called, the Canine Health Information Center (CHIC). The results of these tests are maintained in a registry, and dogs that have completed all of the required exams, including testing of the hips, elbows, and eyes, receive a CHIC number. Along with the breed-testing program, there is the CHIC DNA Repository. CHIC is trying to gather and store breed DNA samples for canine disease research. The goal is to facilitate future research aimed at reducing the incidence of inherited diseases in dogs. You can search the database to find out if a specific dog has information listed about it. More information about CHIC is available here
To be accepted into the CHIC database, breeders must agree to have all test results published. This enables the reader to see both good and bad results of the testing. Obtaining a CHIC number does not imply that the dog received good or passing evaluation scores. The CHIC registration also does not signify as proof of the absence of disease, and all information must be read and evaluated. CHIC allows the information collected to be readily available to anyone with an inquiry.
Care for your German Shepherd
You are responsible for the welfare of your new puppy or dog. Please treat him or her with respect and love, and this will be reciprocated tenfold. Dogs have been human companions for thousands of years, and they are living beings complete with feelings, emotions and the need for attachment. Before bringing home a new dog or puppy, please determine if you are capable and willing to provide all the needs that your new family member requires.
From the time you bring your pup home, positive training is a great start to introducing your new pack member to your household. You should be aware and sensitive to the fact that dogs have an amazing capacity for memory and recollection of those experiences. With this in mind, please refrain from harsh training tactics that may intimidate your puppy and that potentially can negatively affect personality or demeanor. When you train your new puppy, give him or her the respect they deserve, and utilize all available positive reinforcements. The result of your positive, proactive training methods and behavior modifications will be that your dog’s abilities, traits, and characteristics that are buried within the genetic profile of their specific breed, will shine. I am an advocate for beginning with rewards based clicker training, followed by vocal and physical cues for your young dog to learn to become obedient to commands.
Crate training has positive benefits, and provides a safe place for your dog to nap, or simply to be alone. In addition, crate training at a young age will help your dog accept confinement if he ever needs to be transported, boarded or hospitalized.
Appropriate, early, and ongoing socialization will help you and your German Shepherd throughout his or her lifetime. Expose your new puppy or dog to a wide variety of situations, people, and other animals. This helps to prevent shyness, aggressiveness, possessiveness, and many other potential behavioral problems, meanwhile supporting the bond between the two of you. Remember never leave young children unsupervised around dogs or puppies. Also, be aware that situations of aggression may happen no matter how loving, gentle, and well trained a dog may be.
A routine care program is essential for any dog, and should always include basic hygienic practices. For the optimal health of your pet, scheduled care should include the care of the coat, nails and teeth. It is important to get instruction from your veterinarian for the proper cleaning method of the outer and inner ear.
Brushing your GSD’s double coat a couple of times per week, and a bath every few months is usually plenty to keep their coat in good condition. They shed daily, and frequent brushing benefits the splendor of their coat, helps control household hair mess, is an opportunity to practice handling, inspect for ticks, fleas, and rashes. Twice yearly, they shed heavily and require brushing often during this period. Do not over bathe because it depletes their coats natural oils. They have a surprisingly dense undercoat that must be properly brushed.
German Shepherd Training – or Go Here for a Complete Guide on German Shepherd Training
German Shepherd dogs are intelligent quick learners, who are highly capable of performing many tasks and commands. The keystone to training your German Shepherd will be to begin training and socialization from the moment that you acquire and bring your new dog home. Follow the steps for socialization by regularly and thoroughly performing the ongoing task of socialization and consistent training, schedules, and rule enforcement.
If you do not possess a strong will and establish yourself as the pack leader, they will not listen and comply, however they also do not respond well to harshness. Yelling and scolding will get you nowhere with your GSD, so find a firm but fair place to lead from. A natural authoritative demeanor gets the most respect from German Shepherds. They are one of the smartest dogs and must be treated with respect and natural authority; therefore, it is suggested to study canine instincts and body language. This will help you in all aspects of dog ownership. Because of their intellect and work ethic, they are highly trainable dogs that enjoy learning and keeping busy, so the more you engage your dog the happier you will both be. You will be amazed how trainable and capable these dogs are! Learn How to Train Your GSD Using These Simple Clear Steps to German Shepherd Training.