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German Shepherd

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The German Shepherd Dog is a breed originally bred to herd sheep, hence also the English name German Shepherd Dog. The German Shepherd according to the number on record is one of the most popular dog breeds in Europe. Shepherd Dogs are often used as a professional working dog in roles such as police dogs, rescue dogs, service dogs for the disabled, guard dog or in the military. Shepherd Dogs also make excellent family pets.

German Shepherd dog breed history
The German Shepherd breed’s original German name is “Deutscher Schäfer Hund” that translates directly to the English name. Just as the breed’s name indicates the German Shepherd was bred to herd sheep. The breed was a result of mating between different German sheepdogs and collies conducted by Max von Stephanitz in the latter half of the 1800s.

Over the years the specific working dog qualities of the dog breed such as tracking, obedience and protection has been strengthened as a result of selective breeding in the German Shepherd line. This makes the German Shepherd excel as a professional working dog in an active environment. German Shepherd Dogs were used extensively by the German forces during the First World War on the Western Front.

Famous German Shepherds
German Shepherds have appeared in movies throughout history, below is a list of some of the lucky dogs:

- A German Shepherd named “Rin Tin Tin”, was one of Hollywood’s largest stars in the 1920s and the 30s. On top of his career “Rin Tin Tin” received over 10,000 fan letters a week. More than one German Shepherd played the role.

- A German Shepherd dog “Strong Heart” also known as “Etzel von Oeringen” played the main role in an adaption of the book” White Fang “which was released in 1925, and in” The Return of Boston Blackie, “that was released in 1927.

- “The Littlest Hobo” was a popular television series in the 1980s in Canada. The TV series featured a German Shepherd that traveled from place to place and did good deeds.

- “Koton” a German Shepherd that also had a career as a police dog played “Jerry Lee” a police dog in the movie “K-9″ in 1989.

- In the movie “The Cell” from 2000 the serial killer in the movie owned an albino German Shepherd called “Valentine”.

- In the movie “I Am Legend” actor Will Smith’s character (Robert Neville) owns a German Shepherd named “Sam” (short for “Samantha”). The role was played by the German Shepherd “Abbey”.

The German Shepherd’s physical appearance
The breed standard varies from country to country. Generally the German Shepherd is a strong and athletic medium sized dog that typically weighs between 34 and 50 kilo but can easily weigh more. The Male dog’s height is between 60-65 cm and bitches 55-60 cm. The coat has two layers, an outer and inner coat. Some organizations allow longhaired German Shepherds, but short-haired dogs are the norm.

German Shepherds are popular police dogs
German Shepherdw are used often in the police and other government organizations worldwide such as the UK Police Service, the Metropolitan Counter Terrorism Command in the United Kingdom, ATF, the U.S. Marshals and duty in the U.S. the breed is alsoalso frequently used in sports and volunteer rescue work.

Coat colors
A German Shepherd can have many different colors. For show dogs the most normal colors are black-brown or reddish-black. Color Combinations containing very bright colors such as cream, are typically not recognized, and completely black or white German Shepherd dogs are recognized in some countries but not others.

Long-haired German Shepherds

Long-haired German Shepherd dogs looks a lot like the Belgian Shepherd dog. The long-haired gene is recessive. One myth says that the longhaired German Shepherd (with the English nickname “fuzzies”) are more affectionate, but there is no empirical evidence to confirm this.

The White German Shepherd (Berger Blanc Suisse)
The recessive gene for the white coat became an integral part of the German Shepherd’s DNA in the German breeding program that extensively used dogs that had the gene. White Shepherd dogs can be everything from completely white to an almost golden blonde color. Normal pigmentation was expected in the nose, pads and eyes.

The German Shepherd’s temperament
The dog breed has a personality characterized by direct and fearless willingness to protect what the German Shepherd sees as its “territory” (ie a house, car, belongings etc.) or “pack” (ie, human, family, etc.) German Shepherds are both suitable and able to fulfill the role as pet, guard dog, herding dog or what the circumstances require.

Early and good socialization of your puppy is one of two important factors that helps determine a German Shepherd’s temperament as an adult. Genetics is another major factor.

German Shepherds likes to be in the company of humans and other animals, but early socialization of the puppy is important to avoid aggressive or dangerous behavior in the adult German Shepherd. Shepherd dogs are well suited for obedience and agility competitions. There are a number of prestigious titles in Germany in the so-called Schutzhund competitions.

A German Shepherd puppy’s ears are not erect before the puppy are several weeks or months old, and the ears typically go through several stages of an ear-down, both-ears-down, one-ear-down, etc. before both ears remain erect.

German Shepherd’s exercise needs
All dogs should receive daily physical and mental stimulation. A German Shepherd needs both to thrive. Depending on the dog’s age and individual needs, physical activity for the dog range from throwing a ball for 10 to 30 minutes in the backyard to a stroll in the neighborhood. The German Shepherd is a working dog and as such needs a lot of exercise, it is therefore recommended that a German Shepherd is walked three times or at least twice a day.

German Shepherd maintenance
Under normal circumstances the German Shepherd only requires regular brushing and a bath sometimes. Diet plays an important role in coat quality, and can help to counteract skin problems. German Shepherds can be easily brushed from start to finish in 10 minutes or less if the dog is brushed 3-4 times a week. Time and frequency will vary depending on coat length and condition. Long-haired German Shepherds require more brushing. One bath a month should be enough. In the flea season it may be necessary with multiple baths, as part of a flea treatment. German Shepherd dogs should not bathe more than maximum once in ten days, as over bathing removes the natural oils from the dog’s coat. It is important to only use shampoo that is manufactured specifically for dogs as the ph-value is different.

A German Shepherd’s nails, ears and teeth also need maintenance. If your dog runs on asphalt all day, it will hardly have problems with the length of the nails. However, you should check once a week that the dog has no split toenails that needs treatment. Some German Shepherds have black nails that conceals the small vein that feeds the nail. Therefore it is best to trim small parts of the nail at a time. If trimming too much of the nail, it may be painful for the dog and it may bleed.

A German Shepherd has an average life expectancy of 10-12 years.

If you are considering buying a German Shepherd you should consider the following:

Would you like to have a dog that is:

  • Strong athletic and has a natural appearance.
  • Loves exercise and challenges.
  • Is a good guard dog with the physical appearance to scare most people.
  • Are intelligent, loyal and can be trained to fill almost any role.

This can be negative depending on your personal preferences:

  • A German Shepherd must have plenty of exercise and stimulation to thrive.
  • German Shepherds needs to be socialized as a puppy so it doesn’t become aggressive towards strangers.
  • A German Shepherd sheds a lot the entire year.
  • Some people may be afraid of a German Shepherd.


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