German Shepherds are often described as confident, courageous, and intelligent. The size of a fully grown German Shepherd depends on its sex. Males get to be 24 to 26 inches tall and weigh anywhere from 65 to 90 pounds. Females are slightly smaller, 22 to 24 inches tall, and weigh 50 to 70 pounds. On average, German Shepherds have 10 to 14 years of life expectancy.
German Shepherds are a high-energy breed that needs lots of attention and stimulation. These loyal guardians make excellent family pets and can blend into any environment. Make sure you have access to somewhere with a lot of space for playing if you're in an apartment, frequent hiking trails, or parks, so they have room to run if you have a backyard, even better. Your German Shepherd will be ready for any outside time you can give them.
Originally bred as herding dogs for herding sheep, German Shepherds are very intelligent, so get creative with their training. They can learn a variety of skills and will want to impress you. Grooming will need to be a priority with your dog, as their long, thick coat can get tangled or matted. Their skin is pretty sensitive, so you might need to try a couple of different shampoos to see the one that works best for you.
German Shepherds have one of the best noses of any dog breed, so you'll likely catch your dog sniffing anything and everything. Along with their calm demeanor and love for working, GSDs are favorite police dogs.
German Shepherds are among the most popular breeds in the United States, ranking third in 2021. They consistently rank in the top 10 dog breeds, and you'll soon find out why.
The first German Shepherd appeared in Germany in 1889. Max von Stephanitz saw a dog that resembled a wolf at a dog show. He was so enthralled with this dog that he adopted it and registered it as the first German Shepherd. Von Stephanitz then developed the standards for German Shepherds, with the main emphasis placed on utility and intelligence.
The first German Shepherd was shown in 1907, and the German Shepherd Dog Club of America was later formed in 1913. The breed exploded in popularity after World War I, where the German soldiers frequently used them in battle. US soldiers returned home describing the wonders of the dog, from appearance to personality, and demand for them rapidly increased.
German Shepherds were used on both sides as mine detectors, guards, messengers, and sentinels throughout World War II. They were so widely used that a program was created called Dogs For Defense, which gave thousands of dogs to the army. Although the initial program fizzled out, a revival occurred in 2007 with the same mission.
German Shepherds have also been used as service dogs. Their temperament and obedience make them highly trainable. Their size makes them great help for those living with mobility issues, and their personality allows them to be therapy dogs or emotional support dogs.
German Shepherds are alert, obedient, loyal, and curious. The motto for German Shepherds is "protect and serve." This is apparent in their loyalty to their owners. They were born and bred to be guardians, making excellent watchdogs. Because of this, they might be wary of strangers, so be careful when introducing them to others.
German Shepherds are known to bark to alert you. Training from a young age is vital; you could start by teaching them puppy words such as "quiet" and "no speak" to control the barking as quickly as it starts. These eager to please dogs will be easy to train as long as you get started right away.
You'll want to start training your German Shepherd puppy at eight weeks or whenever you adopt them. Socialization is the first step and is crucial to long-term success with strangers and other pets. We recommend crate training to assist in house-training. This helps provide a secure environment for your puppy to relax. You'll want to begin obedience training and impulse control around three months of age. Also, teach them to come when called at this time.
Once your German Shepherd understands all the basic commands, you can move on to things like scent work and tracking, agility, and herding to keep their minds engaged.
German Shepherds are a high-maintenance breed and fit best in an active household with parents that are more than willing to put effort into training them. They can do fine in apartments, but they need lots of outside time. We recommend houses with a yard where they can run around and play.
German Shepherds are very affectionate with the family and excellent with young children. They are generally less aggressive than other breeds and should do well with cats or other dogs in the household, but make sure to socialize them properly to ensure no animal gets hurt.
German Shepherds will often try to put things in their mouths as natural herders, so it is essential to train them against this from a young age. Discourage biting and chewing on furniture as soon as you see it. If they start to become destructive, this is a good sign that they feel restless and need more outside time.
You can recognize any German Shepherd by its distinct features. They have ears that stick straight up, dark eyes, a long muzzle, a medium-length double coat, and a long and bushy tail. It is crucial to be prepared for a regular grooming routine to keep your dog healthy.
You can expect German Shepherds to shed a lot. There are a couple of weeks out of the year where they will shed even more, so be prepared to increase brushing during this time. You will want to brush them every other day with a pin brush to get rid of excess hair and prevent any knots or tangling during the rest of the year. We love the FURminator de-shedding tool to reach their undercoat. You won't need to bathe them too often, as it can get rid of helpful natural oils in their coat and make their skin dry—plan on bathing once every three to four months.
Clip your dog's nails about once a month or whenever you hear them on hard surfaces. Brush their teeth regularly to keep their smile pristine. Check their ears while brushing them and use ear-drops every so often to prevent infection. Take them to the vet right away if you notice any redness or infection inside the ear.
We do not recommend shaving your German Shepherd. Their coat is designed to keep them cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Although they should not be exposed to extreme weather, this coat does wonder at keeping their internal temperature regulated. If you shave them, they are more likely to be susceptible to the temperature, as well as dirt and bug bites. Shaving will not help with shedding, so there isn't any advantage.
German Shepherds are a large breed with a lot of energy, so they need a lot of exercise. We recommend around two to three hours daily, including mental exercise. This can be spread out between walks and runs, swimming, hiking, searching for treats, and interactive toys. German Shepherds can run up to 30 miles an hour, so make sure you train them on a leash, so they do not get away from you.
Keep in mind that German Shepherd puppies will need a different exercise routine than adults. Be wary of too much exercise that can end up damaging their joints as they grow. Aim for low impact exercises on softer surfaces. We recommend off-leash walking and running because they can go at their own pace and stop and start as much as they need to. Also, throw in some brain-engaging exercise that can help teach them commands, like obstacle courses and treasure searches.
Adult dogs' exercise will need to be spread into physical exercise, obedience training, mental stimulation, bonding activities, and recovery. You pretty much cannot over-exercise an adult German Shepherd. They have a high tolerance for exercise and love every minute of it. This is a brilliant breed, so you will want to vary the activities you do with your German Shepherd to make sure they don't get bored.
Focus on movements that work out their muscles, joints, balance, coordination, and agility for an all-around healthy dog. Take them on daily walks on various surfaces, like grass, sand, and dirt. Add in jogging and running to help wear out extra energy and strengthen their muscles. German Shepherds love to play tug of war and other games with their owners, so make sure to go to your local pet store and find some breed-specific toys.
German Shepherds are known to have sensitive stomachs, so you'll want to choose your dog food carefully. These dogs need high-quality protein, grains, fruits, and vegetables. You'll want to find more nutrient-dense foods for puppies than for adults. We recommend feeding your German Shepherd dry food. Not only is this the most economical, but it promotes healthy teeth and gums.
The total amount of calories needed for your German Shepherd depends on their life stage and activity levels. Most German Shepherds are only fed puppy food until they are six months old to prevent joint damage as they proliferate.
Ensure the primary ingredient in whatever food you decide on is whole meat, not a meat byproduct. Also, look for barley, rice, and rolled oats, which are easier to digest.
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