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Ein Schäferhund läuft über ein Feld

German shepherd – Friend and helper to people

Many people’s first impression of German shepherds is that of a large and impressive animal on an important mission, whether it be chasing a criminal, sniffing out drugs or herding sheep in the countryside. The German shepherd is really a prototype for working dogs but this clever breed has much more too offer with its versatility.

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A worldwide classic

Their name tells you all you need to know about their history. The German shepherd breed goes back to herding dogs, who not only had to keep an eye on the sheep but also protect the shepherd’s property. Evidence of the original sheepdogs can be found going back to the 7th century. The pioneer of the breed, the Captain of Dresden Max von Stephanitz, developed them from long and short-haired herding dogs and set out the standard for them in 1891. The progenitor of the modern breed went by the name of “Horand von Grafrath”, the aim of breeding was to have an intelligent and strong service dog, how they looked wasn’t of top importance. In the meantime, the German shepherd has become one of the most-loved dog breeds worldwide. However, for a long time, these animals were not allowed to be introduced to Australia due to the concern that they would breed with dingoes and become a danger to sheep herds.

Nature and character of a German shepherd

Everything a professional working dog needs is built into the nature of German shepherds. Their high intelligence makes them willing to learn, obedient and docile. They are attentive and confident animals with strong nerves and that makes them perfect as guard dogs. They are also a good choice for companion and family dogs. A well-balanced German shepherd is at ease, well natured and will go through thick and thin with you. Their loyalty to people is unbreakable. They enjoy socialising with others and will also get on well with other breeds when they are used to them.

Training and keeping a German shepherd

German shepherds are not for beginners. When training them you need to be consistent, this applies to daily life as well. Your dog should feel subservient to you. Otherwise, German shepherds have a tendency to want to dominate or will become overly protective or feel the need to hunt. This can lead to problems not only due to the size and strength of the animals. Training works best when you are patient, show empathy and give treats and praise to German shepherds who are willing to learn. Of course, a well-brought up German shepherd also needs to be worked and get a lot of exercise in all weathers. Their willingness to work has made them versatile working dogs as guard and protection dogs, assistance dogs and trail dogs. They are also some of the best herding dogs. When you want a German shepherd as a pet, you should use their talents to keep them sufficiently busy. They will enjoy play their entire lives and you can keep them busy and entertained with scent trails or man trailing on a tow lead.

Care of a German shepherd

Depending on the length, caring for their coat is relatively easy. Brush and comb your German shepherd regularly and aim for a correct cut with a trimmer. Pay particular attention to your pet’s dental care. Their teeth should be cleaned daily in an ideal situation – at the least they should always have dental chews available to them to avoid plaque. Due to their size, bulk and overbreeding German shepherds are prone to hip and elbow joint problems.

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Ein Deutscher Schäferhund schaut aufmerksam.

Newsletter German Shepherd

  • Breed
    German Shepherd
  • Origin
    Germany
  • Classification
    Herding dogs and trailing dogs
  • Size
    Males 60 to 65 cm at shoulder height – Females 55 to 60 cm at shoulder height
  • Weight
    Males 30 to 40 kg – Females 22 to 35 kg
  • Physique
    muscular, longer than they are tall, downward tail, scissor bite
  • Eyes
    dark chestnut shaped, slightly slanted
  • Ears
    pointy ears leaning slightly forward
  • Coat and colour
    rough, flat or long hair structure; black, grey, ginger with “saddle” in single colours; sometimes with markings
  • Special features
    after the first World War the breed was renamed in English to be an Alsatian Wolf Dog
  • Nature
    attentive, intelligent and willing to learn, self confident, well balanced with strong nerves
  • Care
    Regularly brush and comb the coat, trim occasionally, clean teeth
  • Health
    Prone to hip and elbow dysplasia, ear and eye infections, allergies, tumours, skin problems and other illnesses

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