Adopting A German Shepherd

History and origin: The German Shepherd is a new breed that first appeared in Germany about one hundred years ago.  This very smart breed was initially developed for herding but has adapted well to police and military work, search-and-rescue work, tracking, bomb detection, protection work, and guide dogs for the blind.

Description: The German Shepherd stands 22 to 26 inches at the shoulder and weighs between 60 and 110 pounds.  He has a strong, muscular body and a medium length, coarse shedding coat with a softer undercoat, which needs daily brushing.  The color may be black, black-and-tan, golden with black-tipped hairs, or gray with black-tipped hairs.  White is strongly discouraged.

About the breed: Considered by most to be the most intelligent and courageous of all dogs, the German Shepherd is one of the most versatile breeds.  He is strong, agile, loyal, highly intelligent, and possesses one of the keenest noses in the dog world.  The German Shepherd is courageous and very territorial and will instinctively protect his home.  He tends to be suspicious of strangers.  This breed becomes truly bonded to his family, perhaps more so than any other breed, and consequently can suffer from separation anxiety when apart from his owners.  If boarded for a length of time, he can become depressed, may refuse to eat, and lose weight.  He makes a great family pet when properly trained, and he will love and protect your children almost to a fault.  He can be suspicious of your children’s friends, which could lead to a biting incident if the child shows fear or flight.  He likes to chase cars, bikes, or joggers and may be dog-aggressive.  Socialization is important from puppy hood.  Training is not always easy with this breed; he is so intelligent that he will think of ways to avoid doing what you are asking of him.

The German Shepherd is extremely perceptive.  He is acutely aware of his owner’s moods or any change in his environment.  Socialization must be extensive and must cover as many different situations as possible.  Failure to do this may result in an unexpected aggressive or fearful response to certain people or places.  This breed can suffer from hip dysplasia, shoulder problems, and pan osteitis, an inflammation of the growth plates of the bones, which can be aggravated by keeping a Shepherd puppy on high-protein puppy food past eight months of age, causing too-rapid growth.  Breeders who supplement their bloodlines with imported German stock tend to produce more active, stable, structurally sound dogs.

Feeding:  Recommended feeding for the German Shepherd is 1 ½ — 2 ½ cans (13.3oz) of high-quality meaty product with biscuit added in equal part or 5 cupfuls of a complete, dry dog food.

Ideal home: This breed needs a house with a fenced yard.  The owner of a German Shepherd should be a strong, confident, emotionally secure leader who desires a smart, protective, athletic dog.  This is not a breed for an insecure or immature person.  He is very sensitive and will reflect the mood and emotion of his owner, often with alarming results.  Do not let a Shepherd assert himself against you or achieve dominance, he will quickly take charge if you spoil him.  Children are fine provided no roughhousing or chase games are permitted.  Daily exercise is mandatory.  Obedience, herding, retrieving, or agility work will direct the Shepherd’s energy and build his confidence.  The elderly and the disabled may have trouble controlling this active, dominant, intelligent breed.