German Shepherd A Few Facts

Other names used for a German Shepherd

  • Alsatian
  • Berger Allemand
  • Deutscher Schäferhund
  • GSD
  • Schäferhund
WeightMale35–43 kilograms (77–95 lb)
Female25–33 kilograms (55–73 lb)
HeightMale60–65 centimetres (24–26 in)
Female55–60 centimetres (22–24 in)
CoatSee Description section below
ColourMost commonly tan with black saddle
Litter size5–10
Life span9-13 years

The German Shepherd Dog is described as a large-sized dog that originated in Germany in 1899. It is classed as part of the Herding Group.

German Shepherds are working dogs developed originally for herding and guarding sheep. Therefore because of their strength, intelligence and trainability in obedience they are often used by police and military around the world.

History and Origins of the German Shepherd

German Shepherd History

The German Shepherd as a breed appeared late at the end of the 19th century in Germany and they were first exhibited at a show in Hanover in 1882. They were not like German Shepherds as we know them today they were rough coated, short tailed and looked more like mongrels. The German Shepherd as we now know it appeared after the Second World War.

The breed was actually created by the cross breeding of working sheep dogs from rural Germany by an ex cavalry officer called Max von Stephanitz whose aim was to create a working dog for herding which could trot for long periods.

A breed standard was drawn up and the first breed show took place in 1899 following which the GSD became firmly established across Germany.

Since then, the breed has grown massively in popularity and is now one of the most popular pedigree breeds in the UK as pets as well as being the favourite working breed for many forces, especially the police. They are widely used for security purposes because of their strong protective instincts.

Many people in the UK still call these dogs Alsatians which may partly be due to the fact that when they were first bred, the Alsace region of France was part of Germany where these dogs were very popular. In part it may also be due to the first and second world wars that the name Alsatian stuck as the word ‘German’ caused negative emotions.

GSD’s make great family pets and will guard family and home.

German Shepherd History
Urban Saber

The German Shepherd may embody some of the best traits of dogs, but they’re not for everyone. Originally bred to herd flocks all day, this is a high-energy dog who needs a lot of activity and exercise. Without it, they’re likely to express their boredom and frustration in ways you don’t like, such as barking and chewing.

The breed also has an aloof and sometimes suspicious nature—great for a watchdog, but not the sort of family dog who’ll make guests feel welcome. However, if you expose a German Shepherd to many different situations and people starting in puppyhood, they can learn to take new people and circumstances in stride.


Be prepared – German Shepherds are very active dogs! They need plenty of exercise to keep them happy and occupied. This will also stop them from barking out of boredom or having a nibble on the furniture. Lack of exercise and stimulation can cause behavioural problems in any breed, but German Shepherds have a reputation for being especially highly strung so they need extra attention to make sure they’re kept active.

Your German Shepherd will need a minimum of two hours of exercise every day. This should include walks and off-lead exercise in a safe area, with extra playtime and training on top to give them a good variety. You can find out how much exercise your dog needs, or even find exercises you can do together online. It is recommended to spread the exercise across the day rather than trying to do two hours all in one go.

German Shepherds are a great breed if you enjoy long walks and spending loads of time exploring outside. If there are times when you are unable to give them the exercise they need, then arranging for a relative, friend or dog-walker to come and help would be helpful.

Diet and Nutrition 

A German shepherd requires two meals a day of up to two cups of dry dog food, but this will depend on the dog’s size, activity level, age, and other factors. They can be prone to bloating and possible stomach torsion,so you will want to avoid giving one large meal a day and having the dog gulp it down. Be sure your dog has access to clean, fresh water.

Monitor your dog’s weight and address any overweight issues early. Obesity can shorten your dog’s life. Discuss nutritional needs with your veterinarian to get recommendations for feeding schedules and dog food types throughout your dog’s life.

Common Health Problems

  • Hip dysplasia
  • Elbow dysplasia
  • Elbow hygroma
  • Gastric dilatation-volvulus
  • Degenerative myelopathy

Shedding in German Shepherds

In order to get to grips with your dog’s coat shedding. It is important first of all to understand the cycle that the hair goes through. In order to understand this, you first need to understand the German shepherd coat.

German shepherds have what is known as a double layered coat. Meaning that they have a top layer of long guard hairs, and underneath this they grow a whole other layer of soft, dense and thick shorter hair that helps to trap heat and provide insulation.

Both the top layer and the undercoat will shed some hair on a daily basis as part of the natural lifecycle of the hair’s follicles, and this will generally happen all year round.

Additionally, twice a year when the seasons change (spring and autumn) your dog will go through an intense full shed where they lose the entire undercoat over a short period of time (a couple of weeks usually) in order to grow in the right coat for the coming season. This is known as blowing the coat. While the regular daily coat shedding can be challenging, it all kicks into high gear when your dog is going through a full shed of the undercoat.

More can be read here

Do you own a German Shepherd or mix of? Join the conversation in the comments section.

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