German Shepherd Dogs were bred to be the ultimate herding dog. They are built for endurance, speed, independent thinking, and obedience. Many still work as herders, but their courage, strength, fierceness, and gentleness combine to make them a good choice for disciplined families as well.
This versatile dog is among the most popular breeds in the United States. German Shepherd Dogs are also a favorite choice for vision, military, service, and police work. These are some of the smartest dogs around.
Originally from Germany, this large-sized and medium-energy breed can grow to between 75-95 pounds and lives an average of 10-12 years. The breed is recognized by the American Kennel Club and classified as a member of the Herding group.
AKC Recognized: Y
Breed's Original Pastime: Herding, Guarding
Breed Group: Herding
Average Lifespan: 7-10 years
Bark Factor: I love to talk!
AKC RANKING 4
FAMILY livestock, herding
AREA OF ORIGIN Germany
DATE OF ORIGIN 1800s
ORIGINAL FUNCTION sheep herding, guarding, police dog
TODAY'S FUNCTION police, contraband detection, assistance, herding trials, schutzhund
AVERAGE SIZE OF MALE Height: 24-26 Weight: 75-95
AVERAGE SIZE OF FEMALE Height: 22-24 Weight: 75-95
OTHER NAME Alsatian, Deutscher schaferhund
Energy level Medium energy
Exercise needs High
Playfullness Not very playful
Affection level Moderately affectionate
Friendliness toward other dogs Shy
Friendliness toward other pets Friendly
Friendliness toward strangers Shy
Ease of training Hard to train
Watchdog ability High
Protection ability Very protective
Grooming needs Low maintenance
Cold tolerance Medium tolerance
Heat tolerance Medium tolerance
BEHAVIOR & TRAINING
WHAT IS A GERMAN SHEPHERD DOG'S PERSONALITY LIKE?
German Shepherd Dogs are highly intelligent, confident, protective, and loyal. These dogs are not especially playful but they are somewhat affectionate. They get along well with children when supervised but can be overly protective of them, so early and frequent training is essential. German Shepherd Dogs prefer to be the only canine in your heart and home. They can get along with other pets but may be aloof or suspicious toward strangers.
WHAT IS GERMAN SHEPHERD DOG BEHAVIOR LIKE?
German Shepherd Dogs are a very active breed that will need rigorous daily exercise. They'd love to join you on a morning run or jog. They are vigilant watchdogs who are very motivated to protect you and your home.
HOW EASY IS IT TO TRAIN A GERMAN SHEPHERD DOG?
German Shepherd Dogs are a very biddable breed. Those brilliant brains and active bodies enjoy physical and mental challenges. They enjoy retrieving, agility, and obedience work.
Early and frequent socialization with dogs and people is essential.
CARE & HEALTH
HOW MUCH DO GERMAN SHEPHERD DOGS SHED AND WHAT ARE THEIR GROOMING NEEDS?
Some folks have called them “German Shedders” because these dogs lose so much hair. Their medium-length double coat is dense and thick. They require occasional grooming. Plan for more brushing while they're shedding (which is often), and bathe them as needed. Even then, be ready for furry tumbleweeds around the house.
WHAT HEALTH PROBLEMS DO GERMAN SHEPHERD DOGS HAVE?
This is a generally robust breed. Some may develop eye disease and elbow or hip dysplasia.
Feeding your baby German Shepherd Dog a growth food for large-breed puppies will slow their rate of growth but not diminish their adult stature which may help prevent or reduce the impact of adult-onset hip dysplasia.
Breed history has moved while this section is under construction. Please check out the first tab for fun facts about this breed's history. You can also read on to learn about this breed's ideal family situation.
ARE GERMAN SHEPHERD DOGS GOOD FOR PEOPLE WITH ALLERGIES?
The American Kennel Club doesn't list German Shepherd Dogs among its breeds recommended for allergy sufferers.
You can reduce your furry friend's impact on your allergies with frequent baths and brushings to reduce loose hairs and allergy-aggravating proteins in your pet's dander. Use a damp cloth to wipe off your dog after playing outside. Smaller dogs have less surface area, so they produce comparatively less dander than larger breeds — definitely something to keep in mind with a dog as large and sheddy as an German Shepherd Dog! Remember that no breed is 100% hypoallergenic, and any breed can aggravate allergies.
WHAT'S A GERMAN SHEPHERD DOG'S BEST DAY?
Give this pup some jobs for the day and he'll spend the time exercising his mind and body to complete them. At night, just you and him relaxing in the living room is about all he'll need for another best day in the books.
SHOULD I ADOPT A GERMAN SHEPHERD DOG?
These dogs do equally well in warm and cool climates. They shed like shedding is their job. But if you can get past the hair and keep up with them, there isn't much a German Shepherd Dog can't do (except stay still for long and sharing you with another dog). If you're looking for a small, cuddly lapdog, this breed isn't your best bet. But those looking for a loyal and brilliant companion who will love setting the pace, German Shepherd Dogs might be just what you're looking for.
Have you decided that a German Shepherd Dog is the perfect dog for you? Why not be your new best friend's hero and adopt a rescue! Be sure to check out our article on what to expect when you're adopting a dog or cat.