German shepherds are known as intelligent, loyal working and companion dogs, and who can resist that adorable bundle of fur? Before you make a quick decision about adding a German shepherd to your family, you will want to learn more about the breed to be sure it will be the best fit for you.
German shepherds originated in 1899 when Max von Stephanitz bred together some old farm and herding breeds in Germany. They were bred specifically for intelligence and utility. Originally herding dogs, German shepherds were used later for tracking and protection. They made their American debut in 1907 and continue to rank as the second most popular breed.
The American Kennel Club describes the German shepherd's personality as fearless and self-confident. They are aloof toward strangers, and protective over their family and home. They will bond well with children in the family and watch over them, making them seem like a great babysitter. Keep in mind, however, that it is wise to supervise all dogs with small children.
A large breed dog, the German shepherd averages around 25 inches tall at the shoulder and can weigh up to 90 pounds. They are well muscled, agile, and longer than they are tall. The double coat is medium length, in a variety of dark, rick colors. According to the AKC breed standard, a pale or white dog is disqualified; however, many people love white German shepherds as well. A healthy, well cared for German shepherd can live as long as 13 years.
Because German shepherds are so intelligent, they are suitable for a variety of jobs. They are well known as police dogs, herding dogs, guard dogs, service dogs, search and rescue dogs, and many other canine occupations. German shepherds have a high aptitude for learning and are highly trainable, which is recommended from puppyhood. You may find basic obedience to be so enjoyable that you'll want to continue training and teaching your dogs new skills.
This breed needs plenty of exercise. A German shepherd can be quite content lounging in your living room while the family watches a movie, but you will need to allow for plenty of playtime as well so your pup stays strong and healthy. You'll also need to devote time to daily grooming, because that adorable fluff eventually will be a thick double coat that needs to stay brushed – or you may find hair all over the house.
By Kathleen Roberts
About the Author
Kathleen Roberts has been a writer and editor since 1996, specializing in health, nutrition, gardening and outdoor living. She received her master gardener training at the University of Florida and has more than 20 years of experience with herbs and supplements.