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BREED SPOTLIGHT: German Shepherd

German shepherds outrival other breeds as both a working dog and as a protector.

History of the German Shepherd

The German Shepherd Dog is, of course, from Germany, and was first introduced in 1899 through the efforts of Captain Max von Stephanitz and others. The breed itself stems from older breeds of herding and farm dogs.

German Shepherds first came to the United States in 1907. And after the first championship was awarded in 1913, the German Shepherd Dog Club of America was born.

Unpopular during World War I, the American Kennel Club (AKC) changed the name of the breed to the Shepherd Dog, and the German Shepherd Dog Club of America became the Shepherd Dog Club of America. England went so far as to change the name of the breed to Alsatian .

Years later, however, famous dogs like Rin-Tin-Tin and Strongheart, whose movies portrayed variations of the "boy and his dog" theme, led to an explosion in popularity of German Shepherds.

Behavioral and Physical Traits of the German Shepherd


One of the hallmarks of the German Shepherd is its protective instincts. They view strangers with suspicion, and have what some would consider a vicious bark when the doorbell rings. If a dangerous situation comes up, German Shepherds are very protective of their human masters, especially any children.


German shepherds are from a breed of working dogs, so they burning off their high levels of energy is an absolute must. If they don't get enough exercise, German Shepherds can get bored and display destructive tendencies like barking and other disruptive actions.


Extremely smart and easy to train, the German shepherd came in third place out of over 100 breeds when tested by over 200 AKC judges. This breed can learn basic commands in as few as five recurrences.


Curiosity is another trait the German Shepherd is known for. The breed loves to explore their surroundings, and will certainly test their boundaries when outside. This is one of the breed's lifelong traits, and is first apparent in the puppy stage.


German shepherds are unusually agile. This breed can reach top speed almost instantly and then come to a complete stop just as quickly, all without losing their balance or stumbling over objects. This type of agility makes them a top choice for a police and a military dog.

Don't judge your German shepherd puppy to be this graceful, however. Their long longs make them sort of awkward as puppies until their bodies reach a length their legs can handle.


Most commonly, German shepherds' coloring is a mix of beige and black, but solid black and solid white shepherds do exist. (Interestingly, the American Kennel Club does not allow white shepherds in their competitions.)


For the first two years, many German Shepherds are actually quit thin, although they can easily hit 50 pounds in their first year. By year 3 though, the Shepherds fill out quickly. Full-grown, German Shepherds are quite large, ranging between 22-26 inches and 60-90 pounds. Their size combined with their agility means they can effortlessly run an adult down and pull him to the ground—and keep him there.


German Shepherds are also known for the massive amounts of shedding, so much so that daily brushing is the only way to stop hair from accumulating around your home.

German Shepherd

Medical Issues of German Shepherds

Hip Dysplasia

While German shepherds suffer from many types of medical conditions, the most commonly associated issue is hip dysplasia. The condition often becomes debilitating and is often the result of poor breeding practices.

The Breed for You?

Energetic and fun-loving, German shepherds are very fond of children after a relationship is established. They are loyal family pets and good guard dogs, making it the ideal choice for many families. Don't forget they require regular exercise and a shed a bit.

Remember, getting a German shepherd is just the first step in an exciting journey. To learn more about training tips and other important facts, we invite you to visit our Smarty Pets blog and knowledge center , or contact us with any other questions.

And if you need any dog beds, dog doors or dog training collars for your new German Shepherd, Pet-Super-Store has the best selection at the most competitive prices. Why battle the crowds at the big box retailers, especially when you get free shipping on all orders over $75?