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German Shepherd

The German Shepherd Dog has one of the largest followings in the world. It IS also the breed that rouses the strongest emotions in the public. They either worship the German Shepherd or abhor it. If a smaller breed takes a nip out of the postman’s trousers, the misdeed may go unreported; but if a German Shepherd is involved, the headlines are likely to be: ‘German Shepherd Dog savages postman. The German Shepherd is one of the most courageous and intelligent of dogs, debatably the most intelligent. Breed members have fought bravely, and many lost their lives in two world wars. They have been, and still are, used, as guide dogs for the blind (US ‘seeing eye dogs’), police dogs and military dogs. Certainly they are a very popular guard. It is this strong guarding instinct that can be their undoing, however, for a German Shepherd protecting a toddler may menace a stranger at the garden gate. It could also turn nasty through sheer boredom if acquired as a mere pet dog. The German Shepherd deserves a job to do, whether it be in the public service or competing eagerly in obedience and working trials.

Origin and history

The German Shepherd Dog is sometimes associated, rightly or wrongly, with the Bronze Age wolf, perhaps an unfortunate suggestion in that it wrongly associates the breed with wolf-like tendencies. Certainly around the seventh century a sheepdog of this type, but with a lighter coat, existed in Germany; and by the sixteenth century the coat had appreciably darkened.

The breed was first exhibited at a dog show in Hanover in 1882. Credit for the formation of the breed is widely assigned to a German fancier named von Stephanitz, who did much to improve its temperament and appearance.

The German Shepherd Dog was introduced into the United Kingdom following World War I by a small band of dedicated fanciers who had seen the breed working in Germany. These included the late Colonel Baldwin and Air Commodore Alan Cecil-Wright, president of the Kennel Club. It was thought inappropriate at that time to glorify an animal bearing a German prefix, so, as the breed had come from Alsace, it became known in the United Kingdom as the Alsatian. Only in 1971 did the Kennel Club relent and agree to the breed being known once more as the German Shepherd Dog.


Brush frequently.


Give 20-330z (587-936g) of a branded, meaty product with biscuit added, or 3-5 cupfuls of a dry food, complete diet, mixed in the proportion of 1 cup of feed to 112 cup of hot or cold water.

German Shepherd Information

General appearance
In general, the German Shepherd is a well­ proportioned dog showing great suppleness of limb, neither massive nor heavy, but at the same time free from any suggestion of weediness. It must not suggest the Greyhound type. The body is rather long, strongly boned with plenty of muscle, obviously capable of endurance and speed and of quick and sudden movement. The gait should be supple, smooth and long-reaching, carrying the body along with the minimum of up-and­down movement.

The colour of the German Shepherd is in itself not important; It has no effect on the character of the dog or on its fitness for work and should be a secondary consideration for that reason. AII­white or near white dogs, unless possessing black points, are not desirable, however The final colour of a young dog can be ascertained only when the outer coat has developed.

Head and skull
The head is proportionate to the size of the body, long, lean and clean cut, broad at the back of the skull but without coarseness, tapering to the nose with only a slight stop between the eyes. The skull is slightly domed, and the top of the nose should be parallel to the forehead. The cheeks must not be full or in any way prominent, and the whole head, when viewed from the top, should be much in the form of a V, well filled in under the eyes. There should be plenty of substance in the foreface with a good depth from top to bottom. The muzzle is strong and long and, while tapering to the nose, it must not be carried to such an extreme as to give the appearance of being overshot. It must not show any weakness or be snipy or lippy. The lips should be tight fitting and clean. The nose must be black.

When at the rest the tail should hang in a slight curve and reach at least as far as the hock. During movement and excitement it will be raised, but under no circumstances should the tail be carried past a vertical line drawn through the root.

The feet should be round, the toes strong, slightly arched and held close together. The pads should be firm, the nails short and strong. Dew-claws are neither a fault nor a virtue but should be removed from the hindlegs at four to five days old, as dew-claws are liable to spoil the gait.

Good points

  • Devoted to owner
  • Excellent worker/herder
  • Favoured for obedience competitions
  • Loyal
  • Supremely intelligent
  • Protective

Take heed

  • Tendency to over-guard
  • Not a lap dog, but a worker that needs a task in life


The ideal height (measured to the highest point of the shoulder) is 22-24in (56-61cm) for bitches and 24-26in (61-66cm) for dogs. The, proportion of length to height varies between 10:9 and 10:8.5.


Needs plenty of exercise, off-the­lead runs and, if possible, obedience exercises. It will excel at the local dog training club in ‘scent’ and ‘retrieve’. Remember that this breed is used to sniff out illegal drug shipments and to detect the elusive ‘black box’ amid the wreckage strewn over many miles after plane crashes.