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German Shepherd Dog

Generally considered dogkind’s finest all-purpose worker, the German Shepherd Dog is a large, agile, muscular dog of noble character and high intelligence. Loyal, confident, courageous, and steady, the German Shepherd is truly a dog lover’s delight.

German Shepherd Dogs can stand as high as 26 inches at the shoulder and, when viewed in outline, presents a picture of smooth, graceful curves rather than angles. The natural gait is a free-and-easy trot, but they can turn it up a notch or two and reach great speeds.

There are many reasons why German Shepherds stand in the front rank of canine royalty, but experts say their defining attribute is character: loyalty, courage, confidence, the ability to learn commands for many tasks, and the willingness to put their life on the line in defense of loved ones. German Shepherds will be gentle family pets and steadfast guardians, but, the breed standard says, there’s a “certain aloofness that does not lend itself to immediate and indiscriminate friendships.”
National Breed Clubs and Rescue
Want to connect with other people who love the same breed as much as you do? We have plenty of opportunities to get involved in your local community thanks to AKC Breed Clubs located in every state and more than 450 AKC Rescue Network groups across the country. The German Shepherd Dog Club of America, formed in 1913, is the AKC Parent Club representing the breed. Those interested in adopting a rescue can browse the list of affiliated rescues on the American German Shepherd Rescue Association’s website.

High Quality Food Support

A high-quality dog food appropriate for the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior) will have all the nutrients the breed needs. Table scraps can cause digestive upset, so only give them sparingly, if at all, especially avoiding cooked bones and foods with high fat content. Small pieces of biscuit or the dog’s kibble can be used as treats for training. If you are feeding a high-quality food, vitamin and mineral supplements should not be necessary, although adding small quantities of yogurt, cooked vegetables, or eggs to the food can be beneficial. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet.

History

The German Shepherd Dog (Deutshe Schäferhund) descends from the family of German herding dogs that, until the late 19th century, varied in type from district to district.

In the waning years of the 1800s, a German cavalry officer, Captain Max von Stephanitz, made it his mission to develop the ideal German herder. Von Stephanitz and like-minded breeders crossed various strains from the northern and central districts of Germany, resulting in the ancestors of today’s German Shepherd Dog (GSD).

Von Stephanitz co-founded the world’s first club devoted to GSDs and spent 35 years promoting and refining the breed. Today, the GSD’s versatility is so thoroughly deployed in the performance of myriad tasks that it is easy to forget that the breed was originally created to herd sheep. The GSD’s now-famous qualities—intelligence, agility, speed, stealth, and the overall air of firm authority—were forged not in the police academy but in the sheep pasture.

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GSDs became popular in the United States in the early 1900s, thanks in part to the adventures of canine movie stars Rin-Tin-Tin and Strongheart. The GSD is among those German breeds, the Dachshund is another, that suffered from anti-German sentiment during and after the world wars. In World War I–era Britain, the breed was referred to as the Alsatian, a name many British dog lovers still prefer.

With the rise of modern livestock management and the decline of herding as a canine occupation, von Stephanitz shrewdly promoted his breed as an ideal K-9 worker. The GSD is today the preferred dog for police and military units the world over.

The first impression of a good German Shepherd Dog is that of a strong, agile, well muscled animal, alert and full of life. It is well balanced, with harmonious development of the forequarter and hindquarter. The dog is longer than tall, deep-bodied, and presents an outline of smooth curves rather than angles. It looks substantial and not spindly, giving the impression, both at rest and in motion, of muscular fitness and nimbleness without any look of clumsiness or soft living. The ideal dog is stamped with a look of quality and nobility – difficult to define, but unmistakable when present. Secondary sex characteristics are strongly marked, and every animal gives a definite impression of masculinity or femininity, according to its sex

Author: Virgil Montgomery