Dog Breeds

German Shepherd Advantage and Challenges


  • Self-confident and dignified
  • Muscular, athletic and strong
  • Obedient worker and quick to learn
  • Loyal and courageous companion
  • Makes a very good guard dog


  • Wary with strangers
  • Needs lots of attention and companionship
  • Heavy shedder, especially in spring
  • Requires considerable exercise
  • Considerable grooming required
  • Untrained or improperly trained dog can be hard to control

German Shepherd Physical Characteristics


  • Medium to large dog


  • 77-85 pounds


  • Smooth, short-haired coat


  • Black with tan, sable or all black; white Shepherds aren't accepted for AKC showing, but are popular pets

Life Expectancy

  • 10-13 years
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German Shepherd Personality

This strong, handsome dog has won the respect, and often the hearts, of many animal lovers around the world. The German Shepherd is the 4th most popular breed registered with the AKC in the United States. A loyal and courageous animal, this dog is highly protective of its owners and typically makes an excellent guard dog.

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German Shepherd History and General Information

History and Origin

With its powerful body, alert mind and nimble movement, the German Shepherd is a natural athlete. Be prepared to give this dog plenty of regular exercise along with training of some kind, as it’ll be happiest when given a challenge. Eager to learn, the German Shepherd should be trained in obedience at an early age – otherwise it can become difficult to control. Use a firm and loving tone, as this pet doesn’t respond well to angry training techniques. This highly intelligent animal thrives on having a mission, and is often employed as a police dog, sheep herder, or guide dog for the blind. This breed likes company and shouldn’t be left alone for long periods of a time, as it may become frustrated and develop destructive and aggressive habits.

A properly bred, well adjusted and well trained German Shepherd will get along with the entire family as well as other pets, but it’s important to socialize this breed to others while still a puppy. An unsocialized German Shepherd can be dangerous.

General Information

Highly intelligent and a consummate guard dog, this courageous pet is eager to please its owners - it likes nothing better than protecting you and spending quality time with you. Usually very patient with kids if it has been well socialized to them as a puppy, this dog should nevertheless never be fully trusted with children it doesn’t consider part of its family. Similarly, when raised with other animals in the home, the German Shepherd usually will learn to co-exist, but this superb hunter is likely to consider any animals outside the home as prey, and is also innately aggressive towards other dogs. A securely fenced yard is an absolute must, and never walk your German Shepherd off-leash if you wish to avoid neighborhood tragedy.

This strong and fearless dog requires an equally strong and confident owner; you’ll need to establish dominance and respect with your German Shepherd at an early age, and thorough obedience training and socialization is a necessity for this powerful and somewhat unpredictable animal. Fortunately, the highly intelligent German Shepherd is quick to learn and really will want to please you, particularly if trained with patience and firm, consistent kindness. Always make sure your German Shepherd feels like a loved and respected member of the family - this pet lives to serve you, and will suffer and develop destructive habits if left alone all day.

The German Shepherd is a very clean, odorless dog and is quite easy to housebreak.Its coarse, short-haired coat needs a moderate amount of grooming, however it is a heavy seasonal shedder and requires a great deal more care at those times; brush as needed with a firm bristle brush, and bathe only when necessary, as bathing inhibits the coat’s natural waterproofing qualities.

Rin Tin Tin

The world’s most famous German Shepherd is undoubtedly Rin Tin Tin, an orphaned veteran of World War I. During the 1920s and 1930s, this amazing dog made 26 movies for Warner Brothers and may have saved the movie studio from bankruptcy. At the peak of his career, Rin Tin Tin was receiving 10,000 fan letters a week and was one of Hollywood’s biggest stars.

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German Shepherd Health

Health Ailments

Generally healthy, this dog can suffer from various diseases such as blood disorders, digestive problems and hip and elbow dysplasia. It can also be prone to epilepsy, chronic eczema, eye disease, dwarfism and flea allergies.

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German Shepherd Community

Your German Shepherd

Send us pictures and stories about your German Shepherd.

German Shepherd Discussion Group

Get advice from other German Shepherd lovers – and submit a few ideas of your own.

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