German Shepherd Dog, popularly known as GSD, is an extremely popular large sized working dog. As the name implies German Shepherd has its origins in Germany. It is popularly known as Alsatian in some countries. German Shepherds were developed primarily for the purpose of herding sheep. Their strength, intelligence and trainability have made them very useful for search and rescue, military and police work.

Appearance

German Shepherds are upto 65 cms tall and weigh upto 40 kg. It has a long square muzzle with helps in building a powerful jaw strength and bite. German Shepherd’s are famous for their ears, that are large and can stand erect giving them an antennae type highly alert look.

German Shepherd has a two layer coat and sheds a lot.

Temperament

They are highly protective of their owners and if not trained correctly, their aggression may lead them to bite strangers. They have a high willingness to learn, are curious and obedient. German Shepherd used in military work have even been trained to parachute from an aircraft. They were used widely in World War II and possess an exceptional smelling ability very useful for tracking criminals.

Health

German Shepherd is a breed of healthy dogs but is prone to certain diseases like most other dogs. You may refer to our guide on ‘How to buy a purebred dog’ for buying a disease free dog. Common diseases afflicting German Shepherd breed are hip and elbow dysplaxia (dislocation) and gastric dilatation-volvulus (bloating).

Lifespan

A German Shepherd has a lifespan of 9 to 13 years.

Pros:

  1. German Shepherd is ranked as third most intelligent dog in the world. They can very quickly learn simple tasks and obey commands more than 95% of the time. As a result they can be quickly taught police detection and tracking work.
  2. German Shepherd is one of the best watch dog breed in the world. Their powerful sense of smell, alert hearing levels, a ferocious bite and tough built can send shivers down the spine of even the most dreaded criminals. They can kill even a most powerful person if let loose on one. According to National Geographic Channel, a German Shepherd has a 238 pound-force bite as compared to a human bite of 86 pound-force. Only a Rottweiler has a higher bite force than a German Shepherd.
  3. German Shepherd is extremely easy to train. They can be made to learn even some of the more complicated and difficult jobs that other dog breeds are not capable of. They can guide handicapped people in a variety of tasks and are officially used disability assistance work. You can easily train them to attack someone and stop when ordered.
  4. German Shepherd is quite popular as working dogs. They are extensively used in tracking criminals and police work, patrolling as well as search and rescue work. They are good in narcotics and explosives detection.

Cons:

  1. German Shepherd tends to become bored when left alone and start suffering from separation anxiety. This anxiety can manifest itself in various undesirable traits like excessive barking, chewing almost everything and a lot of digging.
  2. German Shepherd sheds a lot. A lot means a lot. They are even referred as ‘German Shedders’ owing to the heavy shedding that they do. You will find their hairs on sofa, your bed, clothes, and almost everywhere in your home. Be ready with a heavy vacuum cleaner and spending a lot of time brushing your dog.
  3. German Shepherds do not mingle with strangers very quickly. This is true for humans as well as other dogs. They are naturally suspicious of strangers and take some time to comfortable with a new being. However, once comfortable they can be quite affectionate and protective of the new friends.
  4. German Shepherd has a very high level of physical activity needs. They were originally bred as a working and herding dog and their large muscles crave physical activity. As a result he must be kept busy running, playing and working. At least an hour of high energy physical activity is recommended for an adult German Shepherd every day.