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Adopt a German Shepherd Dog

German Shepherd Dog Dog Breed

Picture: Robert Dowling/Corbis


livestock, herding

Area of origin:


Original function:

sheep herding, guarding, police dog

Average size of male:

Ht: 24-26, Wt: 75-95

Average size of female:

Ht: 22-24, Wt: 75-95

Other names:

Alsatian, Deutscher schaferhund

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    Friendliness towards dogs

  • Friendliness towards other pets

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    Friendliness towards strangers

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    Ease of training

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    Watchdog ability

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    Protection ability

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    Cold tolerance

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    Heat tolerance

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German Shepherd Dog Dog Temperament

Among the most intelligent of breeds, the German Shepherd Dog is so intent on his mission whatever that may be and he is virtually unsurpassed in working versatility. He is utterly devoted and faithful. He is usually good with other pets.

German Shepherd Dog Dog Care

This breed needs daily mental and physical challenges. He enjoys a good exercise session as well as learning session. He is family-oriented and does well as a house dog. His coat needs brushing one or two times weekly.

German Shepherd Dog Dog Health

Major concerns: CHD, elbow dysplasia
Minor concerns: panosteitis, vWD, progressive posterior paresis, cauda equina, pyotraumatic dermatitis, skin allergies, malignant neoplasms, pannus, cataract, gastric torsion, perianal fistulas, cardiomyopathy
Occasionally seen: pancreatic insufficiency
Suggested tests: hip, elbow, eye (blood)
Life span: 10-12 years
Note: GSDs are especially susceptible to a potentially fatal systemic fungal infection from Aspergillus.

Interested in the history of the German Shepherd Dog dog breed?

Despite an outward appearance slightly resembling a wolf, the German Shepherd dog is a fairly recently developed breed and, contrary to nai­ve beliefs, he is no more closely related to the wolf than any other breed of dog. The breed is the result of a conscious effort to produce the ideal Shepherd, capable of herding and guarding his flocks. Perhaps never in the history of any breed has such concerted effort been put into improving a dog, mostly due to the formation in 1899 of the Verein fur Deutsche Scharferhunde SV, an organization devoted to overseeing the breeding of the German Shepherd. Breeders sought to develop not only a herding dog but also one that could excel at jobs requiring courage, athleticism and intelligence. In short order, the German Shepherd had proved itself a more than capable police dog, and subsequent breeding strove to perfect his abilities as an intelligent and fearless companion and guardian. During World War I, it was the obvious choice for a war sentry. At the same time, the AKC changed the breed's name from German Sheepdog to Shepherd dog, and Britain changed it to Alsatian Wolf Dog, both attempts to dissociate the dog from the unpopular German roots. The wolf dog was later dropped as it caused many people to fear the breed. In 1931, the AKC restored the breed's name to German Shepherd Dog. The greatest boon to the shepherd's popularity came in the form of two dogs, both movie stars: Strongheart and Rin Tin Tin. The German Shepherd held the number-one spot in American popularity for many years. Although presently he has dropped from the top spot, the German Shepherd remains as one of the most versatile dogs ever created, serving as a police dog, war dog, guide dog, search-and-rescue dog, narcotics- or explosives-detecting dog, show dog, guard dog, pet and even shepherd.

Copyright © 1998, 2005 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc. based on

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Some animal welfare organizations with German Shepherd Dogs ready for adoption:

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