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German Shepherd Dog

The German Shepherd Dog is a large-sized breed belonging to the herding group of working dogs. Intelligent as it is versatile, this breed was originally developed in Germany to guard and herd a shepherd's flocks. The German Shepherd requires an active lifestyle, and makes for an ideal companion and protector.

Physical Characteristics

The German Shepherd has a double coat, which is comprised of a thick undercoat and a dense, slightly wavy or straight outer coat. Its hair, usually tan and black, or red and black in color, is medium in length and is shed all year round. Other rarer color variations include all-Black, all-White, liver and blue.

The German Shepherd's body is long -- generally between 22 and 26 inches -- in proportion to its height. This gives the dog strength, agility, elasticity and long, elegant strides.

Personality and Temperament

The German Shepherd is very protective and devoted to its family and home, maintaining a suspicious and aloof demeanor around strangers. It can be dominating and assertive towards dogs, though it is normally friendly with other pets in the home. The German Shepherd is an immensely versatile dog, displaying a keen intelligence while dutifully performing its tasks.

Care

The German Shepherd can live outdoors in cool or temperate climates, but enjoys living indoors too. Frequent training or exercise sessions are essential for keeping its mind and body active, and because the German Shepherd sheds throughout the year, its coat should be brushed once or twice a week to encourage turnover as well as to minimize buildup in the home.

Health

The German Shepherd has an average lifespan of between 10 to 12 years. It is, however, susceptible to some serious health conditions like elbow dysplasia and canine hip dysplasia (CHD), as well as minor problems like cardiomyopathy, hemangiosarcoma, panosteitis, von Willebrand's Disease (vWD), degenerative myelopathy, cauda equina, malignant neoplasms, pannus, hot spots, skin allergies, gastric torsion, cataract, and perianal fistulas. This breed is also prone to a fatal fungal infection due to the Aspergillus mold. Because of these susceptibilities German Shepherds, like most other dogs, need to be seen by a veterinarian for routine checkups. There they will undergo hip, elbow blood, eye and other tests.

 

History and Background

The German Shepherd over the years has served in many different capacities: police dog, guide dog, guard dog, war dog, explosives- and narcotics-detecting dog, search-and-rescue dog, show dog, and most notably as a shepherding dog. Developed primarily for the purpose of guarding and herding a shepherd's flocks, there have been few other breed