Welcoming a new pet to the family is always exciting, especially when it is a German Shepherd! Dogs (GSD) are always a pleasant addition to a family. They bring with themselves a significant amount of love and care. They are loyal to their owners and always protect them at any cost. They originally are from Germany but are loved and cherished all over the world. It seems impossible to talk about German dogs without mentioning German Shepherds.
If you’ve decided to adopt a German Shepherd Dog, make sure you are already aware of this breed’s personality, physical needs, and other essential pieces of information required to raise a happy and lively fur baby.
Here is a complete guide to take care of a German Shepherd for you, so go ahead and read all about it!
German Shepherds are among the most popular and beloved breeds all across the USA, and a single reason cannot explain why.
This breed is unique in a variety of ways. For instance, they are smart and quick working dogs. Their bravery and faithfulness are exceptional. Their versatility and brilliance make them a perfect fit for numerous jobs like police, rescue and search, assistance to handicapped, herding, military, and many more.
Below you will find detailed insights and analysis about the characteristics of German Shepherds.
Due to the remarkable abilities of German Shepherds, it is easier for them to adjust in any situation and environment. As a pet owner, you need to make sure that your dog feels safe and cared for in your house. All in all, German Shepherds are pretty good at adapting changes and new environments. Hence, for adaptability, they have scored 3 out of 5 stars.
Some important factors behind such ratings are:
Overall, German Shepherds are known to be one of the most friendly dogs. They know how to make friends and draw other’s attention to them. Due to their social nature, they’ve got 4 out of 5 stars in all-around friendliness.
Health and Grooming Needs
Before getting a pet, you should keep in mind their health and grooming needs. Every breed has different needs, which should be considered before adopting/buying it. For German Shepherd, the score of health and grooming needs is 4 out of 5.
It breaks down to the following factors:
These dogs have a remarkable ability to learn new commands and understand the owner quickly. Their sharp and focused mind makes it easier for the owner and trainer to train them. That is why German Shepherds are trained for numerous professional jobs where their minds can be valuable such, as rescue, police, and military, etc. their overall score for trainability is 4 out of 5 stars.
Some factors that affected such ratings are listed below:
German Shepherd scored 5 out of 5 stars in terms of physical needs. They are strong, courageous, and muscular. No wonder they have such an extraordinary score.
Here are the reasons why:
German Shepherds Temperament and Personality
German Shepherds seem aggressive and unfriendly at first, but they are quite the opposite. As a stranger, when you approach a German Shepherd, they might give you a death stare, which means they are analyzing you with their watchful eyes. But don’t worry, as soon as they realize that you’re not a threat, they’ll become your friend and expect you to play with them. They love being a center of attention in the crowd, so strangers are always welcome to show their love.
Being an owner of a German Shepherd, you’ll find them extremely loyal, obedient, and faithful to you and your family. Your German Shepherd Dog will play with you, eat with you, and even sleep with you. They learn new words from their owners very quickly and act accordingly. They are always looking for new tricks to grab your attention and ways to please you. They don’t betray their master. Neither would they leave you and your family.
The physique of German shepherds is robust and lean. They were naturally bred for herding, so being a leader is in their nature. They also have the instinct to guard their loved ones. In case you find yourself or your family in difficult or dangerous circumstances, you can count on German Shepherds. They are alert, focused, and always ready to take action. So if you are in a city where the theft rate is high, you should get a German Shepherd. They will surely keep your family, especially children, from any sort of harm.
Due to their size, German Shepherds are one of the best breeds for being a service dog. They can be helpful for jobs such as narcotics, drug detection, police, etc. They are also known to be caring partners of individuals suffering from mental health conditions. They have a massive amount of love, care, energy, and intensity to be the right fit for various jobs. On the one hand, they can be tough and aggressive police dogs, performing their duties with great passion and dedication. On the other, they can be a great partner for a person going through PTSD, Anxiety, or other mental diseases. You’ll find them calm, patient, tolerant, and gentle once they realize their owner needs help.
One of the main personality traits of German Shepherd Dog is their courage and fearlessness. They were trained originally to protect sheep from wolves, and throughout the years, it has become their instinct - to protect others. That’s one of many reasons why they are the priority in law enforcement departments.
They have an extraordinarily high sense of smell. They always stay alert and focused on ensuring a safe environment around them.
If the owner does not provide them with enough physical activities and mental stimulations, German Shepherds are likely to develop problematic behavior, such as barking, howling, chewing, or digging. You should make sure they don’t get bored all day. To help them remain active and indulged is activities, you can use game toys, king toys, and food puzzles.
These toys and puzzles will also help your dog when you are away. Otherwise, being alone for a long time might cause separation anxiety in them. In case your dog goes through such problems, you should provide them an intense exercise schedule to keep their mind busy.
German Shepherds are incredible athletes. Since they are one of the big boys, their strength and physique make them a perfect athlete. They work with absolute passion and determination. There are numerous sports that German Shepherd Dog love being a part of. Their favorite sports include dock diving, rally, barn hunt, agility, and MondioRing, etc.
German Shepherds were bred in 1899. As their name indicates, German Shepherds are originally from Germany. These working dogs were bred and trained to herd sheep and protect them from wolves. In the 1950s, countries in Europe decided to standardize breeds. They started breeding and training several breeds to guard the flocks against predators. The same process of training occurred in Germany as well. The farmers trained some breeds, which they believed had the required skills, capabilities, and sharp mind to herd the flocks, especially sheep. As a result, several breeds were trained for being working dogs. However, they were different in each locality in terms of skills and appearance.
As an attempt to solve this issue, a society; named the Phylax Society was initiated in 1981. This society aimed to create standardized breeds of dogs in Germany. However, due to a conflict of interest among the members, the Phylax Society could only survive for three years. Some members of the society supported the idea of training and breeding dogs for working purposes, while others believed that dogs’ appearance should also be considered while breeding. After the Phylax society disbanded, people were encouraged to standardize the breeds independently.
In 1899, Von Stephanitz, former cavalry captain, and Berlin Veterinary College student, attended a dog show where he saw a dog, namely, Hektor Linksrhein. He was a strong supporter of the training dogs for work. After watching Hector Linksrhein, he believed that it had all the characteristics of a perfect working dog. He was impressed by the qualities it possessed, including its strength, appearance, and loyalty. He decided to purchase it right away. He named the dog Horand Von Grafrath. Soon after buying the dog, Von Stephanitz decided to form a society and named it Verein für Deutsche Schäferhunde, which means Society of German Shepherd Dogs. Since then, the title of the first German Shepherd Dog is associated with Horand Von Grafrath. He was the first German Shepherd dog ever to be registered in the society’s breed register.
Horand attracted the attention of numerous breeding programs. He was bred with several other breeds of various members of society that possessed similar personality traits. The breeding program resulted in numerous pups. The most successful among them was Hektor von Schwaben. Hektor fathered Beowulf, after inbreeding with other offspring of Horand. Beowulf had a total of eighty-four pups, most of which were a result of their inbreeding with different offspring of Hektor. If you explore Zuchtbuch für Deutsche Schäferhunde (SZ), which is The studbook of German Shepherd, you can see four wolf crosses. The offsprings of Beowulf were inbred, which eventually became a genetic link of all the German Shepherds to this date.
The society was successful because its leader Von Stephanitz was determined and firm to achieve its goal. He is now known to be a leader of German Shepherd Dogs.
In 1919, the Kennel Club of UK registered German Shepherd Dog for the first time. At that time, it registered fifty-four dogs. In 1926, the number of registered dogs exceeded 8000. In the United States, the first German Shepherd Dog to be registered was Queen, who originally belonged to Switzerland.
The size of the German Shepherd Dogs is dimorphic sexually. It implies that the height and weight of every male and female dog vary differently. The size of an adult male German shepherd ranges from 60 to 65 cm height and 30 to 40 kg weight. For adult female German Shepherds, their height ranges from 50 to 60 cm and weight from 22 to 32 kg.
Although German Shepherds have strong immunity, which keeps them away from numerous health problems, yet there are many common health issues that German Shepherds go through. As an owner, you should be aware of all possible health issues that can occur to your German Shepherd Dog.
The main problems are listed below:
The most common health problem that German Shepherds go through is Hip Dysplasia. Even though this problem is found in other dogs (particularly large dogs), it is extremely common in German Shepherds.
In Hip Dysplasia, the socket of hips forms abnormally, which, in the worst-case scenario, can cause arthritis and lameness of the joints. It can be determined as a malfunction in the hip joint. Generally, the dogs suffering from hip dysplasia should not be allowed to breed, but breeders do not take this problem into account and breed the dog. As a result, their offspring suffer from the same problem. Some causes of hip dysplasia include injury, overeating, or extremely intense exercise.
Elbow dysplasia also affects large dogs, but particularly, they affect German Shepherds the most. It is just like hip dysplasia, which occurs at the elbow joint of a dog. It can be mild as well as severe. However, even a mild case will increase its severity as time passes. Hence, always make certain that your German Shepherd is free from this health issue before breeding. Elbow Dysplasia cannot be cured, though the pain can be avoided by providing proper nutrition for the joint to remain lubricated.
Gastric dilatation – Volvulus (GDV) or Bloat
This problem can be easily seen in the dogs with small or medium-length fur but is not clearly visible in dogs with large coats. Bloat is a condition where gases build up in the stomach of a dog. It happens mostly when the dog gets indulged in an intense workout after eating too much food. When the gases do not get dispelled, it can cause bloat pressure, resulting in difficulty in breathing.
If your dog starts eating grass or tries to vomit, it might be going through this issue. This condition could be severe and can cause death. Therefore, do not ignore such symptoms and take your dog to the vet as soon as possible.
Epilepsy occurs in humans more than dogs. However, some German Shepherds go through the same problem too. Even though they are trained to detect seizures in their owners, they can face the same problems too.
Epilepsy is a genetic condition, and it has no cure. However, the symptoms can be controlled and managed through medications. The dogs will likely live a normal life if you make sure they are in a stress-free environment, are fed right nutrition, and are surrounded by a thoughtful family.
In this condition, the blood of German Shepherds is unable to clot properly. It is not a common health problem, but it is found in German Shepherds more than other breeds.
Hemophilia cannot be cured but can be avoided with proper care. Dogs suffering from this disease can live a healthy and happy life if its owner is responsible enough to check on it every now and then. You should make sure your dog doesn’t have any lumps in their body. In case they do, be extra vigilant in their exercise. Any exercise that may hurt the lumps should be avoided at all costs.
Diabetes is a widespread disease in German Shepherds. They tend to overeat food, which normally happens with medium or large-sized dogs. The symptoms are the same as humans, which include excessive drinking, dry mouth, excessive urinating, and fatigue.
Diabetes can be genetic, but it can also develop over time due to different environmental reasons. A proper nutritional diet and the right exercise can help control this disease. If it gets severe, you might need to inject insulin daily to ensure the wellbeing of your German Shepherd.
Training German Shepherd is a necessary but easy task. Since they are highly intelligent, smart, and obedient, they learn quickly what their masters want them to do. Below you will find some remarkable ways to train your German Shepherd.
The right time to train them is when they are little – puppyhood. Training in the early stages is easier than training adults. With proper training, they grow up to be perfectly trained adult dogs with multiple skills and capabilities.
But if the training is delayed, your dog will learn many bad habits during that time, which can be very difficult to get rid of.
Also, consistency is the key to a well-trained dog. The more consistent you are, the better. Don’t be harsh on your German Shepherd as it won’t help in training. Instead, deal with them lovingly and gently.
Train them according to their mental and physical capabilities. Don’t expect them to ace the training in their puppyhood. They will take time, and it's okay.
Now let’s check out some amazing training necessary for your German Shepherd.
Clicker training is based on the reward system. As German Shepherds are always searching for new ways to please their master, they will happily comply during this training once they understand that it will make you happy. Knowing that you’ll reward them if they comply will also increase the motivation in them.
You need two things for clicker training, a clicker and their treat. Start by sitting with them quietly and giving them treats. Every time you give a treat, click the clicker. Soon, they will learn the connection between the clicker sound and the treat. They’ll know when they hear such a sound, it's time for their treat.
Now associate commands with your clicks and treats. Make them understand that treats must be earned. Start off by simple commands such as sit, stay, or go, etc. Once they do correctly, reward them with a treat.
Over time, your dog should work more and get a lesser reward, as too many treats can cause health problems. Don’t forget to use a clicker. It’ll help the dog understand that their reward is on its way.
Crate training is essential for when you’re not around with your dog, and they are all on their own. Their crate is their safe place where they can feel secure and protected. They should also make a habit of sleeping inside their crate.
During crate training, it is crucial that your dog feels positive about their crate. Their experience should be pleasant living inside the crate. If it doesn't want to go inside, don’t force. Initially, let them stay inside for a few seconds and then take them out. Once they get familiar with their new home, you can increase their time gradually.
Try not to leave the dog in the crate for a long time. Otherwise, it would get separation anxiety since it is a highly sensitive dog. The potty-training will also be affected by staying for a long period in a crate, making it create a mess inside.
You should start housebreaking your German Shepherds as soon as possible. The pups have a small bladder, and you should be aware of the time when they need a potty break. A general rule is hours-per-month, which says that their age (i.e., months) will tell how long they can hold. For instance, a month old puppy will need a potty break after an hour. Three months old can last for three hours, and so on.
Take your dog to the same spot to do their business. Soon they will recognize the location. When they do it correctly, click the clicker and reward them.
Train them not to Bark
Their barking is a part of their body language. They express their feelings through it. It's impossible to train the German Shepherds not to bark at all, but through training, they can understand when barking is reasonable and unacceptable.
Being a protective breed, they usually bark when they sense a threat. It can be a stranger outside your house, another animal or simply the TV. What they believe to be a threat is up to their mind, but you can make them understand what really is the threat to your family and when they should alert the family with their barking.
Give them a reward whenever they stop barking, this will help them understand when barking is encouraged, and when should they stop barking.
The diet of any dog depends on their age and size. German shepherds have a size somewhere between medium and large. For a senior German Shepherd, the requirement is 1,300 to 1,600 calories in a day. In a case of a working dog or an active adult German Shepherd, 1,700 to 2,400 calories in a day are sufficient.
For pups that weigh between 4.5 to 14 kg, you can give 1-2 cups of high-quality dog food per day. Adults German Shepherds weighing around 27 to 40 kg need 3-5 cups of dog food per day.
They should be fed twice a day, first in the morning, then evening.
For German Shepherds, grooming is not only restricted to bathing. They don’t need baths frequently in the first place. However, there are various types of grooming that are required more often. German Shepherd Dog have a double coat, which sheds heavily throughout the year. With a little care, you can limit the amount of shedding and make your dog look pretty all the time.
Here are some grooming tips for German Shepherd Dogs.
Any breed with heavy fur and double coat needs frequent brushing. German shepherds are no different. Brush your German Shepherd 3 to 4 times each week to keep their hair shiny and smooth. Brushing is essential because, in the case of German Shepherds, their hair sheds throughout the year. It will also keep your furniture and your clothes free from shed hair.
Don’t bathe them too often. Excessive bathing leads to dry, irritated, and flaky skin. Though German Shepherds do not require bathing that much, a sound bath time once in a month after an intensive workout session would feel relaxing and refreshing.
Sometimes dogs catch fleas from their outside environment. To prevent this, you can bathe them more than once a month. Anti-flea spray and shampoo can be quite helpful in such a case. Make sure the shampoo suits your dog’s skin as the harsh ones may damage it.
Keep checking your German Shepherd Dog. Their teeth tend to develop plaque and tartar because of their food. But it is unlikely to happen when you take care of hygiene. With the help of dog-friendly brush and toothpaste, brush your dog’s teeth. Do it very gently otherwise, you might end up hurting their gums and teeth. Feeding them kibbles orchard cookies will also help in cleaning the teeth and gums.
Toenails must be trimmed regularly to avoid any harm to your family as well as your dog. Their toenails should be checked at least once in a week, and overgrown nails should be trimmed. Trim their toenails, but be very careful as you might cut their toenails deeply, resulting in injury or blood loss. If trimming seems to be a challenging task, you can ask your vet or dog groomer to do it.
Just like their toenails, you should take care of the hygiene of their ears too. Check them once a week at least. Poor grooming of ears can result in debris and excess wax. Ear drops are very helpful in cleaning your dog’s ears. Just pour a small quantity of ear-drops in both ears and start massaging the base. Clean off excessive wax and debris with the help of cotton pads or any cloth of soft material. Never use water to clean the ear. It can reach the ear canal and result in infection.
German shepherds make a perfect family pet. Their extremely brilliant minds help them quickly understand and act according to what their owners expect them to do. You can teach them numerous commands, and they'll learn and memorize them in a short period.
Their faithful nature will make sure that your, your family, and other pets are safe from any harm. Even though small pets can trigger their prey-drive, you can train them to live with your pets. You can rust German Shepherd Dog with our children. They know how to protect your kids. They show loyalty by staying around you. In case you like such kinds of attention-seeking and loving dogs, german Shepherds are the right dog for you.
For people living in Australia, here are some of the best breeder organizations where you can get your German Shepherd from:
GSDCV is a non-profit organization and registered breeder of German Shepherd Dogs in Australia. Their aim is to improve, promote, and protect this breed. Formed in 1945, GSDCV has a total of 11 branches in Victoria and Melbourne with over 2200 members.
The German shepherd dog League was founded for promoting breeding and improvement of the German Shepherd dog. This organization also organizes events for the dogs to participate and enjoy. You can find German Shepherds of all ages here.
German Shepherd World is a professional breeder organization in Australia that specializes in breeding “old-style” German Shepherd Dog. The dog breed is large-sized, faithful, and courageous. They possess all the main characteristics that were found in the classic German Shepherd working dogs.
Rescue a German shepherd and interact with other German Shepherd Dog parents through the following rescue groups:
Formed in 2013, Sweet Shepherd Rescue Group operates all over Australia from Victoria. It is a non-profit organization. It serves the purpose of rescuing German Shepherds and finding them new homes.
German Shepherd Rescue New South Wales is also a not for profit organization that serves a purpose of providing homes and loving families to surrendered, abandoned, and unwanted dogs all over NSW. They also train the dogs to adjust in their new home with a new master.
It is a charitable organization that is determined to rehabilitate, rescue, and rehome the German Shepherd dogs that are abandoned, lost, or are no longer welcomed by their owners. This rescue organization also contributes its part in spreading awareness regarding German shepherds.
When looking for dog food, always pick the one with the best quality. Remember, your dog’s physical and mental health depend on the food they eat, so the quality should be your priority.
Here are some of the best brands of dog foods that your German Shepherd would enjoy.
German shepherds are friendly and yet muscular, aggressive, and yet sensitive. They analyze you to see if you are a threat. Once they realize that your intentions are good, they’ll become your best buddy. They have an incredible amount of energy and strength, you can play with them for hours, and they won't get tired.
If trained properly, they will become a loving and caring companion to you and your family. If you think you can take care of their physical, mental, grooming, and training needs, you should adopt or buy your German Shepherd Dog right away!