The German Shepherd
'Deutscher Schaferhund'

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German Shepherd,
(Deutscher Schaferhund)
Weight: 75 — 95 lbs
Height: 22” — 26”
AKC Rank 2008 #3
Lifespan: 12—14 yrs
Group: Herding
Origin: Germany

Dog Breed Info - The German Shephard

This Shepherd is a beautiful dog!
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Breed Overview

This was originally a sheep herding dog. The German Shepherd breed was registered by the AKC in 1912 This is a majestic canine, loyal to his human masters, powerful and versatile. The dog has long been a top pick for a family member, a protector, a police dog and works as companion and therapy dogs in nursing homes and hospitals. These dogs are used as guide dogs for the blind and by police as bomb and drug sniffing dogs. Colors include Tan, black, grey, golden, black/tan/gold.


Highly trainable. Very intelligent breed. The #1 police and rescue dog in the world. The best way to train this dog is the clicker training method and using positive reinforcement. Get a clicker at the pet store and use it! Dogs love the technique.

Crate Training

Want to crate train your German Shepherd puppy? It's easy and if you're interested, take a look and you'll see what to do. Crate training your puppy will save many headaches and problems.

Potty Training

German Shepherd puppies are usually easy to house train, potty train, toilet train, housebreak or whatever you want to call it. If you have a puppy, decide if you want to crate or paper potty train it. For the best results, we have a page at Crate vs Paper Potty Trainingwhich will help you decide and from there you can get all the information you need to get the job done. Always praise the pup profusely when she goes potty in the RIGHT PLACE so she knows she has done a good thing. Either method will work for this breed.

If you have an older dog, take the dog outside every two hours until she gets the idea which door leads to her potty area. Older dogs catch on to the potty or housebreaking pretty fast once they are shown what to do.

NOTE—the German Shepherd needs to be well handled and socialized as a puppy so check for this before adopting or buying. This dog can be difficult to manage and handle if not properly raised as very young puppies. NOT for a first time dog owner.

Kane, a German Shepherd, relaxing in a public park in France.
Sent in by his owner, Ivan. Thanks, Ivan!

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This German Shepherd is
about to catch a ball.

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"How To Train Your German Shepherd" is a 96 page hardcover book that discusses getting a Shepherd, caring for it and teaching it thing it needs to know. A GS is complex, very intelligent and one small book can't cover it all, but it is a worthwhile book just the same.

How to Train Your German Shepherd (Tr-102)


The German Shepherd's have a calm, no nonsense temperament. They are extremely loyal and do well with people they know. They tolerate quite a lot. They're usually good with kids. This breed needs to be heavily socialized at a very young age and continued through life. The dog is best handled with a firm but kind hand by an alpha pack leader who is confident and dominant. Not harsh and rough, just confident. Never let the Shepherd think he has the leadership role or there will be problems.

If you happen to get a Shepherd puppy with a separation anxiety problem, that can be dealt with by investing a few hours of work on your part and some "tough love."

Friendly Toward Other Dogs

No. Domineering and can be aggressive toward strange dogs.

Friendly Toward Other Pets

Yes, gets along with household pets, protective.

Friendly Toward Strangers

Always suspicious around strangers until they get to know them.

A German Shepherd and a Jack Russell
Terrier stop for some idle neighborhood gossip.

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Not playful. Enjoys long walks and “hanging out” in the park. “Rolling over” and “begging” is not their thing.


Not a lap dog. German Shepherd's get 3 bars out of 6 for affection. They are loyal and devoted and will stay at your side, but “tummy rubs” may not be what they want.

Good with children?

Yes, the German Shepherd tolerates (and protects) children very well. However, due to their size and weight, the dog can easily injure a very small child. Close supervision is required. By close supervision, I mean standing OVER the child, not sitting 15 feet away.

Good with seniors over 65?

Yes. Absolutely. However, will the senior be able to provide exercise and “poop-scoop” for this big dog in the years to come? Something to seriously consider.

Living environment

German Shepherd's should have a big back yards to roam in. BUT, they can live in an apartment if obedience trained. There is a very tiny house near here with a Sheppard who gets to go out on long walks every day. His house is less in size than an average apartment!.

A Shepherd Dog would appreciate a medium size to large, fenced yard if possible, but not required as long as he can get his/her exercise taken care of.
Energy level

Moderate. Not excessive like a Labrador Retriever.

Exercise needs, daily

Two or three good walks around the block will do it. Maybe some play in the yard too.


Yes! Excels at this!

Guard dog

Yes! Excellent! Will protect the house, family and children to the end!

Special training should be considered for guard dog duty.


Yes, sheds a lot, most of the year.


Yes, use a firm bristle brush and brush the German Shepherd 2 oe 3 times a week, daily when shedding to remove dead hair. Give infrequent baths so as not to eliminate natural body oil.


Suggested Reading For The German Shepherd
Click on the cover photo for more book information and reviews.

  • The book on the right is by the American National Red Cross and deals with dog emergencies, illnesses ans injuries. It is a valuable reference manual for all dog owners. Vol 2, 2008 and includes a DVD.

German Shepherd Breeders

In the event you decide to go looking for German Shepherd puppies, be SURE to find reputable breeders that really know what they are doing. Be sure the puppy has been VERY well socialized and started in obedience training. German Shepherd puppies don't often show up in pounds and other kennels so look there too, as they sometimes have puppies rescued from breeders. German Shepherd Breeders with puppies for sale.

German Shepherd Rescue

In the event you are seriously considering the adoption of a German Shepherd and are looking for a rescue group or groups in your state, here are several links that might help:
Petfinder - Dog Rescue - (Nationwide) Of you do adopt a dog, try to locate past dog health records as they could be useful in the future.
Adopt A Pet This is an interesting site that may give you some ideas.

Dog Health Issues For German Shepherd Dogs
Below are the dog illness / illnesses or medical problems listed for the German Shepherd by various vets.

This is basically a healthy breed. Don’t let the list below scare you! Your own dog will probably never have ANY of these problems. These are dog illness and medical issues this breed is prone to that have been listed by various veterinarians at different times over the past decade or so and some pertain to puppies and very young dogs that a breeder would deal with.

The information contained herein has been gathered from numerous books by veterinarians and is intended as general information only. Every dog and situation is different. You must see your vet. Our information is for general interest only and not intended to replace the advice provided by your own veterinarian.

  • Hip dysplasia - Hind end limping, back leg acts lame. Wear and time causes the femur to fit poorly into the pelvic socket with improper rotation causing great pain and difficulty walking. You may notice the dog “hopping”” like a rabbit when running plus hesitating to climb stairs, all due to pain in the hind quarters. The problem actually starts as a very young puppy with an abnormal formation of the hip joint and grows progressively. A vet can locate this with a diagnostics test.

  • Elbow Dysplasia—This, as with hip dysplasia, is something the dog is born with. Wear and time in the front legs (elbow joints) cause lameness by the time the German Shepherd is roughly a year old. If you have a dog prone to this disease, have an early x-ray to see if surgery to the joints will stave off further damage to the joints. Typically, there has been no cure, but recently doctors have come up with some ideas. 1) Keep the weight of your dog down. 2) Use anti-inflammatory medication. 3) Look into injections of stem-cells to help regenerate bone-covering cartilage to cause the bones to line up properly again. (This is new research and some vets may not know about it so ask around.)

  • Panosteitis—So called "growing pains" in the legs of 6 to 12 month old puppies. The dogs experience an alternating lameness in the legs due to acute pain. Large dogs and especially German Shepherds are affected. The pain generally goes away as the dog matures. It should be a breeders problem.

  • Von Willebrand"s Disease—A deficiency in clotting factor in the blood. The affected dog does not properly utilize the blood-platelets for blood-clotting. Thus, the dog is prone to excessive bleeding if in an accident or surgery.

  • Degenerative myelopathy—Is common to German Shepherds and Welsh Corgis. There is no cure for this chronic disease that destroys the sheathing around the dog’s lower spinal colu8mn. This forces a loss of sensation and the use of the hind legs. There are some treatments for this crippling problem, but no cure.

  • Cauda equina—compression of spine nerves. Nerve roots form to the level of the end of the spinal cord. CE is known as “lower back pain.” Common to German Shepherds.

  • Nasal solar dermatitis—Hereditary immune diseases. The skin of the face and nose are involved… it is called “Collie Nose” though many breeds have it. There will be rough, scaly skin or ulceration where the nose and skin meet, also, a loss of color on the nose. Sores may be on the skin at the nose. The disease is not a killer but is not easy to look at. If too much sunlight hits the nose area, cancer may develop. That area will sunburn easily. Treatment includes no sunlight or use sunscreen, corticosteroids in cream form, medicine as pills, injections and a vitamin E supplement.

  • Tricuspid valve dysplasia—Hereditary. Malformation of the tricuspid valve in the heart allowing a backflow of blood, or “tricuspid regurgitation. Narrowing of the valve is also possible. The heart is working inefficiently. The dog may have cold limbs, no tolerance for exercise and a distended abdomen as the liver enlarges and may collapse. In severe cases, the dog may develop right-sided heart failure. The disease is more common in males than females. Mainly a problem for the breeder.

  • Aortic stenosis—Hereditary heart defect - Cause of sudden death. A narrowing of the aorta inhibiting blood flow in the heart, causing the heart to work harder. If the condition is mild, the dog may never show symptoms and live a long life. If severe, the dog will object to exercise, possibly faint at times or experience sudden death. In 90% of the affected dogs, the condition of the heart would not change from around 1 to 2 years on through it’s life. The dog’s most affected by this condition are the Newfoundland, Rottweiler, Boxer, and German Shepherd.

  • Patent ductus arteriosis—Canine congenital heart failure. Before birth, blood from the heart passes the lungs by a small vessel called the ductus arteriosis. That small vessel is supposes to vanish after birth and the infant breathes on it’s own With this disease, the vessel does not go away resulting in improper circulation of blood.

  • Lymphocytic plasmacytic enteritis - A form of Inflammatory bowel disease with vomiting and extensive diarrhea. Sometimes weight loss, loss of appetite and abdominal pain exist. Exact cause unknown, but possibly diet or a parasite. Gastric damage occurs in the form of lesions and increased gastrin serum. The Basenji and Shar Pei's are especially prone. See your vet for a way to manage this disorder.

  • Malignant neoplasms—This is an infiltrative tumor with metastatic potential. Treatment depends on the kind of tumor, the location, size and other factors. In certain cases, chemotherapy might be used. Malignant mammary gland tumors in female dogs.

  • Pannus—A disorder of the cornea of the eye affecting certain breeds such as the German Shepherd in the 4 to 7 year range with an increase in dogs living at higher elevations. Not painful and treatable. If not treated for the remaining life of the dog, the cornea will slowly darken and scar causing visual impairment.

  • Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca—(Keratitis) A fancy way of saying “dry eye.” Inadequate tear flow causes painful eye infections of a chronic nature. Causes vary from distemper to certain medications to removing the third eyelid tear gland.. Often treated with cyclosporine drops. or an ointment called cyclosporine topical therapy.

  • Corneal Dystrophy—An inherited disease of the eye. A fluid buildup causing the outer part of the cornea to appear white and move inward toward the center.. A very painful and difficult to treat ulcer will develop.

  • Lens luxation—Hereditary. Weak fibers holding the lens of the eye allow the lens to dislocate. The eye can not focus. This leads to painful, red eyes that tear a lot and can lead to Uveitis or Glaucoma if not treated right away. If detected early, surgery and medication might solve the problem.

  • Cataracts—Hazy or cloudy vision similar to humans and can cause blindness if not treated.

  • Gastric Torsion—Sometimes called Dog Bloat or “Twisted stomach.” Mainly in larger, deep-cheated dogs. Here's a brief description of the problem. Symptoms include excessive drooling, nervous pacing, agitation, weakness, attempt to vomit, bulging stomach area, heavy breathing, retching and gagging, shock or total collapse.

  • Mitral stenosis (Mitral valve insufficiency)—Hereditary heart problem. A weak mitral valve allows blood to flow backwards and to simplify this, the net result is an enlarged heart and when the heart can no longer compensate, look for a loss of desire for exercise, trouble breathing, coughing at night and liquid in the lungs of your German Shepherd. As this progresses, the dog may collapse. There is no cure... but if you act quickly, the vet may be able to make the dog more comfortable with medication and diet.

  • Perianal gland fistulas—Abnormal openings around the dog's anal area. These openings quickly get badly infected and are painful. The dog may “scoot” on his rear end and a foul odor may be omitted. This is a SERIOUS disease. Early detection and treatment is vital.

  • Diabetes—The pancreas manufactures the hormone INSULIN. If the pancreas stops making, or makes less than the normal amount of insulin, or if the tissues in the body become resistant to the insulin, the result is called “diabetes.” The dog can NOT control her blood sugar without injections of insulin on a regular basis, but given the insulin, the dog can live a normal life like a human can. If the dog does not receive the insulin injections at the same time each day of her life, the German Shepherd will go into a coma and she will die. Some causes of diabetes may be chronic pancreatitis, heredity, obesity or old age, but no one is sure. Symptoms are excess drinking and urination, dehydration, weight loss, increased appetite, weight gain, and cataracts may develop suddenly. Treatment is in the form of the insulin injections daily and a strict diet low in carbohydrates and sugars. Home cooking may be suggested in some cases. Frequent trips to the vet for blood monitoring will be needed but diabetes is not a death sentence.

  • Pancreatic deficiency - You can't break down food if you don't have enough enzymes, which are produced by the the pancreas. This is a disease of the pancreas not producing enough enzymes to allow proper digestion of food. This is often found in German Shepherds up to 4 years old. The treatment is mainly by special diets. It's also found in the Rough Coated Collie.

  • Lens luxation—Hereditary. Weak fibers holding the lens of the eye allow the lens to dislocate. The eye can not focus. This leads to painful, red eyes that tear a lot and can lead to Uveitis or Glaucoma if not treated right away. If detected early, surgery and medication might solve the problem.

  • Cardiomyopathy—Disease of the heart muscle causing the heart to enlarge and not function properly. Cause of this heart failure is unknown. Older, bigger dogs , 4 to 10 years are usually affected. The prognosis is generally about 6 months to 2 years for a dog with this form of heart failure and only a matter of weeks for some severe cases.

  • Intervertebral disc disease—Biochemical changes in a young dog of certain breeds like the German Shepherd can cause at least one diseased or mineralized disc in the spine of a dog. A disc that is not functioning properly will cause pain, problems walking, stumbling, severe neck pain and even paralysis. The Dachshund has an 80% chance of having this problem. Treatments can go from non-invasive doses of anti-inflammatory steroids, muscle relaxants and bed-rest to surgery. Pain meds are also given as needed. Mess with the spine and you have a serious situation and it’s tough on the dog!

  • Malassezia dermatitis—A highly itchy skin infection, usually around the ears, muzzle, inner thighs, eyes or feet. The dog may become frantic, chewing and scratching the ears and feet. If an ear infection, there might be a waxy discharge and smelly odor. The dog will be rubbing and pawing at the ear. Look for Malassezia in the summer, humidity and allergy seasons. Your vet will treat this with appropriate medications and bathing after a diagnosis.

  • Idiopathic Megaesophagus—Incomplete nerve development of the esophagus in dogs 5 to 12 years old causing regurgitation of food. Since food is collecting in the esophagus and not the stomach, the dog feels hungry and keeps eating. Food collects for up to a day or two and finally vomits back out, having never reached the stomach. A dangerous side effect of the disease is pneumonia. The only solution is getting the dog to drink and eat in a position where he has to reach his mouth way up high, like on a step ladder with his paws elevated where he can barely reach the food with his whole body elevated nearly vertical. There is no other cure.

  • Cutaneous asthenia—Hereditary, rare disease. Abnormally stretchy, fragile skin that tears, easily. Tearing comes easily such as the dog stretching. Little bleeding results and the torn areas heals with irregular scars resulting. Infrequently, lens luxation and loose joints may be found along with the white scaring. A skin biopsy of the German Shepherd is used for diagnosis. Your vet will advise what can be done, if anything, depending on the individual case.

  • Hypertrophic osteodystrophy—Orthopedic bone disease in large dogs, 2 to 6 months old. Very painful and possibly caused by poor nutrition. There will be pain and swelling in the affected legs. Look for lameness or a desire not to move at all, and loss of appetite plus a high fever may also occur. Medication, bed rest and a special diet are usually given. The disease can be fatal.

  • Epilepsy - Seizures, usually showing aro8und ages 2 to 5.

  • Hemangiosarcoma—An incurable tumor in the blood vessels. It is a highly malignant and aggressive cancer that lines the blood vessels. In the early stages, this cancer shows no signs, is painless and develops slowly. A lot of dogs die from internal bleeding before there is even a diagnosis. This is one deadly, stealthy disease.

  • The German Shepherd has a fairly high incident of ear infections. (See Malassezia dermatitis above) Rather than list possible sources and causes, check your dog's ears regularly and see your vet if the ears don't look or smell right.

Other problems could occur with your German Shepherd. If you notice any problems with your dog, take it to the vet immediately. This website is for general information only and is not intended to, in any way, be a medical guide.


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