As the name would suggest, German Shepherds were created by German cavalry Captain Max von Stephanitz to be the greatest herding dogs ever bred. Since 1899, the German Shepherd has been recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1908 and has become one of the top ten most popular dog breeds in the United States. Currently, the AKC ranks the German Shepherd as the second most popular dog in the nation.
This working breed is considered “large,” weighing in at about 75-85 pounds on average. They are strong and slightly muscular, usually with pointed ears and a bushy tail. Puppies typically have floppy ears until about six months of age when they slowly prop upright. Most have fairly long coats in brown, black, tan, white (although all-white German Shepherds are sometimes considered an entirely separate breed), but are most commonly a mix of brown and black. The double-coat makes them better suited for cooler climates, and they are very likely to shed, leaving behind “sprinkles of love” on your clothing, furniture, floors, and any other possible surface in your home. Like many large breeds, German Shepherds are more prone to joint problems, including hip and elbow dysplasia, as well as bloat and other digestive problems. They are more likely to suffer from allergies and spinal cord diseases (due to the slop of the spine and the position of the hind legs).
German Shepherds are known for their intelligence and dedication. They have been trained for acting careers, drug and bomb sniffing, arsenic investigations, search-and-rescue, military service, leading the disabled, emotional support companions, and can still be seen as herd dogs on farm land. They have a tendency toward being protective and wary of strangers but highly loyal to family members. Because of that deep connection, German Shepherds do not like being alone and can be noisy and destructive in such situations. As with any dog, early and consistent training and socialization practices will pay off. They have an average level of energy but, as working dogs, require lots of exercise. To nurture his or her mind, incorporate mental exercises into your German Shepherd’s daily routine. With proper training and care, German Shepherds can make great family dogs or be utilized in volunteer work. Overall, they are wonderful companions and make great additions to any household.