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German Shepherd Dog Dog Breed Profile

German Shepherd Dog

Other Names
, GSD, Deutsche Schaferhund 
Dog Group Kennel Club
Breed Classification
German Shepherd Dogs belong to the pastoral group and are used as companions, guard dogs, sniffer dogs, police dogs, guide dogs and, of course, sheepdogs. They are also popular in the show-ring. 
Cost of Ownership
Average Food Cost
£4-7.50 per week
Feeding Requirements
As puppies, ensure you follow the breeder's recommended diet sheet because problems can arise with their bones and joints. 
Other Expenses
After the initial purchse price of a puppy, around £500+, GSD's should not be too expensive to keep as long as you have followed the recommended feeding programme as puppies. Failure to do so could result in excessive veterinary fees. 
9 - 15 years
On average, the GSD can live 12 years. 
Average Litter Size
GSD's can have large litters, as many as 12 to 14 puppies is not uncommon, but the average is 9. 
General Physical Description
GSDs are one of the most easily recognised breeds in the world Their appearance should be of a muscular alert dog with a noble and aloof attitude The dogs are agile and well balanced in the fore and hindquarters and carry themselves with pride Although substantially built these dogs are not square but made up of smooth curves the length being greater than the height Their coats are impressive the outer coat being hard coarse and flat hair with a thick undercoat They have a wonderful long reach with their front legs covering the ground in a smooth graceful manner

Height Min Max
Bitch 55cm (22") 60cm (24")
Dog 60cm (24") 65cm (26")
Weight Min Max
Bitch 34kg (75lbs) 43kg (95lbs)
Dog 34kg (75lbs) 43kg (95lbs)
Size Category
Weight Height Range
Ideally dogs measure between 60-65cms at the withers and bitches measure beween 55-60cms. They weigh in the region of 34-43kgs.  
As stated earlier, irresponsible breeding has led to some health problems. The most prevalent of these is Hip Dysplasia. To overcome this problem, the Kennel Club instituted a hip-scoring scheme in 1983. Another bone disease that can affect fast growing, large dogs, as GSDs are, is panosteitis, males are affected more often than females. Bloat is a disease of deep-chested dogs but can often be prevented with careful husbandry. Cutaneous vasculopathy affects GSD puppies causing crusty ears, tail and swollen, cracked pads. Congenital heart problems have also been found in German Shepherd Dogs. 
Common Ailments

Myasthenia gravis, Cutaneous vasculopathy
Anal furunculosis  
Susceptibility To Illness
Formed from a variety of different types of shepherd dogs, the German Shepherd Dog (or GSD) can trace its origins back to the 7th century. Its appearance, almost wolf-like, would suggest an even earlier ancestry. Originally bred for herding, this breed has been used more extensively in this century for guard and protection work. It is also used as a guide dog in the United States and has an honourable career with both police and armed forces. Finally, one cannot forget its frequent television and film appearances. At the end of the 19th century, Rittmeister Max Emil Friedrich von Stephanitz dedicated himself to the refinement and protection of the GSD. GSDs were first shown in 1882 and in 1899, the Verein fur Deutsche Schaferhunde, which is the German breed club for GSDs, was formed. It was through this club and the work of the Rittmeister that GSDs were developed for use with the police and armed forces, thus saving the breed from extinction during the difficult times at the beginning of the 20th century. During World WarI the Germans used GSDs as messenger dogs and to locate the wounded. Allied soldiers admired the dogs’ intelligence and courage and brought many of them home after the war, thus establishing the breed in other countries. However, it is felt that the best GSDs still come from Germany. 
It is a highly intelligent breed and as such, needs a great deal of mental stimulation. Obedience classes will be enjoyed by the GSD and he should prove to be a stellar pupil. This dog is eager to learn and very responsive to training, especially voice commands given with the appropriate intonation. It is best to work with reward-method training as beating an already timid dog into submission is likely to backfire. From basic obedience, the GSD can go onto learn agility, tracking, rescue work or personal protection work; he excels at all these skills.< 
Show Characteristics
The height is measured at the high withers, which extend into a flat topline. The back itself is relatively short and there is a gradual slope from the croup to the rump. This particular structure is to allow exceptional reach in the fore and rear legs. The head of the GSD should sport clean lines, with a long, strong muzzle. Fitted lips close over the scissor bite, needed for a powerful grip, which can detain a criminal if needed. The forehead is moderately arched and the stop is subtle rather than abrupt. Erect ears are open to the front and moderately pointed. A drooping or folded ear is a fault. Medium sized, almond shaped eyes should be set at a slightly oblique angle and be as dark as possible. The chest is deep and will reach well down between the legs. The bone of the leg is strong but not too solid and is of an oval, rather than round shape. It is the long shoulder blade that contributes to the height of the withers. In the hind leg, you will find defined muscle in both the upper and lower leg and a clean hock joint. Dewclaws should be removed and the feet should be rather short, well arched and have very thick, hard pads. A bushy tail, of length to reach the hock joint, is set low and curves like a sabre. A GSD has a double c 
Country Of Origin
Famous Examples
Rin Tin Tin 
Records Held
Overall Exercise
> 2 hours per day.
The young pup should be exercised with some discretion to avoid long-term damage to still soft and forming joints. As the dog ages, it will require longer walks but must first have the solid bone structure established. 
Distress if Left Alone
Personal Protection
Guard Dog Suitability
Risk of Sheep Worrying
Tendency to Bark
Level of Aggression
Compatibility With Other Animals
Suitable For Children


General Character And Temperament
As a pet, the GSD will demand a lot of your time. It is a highly intelligent breed and as such, needs a great deal of mental stimulation. The GSD will develop a very close bond with his handler and will want to be with him/her as much as possible. They will accept children if the children give them respect and do not torment them. Although this breed of dog does need a lot of attention, he will give back one hundred fold with loyalty and incorruptible guarding skills. On the other hand, if you do not take the time to socialize and train a GSD, there will be problems with self-confidence and unruliness. 
Coat Length
Grooming Requirement
Once a week 
Requires Professional Groomer
Grooming should also be done every day, with a vigourous brushing to remove any dead or loose hairs. If it is a longhaired GSD, combing will also be necessary. No trimming is required and bathing should only be done as needed. This is a shedding dog but the more you groom it, the less it will shed. 
The colours the GSD comes in are are black, ash and iron gray with brown, yellow or light brown markings. Black is the most common major coat colour. White GSDs do occur but are not accepted in the show ring. 
Suffers From Allergies

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