German Shepherd

German Shepherd Breed description: Character & Co


If you are interested in buying a German Shepherd, you will find some information about this dog breed below. This affectionate and loyal four-legged friend can be a full-fledged family member. Especially a German Shepherd puppy will become a pleasant companion if you socialise them well and attend dog school with them. It is advisable that you're already experienced with dogs. If not challenged enough, a German Shepherd with its low stimulus threshold can become a problem.

Generally, this breed was originally bred as a working dog. If you give your intelligent four-legged friend regular challanges like

  1. Agility
  2. Tournament dog sport (THS)
  3. Obedience training
  4. Man-trailing

and sufficient exercise like

  1. Cycling
  2. Jogging
  3. Mountain hikes

you will end up with a well-balanced dog. A German Shepherd will not be satisfied with a life where every day is the same and "only" taking them for regular walks is not sufficient for them.

This dog breed is not considered a list dog in Germany and Austria. Investigations prove that the German Shepherd is often involved in dog bite incidents. In some cantons in Switzerland (Ticino, Glarus) there exists a permit requirement for keeping the German Shepherd (breed list).

What is the origin of the German Shepherd?

The German Shepherd is a relatively new breed of dog. The FCI has recognised this breed and placed it in Group 1, Section 1 with Standard No. 166.

The breed "German Shepherd" originates from herding dogs with a similar appearance. At the end of the 19th century this type of dog was widespread in Germany and Europe. These dogs were not only used for managing herds. The protection of house and yard was also one of their tasks.

Max von Stephanitz was enthusiastic about these herding dogs. Through his commitment in the field of breeding, the German Shepherd was created. Von Stephanitz is considered the founder of this dog breed. In 1891 the first breed standard was established by him. His dog "Horand von Grafrath" is one of the progenitor males. Another one would be "Luchs Sparwasser" and "Mari von Grafrath" is mentioned as the progenitor female used for breeding.

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Alternate Name German Shepherd Dog, Shepherd, German Shepherd
Origin Germany
Life expectancy 9 - 13 years
Care requirements low-maintenance
Activity level high
FCI group Sheepdogs
AKC group Herding Group
KC group Pastoral Group

What are the typical character traits of the German Shepherd?

This dog breed's characteristics are known all over the world. Especially as a working dog they are known as and are often used as police dogs. Keyword: Commissioner Rex ;)

trusting persevering courageous reliable
willing to work intelligent affectionate loving
playful protecting loyal strong
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What are typical diseases of German Shepherds?

The German Shepherd is mainly associated with suffering HD (hip dysplasia) or ED (elbow dysplasia). These joint diseases were caused by breeding mistakes in the past. The frequency of these illnesses has been reduced since. Furthermore this pedigree dog is prone to:

  • Ear infections
  • Eye inflammation
  • Tumours
  • Allergies
  • Skin problems

What is to be considered in regards to the breeding of the German Shepherd?

There are different breeding lines in German Shepherd dog breeding. The performance lines are mainly suitable as working dogs. With this type the will to work and to perform is particularly enhanced by the genes of their parents. The use in police, military and rescue services are a good fit for this type of German Shepherd.

Other breeders do not want to further exaggerate the will to perform. They focus on appearance instead. A German Shepherd puppy from such a breeding is better suited as a family dog.

No matter from which breeding line you want to buy the German Shepherd, the most important thing is low risk for HD. Make sure that the parent dogs of your family member do not suffer from HD. Responsible breeders pay attention to this.

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The strong and muscular body is medium in size. The build is longer than it is tall (rectangular). Their wedge-shaped head has an elongated snout with its nose bridge being straight and their nose is black in colour. Their pointed ears that stand up straight are directed towards the front. The dark, slightly angled eyes always seem alert. A bushy tail concludes the picture. It is slightly bent in a sickle-shape and is pointed downwards.

Their hindquarters are angled and allow them pull themselves forward from behind. Thereby the rear limbs reach forward across the middle of their body.

Appearance and coat of the German Shepherd

The German Shepherd is available in two coat variations. Whether short or long coat, this dog breed is adaptable to all kinds of weather conditions. The dense undercoat protects them against the cold, rain and snow. With the short-coated type the coat is longer on the neck, on the hind legs and on the tail.

The coat is easy to groom. Regular brushing is sufficient. The German Shepherd sheds all year round and of course more so when they change their coat.

Typical for the appearance of the German Shepherd are the black mask and a black saddle, which is combined with either red-brown, brown or yellow fur. Plain coloured specimens such as black also belong to the breed standard. The breeding line of the grey German Shepherds is short-haired an show dark cloudy spots.

What is the average size of the German Shepherd?

The German Shepherd is a medium sized breed. Bitches reach a height of about 55 to 60 centimetres measured at the withers. For males the height at the withers varies between 60 and 65 centimetres. In literature the term "shoulder height" is sometimes used for size specification. Both term confused, they both terms refer to the same thing. The size of a dog is measured at the highest point of their back. 

How much does a German Shepherd dog weigh?

Body weight depends on the sex and size of the dog. As a dog owner, you can orientate yourself by the standard measurements. Male dogs can reach a weight between 30 and 40 kilograms. For bitches this can be a weight of 22 to 35 kilograms.

What is the average lifespan of a German Shepherd?

Opinions differ about the age predictions. Partially you will find information about a final age of 9 to 15 years. Both ages are not within the average range. The life expectancy of this breed of dog is approximately 12 to 13 years.

Fur length long
Fur flat coated
Ear shape Standing Ears
Tail fanned out
Anatomy massive, strong
Size ♀ 55 - 60 cm
Weight ♀ 22 - 32 kg
Size ♂ 60 - 65 cm
Weight ♂ 30 - 40 kg
Suitable For -


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Dog,Mammal,German shepherd dog,Vertebrate,Old german shepherd dog,Canidae,Dog breed,Carnivore,East-european shepherd,King shepherd,
Dog,Mammal,Vertebrate,Dog breed,Canidae,German shepherd dog,Carnivore,Old german shepherd dog,Snout,East-european shepherd,
  • A german shepherd puppy costs about 1000 Euro.

  • A German shepherd is considered a listed dog in Switzerland in two cantons. Pay attention to this if you are from Switzerland.

  • A German Shepherd, like any other dog, needs basic equipment (leash, basket, car box, bowl, harness for neck or chest).

  • No. The German Shepherd is not a beginner dog and should only be in experienced hands.

Sources and relevant links

Offizielle Seite des FCI

Accessed on 03.01.2023


Accessed on 03.01.2023

Vom Kronberg Zucht

Accessed on 04.01.2023

Horst Hegewald-Kawich (2015). Hunderassen von A bis Z: Über 200 beliebte Rassen aus aller Welt. Gräfe und Unzer Verlag.

Gabriele Lehari (2004). Ulmers Großes Lexikon der Hunderassen. Ulmer.

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