German Shepherd Dog

"The Do-Anything Dog"

Photo of German Shepherd Dog


Thanks to the dedication of Captain Maz Von Stephanitz in developing an intelligent, can-do dog, today's Shepherd can do it all. In the late 1800s, the Captain wanted to produce an all-around working dog. Although many of the original dogs he gathered were “shepherds” in the true sense of the word, he recognized that the demand for this line of work was declining. To avoid unemployed Shepherds, and thus diminishing numbers, his intent was to produce a breed that would be able to be a helper in every walk of life. The Captain was successful. Today the breed is one of the most populous and well-known in the world. Shepherds are often used as service dogs, canine cops, military dogs, family alarms or nearly anything an owner could ask.


Shepherds are intensely loyal and can be protective of their family and home turf. A stranger's approach is accepted but most would sacrifice their lives for the people they love if push came to woof. Although they accept and give affection with joy, they are not pesky or cloying. Shepherds are intelligent and can learn almost any task. They have big hearts and often attempt to perform a request even if it's beyond their physical ability. Owners should recognize their dog's dedication and not ask them to do something which would endanger the dog. This breed is ready to join in any activity with their people, whether a walk to the mailbox, a challenging chore or a rousing game of fetch. Yet, when the owner's preference is to read a book, the dog is content to lie peacefully beside the rocker. A well-bred Shepherd often accepts and sometimes acts as guardian to others outside their immediate family – particularly children. But it is best to socialize them early and to acquaint them to friends and neighbors. Usually they accept other pets with aplomb, although they may have a stand-off with canines of the same gender. They are not meant to be ignored or tied outside with little attention. If bored, they can become chronic barkers, with a boom that could rattle the neighbor's nerves and roof. Some lines can be shy – be sure to observe the mother of the pups. There is nothing noble about a Shepherd quivering behind his owner's skirts.


The breed is known for its noble appearance often called “the look of eagles” with ears erect and alert. The Shepherd's coat is dense and thick, offering protection from the elements when working or playing. Rich colors of black and tan, sable (gray) or solid black add to the handsome look. The tail is long. Right from puppyhood, Shepherds stand with the left foot extended back as a point of balance rather than the four-square stance of other breeds.


They are intelligent and willing to learn, particularly when trained with kindness and direction. The breed's versatility and usefulness as Search and Rescue dogs, as well as military, service, guide, police work – and countless other tasks – demonstrate a willingness to please trainers. A Shepherd owner should enroll in a training class to socialize the dog and to learn proper training methods. Further training will depend upon the handler's experience, the bond between the partners and how biddable the individual dog is – as well as the goals of the owner.

Grooming & Care

Regular brushing and combing helps to remove dead hair and to keep the coat shining and healthy. The breed's double coat means a heavy shed usually occurs twice a year. During that time, bathing followed by a thorough grooming with a shedding blade or grooming rake will remove much of the undercoat. The shedding process will last for several days. Be patient, until the coat once again looks shiny without clumps of tuft sticking out here and there, floating through the air and landing on all surfaces!

Health Concerns

As with all popular breeds, Shepherds carry a lengthy list of possible ailments. Parents should have OFA hips and elbows and be CERF certifiedfor clear eyes. It is good to ask about the longevity of the lines, bloat, torsion, spinal disorders and general health.

Famous German Shepherd Dog

Rin Tin Tin; Roy Rogers' Bullet; Strongheart; London (the Littlest Hobo); many Search and Rescue heroes.

Ideal Owner
Activity Level 4
Schedule 5
Home 9
Children 10
Experience 11
Quick Facts
Grooming 110
Exercise 60
Challenges Prone to barking if not given proper attention; some can be domineering and/or dog-aggressive.
Height 22 to 26 inches
Weight 65 to 95 pounds
Life 10 to 12 years
Home Alone 20
With Kids 86
With Strangers 106
Availability 96

This client information sheet is based on material written by: LifeLearn

© Copyright 2014 LifeLearn Inc. Used and/or modified with permission under license.