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German Shepherd Dog
The stunning, imposing German Shepherd may be a dog of the past.  Overbreeding and excesses, like a fascination with overdoing the exaggerated flying gait of the German Shepherd has left most of the purebred representatives of the breed in the US as mere shadows of their ancestors only 20 years ago.  This weakness is especially apparent when one realizes those weak rears combined (or as a result) of hip dysplasia often leaves the dogs crippled in need of serious surgery, or worse, at an early age.  Even so, one can still find wonderful, and noble examples of the breed but there is likely no other breed that requires more careful research into finding a responsible party for a good example.  The true German Shepherd Dog, confident, proud, intelligent, well cared for, well bred and happy may very well be the pinnacle of the canine world but that example is rarer and rarer.

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General Information
Group(s): Herding Height: 22-26 inches at the shoulder
Weight: up to 100 pounds is typical Longevity: up to 12 years
Colors: most colors are acceptable except white and washed out colors (like blues) Coat type: outer coat is dense, straight of medium length and harsh, undercoat is dense, short and soft
Recognized Registries: NCA, UKC, FCI and others
Overall Appearance: An impressive, intelligent expression on this naturally prick eared, long muzzled dog only adds to the overall impression of power and capability when coupled with a correctly made athletic body. Longer in body than leg and with a bushy tail, it is common for the rear to be lower than the front. Excessive and mis-interpretation of the distinctive "flying trot" of the GSD has lead to the near destruction of the breed by overzealous and irresponsible breeders in North America.
Personaility - Behavior - Training
Energy Level: generally high
General Nature: unpredictable, highly dependent on influences like responsible handling, training and socializing
  with Children: can be exceptional but requires knowledgable rearing and socializing to achieve
  with other pets: can be exceptional but requires knowledgable rearing and socializing to achieve
  with dogs: can be exceptional but requires knowledgable rearing and socializing to achieve
Socialization requirements: very high
Ideal home characteristics: One of extensive successful experience training working dogs. Resources of time and space for training and exercise and socializing needs.
Temperament Notes: powerful, intelligent, independent
Training requirement: rather high; like many similar breeds both herding and working, the GSD demands a job and will often determine undesirable self motivated behaviors if left without guidance and structure
Trainer notes: Few breeds possess the distinction in training that the German Shepherd has.  From Rin Tin Tin to highly trained K9s used by the military to Search and Rescue, German Shepherds have set the standard that is still held aloft to teams today.  Unfortunately it appears that the custodians of the breed in the US have fallen in their responsibilities.  With alarming rates of hip dysplasia (often to the point that dogs are destroyed prior to reaching adulthood) many serious German Shepherd devotees are turning to Europe with its stricter breeding practices for their German Shepherd training partners.  Considering the variability also found in American German Shepherd temperaments, that seems to be the wisest course for anyone seeking to live and train with a German Shepherd Dog.
Background Information
Year range of first recognition: late 1800s
Country of Origin: German
Original Function: Herding
History: Developed from Herding dogs by Max von Stephanitz. Hugely successful as a breed focused on intelligence and working ability. These priorities appear lost on most North American breeders.
Adoption Information
Deviations from Standard: excessively large, fluffy coats, seriously compromised rears
Health Notes: hip dysplasia, eye problems, heart problems, bloat, esophageal defects, pancreatic insufficiency, bloat, myelopathy, thyroid issues
Health Testing: OFA, CERF, thyroid panel,
Questions to ask Breeder:  - The Breeder Questions as listed here provided with explanations and answers you will want to be looking for!
  • How long have you had German Shepherds?
  • Why do you have German Shepherds (show, performance, hunting, etc.)?
  • What do you consider to be the most important single characteristic of a German Shepherd?
  • What health issues have you seen in the breed?
  • What criteria do you set for your breeding stock?
  • Do you plan to keep a puppy from this litter?
  • How often do you have puppies?
  • Do you have a written contract and puppy guarantee?
  • At what age do you sent your pups to their homes?
  • How would you describe the ideal German Shepherd?
  • How would you describe the ideal German Shepherd Dog home?
  • Are your puppies whelped in your home?
  • What advice would you offer someone in raising and training a German Shepherd Dog?
  • How do you assist or help German Shepherd Dogs in need of rescue?
  • Web Sites: National Network for German Shepherd Rescue German Shepherd Rescue MidAtlantic German Shepherd Dog Rescue German Shepherd Rescue of New England

   Shepherd Rescue Houston Virginia German Shepherd Rescue


    Other Resources
    Breed standard: - UKC Standard of the German Shepherd Dog

  - Illustrated Standard by the German Shepherd Dog Club of America


    Breeder Ethics: - German Shepherd Dog Club of America Code of Ethics

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