PURE SHEPHERDFor the love of German Shepherds
About the German Shepherd Dog
German Shepherds are well known for their intelligence, strength and training abilities, very often being employed in military and police roles worldwide. In fact these dogs also make a great addition to any household as a family pet.
Initially trained for guarding herds of sheep, the German Shepherd Dog has become one of the most popular breeds and nowadays they are appreciated for their courage and devotion. These dogs can easily be trained and they show excellent results at almost everything they have been trained to do. They are successfully involved in rescue & search, protection, security and drug detection activities. Less commonly known is that they perform impressively when used as guidance and assistance dogs for people with disability challenges.
The history of the German Shepherd goes back to the 19th century, they originated from the Alsace-Lorraine, a region in France that was part of Germany at that time, by the cross-breeding of rural German herding dogs. Ex-cavalry officer Max von Stephanitz, a passionate animal lover, is credited as being the originator and the father of this breed.
This dog breed was intensively included in military operations during the Second World War, and because of the conflicts between the geographies involved, they were commonly named Alsatian dogs. This name does create some confusion, with many people believing that the German Shepherd Dog and the Alsatian are two different breeds, but in fact these are just two different names for the same breed.
The breed was first exhibited at the Hannover Show in 1882, with the breed standard been created by 1889. Since 1906, the German Shepherd dog has been exported to many other countries, especially within Europe and to the United States, where it did not take too long for them to become one of the most popular dog breeds. Both as pets and as working dogs, they are very intelligent and have very strong protective instincts.
The male German Shepherd dogs typically stand between 24-26 inches in height to their withers, with females being slight smaller, at between 22-24 inches. Average weight ranges are between 75 and 95 pounds, and a well looked after dog can enjoy a lifespan of 10 to 14 years.
This breed is not usually aggressive, despite common misconceptions, and whilst it is true to say that they don’t make friends easily, once they have made a friend, they show impressive loyalty and protection.
These dogs are great watchdogs, known for their high intelligence and strong protective traits. They are easy to train but they do not like to be alone for long periods of time since they are an active breed and easily get frustrated and bored when they do not get sufficient exercise and are not able to interact and use their intelligence. Socialization and training from early age is a must for the German Shepherd dog breed.
German Shepherds generally have good health, but they are prone, like many other dog breeds, to certain diseases and health conditions. Of course not all dogs in this breed will get these diseases but you should be aware of them if you consider owning one. Common conditions include hip and elbow dysplasia, degenerative myelopathy, gastric dilatation-volvulus, exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, and contact or food allergies.
German Shepherd hip and elbow dysplasia probably represents two of the most common problems this breed encounters and is known for. Once considered hereditary with malformations that develop during periods of rapid growth, scientists now believe that whilst there may be a predisposition for the dysplasia, since the majority of puppies are born with good hips their environment and early stages of growth play a more important part in their chances to develop this condition. It seems that genetics has little to play in the formation of this condition with a puppy from two hip certified parents just a likely to develop dysplasia than not.
If the condition does develop both hip and elbow dysplasia has the potential to cause arthritis and/or severely deformed joints, often disabling the dog. Prevention can be assisted with good weight maintenance, regular and appropriate exercise for the age of the dog combined with a balanced diet to grow and keep the dog’s muscles and joints strong. Exercise that encourages strength in the muscles of the legs and pelvis will provide increased stability of the hip joints.
If you are thinking about getting a German Shepherd as a companion or family pet, there are several aspects to take into consideration before you make your final decision: first of all educate yourself regarding their traits, care and needs. Consider if your lifestyle fits in with the needs of a dog of this size and intelligence? Remember that their lifespan can typically be over 10 years. Also think whether you would like to adopt from a rescue shelter or you would like to buy a German Shepherd puppy from a breeder. In this case you should do some research and find a reputable German Shepherd breeder. We recommend that you visit their premises to see the parents – or at least the bitch – and ask to see their pedigree papers. Beware of anything that resembles a puppy farm.
So there you have some of the basic information. We hope you find our other articles of interest. We wouldn’t be without a GSD in our family and hope you feel the same way too.
Happy Shepherding, Dave and Allana, Pure Shepherd
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