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The Complete German Shepherd Guide From Pup To Pal

Are you thinking of welcoming a German Shepherd into your family?

Potential GSD owners are usually curious about this extraordinary breed. This (hopefully) helpful guide is filled with interesting and exciting information about the German Shepherd breed.

German Shepherd Owners Guide
German Shepherd Owners Guide

One of the first questions potential dog owners ask themselves is if GSD is the perfect breed for them and their lifestyle. The following details will bring you on a journey of learning more about German Shepherds and help you make your decision.

History of the German Shepherd

Captain Max von Stephanitz of Karlsruhe Germany is responsible for breeding what is known today as the German Shepherd. He crossbred local herding farm dogs from Bavaria, Thuringia, and Wurtemberg that had a variety of hair textures such as wire-hair, short hair and long hair.

The result is an intelligent, obedient and responsive dog known as the German Shepherd. Their intense enthusiasm for work and keen tracking ability caught the eye of the German military. German Shepherds were trained to execute specific tasks at the side of military soldiers during World War I and World War II. They worked at the Berlin wall until 1989. In addition to German Shepherds being exceptional working dogs, they also show dogs.

Many dog owners are proud to show off the best qualities in their GSD. The special qualities and characteristics of the German Shepherd have caused them to be one of the most popular dog breeds in the world today. The GSD still works hard today side by side with police and military personnel as well as farmers. They are also caring and compassionate therapy dogs used for patients with disabilities and emotional issues. Although they are excellent workers, most GSD are incredible family pets.

German Shepherd Police Dog

Are German Shepherds Good with Children?

When German Shepherds are socialized around children from a young age, it is easy for them to develop a strong bond. Commonly GSDs are happy to play with young children, become their best friend and keep a watchful, protective eye over them. German Shepherds have a natural instinct to protect their pack and loved ones, and they are especially protective of young children.

In England, they are commonly referred to as the babysitter dogs, because parents feel safe having the dog watch over their children for a brief moment while they go the other room for something. German Shepherds are also protective of children when playing outdoors. You can rest assured that if a stranger approaches your child, your GSD will have something to say about it. The bond that develops between a German Shepherd dog and a child is inspiring and beautiful.

Loyal GSD Guarding His Owner

If you are thinking of adopting an older German Shepherd they too are capable of adapting and being good with children. Of course, this would depend on the individual dog and what type of life he or she has survived this far.

How Big Does a German Shepherd Grow?

Adult German Shepherds males grow to be 23 to 25 inches long and weight between 66 to 88 pounds with the average weight being 77 pounds. Female German Shepherds are slightly smaller than the male GSD with their height ranging from 21 to 23 inches and their weight reaching between 48 to 70 pounds.

This weight and height information may make you wonder how quickly does a German Shepherd dog grow? A healthy German Shepherd puppy will double his or her birth weight the first week of their life. Immediately following they will continue with a consistent weight gain of 5% to 10%. German Shepherds reach physical maturity between 18 to 24 months. This height, weight and growth information relates only to full breed German Shepherd dogs.

How Often Does German Shepherds Shed?

You may have heard that German Shepherds shed a lot.

This is absolutely true.

They tend to shed all year and even more frequently during about two to three weeks during spring when they shed their winter coat. During this time of shedding the winter coat, you will notice heaps of hair around your house. German Shepherds can have short coarse hair or long hair.

The long haired German Shepherd tends to shed less than the short hair because the long-haired GSD does not have an undercoat, and the short hair does. Daily brushing is required year round. Although daily brushing and vacuuming may sound overwhelming, it makes up for with bathing. You only have to bathe a GSD once per month to keep their coat clean and healthy. If you or your family has allergies, this may be something you will want to consider during your decision-making process whether to get a GSD or not.

Long Coat German Shepherd

Does the GSD’s Ears Naturally Stand up?

German Shepherd puppies have floppy ears until about 16 to 20 weeks. During this time the cartilage in the ear becomes strong and hard allowing the ear to stand up permanently. During this process, the German Shepherd puppy will experience his or her ears going up naturally for about one day or so then becoming floppy again for a few days.

This usually takes place during the teething process, at the end of teething the ears stay in the upward position. If the ears never stand up, there is a possibility that the dog is a mix breed, or there are some structural issues. Visiting the veterinarian to have the ears checked is highly recommended to assure they are growing and developing at the proper rate.

Full Grown or Miniature German Shepherd?

There are plenty of unethical breeders around the world that are convincing people that they have miniature German Shepherds available. While the pups might look like they are a smaller version of a full bred GSD, this simply is not true. The only full bred GSD that is extremely smaller than the standard size German Shepherd are those rare ones that have a genetic defect that causes dwarfism.

Miniature GSD Puppy

These dogs can live a happy healthy life as long as they are cared for properly. They tend to bald as they age due to their dwarfism. Breeders should advise potential dog owners of the genetic deformity at first glance because there is a possibility the dog will experience health issues related to its dwarfism throughout his or her lifetime.

Some breeders refer to a mix breed such as a German Shepherd and Collie breed as a Miniature German Shepherd. This is not true, and it is truly a mix breed. While the combination of the two breeds results in a beautifully colored dog, it is still not considered a full breed German Shepherd.

This mix breed also can have different characteristics and temperament when compared to a full breed German Shepherd. Beware of these adorable mix breeds if you prefer to have a full breed GSD.

How Does Neutering Affect German Shepherds?

Dog owners that choose not to breed their dog will find that spaying or neutering has a positive effect on German Shepherds. Since German Shepherds have a well-balanced temper, the neutering or spaying process does not affect the behavior either way. It does, however, lessen the risk of health issues such as developing cancer of the testicles in male dogs. The choice of neutering a GSD is the choice of the dog owner and possibly at the request of a licensed veterinarian.

Exercise Requirements for German Shepherds

The GSD is naturally a hard worker and enjoys a strenuous activity. They have a bundle of energy and need to be exercised on a daily basis. If this exercise requirement is not met the German Shepherd will get bored and release his built up energy by chewing on furniture and destroying other household items.

German Shepherds are great exercise buddies. If you enjoy jogging, running, walking, bicycling, hiking and almost any other outdoor activity you can be assured that your GSD will be right by your side matching your energy level. They also love to play fetch, Frisbee, and other games that they can exert themselves and use their mind. If you are an active person or have an active family that enjoys being active and being outdoors, the GSD is a perfect fit.

German Shepherd Playing Fetch

Do German Shepherds have Health Issues?

A common health issue that is passed down through DNA is hip dysplasia. This breed frequently suffers from the ailment, but there are measures that can be taken to prevent and treat it. The first signs that hip dysplasia is present is the GSD limping on his hind legs and having trouble getting up from a sitting or lying down position.

Dog owners are encouraged to bring their GSD to the veterinarian for proper diagnosis. The veterinarian will conduct a thorough physical exam, process blood tests and possibly take X-rays of the hips. Once the condition is confirmed, the veterinarian will provide a course of action to help the GSD live with the condition.

Some solutions that are recommended by veterinarians include consuming a healthy diet, moderate exercise, supplements, prescription medication for pain and inflammation and possibly surgery. German Shepherds are known to live a long healthy and happy life even though they suffer from this condition.

Training a German Shepherd

German Shepherds excel at obedience and agility training.

They are eager to please their owner and take pride in completing their tasks. Training of house rules and obedience should begin at the moment your GSD arrives at your home for the first time.

Training Your GSD

Dog owners can choose to train their dogs or have the assistance of a professional dog trainer. While training your dog allows you to bond, it also makes it clear that you are the Alpha. On the other hand, there are a variety of dog training classes available within communities located worldwide that can help the training process go smoothly.

Where to Find a German Shepherd

Once you make the decision to be a GSD owner, you will want to begin your search for your perfect dog. Remember, full breed German Shepherds have a variety of color coats such as solid white, solid black, black and tan, black and white, sable, red, black, white and red plus black white and tan.

You can begin your search by going online to find reputable German Shepherd breeders or rescues in your community. Remember to inquire about the pup’s parents, possible health issues, health guarantee and proof of good health from a veterinarian.

Reputable breeders will be happy to answer any questions and provide you with any health documentation you request. Some breeders may even have a strict purchasing policy meaning they may require you to provide them with details about yourself and your home to assure that the GSD is being placed in a secure and loving home.

You can also contact local dog shelters for adoption process information and inquire if they have any pure bred GSD in their facility. You can also request to be put on a waiting list for when a GSD does arrive they can contact you. Always keep in mind that most pet stores have puppies that are the product of puppy mills.

GSD puppy

Most puppy mills treat their breeding dogs harshly and demand that the dogs produce more puppy litters than what is healthy for them. They also live in harsh conditions and can have a variety of health issues that can affect the health of their offspring. When making a decision to choose a GSD be patient and make sure it is the right choice for you.

Always investigate the source of where the dog came from and ask as many questions as you like. You can always ask family or friends if they can recommend a reputable GSD breeder in the area.

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