Caitlin UltimoBehavior / Breed Lists

Dog Breeds: The German Shepherd Temperament and More

Known for brains, confidence and courage, the German Shepherd is one of the most athletic, intelligent and well-known dog breeds in the world. Originating from Germany in 1899, the German Shepherd was officially recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in the dog breed registry in 1908. German Shepherds are now the second most popular breed, according to the AKC.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS: He’s a Looker

German Shepherds are found in a variety of coat colors, but the tan and black bi-color is most popular. When German Shepherd puppies are born, their coats are often darker, and the lighter colors come out as they age. As the German Shepherd puppy grows, this fluffy coat becomes denser with a wiry undercoat, and his fur becomes extremely thick. Though the fur colors vary, the German Shepherd is instantly recognizable due to his build.

This breed has a unique, proud stance with an elongated body and relatively long head to match. The German Shepherd’s erect ears produce a defined silhouette and serious demeanor.

This dog breed’s build is conducive to agility and activeness, and an effortless gait. On average, German Shepherd dogs weigh between 65 and 80 pounds; however, the AKC only specifies that the weight must be proportionate to the body with no strict limitations.

The typical German Shepherd life span ranges from nine to 11 years old. Ensuring proper, lifelong care and nutrition, along with exercise, is the best way to keep your dog living a long and healthy life.

PERSONALITY AND TEMPERAMENT: On Guard!

German Shepherd temperament and personality are marked with the dog breed’s intelligence. Even from early on, German Shepherd puppies develop an unconditional commitment to their owners; a strong eagerness to please makes them extremely trainable and versatile dogs. The German Shepherd temperament is protective by nature; however, with proper training and patience, they are incredibly willing workers.

A notable trait of German Shepherd temperament is the high energy level. In order to be happy, German Shepherds require daily mental and physical challenges. Whether it be spending time in your yard playing fetch, going on daily trips to the dog park, or joining you on evening runs around your neighborhood, German Shepherds are built for an active lifestyle and need owners who can provide that for them.

Dr. Jerry Klein, Chief Veterinary Officer of the American Kennel Club, states that, “As with any pet, it’s important to understand the animal’s size, grooming requirements, personality, exercise requirements and potential health issues to determine how well it will fit into the owner’s home and lifestyle.”

By doing your due diligence and research, you can ensure that a German Shepherd puppy will be the right fit for you, your family and your home.

TRAINING: Sit, Stay

Known for his loyal personality and guard dog nature, the German Shepherd takes on multiple roles. Of all dog breeds, the German Shepherd is one of the most versatile, allowing him to make a great work dog, doing police work or herding; service dog; or family pet.

Because of the loyal German Shepherd temperament, it is common for this type of dog to have the strongest bond with his owner or primary caretaker. This is why German Shepherds make wonderful service dogs or K-9 unit partners.

Whether you are working with German Shepherd puppies or full-grown dogs, their need for mental stimulation accompanies their need for physical activity. Posing challenges for your dog can help him focus and learn.

HEALTH: Eye of the Tiger, Heart of the Shepherd

Most German Shepherds are healthy dogs, but as with any dog breed, they may face some health issues sometime in their lives. German Shepherds have notably sensitive digestive systems, which may lead to infrequent digestive upset. Working regularly with a veterinarian is the best way to make sure that your dog is comfortable and not experiencing any issues outside of the occasional stomachache.

Additionally, providing routine dental care and keeping your dog’s ears clean with a daily healthcare regimen will keep him healthy and feeling good, while potentially extending his German Shepherd life span.

DIET: Never More Than You Can Chew

A dog’s diet is one of the strongest influencers of his overall health. Feeding a breed-specific diet allows you to proactively prevent potential breed-specific health issues. The Royal Canin German Shepherd Puppy Dry Dog Food from the Royal Canin dog food line is specifically made for German Shepherd puppies from eight weeks old to 15 months old. The formula targets digestive performance and bone and joint health to combat areas where the breed may be deficient while also supporting natural defenses for young pups.

For the more mature German Shepherd dogs, Royal Canin German Shepherd Adult Dry Dog Food is an adult breed-specific option that also works to support healthy skin and coat. Dr. Klein suggests that “kibble size should be matched to the dog’s size.” By feeding a dog food diet that matches your breed’s needs, you actively support his nutritional requirements while giving him a kibble specifically designed for his jaw size and shape.

GROOMING: Not a Hair Out of Place

The German Shepherd’s double coat is extremely thick, and though he may not require regular dates with the groomer, he will need to be brushed at least once a week. Brushing will not only help prevent knots in his fur, but will also help alleviate the pain of shedding season, while regular ear cleaning and tooth brushing will work to prevent ear infections and dental disease. By keeping your dog’s hygiene on a regular routine, you can actively support his body from the outside while his diet and exercise support it from the inside.

“As with any pet,” says Dr. Klein, “it’s important to understand the animal’s size, grooming requirements, personality, exercise requirements and potential health issues to determine how well it will fit into the owner’s home and lifestyle.” German Shepherds require homes that can provide mental and physical activity and interaction.

The perfect home for a German Shepherd will allow him to be the perfect pet, workout buddy and partner in crime.

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