The German Shepherd is a popular breed, often seen standing alertly in entryways with its K9 uniform on. You can see a German Shepherd almost everywhere—in the police station, military base, and airports. You might also see one helping out a person with special needs or in a search-and-rescue operation.
This breed is well-known for its versatility as a working dog. Intelligent and highly trainable, the German Shepherd really has the potential to excel in different fields. But have you ever wondered what the German Shepherd is like as a couch buddy at home?
German Shepherd Dogs and Puppies
What is a German Shepherd?
The German Shepherd has a track record as a reliable working dog. It is often considered to be a tough and strong breed—even feared by some. But what is this breed like as a home companion?
Where does the German Shepherd come from?
Like the Doberman Pinscher, the German Shepherd is a relatively new breed. It originates from Germany and was developed from old herding dog breeds. German farmers and shepherds had been breeding dogs with the skills to efficiently protect their herds from predators. These dogs had good skills and served their purpose but there was never a standard breed. Herding dogs from one village look different with the herding dogs from another village.
It was Captain Max von Stephanitz, a retired military officer, who began to develop a distinct breed from Germany’s local sheepdogs.
Von Stephanitz found the best ‘father’ dog for the breed he envisioned in 1899. He went to a dog show one day and became impressed with a dog that had wolf-like features. The dog embodied all the qualities von Stephanitz wanted for the breed he sought to develop—it was strong, loyal, intelligent, and beautiful. He purchased the dog, named Hektor Linksrhein, and renamed it Horand von Grafrath.
Von Stephanitz established the Verein für Deutsche Schäferhunde (Society for the German Shepherd Dog) and declared Horand the first German Shepherd dog. From Horand sprung many puppies used in selective breeding.
The popularity and need for herding dogs began to decline through years. But the German Shepherd’s noteworthy qualities made the breed useful for many important tasks. In World War I, German Shepherds were used for military service, working as guards, rescuers, and carriers.
What does a German Shepherd look like?
German Shepherds look strong and alert. They are sinewy and agile and usually gives off a self-assured impression. They stand at 22 to 26 inches at the withers and weigh about 22 to 40 kg, sometimes more.
The German Shepherds’ head is proportionate to their bodies. Their muzzles are long and their noses are black. Their large ears, which are pointed, are open to the front. They have strong and well-muscled legs—the forelegs are straight and the lower thigh is almost shaped like a right angle.
They have a medium-length double coat. The outer coat is dense, straight and harsh, and lies closely to the body. Their coat is usually black-tan, black-cream, black-red, and black-silver. There are also those solid blue, gray, liver, sable, and white. But according to the American Kennel Club, “Pale, washed-out colors and blues or livers are serious faults.” White is considered a fault, too.
What is the German Shepherd like?
German Shepherds have a distinctive aura of being fearless and self-assured. These dogs can be aloof but they are not hostile or usually aggressive.
They typically have these traits:
- Mostly reserved and don’t make friends with strangers easily.
- Very intelligent and obedient and highly trainable. It would be odd to find German Shepherds slow, timid, or nervous.
- Tend to develop a strong bond with their family.
- Very loyal to the point of being too overprotective.
German Shepherds that are not well-trained and socialized, moreover, well-bred, can be aggressive. Owners must ensure they get their German Shepherds from excellent breeders and have them enrolled in good training programs.
Are German Shepherds related to wolves?
German Shepherds may look wolfish but they’re not closely related to wolves. Attempts in making a standard German Shepherd breed began in 1850s. This means the breed itself is still relatively new. Breeds closely associated with wolves are way older than German Shepherds. There are a couple of ancient dog breeds still existing today. They are genetically different from the modern breeds and are considered closely related to the wolf. The German Shepherd is not one of them.
When do German Shepherds ears stand up?
It differs from one puppy to another. Some German Shepherd pups start to get erect ears as early as 4 weeks. Their ears might continue to get pointy until they reach maturity. But some pups’ ears fall to the sides, and in other funny positions, as they teethe.
If German Shepherd puppies have reached 5 to 6 months and still don’t have erect ears, owners might want to consider asking the vet for help. Their ears are usually mature by the 8th month; so, form corrections should be done before then. There are ways to fix their floppy ears but there are times when it can’t be corrected, especially if it’s genetic.
Why do German Shepherd puppies bite?
All puppies go through a phase wherein they bite and nip a lot. Owners should expect a number of damages when their puppies are at this stage.
German Shepherd or not, owners must take charge of teaching and training puppies not to bite. This is a behavior should not be encouraged because it can be a problem when puppies carry this habit into adulthood. Correcting this potentially dangerous habit is emphasized more for German Shepherds—as adults, they have a 238-pound bite pressure.
What do German Shepherd Dogs and Puppies eat?
Choosing the right dog food can be challenging. German Shepherds are very active and they need nutritionally adequate food. It’s very helpful owners follow a feeding guideline to ensure their German Shepherds are eating enough.
Commercial food like kibbles and canned meat are convenient for busy owners. But they are not exactly the best kind of food for dogs. Homemade dog food is getting popular for a good reason—it is healthier and safer.
Which is better, German Shepherd or Belgian Malinois?
The Belgian Malinois is one of the dog breeds often compared to the German Shepherd. These two breeds have many similarities. They look closely alike, not to mention they’re herding dogs and are now popularly used as K9 dogs.
German Shepherds have more color varieties than the Belgian Malinois; they also have longer hair and shed more often. Their bite force is considerably higher as well. But German Shepherds are more susceptible to a number of health concerns such as canine hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, allergies, and so on.
There really is no telling which of these two breeds is better. It mostly depends on people’s perception.
Are German Shepherds good pets?
German Shepherds have the potential to be good family pets. They’re intelligent, loyal, and can pretty much do anything if they’re given good training. They can also get on well with kids and other animals if owners are responsible enough to introduce them properly.
These dogs have quite a reputation for being intimidating (even dangerous) but this is not their fault. Aggressiveness among dogs is affected by many factors like breeding and rearing. Undesirable behavior can be corrected with thorough training and socialization.
Learn more about the German Shepherd in this video from Best Breed Ever:
The German Shepherd is not exactly the average household pet. It takes more effort to groom this breed into a home companion. Many German Shepherds are bred to be K9 dogs and they are more hardwired to actually do work. Prospect owners might want to consider getting their German Shepherd from breeders who specialize in breeding dogs for companionship.
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Featured image via Pixabay