Australian Shepherds were bred to be herding dogs that can withstand cold climates. They sport dense and thick double coats that provide them warmth … [Read More...]
The German Shepherd Dog (GSD), also known as Alsatian wolfdog, is a highly intelligent and fearless working dog. Originally bred as a herding dog, this large-size dog is effective in doing police and rescue work. He is an extremely versatile and hard-working dog and a natural protector.
The German Shepherd is a confident dog with unwavering devotion to his owner. He is gentle and gets along well with children as well. His love and loyalty for his family make him a highly protective dog. New faces will be met with indifference until he assesses that they are not a threat to his loved ones.
Since the German Shepherd requires an active lifestyle, physically and mentally stimulating activities are necessary. His medium-length double coat is relatively easy to maintain and only requires weekly brushing; however, the German Shepherd is a regular shedder and requires frequent brushing to get the dead hair under control.
In the 1800s, the German Shepherd originated as part of the continental shepherd dog in northern Europe. In 1890, the sheepdog was divided into three separate breeds: Belgian Shepherd, Dutch Shepherd, and German Shepherd.
The German Shepherd has several nicknames. In Germany, he is called Deutscher Schäferhund and Berger Allemand in France. He goes by the name Alsatian dog in the UK in an effort to protect the breed from anti-German sentiments after World War I.
The Phylax Society in Germany tried to standardise the German shepherd dog in 1891 but disbanded due to differences in principles. Some members wanted the GSD to be bred solely for working purposes, whilst others who breed dogs wanted the breeding to focus on appearance.
When Germany became overbred and the pastoral era slowly came to a halt, the demand for shepherd dogs sharply declined.
Max von Stephanitz, a former member of the Phylax Society, tried to preserve the breed by focusing on its great working abilities. In 1899, he bought a high-quality German shepherd named Hektor. The dog was a result of long generations of selective breeding. He was impressively beautiful, intelligent, and loyal.
Hektor became the main point of the breeding programmes of the GSD. Von Stephanitz then founded the Verein für Deutsche Schäferhunde (Society of the German Shepherd Dog). Hektor was renamed Horand von Grafrath and declared the first German Shepherd. He became the very first member of the society.
The wolf is believed to be used by Stephanitz in crossbreed to create the GSD. In fact, Horan is thought to be a part wolf dog, but this notion is still under debate. In Stephanitz’s studbook, four entries for wolf crosses at different points in the breed’s development were recorded.
On the other hand, it should be noted that the term “wolf” is also used by many breeders to generally describe a colour pattern that is now known as sable.
Some suggest that if wolf genes were indeed used in crossbreeding the GSD, Stephanitz would have acquired the genetic input from wolves found in a zoo. Whatever the real answer to this mystery may be, Stephanitz wrote down in his book, The German Shepherd in Word and Picture, that he strongly discourages the use of wolves for crossbreeding.
The German Shepherd is Kennel Club-registered. Today the breed has become a well-loved family dog, and a trusted working dog that assisted the police and military. The GSD dog also excels as a search and rescue dog and guide dog for the blind.
The German Shepherd is a powerful and well-muscled canine. He weighs 34–43 kilos and stands 55–65 centimetres at the withers. He has a clean-cut head with a domed forehead, a square-cut muzzle, big, erect ears, and strongly developed jaws.
Based on the Kennel Club breed standards, the German shepherd dog comes in two types of weather-resistant double coats. The first type has a straight, close-lying, dense outer coat and a thick undercoat.
The second type has a longer outercoat that could sometimes be wavy and a thick undercoat. This coat type does not lie close or flat to the body.
The German Shepherd comes in his distinguishable colours of black with tan or gold, sable, as well as all black and all grey.
The German Shepherd is a heavy shedder, during spring and fall coat switching seasons. There is no escape from dog hairs if you have a GSD. So, be sure to keep a vacuum handy.
This also means that the breed isn’t the most suitable choice for allergic dog lovers as it is non-hypoallergenic. Because the GSD is a heavy shedder, it produces more dander and is more likely to trigger frequent allergic reactions.
When it comes to grooming, brushing him two to three times a week is a must. Bathing can be done a few times a year or as needed. Make sure to check the skin for ticks, fleas, injuries, or skin infections so that appropriate treatment can be administered immediately.
Longhaired GSDs require trimming every few months. Be sure to include trimming the hair surrounding your dog’s private parts to keep it clean.
Other than caring for your GSD’s coat, remember to trim his nails every month or two. Do not let it overgrow as it can become painful for your dog. If you hear a knocking sound when your dog is walking, check to see if it’s caused by his overgrown nails.
Check and clean your German shepherd dog’s ears at least once a week. Use a dog-safe ear cleaning solution and cotton balls to wipe off dirt and debris. Avoid using cotton buds as it can push the dirt even further into the ear canal instead of removing it.
Oral hygiene is also an important aspect of dog ownership that is sometimes overlooked. Poor oral care will lead to your dog getting gum disease and bad breath. Make sure to brush his teeth at least twice or three times a week. Consider buying chew bones and chew toys as they can help in reducing plaque.
The German Shepherd is an active, loyal, self-assured, and courageous dog. He can be reserved and suspicious of strangers. Hence, befriending him is not easy.
However, when the German Shepherd warms up to you, he starts to be a devoted friend. The breed is protective of its family, making it an effective watchdog.
The GSD is one of the most intelligent dogs in the world. As a versatile working dog, he can be trained for military service, search and rescue assistance, and drug and bomb detection. This popular breed can also be an effective assistance dog for people with disabilities.
As a family pet, training a GSD should begin as early as eight weeks old. Sessions should focus on basic canine manners and socialisation with people, dogs, and other animals, so he will become a well-rounded canine companion.
The German shepherd Dog is a challenging dog to own for first time owners, because of his high energy level, intelligence, and large size, it will take someone who has the experience to match his physical and mental demands.
It is worth noting that GSDs coming from working lines are extremely active and intense. They are suitable for competitive protection-dog sports than a regular family pet. Other GSDs are bred as show dogs.
Although they are more laid back than their work counterparts, it is observed that many of them tend to be timid, skittish, or dopey. This is caused by putting more attention to producing a dog with a beautiful appearance than a sound temperament and high trainability.
To find a German Shepherd that is suitable as a family pet, search for a breeder who isn’t strictly producing working lines or show lines. They should be generalist breeders that aim to create relaxed and easy to train GSDs.
Each breed has its distinctive temperament and intelligence and each dog’s genetics, the environment it’s raised in, and its training play a significant role in developing its personality and skills.
Properly socialised and trained German shepherds are not aggressive. However, poorly bred GSDs may exhibit timidity, nervousness, guarding, and aggressive behaviour. For some dogs, early socialisation and training can eliminate these undesirable traits.
On the other hand, in other German Shepherds, these methods may only curb these behaviours and not fully stop them. For this reason, it is very important to get your puppy from a reputable breeder.
The German Shepherd can be great with children, especially if they were raised together. His calmness and patience make him capable of mingling and enjoying the company of children.
However, due to GSD’s large size, he could accidentally knock toddlers over. Thus, supervision between dog and children interaction is always necessary to prevent accidents.
The GSD also gets along well with other pets if he undergoes proper socialisation at an early age. Supervision is necessary during their interactions, especially if a smaller animal is involved. The breed has a high prey drive and may give in to the temptation of chasing down pets that are smaller than it in size.
Some German Shepherd Dogs tend to exhibit aggressiveness towards dogs of the same sex. Training and socialisation can help in stopping this behaviour. Neutering or spaying GSDs also greatly lessens their drive to dominate other dogs.
The German Shepherd Dog is a high energy breed with high nutrient requirements. A typical serving for an adult German shepherd is three to four cups of excellent-quality dry dog food per day.
This being said, the amount and frequency still depend on age, size, build, activity level, metabolism, and other factors. You have to consider its needs as a breed, but also make sure that you learn about its individual requirements too.
As an active dog, the German Shepherd needs more protein and fewer carbohydrates in his diet. This helps build muscles and supports his daily activity needs.
Typical calorie needs of an adult German shepherd per day:
Experts of the breed believe that the German Shepherd thrives on a diet rich in meat protein. Since the breed has shorter colons, it has difficulty absorbing all the nutrients from its food. Foods rich in fibre, like leafy greens, can be added to its diet.
German Shepherds can live up to 13 to 15 years. They are generally healthy but predisposed to certain health conditions include hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, degenerative myelopathy, exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, gastric dilatation-volvulus or bloat, and allergies.
As an extremely active dog, the German Shepherd needs a lot of physical and mental activities daily. It should spend at least two hours running, playing Frisbee, and doing agility and obedience training. Other fun activities the GSD will enjoy are flyball, tracking, herding, or Schutzhund.
Do not forget to provide him with mentally stimulating games too, such as obstacle course, hide-and-seek, and playing with puzzle toys. When its activity needs are not met, undesirable behaviours might be encountered. The GSD should also not be left for long periods to avoid being destructive.
Buying a German Shepherd puppy will cost between £600 to £2000. The monthly expenses for providing him with high-quality dog food is between £40-£60. The initial cost of buying basic accessories and equipment such as bed, crate, food bowls, lead, collar, and toys can amount to £150-£200.
Acquiring pet insurance can cost from £25 a month for a basic time-limited cover up to £80 a month for lifetime coverage.
Some veterinary expenses may not be included in pet insurance. These include vaccinations, routine checks, neutering or spaying, and annual boosters, which can have a combined cost of £800-£1000 for the first year.
On average the basic monthly cost for raising a German shepherd is £85-£160.
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